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On February 2022, Samsung has unveiled their latest flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy series S22. Just like last year, they come in three guise: the regular S22, the S22+ and the high end S22 Ultra. And just like last year, they bought in new chips and features that aim to compete with Apple and other android phones to be the best smartphone on the market. Let’s see how they fare against their ultimate opponent: the iPhone 13 series.
Samsung S22 Family
From a design point of view, the S22 looks very similar to the S21, which itself is a refined version of the S20. One can safely say that Samsung has followed Apple’s footsteps in having a refined design instead of trying to redraw everything from scratch like from the S to the S10. This is not necessarily a bad thing because the S22 is a solid and well-designed phone.
On the hardware side, the S22 series uses the new Qualcomm 8 Gen 1 SOC and Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 SOC for the UK and EU market. Storage begins at 128 GB and goes all the way to 1 TB. 128 GB has 8 GB of RAM while the upper tier has 12 GB of RAM. Battery size is slightly smaller than the S21 but still retains the same performance, which suggests a better SOC efficiency. The S22 Ultra now has the built in S-Pen which previously reserved for the Samsung Note series. I guess Samsung finally figured out that the Ultra series and the Note series are too similar so decided to merge both products into one. If you liked the S-Pen before, you are going to like it now.
One of the major changes is in the software side. One criticism of Android phones is the way Android is structured, there is basically no long term support from Google or incentive for the phone manufacturer to update the phone software after they haven been released in the market. This end up with situation where the iPhone 6s which was released in 2015 still have OS updates today while the Samsung S7 which was released in February 2016 only supports up to Android 8, which was released 4 years ago. Samsung pledged that the S22 will have an OS update from Android 12 (current release) to Android 16 (4-5 years from now). This is a big deal as smartphones are now very mature and getting the latest software update incentives long term usage of said phone which means less e-waste.
Apple iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 is the latest iPhone from Apple as of early 2022. I prefer to count Apple’s iPhone generations as the emergence of one design change to another, in which, this is the 5th generation of iPhone and the 3rd revision of this generation. Design-wise, the major design change of the iPhone 13 is the redesigned notch which put the earpiece closer to the top of the iPhone and the larger camera elements which necessitates the camera to be in diagonal orientation instead of inline as in iPhone 11 and 12.
Software wise on the surface it does not change much. Generally speaking, the iOS experience does not change much from one generation of iPhone to another. Yes, there are new features for each generation, but if you don’t use Apple first class apps that much or heavily play mobile games, it does not change much from one generation to another. It’s such stability which ensures that the iPhone lasts far longer than the Android counterpart and it is such a design decision that allows the last-last-last gen iPhones like the iPhone 6s to continue to receive new OS updates every year.
Performance / Usage
As we covered in our SnapDragon 8 Gen 1 vs A15 Bionic comparison that the A15 is the SOC to beat, except for gaming performance. Efficiency wise, the A15 is also the one to beat as the iPhone having the juice to be used all day despite having a battery that is almost half the size of Samsung’s.
Most talk about smartphone performance has switched from pure everyday raw performance to photography performance. Specifically night time photography. DxOmark has put the iPhone at 137, which is one of the best smartphones to date. But it is already bested by Samsung’s cheaper S21 FE offering, so expect the S22 to have better camera system by the time the results are officially out.
So now, it comes to the real questions. Which phone to get? Both are solid smartphones in their own right, but it comes down to personal preferences. While the Samsung S22 has a slight edge in terms of build quality, the screen and camera, the iPhone is a more polished product in terms of software.
And there’s also the question of the ecosystem, how things work together with other products. Apple, no doubt, has the better ecosystem because they vertically control everything: every chip in their product from the laptop to the phones to the headphones is their own design and they control the entire software stack. Samsung simply has to rely with other software vendors to get where they need to be. Despite Samsung’s immense size (they make literal tanks) and Samsung is one of Apple’s suppliers, they don’t have the vertical integration like Apple does.
So in the end, the smartphone is the product that you have in your hands. Both options, Apple or Samsung, are solid choices, but one of them should suit you best. The best ecosystem, which means integration with your other devices, would be Apple, but Samsung has a better camera system.
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