Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G: Which phone should you buy?

Author: Tara Donnelly

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G was only released in January, but there’s already a new lot of phones in town – the Samsung Galaxy S22 series. So which should you consider?

Samsung’s 2022 flagship smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, are now here and available to buy. However, these aren’t the first high-end handsets Samsung has launched in 2022. The ‘fan edition’ Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G was only unveiled in early January.

Although the S21 FE 5G is technically a spin-off from 2021’s Galaxy S21 lineup, the device’s features are similar to the newly-released Galaxy S22. And with Samsung launching both phones so close together, many potential upgraders may be wondering whether it’s better to switch to the Galaxy S22, or save some cash on the cheaper S21 FE 5G.

To help you make the right choice, we’ve broken down the key differences and similarities between the standard Samsung Galaxy S22 and Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G: specs compared

Below is a quick comparison of some of the main features of the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G. We’ll take a closer look at some of the key differences further down.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
Price From $1,299 From $1099
Screen size 6.1-inch FHD+ display 6.4-inch FHD+ display
Battery 3700mAh 4500mAh
Chipset 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor 64-bit Octa-Core processor
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB
Rear camera Triple camera setup in rear (50MP, 12MP, 10MP with 3x optical zoom) Triple camera setup in rear (12MP, 12MP, 8MP with 3x optical zoom)
Front camera 10-megapixel 32-megapixel
Operating system Android 12 Android 12
Colours Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, Green Graphite, White, Lavender, Olive

Design and display

At a glance, both devices are similar in design, with a Contour Cut front camera and top-left triple camera house on the rear. However, the Galaxy S22 does have a smaller display. Measuring in at 6.1-inches compared to the S21 FE 5G’s 6.4-inch screen.

This isn’t a huge difference. Although it may be worth considering if you prefer a slightly smaller device that’s easier to operate one-handed. Both the S22 and S21 FE 5G also include a flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. So you’ll get vibrant colours, blue light protection and higher screen brightness when viewing in sunlight across both devices. Each phone also features an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate for super-smooth scrolling and gaming.

If you prefer a glossier phone finish, the S22 includes Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on both the screen and back panels, as well as an aluminium frame. It feels and looks more polished and premium than the S21 FE 5G, which only includes Gorilla Glass Victus on the front screen.

Both phones feature IP68 water and dust resistance, so are equally resilient in the event of splashes. The S22 is available in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold and Green colours (along with Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue and Violet, exclusively available from Samsung.com). While the S21 FE 5G gives buyers Graphite, White, Lavender and Olive options.

→Related article: Unlimited Data: NZ’s Best Phone Data Deals

Lineup of Smasung Galaxy S21 FE phones

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S21 FE 5G each offer a triple camera set-up in the rear, although the S22 packs an overall better line-up. The flagship Galaxy S22 includes a 50-megapixel wide lens, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 10-megapixel telephoto camera. Compared to the lower-resolution 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 12-megapixel wide and 8-megapixel telephoto lenses found on the S21 FE 5G.

Samsung has touted its S22 cameras as being ideal for low-light photography, thanks to the bigger pixel sensors and specially-engineered glass to prevent lens flare. The newer device includes updated AI algorithms, and Adaptive Pixel technology to switch between 50-megapixel and 12-megapixel modes for bright photos in a range of lighting conditions. Samsung’s Detail Enhancer also brings out extra depth in high-resolution pics thanks to the S22’s improved AI.

Both the S22 and S21 FE 5G include camera features such as Dual Recording both front and back, alongside up to 30x Space Zoom for capturing detail from a distance. However, the S21 FE 5G does feature a big 32-megapixel selfie camera (compared to the S22’s 10-megapixels). Which may be appealing if the front-facing shooter is your go-to for portrait pics.

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Lineup of Samsung Galaxy S22 phones

Performance and battery

Looking under the hood, the Galaxy S22 features what Samsung has called the ‘fastest chip ever’ on a Galaxy smartphone. The S22 series marks the debut of a 4-nanometer processor on Samsung’s phones, and New Zealand models will feature the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Essentially, this means stronger image and graphics processing, and an all-round quicker performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G runs on the same Octa-Core processor as the other devices in the S21 series, which were around 12 months old at the S21 FE 5G’s release. So while you’ll still get fast and efficient performance from the S21 FE 5G, the S22 offers the newest generation in processing power.

However, where the S22 leads in speed and performance, it may lag behind in battery life. Samsung has downsized the battery in its S22 series, meaning the standard model comes with a 3700mAh battery capacity (slightly less than the 4000mAh found in 2021’s Galaxy S21). In comparison, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G offers a 4500mAh battery.

Both phones should get you through an average day on a single charge. But power users needing to squeeze as much juice as possible from their device may want to look to the bigger-battery S21 FE 5G.

Gurls taking photos on Samsung Galaxy S22

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 or Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G?

While the two devices have a lot in common — such as running Android 12, 128GB and 256GB storage sizes, and 5G connectivity — one of the starkest differences is in price. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G retails from $1099, or $1199 for the 256GB version. If you’re looking at the Samsung Galaxy S22, expect to pay $1299 for the 128GB model, or $1399 for 256GB.

That $200 price difference accounts for the S22’s superior hardware and camera. Even if the phone itself is smaller in size when pitted against the S21 FE 5G. The ‘fan edition’ aspect of the S21 FE 5G means a focus on features that appeal to that younger ‘fan’ demographic: pro-grade selfies, a big immersive screen, and all-day battery in a comparatively affordable package.

Consider the Samsung Galaxy S22 if  Consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G if
You’re happy to spend extra on better cameras and a more powerful processor. You have a smaller budget, and value longer-lasting battery life.

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author andrew broadley

About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.


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