Tom’s Guide is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
By published 29 March 22
The Galaxy S22 takes on the iPhone 13 with a bright display and improved cameras — is it enough?
We eagerly anticipated this Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. iPhone 13 confrontation since this phone face-off is the biggest one so far. After all, Samsung and Apple rule the smartphone world, and the winner of this showdown can often lay claim to the title of best phone overall.
The Galaxy S22 certainly makes an impressive case now that we’ve fully reviewed Samsung’s phone. Besides a brighter display and a new chipset, the latest Galaxy S mode boasts much improved cameras, particularly the telephoto lens. That’s a key improvement, as a dedicated telephoto lens is something the iPhone 13 simply doesn’t have.
But the list of features missing from the iPhone 13 is a pretty short one. This phone features the best performing mobile silicon that we’ve tested, along with some pretty impressive cameras in its own right. Plus, Apple paid special attention to battery life for the entire iPhone 13 lineup, and this model reaps the benefits.
If you want to see how the ultimate Samsung and Apple flagships compare, be sure to check out our Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max face-off. But the Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. iPhone 13 comparison looks at the two phones most smartphone shoppers are likely to buy. And it turns out to be a very tight contest.
There’s not much separating the Galaxy S22 from the iPhone 13, at least when it comes to the starting price for both devices. You’ll pay $799 for either the Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13. And now that Apple has recognized that 64GB is too stinting for storage on a flagship phone, you’ll get 128GB of storage no matter which base model you get.
It’s when you start adding storage that things get interesting. A 256GB iPhone 13 costs $899 while the 512GB model increases the price to $1,099. The 256GB Galaxy S22 only costs an additional $50 over the base model price, so you can upgrade your storage for less with Samsung. Of course, there’s no 512GB Galaxy S22 model, so if you need to max out capacity, Apple’s your only choice.
The best iPhone 13 deals can help you lower the cost of Apple’s flagship phone. The same can be said of Samsung devices and the best Galaxy S22 deals.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22
The Galaxy S22 looks a lot like the Galaxy S21, right down to the Contour Cut design that allows the phone’s rear camera array to blend into the side of the device. Then again, the iPhone 13 adopted the iPhone 12’s look, so it’s not like you can ding Samsung for lack of originality.
Samsung is making much of the sustainability of this year’s model, as the new Galaxy phones incorporate ocean-bound recycled plastics in the materials used to make the phone. Even with the plastics, the Galaxy S22 uses a primarily glass back, one of the big changes from the Galaxy S21.
The Gorilla Glass Victus that Samsung uses on the S22’s front and back adds some durability, though at least one independent test claims the S22 is less durable than the S21 because of the move away from plastic. The iPhone 13, in contrast, has won raves for its durability, though you’ll still want to get one of the best iPhone 13 cases for added protection, just as you’d need one of the best Galaxy S22 cases.
Samsung gives you four color options — Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green and Pink Gold. That’s one fewer than the iPhone 13’s available colors, where you choose between black, white, blue, pink and red.
Despite each phone offering a display that’s bigger than 6 inches, both the Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 are surprisingly compact — easy to operate with one hand. Some may prefer the slightly rounded edges of the Galaxy S22 to the flat edges of the iPhone 13, but any Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. iPhone 13 design preference really boils down to personal taste.
The Galaxy S22’s 6.2-inch display offers slightly more space than the iPhone 13’s 6.1-inch screen, and of course, there’s no notch on Samsung’s phone — only a punch-hole cutout in the top center of the panel. But that’s not the story here. Rather, Samsung has increased brightness on all its Galaxy S22 models, including the entry-level version.
For the Galaxy S22, that means a maximum brightness of 1,300 nits. When we turned on HDR, we got a reading of 1,152 nits, though in SDR, we measured peak brightness at 672 nits with our light meter. The iPhone 13’s peak brightness came in at 795 nits. You’re not going to struggle to see either phone when you’re outside in bright sunlight.
Both phones capture the same 110% of the sRGB color spectrum, though that Galaxy S22 reading came with the phone’s display set to natural mode. Still, when streaming the Ms. Marvel trailer on YouTube side-by-side on both phones, the red in the Marvel logo looked a little richer on the Galaxy S22’s screen, and Kamala Khan’s uniform seemed to pop more. That could come down to a difference in color accuracy — the Galaxy S22’s Delta-E rating of 0.25 is just ahead of the iPhone 13’s 0.26 score. (Numbers closer to zero are better.)
