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While the Ultra variants of the Galaxy S series phones have got the latest and best camera innovations, the vanilla versions stuck with 12 MP cameras for far too long (since the Galaxy S7 days, i.e. six years!). With the Galaxy S22, Samsung finally upgraded to a 50 MP primary sensor that promised higher details, enhanced 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 specifications
Galaxy S21 + has a 12 MP (1 / 1.76-inch) primary camera with Dual Pixel autofocus and OIS, a 12 MP (1 / 2.55-inch) ultra-wide camera and a 64 MP telephoto camera (1 / 1.72 -inch) with 3x hybrid zoom and OIS.
By comparison, the Galaxy S22 + has a 50 MP (1 / 1.56 inch) primary camera with Dual Pixel autofocus and OIS, a 12 MP (1 / 2.55 inch) ultra-wide camera and an 8 MP telephoto camera (1 / 3.94 inch) )) with OIS and 3x optical zoom.
Both phones have 10 MP 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 telecamera and Galaxy S22 +’s primary camera.
Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S22 camera shootout: Primary cameras
The primary rear-facing camera is the place where Samsung has improved the image hardware. Galaxy S22 + uses a larger and newer sensor, which should result in improved image quality and higher details in general. And that is actually the case.
Pictures taken with 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. However, the colors sometimes look warmer than reality.
In low light conditions, pictures taken with the Galaxy S21 + have higher noise and lower details compared to the Galaxy S22 +. Samsung’s newer phone takes cleaner images with higher sharpness, more detail and better textures, thanks to its larger sensor and faster processor. Lens flare is also less of an issue.
When the night mode is activated, both phones offer extremely similar picture quality, but the Galaxy S22 + has a small edge in terms of details.
True to Samsung’s claim, the Galaxy S22 + takes better pictures in portrait mode. The separation between the subject and the background is more precise, and the phone even recognizes individual strands of hair. You can notice in the pictures below that the background blur effect is applied more precisely in the space between my hand and my stomach. This is pretty impressive!
Macro photos taken with the Galaxy S21 + look a little better. There are more details and the overall color profile is closer to reality. Even in low light conditions, macro photos taken with the Galaxy S21 + have a bit more detail.
There are not enough improvements when it comes to ultra wide camera. The level of detail is similar, but the noise is better controlled, but only by a very small margin. You can see more details in the shadows on photos taken with the Galaxy S22 +’s ultra wide camera, but the Galaxy S21 + has better control over the highlights (look at the clouds in the photos above).
With the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung also improved the camera camera’s hardware. The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 + relied on 64 MP sensors and then zoomed in digitally to achieve 3x zoom. Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 + use an 8MP sensor with 3x optical zoom.
Thanks to the true optical zoom lens, the photos taken with the Galaxy S22 + have lower noise, higher details and better colors. Galaxy S21 +’s images have purple fringes and a pink hue across the image.
Even at higher (digital) zoom levels, the Galaxy S22 +’s images have more detail. The Galaxy S21 +’s camera can produce decent results up to 10x zoom, but other than that we would not recommend using digitally zoomed images. Galaxy S22 + images can be used up to 20x zoom.
Both phones have extremely similar performance when it comes to taking 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 lots of details.
If you want full 10 MP resolution images from the front-facing camera, do not forget to switch to Wide mode. Normal mode saves images in only 6.5 MP resolution.
Images in portrait mode are also similar in detail. While the Galaxy S21 + offers a better dynamic range (see the clouds in the images below), the Galaxy S22 + offers a more precise separation between the subject and the background.
In low light conditions, the Galaxy S21 + and Galaxy S22 + offer excellent selfie image quality. Galaxy S21 + has better control of the dynamic range (see light source in the image below), but the skin tone is captured more precisely with Galaxy S22 +.
When the night mode is activated, both phones work equally well with their front-facing cameras. Fantastic 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 + show a 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 record 8K 24fps and 4K 60fps videos using the rear-facing cameras. I have sewn a side-by-side image (visible below) from 4K 60fps videos recorded with Galaxy S21 + and Galaxy S22 +. Galaxy S22 +’s 50MP sensor captures more detailed (look at the grass and leaves) and smoother videos compared to Galaxy S21 +. While panning, the Galaxy S21 +’s videos have a bit of jitter.
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 detail and in general they are not worth the storage space they take up on the phone and the limit of 24 fps is also a notable drawback.
So is the Galaxy S22 + clearly better?
Samsung has really delivered what they 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 images and portraits are also better. 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 example, it offers a slightly wider dynamic range through its primary and front-facing cameras. It is also better for taking macro pictures. If you are a Galaxy S21 user and if you do not use the telecamera much, you are fine with your existing phone.
Of course, if you want the best possible camera experience, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is what you need to look at. We recently compared its cameras to the Galaxy S22 / S22 +, so be sure to check it out!
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