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

Samsung’s 2022 flagship smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, are now available to pre-order, with each device arriving in stores and shipping out from March 4. However, these aren’t the first high-end handsets Samsung has launched in 2022, with the ‘fan edition’ Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G having been unveiled in early January.

Although the S21 FE 5G is technically a spin-off from 2021’s Galaxy S21 line-up, 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.

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Related: Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+ and S22 Ultra: the best plans, deals and prices in Australia


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

Below is a quick comparison of the 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 $1,249 From $999
Screen size 6.1-inch FHD+ display 6.4-inch FHD+ display
Battery 3,700mAh 4,500mAh
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 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.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

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.

Samsung Galaxy S22 range
Samsung Galaxy s22

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 Australian 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 a 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 3,700mAh battery capacity (slightly less than the 4,000mAh found in 2021’s Galaxy S21). In comparison, the Galaxy S21 FE 5G offers a 4,500mAh 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. We’ll have a better idea of how the Galaxy S22’s battery holds up once we’ve reviewed the new device, but on paper the Galaxy S21 FE 5G has the edge.

Three teen girls taking selfie with purple Samsung phone
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

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 $999 (or $1,099 for the 256GB version); if you’re looking at the Samsung Galaxy S22, expect to pay $1,249 for the 128GB model, or $1,349 for 256GB.

That $250 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.

Both phones are available to buy on plans from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Woolworths Mobile (with the S21 FE 5G also on offer from Southern Phone), so your choice may also come down to your preferred telco. Depending on your mobile provider, you can pay off your device over 12, 24, or 36 months of payments, spreading out the upfront cost so that price is less of a factor than if you were to pay for your phone outright.

If you’re struggling to pick, you may want to wait until the Samsung Galaxy S22 arrives in stores on March 4 to make a hands-on decision. However, if you are swaying towards the new S22, pre-ordering your phone will nab you extras including a Samsung accessories pack, plus other discounts and freebies depending on where you buy: for example, Telstra is throwing in a free Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 valued at $529 with pre-orders, while Optus customers will score a free $549 Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

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.

Compare Samsung Galaxy S22 plans and prices

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S22+ Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22+ on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Compare Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G plans and prices

The following table shows published 24-month 128GB Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Images: Samsung

 

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