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Samsung Galaxy S22 vs iPhone 13: Which should you buy?

Samsung just launched its 2022 flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Plus, and S22 Ultra. With Apple already having the iPhone 13-series out for sale, there’s a pretty big reason to cross-shop these two device families against each other. Both are seen as the best phones for their respective platforms, both come with extensive ecosystems and both will have a large selection of cases and third-party accessories.

From this slate of devices, we’ll be comparing the basic iPhone 13 and the Samsung Galaxy S22 to see which of these two you should buy. They’re the basic models of each line, and more similar than they are different.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S22 iPhone 13
Size 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm (6.12 x 2.93 x 0.31 inches) 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm (5.78 x 2.81 x 0.30 inches)
Weight 168 grams (5.89 ounces) 174 grams (6.14 ounces)
Screen size 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X capacitive touchscreen (120Hz) 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED
Screen resolution 2340 x 1080 pixels (411 pixels per inch) 2532 x 1170 pixels (460 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 12, One UI 4.0 iOS 15
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Apple Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Exynos 2200 Apple A15 Bionic
RAM  8GB 4GB
Camera 50-megapixel wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto rear, 10MP front Dual-lens 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP TrueDepth front
Video 4K at 60 frames per second 4K at up to 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.2 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C, 3.2 Lightning connector
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display No, FaceID instead
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 3,700mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Fast wireless charging (15W)

3,240mAh
Fast charging (20W charger sold separately)MagSafe wireless charging (15W)Qi wireless charging (7.5W)
App marketplace Google Play Store Apple App Store
Network Support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, Green Black, blue, green, white, and red
Prices $799+ $799+
Review score News 4.5 stars out of 5

Design, display, and durability

Galaxy S22 Ultra with S22 Plus and S22.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra with S22 Plus and S22. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Samsung’s phone designs have been killing it for a while now, and the S22 doesn’t fail there. If you liked the design of the Galaxy S21, you’ll love this even more. If you didn’t like the S21, well, you might still like this phone. One of the biggest changes is the swapping of the S21’s plastic back for a more conventional glass back on the S22. It’s a nice design change that adds a bit more heft to the phone and makes it feel premium.

Apple has kept the same broad design as the iPhone 12. There are small changes here, with a narrower notch and a slanted rear camera layout, but the squared-off edges and metal and glass sandwich design make a return.

Display-wise, both devices sport Full HD OLED displays, meaning deep blacks and lots of contrast. These are excellent displays that would tie if not for one thing — the lack of a higher refresh rate on the iPhone. Apple has kept its iPhones locked to 60Hz for a while, and while the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have 120Hz variable refresh rate displays, the iPhone 13 does not. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, matches the higher-spec iPhones blow-for-blow in this regard.

Both of these are built solidly, with Samsung covering the S22 with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the front and the rear, and its Super Armour aluminum on the side. The iPhone has Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass with aluminum for the sides. Both of these will be heavily resistant to scratches and drops, so you can feel comfortable getting either.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Performance, Battery Life, and Charging

Galaxy S22 Plus charging port.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Both of these phones are pretty fast and smooth. Samsung has either the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the Exynos 2200, and Apple ships the iPhone 13 with its powerful A15 Bionic. The iPhone has generally outperformed its Android counterparts in benchmark software, but phones with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 have shown themselves to be no slouches either. You needn’t worry too much about speed when it comes to either of these two.

Battery-wise however, the iPhone pulls ahead — and it isn’t even close. The iPhone 13 series have been rated for excellent battery life that lasts for over a day, while Samsung has lowered the rated capacity of the S22’s battery from the S21’s capacity. It wasn’t especially good at 3,800mAh, and early reviews say to expect the S22’s 3,700 mAh battery to be strictly mediocre.

Samsung may charge a bit faster with its 25W charging speeds, but the iPhone will keep you away from the charger for quite a bit longer.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13

Cameras

iPhone 13 camera from rear view.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 has three cameras, a 50-megapixel main camera, a 10MP camera for telephoto scenarios, and a 12MP main shooter for ultra-wide scenarios. The iPhone 13 comes with just two cameras, a wide and an ultra-wide. It’s the same combination you’ll find in phones like the Google Pixel 5a and Pixel 6, and has been used by Apple since the launch of the iPhone 11.

While Samsung appears to have the edge looking strictly at the numbers, Apple has historically been more consistent with its camera performance than Samsung. Our test of the S22 Ultra shows it to be pretty close to the S21 Ultra. In other words, we can expect the less-capable S22 to perform similarly to the S21 and in turn be outperformed by the iPhone 13. The cameras will still be good, and the S22’s telephoto lens offers flexibility that can’t be replaced — but Apple’s reliability offers an undeniable edge in day-to-day usage.

We’ll have to wait for our full review of the S22 to give a definitive judgment, but it’s fair to give it to the iPhone 13 for now.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13

Software and Updates

Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus screens side-by-side.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S22 ships with Android 12 and OneUI 4. This is a sophisticated take on Google’s Android 12 that preserves the customization, while toning down the playfulness. All the privacy features of Android 12 make the leap, and Samsung also makes it easy to work with other Galaxy-branded devices. The iPhone 13 runs the same iOS 15 as other iPhones. You get the new focus modes, updates to native apps, and social features that Apple touts. Whether iOS is better or Android is an argument that’ll lead to nowhere, instead we’ll just leave it up to personal preference.

Where the iPhone outshines the S22 definitively is its software support longevity. Samsung promises four years of software updates for its phones, with a fifth year of security upgrades. This makes the company best-in-class among its Android peers. While Apple does not explicitly promise a certain number of years of support, the company has made a habit of updating its smartphones for as many as six years — including operating system upgrades and security updates. If you plan on holding onto your phone until it almost falls apart, there’s only one choice. Apple’s upgrade record means you can buy an iPhone 13 in 2024 and feel confident you’ll be supported for three or four years down the line.

Winner: Apple iPhone 13

Special Features

Samsung Galaxy S22 showing Google's Material You design.
Google

As these are modern flagships, you’ll find they have big and bright OLED displays, 5G, fast charging, and other table stakes features. At the same time, both being the basic models, they are (in some way) defined by their lack of special features. The iPhone 13 does not have a high refresh rate, nor does it have a telephoto camera. The S22 does not have a 108MP wide camera, nor does it have a periscope camera.

The S22 lacks a bit less than the iPhone, and what it does lack is simply excess, while things like high refresh rates have been standard on flagship Android phones for a while.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is currently up for pre-order with a shipping date of February 25. It’ll sell for $800 for the 128GB model, though you’ll be able to find it for much much cheaper when trade-in deals hit.

The iPhone 13 on the other hand also retails for $800 for the 128GB model and is available right now. You won’t be able to get many deals on this since Apple’s iPhones rarely depreciate so soon after launch.

Overall winner: iPhone 13

Though it is tempting to give the Samsung Galaxy S22 the win due to its broader selection of cameras, 120Hz display, and better design, the iPhone 13 pulls ahead because of two very important things: Longevity, and longevity.

No, we didn’t stutter. On a day-to-day basis, the iPhone 13’s battery will last you pretty much the whole day. It’s a feature that you won’t know you needed until you have it, and Samsung’s is underwhelming by all reports. At the same time, Apple’s long-term support policies mean that you hold on to this phone for four, or even five years, without missing a major software update.

Neither option here is bad, and both are very good. But the iPhone is excellent in two things that just matter so very much.

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