The Galaxy S22 has one other advantage over the iPhone 13, with an adaptive refresh rate that adjusts depending on your on-screen activity. Scroll through a web page, and the S22’s refresh rate scales up to 120Hz; stare at a static photo. and the refresh rate drops to 48Hz. The iPhone 13 is stuck at 60Hz as Apple reserves adaptive refresh rates for the displays on its iPhone Pro models.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22
The iPhone 13 models quickly claimed a spot among the best camera phones, and when you look at the hardware improvements Apple’s introduced, it’s easy to see why. The iPhone 13 benefits from a main sensor that’s larger than what the iPhone 12 used; as a result, the sensor lets in more light.
The iPhone 13 continues to use 12MP cameras for both its wide and ultrawide lenses. The Galaxy S22 bumped up its main sensor to 50MP while the ultrawide angle camera has a wider field of view than previous Samsung models. More significantly, the Galaxy S22 now features a 3x optical zoom instead of the 3x hybrid zoom supported by the Galaxy S21. As the iPhone 13 lacks a telephoto lens, the Galaxy S22 enjoys a big advantage when it comes to cameras.
The iPhone tries mightily to keep up with the Galaxy S22 by using a digital zoom to capture this shot of the Oakland skyline. But if you look closely at the shot, you can see some distortion and noise creeping into the image. The S22’s photos remains pretty sharp at 3x, to the point where you can still read the lettering on the Tribune Tower.
When comparing shots taken with comparable lenses, though, things are a bit more evenly matched. Either the Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13 photo of this frog statue would be more than acceptable, though to my eye, the Galaxy S22 pumps up the colors a little too much. Not only does the iPhone 13 image look more natural, you can detect richer tones of green on the frog and brighter purple flowers among the ice plants.
The fruit stand proved a trickier shot, since the fruit is covered by a canopy and the background is a bright sunny day that threatens to wash out the rest of the scene. The iPhone is game, but you can see it has a hard time with all that light in the background. Things get a little fuzzy starting at the watermelon, and the cars parked behind the fruit stand look a little washed-out. Everything’s vibrant and in focus in the Galaxy S22 photo. The cars in the background really stand out, too, providing a nice contrast for the fruit.
Samsung really focused on improving photos when light is less than optimal, and I think you can see that in this shot of a fried chicken sandwich taken indoors. What light there is glistens off the sandwich roll in the Galaxy S22 photo. The iPhone photo, while acceptable, feels duller with the overall tone of the image a bit darker than the S22’s effort.
Testing out night mode, I’m torn as to which does the better job. I like that the black bear doesn’t fade into the background of the Galaxy 22 photo, but there’s a little bit of a halo of light emanating from behind the center of the bench, as the Galaxy S22 tries to account for the ambient lighting. The iPhone 13 shot doesn’t reveal that, making better use of the shadows to call out the colors it does capture.
Once again, I prefer the Galaxy S22 photo shot with the camera’s ultrawide angle lens. It’s a brighter shot than what the iPhone 13 produced, at least when it comes to the blue tone of the sky. The Galaxy S22 gets the color reproduction a little bit more true-to-life here.
I think the iPhone 13 takes a dramatically better portrait shot than the Galaxy S22 — puzzling since Samsung claims that its new phone relies on an AI Stereo Depth Map feature to better separate subject from background. To be fair, that’s not the issue here, as my daughter stands out from the orange tree behind her. Instead, I don’t care for the skin tone on the S22, especially compared to the iPhone 13’s warmer take. By adding more color to her face, the iPhone 13 also calls out the blue of her eyes, something that gets lost in the Galaxy S22 shot.
There are video features as well that I haven’t really explored, such as the Galaxy S22’s Auto Frame capability for tracking up to 10 people in any one shot. The iPhone 13 has an impressive feature of its own in Cinematic mode, where it can shift focus on the fly during video capture.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S22
Even with a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset powering the Galaxy S22 — at least for phones released in the U.S. and outside of Europe — Samsung’s flagship doesn’t put up much of a fight against the iPhone 13 and its A15 Bionic chip. In benchmark tests and everyday tasks, the Galaxy S22 improves upon other Android phones, but it simply can’t match the iPhone 13.
