U.S. pricing for the upcoming Galaxy S22 series leaked earlier this week, and it isn't pretty. If the rumors are true, then Samsung plans to increase prices by $100 over the Galaxy S21 family from last year. That means the Galaxy S22 could come in at $899, the S22 Plus at $1,099, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra at a whopping $1,299.
Outlets, including us, praised the Galaxy S21 series for its value proposition. All three models were $200 less than their predecessors, which had come in at astronomically high prices for traditional smartphones. Add in the pandemic that happened in the same year and it's little wonder the Galaxy S20 series wasn't super popular (as compared to the much more affordable Galaxy S20 FE).
But here we are and it looks like Samsung is going back in the wrong direction. There are a multitude of reasons why the Galaxy S22 could end up being $100 more than the S21. Chip shortages, rising cost of components, supply chain issues, laborer shortage, inflation, you name it. But even with all of that in mind, I'm left with a simple question: what does Samsung hope to gain?
While $899 isn't too bad for the base model Galaxy S22, it's important to keep in mind that no smartphone exists in a vacuum. You can get the excellent iPhone 13 for $799 or one of the best Android phones currently available, the Pixel 6 Pro, for the same price or less — not to mention the Pixel 6 at $599.
And what about the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra? The Plus theoretically competes with the iPhone 13 Pro, which starts at $999. What is the Plus going to do better than the iPhone? Then there's the Ultra, the rumored return of the Galaxy Note. At $1,299, you might be in the same camp as me and think, "what the hell is Samsung thinking?"
When the iPhone 13 Pro Max — the handset we've crowned as the top contender in our best phones list — starts at $200 less than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung better have some serious tricks up its sleeves to justify the Ultra's alleged higher cost. The S Pen, while a great tool, is not worth $200 more than what the iPhone 13 Pro Max offers. And what about $400 more than the Pixel 6 Pro, the current king of Android camera phones? At the very least, we know that Samsung is teasing a "night-breaking" camera for the S22 Ultra, which likely is justifying it's high cost.
The point I'm trying to make here is that Samsung may have stopped seeing the forest for the trees. If Apple and Google can offer the top-tier experiences that they do for less than the rumored Galaxy S22 prices, then I don't see why anyone should bother upgrading to the newest Samsung phones.
We have heard of other rumors that point to a stronger Galaxy S22 Ultra that could help justify the price hike. These include a new Super Clear lens for the main camera and an enhanced detail mode for the 108MP sensor that would result in better looking images. Other possible upgrades include a much faster S Pen with less latency and the brightest display ever on a phone.
Of course, we don't know anything about the Galaxy S22 Ultra officially, so who am I to say any of this in any kind of certainty. But if the rumors are true, then I think Samsung has its work cut out for it to justify $1,299 for the Ultra. And the S22 Plus for $1,099? The Galaxy S22 series has an uphill battle to fight if it wants to earn its $100 price hike.