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Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S22 camera battle: Is the newer camera better?

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Last updated: June 22nd, 2022 at 11:38 UTC+02:00

While the Ultra variants of Galaxy S series phones have been getting the latest and greatest camera innovations, the vanilla versions were stuck with 12MP cameras for far too long (since the Galaxy S7 days, so six years!). With the Galaxy S22, Samsung finally upgraded to a 50MP primary sensor, promising higher details, improved low-light images, and 8K videos.

We decided to check if the company’s promises hold true by comparing the Galaxy S22+’s camera with the Galaxy S21+.

Note: Galaxy S21+ images are on the left and Galaxy S22+ camera samples are on the right.

Galaxy S21/S21+ vs Galaxy S22/S22+ camera specs

The Galaxy S21+ has a 12MP (1/1.76-inch) primary camera with Dual Pixel autofocus and OIS, a 12MP (1/2.55-inch) ultra-wide camera, and a 64MP telephoto camera (1/1.72-inch) with 3x hybrid zoom and OIS.

In comparison, the Galaxy S22+ has a 50MP (1/1.56-inch) primary camera with Dual Pixel autofocus and OIS, a 12MP (1/2.55-inch) ultra-wide camera, and an 8MP telephoto camera (1/3.94-inch) with OIS and 3x optical zoom.

Both phones have 10MP selfie cameras with Dual Pixel autofocus. The devices can record up to 4K 60fps videos using all their cameras. 8K 24fps videos can be recorded using the Galaxy S21+’s telephoto camera and the Galaxy S22+’s primary camera.

Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S22 camera shootout: Primary cameras

The primary rear-facing camera is where Samsung has improved the imaging hardware. The Galaxy S22+ uses a bigger and newer sensor, which should result in improved image quality and higher details in general. And it is indeed the case.

Images captured using the Galaxy S22+ have more details, especially in things like grass and leaves. Textures are rendered more naturally. The dynamic range is slightly wider, and more details are visible in the shadow areas of an image. The colors sometimes look warmer than reality, though.

In low-light conditions, images captured using the Galaxy S21+ have higher noise and lower details compared to the Galaxy S22+. Samsung’s newer phone captures cleaner images with higher sharpness, more details, and better textures, thanks to its bigger sensor and faster processor. Lens flare is less of an issue, too.

When the Night mode is activated, both phones offer extremely similar image quality, but the Galaxy S22+ has a slight edge in terms of details.

True to Samsung’s claim, the Galaxy S22+ captures better images in portrait mode. The separation between the subject and the background is more accurate, and the phone even recognizes individual strands of hair. You can notice in the images below that the background blur effect is applied more accurately to the gap between my hand and my stomach. This is quite impressive!

Macro shots captured using the Galaxy S21+ look slightly better. There is more detail and the overall color profile is closer to reality. Even in low-light conditions, macro shots captured using the Galaxy S21+ have slightly more details.

Ultra-wide cameras

There’s not enough improvement when it comes to the ultra-wide camera. Detail levels are similar, but noise is controlled better, but only by a very small margin. You can see more details in the shadows in images captured using the Galaxy S22+’s ultra-wide camera, but the Galaxy S21+ has better controls over the highlights (look at the clouds in the images above).

Telephoto cameras

With the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung also improved the telephoto camera hardware. The Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21+ relied on 64MP sensors and then zooming in digitally to achieve 3x zoom. The Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22+ use an 8MP sensor with 3x optical zoom.

Thanks to the real optical zoom lens, the images captured using the Galaxy S22+ have lower noise, higher details, and better colors. Galaxy S21+’s shots have purple fringing and a pinkish tint across the image.

Even at higher (digital) zoom levels, the Galaxy S22+’s images have more details. The Galaxy S21+’s camera can produce decent results up to 10x zoom, but beyond that, we won’t recommend using digitally zoomed images. The Galaxy S22+’s images are usable up to 20x zoom.

Selfie cameras

Both phones have extremely similar performance when it comes to capturing selfies. I noticed that the Galaxy S21+’s front-facing camera has a slightly wider dynamic range. Both phones choose natural skin tones and offer plenty of details.

If you want full 10MP resolution images from the front-facing camera, don’t forget to switch to the Wide mode. The Normal mode saves images in just 6.5MP resolution.

Portrait mode images are similar too, in terms of details. While the Galaxy S21+ offers a better dynamic range (look at the clouds in the images below), the Galaxy S22+ offers a more accurate separation between the subject and the background.

In low-light conditions, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S22+ offer excellent selfie image quality. The Galaxy S21+ has better dynamic range control (look at the light source in the image below), but the skin tone is more accurately captured using the Galaxy S22+.

When the Night mode is activated, both phones perform equally well using their front-facing cameras. Great colors, details, and dynamic range. There are slight color differences between the two, but they are barely noticeable.

In Portrait mode, images from the Galaxy S22+ showcase slightly more accurate skin tone and higher details. The phone also identified the edges of my body more accurately for a better background blur effect.

What about videos?

Both phones can capture 8K 24fps and 4K 60fps videos using the rear-facing cameras. I’ve stitched a side-by-side image (visible below) from 4K 60fps videos captured using the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S22+. The Galaxy S22+’s 50MP sensor captures more detailed (look at the grass and the leaves) and smoother videos compared to the Galaxy S21+. While panning, the Galaxy S21+’s videos have a bit of jitter.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22 Video Quality

Front-facing cameras on both phones can record up to 4K 60fps videos, and both offer extremely similar video quality. 8K videos are similar in terms of details, and in general, they aren’t worth the storage space they take on the phone and the 24 fps frame rate limit is also a notable downside.

So is the Galaxy S22+ clearly better?

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22 Camera

Samsung has really delivered what it promised with the Galaxy S22.  The new phone has a better primary camera and it records more detailed and smoother videos than the Galaxy S21+. Zoom shots and portrait images are better, too. Both phones perform similarly in terms of ultra-wide and front-facing cameras.

However, there are a few areas where the Galaxy S21+ is superior. For instance, it offers a slightly wider dynamic range through its primary and front-facing cameras. It is also better at capturing macro shots. If you are a Galaxy S21 user, and if you don’t use the telephoto camera a lot, you’ll be perfectly fine with your existing phone.

Naturally, if you want the best camera experience possible, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is what you should be looking at. We recently compared its cameras to those of the Galaxy S22/S22+, so be sure to check that out!

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Phone Galaxy S21Galaxy S21 PlusGalaxy S22Galaxy S22 Plus
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