As for benchmarks, the iPhone’s single- and multicore scores on Geekbench 5 are 1,684 and 4,129 respectively. The Galaxy S22 turned in scores of 1,204 and 3,348 on those same tests. Things are more evenly matched on the graphics front, where the Galaxy S22’s 60 frames per second result on 3DMark’s Wild Life Unlimited test outpaced the 56 fps result turned in by the iPhone 13.
But our real-world test, in which we use Adobe Premiere Rush to transcode a 4K video, continues to be a showcase for the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic chip. Apple’s phone handled the video in just under 26 seconds. That’s almost half the time it took the Galaxy S22 (47 seconds).
Both phones feature extensive 5G support, though the Galaxy S22 features a more recent modem. There’s a Snapdragon X65 modem in the Galaxy S22, compared to the X60 modem in the iPhone 13 — the former is capable of faster speeds and better power efficiency.
Winner: iPhone 13
Battery life figured to be a tough comparison for the Galaxy S22, which actually shrunk its battery from the 4,090 mAH power pack in the Galaxy S21; the new phones uses a 3,700 mAh battery. Meanwhile, Apple went the opposite route, boosting the size of the batteries in every iPhone 13 model. Apple doesn’t disclose battery sizes, but teardowns suggest the iPhone 13 has a 3,095 mAh battery.
Now that we’ve tested both phones, we can see the impact of two phone makers going in different directions with battery size. The iPhone 13 lasted 10 hours and 33 minutes on our battery test, in which we set the brightness level of the phone’s screen to 150 nits and then have it surf the web over 5G until it runs out of power. The iPhone 13’s time is not only better than average for a smartphone, it’s a 2-hour improvement over the iPhone 12 on this test.
The Galaxy S22 didn’t fare as well. It failed to last 8 hours; only by turning off its adaptive refresh rate did we manage to get the Galaxy S22 to eke out an 8-hour, 2-minute time on our battery test.
Samsung regains a little ground with charging speeds. The Galaxy S22 supports 25W charging, compared to the 20W charging the iPhone 13 is capable of. That means you’ll be able to top off your Samsung phone faster. After 30 minutes of charging, we got a drained Galaxy S22 to 60%; the iPhone 13 only reached 51% in that time.
Winner: iPhone 13
Both phone run the latest versions of their respective operating systems — Android 12 for the Galaxy S22 and iOS 15 for the iPhone 13. The version of One UI 4.1 that ships on the Galaxy S22 does a particularly good job of introducing Android 12’s customization features, but iOS 15 has some welcome changes of its own, such as the ability to watch videos with other people on FaceTime calls via SharePlay and improvements to the Maps and Messages apps.
Apple previously enjoyed a big edge over Samsung with the amount of support if offered to its smartphones. iPhones that came out nearly seven years ago are still able to run iOS 15, for example. (More typically, iPhone users can expect five years of software support.) With the Galaxy S22, though, Samsung now promises four years of software updates plus an additional year of security support. That’s still not as generous as Apple’s policy, but it’s the best among Android phone makers.
We like the fact that the Galaxy S22 includes an under-display fingerprint sensor — that it’s very responsive also helps. The iPhone 13 lacks that feature, though it’s less of an oversight now that iOS 15.4 has come along with a feature that lets people wearing face masks unlock their iPhones with Face ID.
Winner: iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 edges ahead of the Galaxy S22 in our flagship face-off, riding its faster chipset and superior battery life to victory. The two phones are fairly evenly matched on design and cameras, while the Galaxy S22 sports the better display. But it’s hard to overlook how well the iPhone 13 performs and how long it lasts on a charge.
That’s not to say the Galaxy S22 isn’t one of the best Android phones. You can really see the improvements Samsung made to the S22’s cameras, and the increased software support really makes this smartphone a better value than before. Even storage upgrades aren’t that expensive, which we appreciate.
But Apple has put together a winning combination of hardware and software with the iPhone 13. The flagship phone looks good, takes excellent photos, and outperforms every other device on the market. There’s not much else you can ask for from a phone.
Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide. He’s been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.
Get instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.
Thank you for signing up to Tom’s Guide. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
Tom’s Guide is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site.
© Future US, Inc. Full 7th Floor, 130 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.