Samsung's new Galaxy S21 phones raise the specs and lower the price
We've barely got into 2021 and the first flagship phones of the year are already here. Samsung just revealed its Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra handsets for 2021, following on from last year's Galaxy S20 series.
As is usual with the Galaxy S range, there are speed and camera improvements across the board. Among the more notable upgrades is the addition of S Pen stylus support for the S21 Ultra model, something that was previously exclusive to the Galaxy Note range.
There's quite a significant redesign too, with the phones sporting a wraparound style rear camera module that takes over the whole of the back casing in the top left corner. Despite these improvements and tweaks, all three models actually cost less than the respective handsets did last year.
All three new Galaxy S21 phones run the same processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in the US, and Samsung's own Exynos 2100 elsewhere. All three come with 5G, an in-screen fingerprint sensor, wireless charging, and an IP68 rating for maximum protection against water and dust.
Like last year, the Galaxy S21 is the smallest and cheapest of the set. It brings with it a 6.2-inch, 1,080 x 2,400-pixel AMOLED panel that runs at a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. You get 8 GB of RAM and either 128 GB or 256 GB of internal storage, while the battery capacity is rated at 4,000 mAh. Pricing starts at US$799.
The Galaxy S21+ is similar in many ways to the standard model, but it's bigger. It carries a 6.7-inch AMOLED display that again offers a resolution of 1,080 x 2,400 pixels and a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz. The same 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB or 256 GB of internal storage options are available, with the battery capacity bumped up to 4,800 mAh. The starting price for this model is $999.
Both the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21+ have the same triple camera setup on the back: 64-MP telephoto (with 3x optical zoom), 12-MP wide, and 12-MP ultrawide are the three cameras in question. Samsung is promising better results than ever, as you would expect, and there are some cool new software features to explore – including a stability lock when zooming that emulates a physical tripod.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is another rung up the premium smartphone ladder. This phone boasts a 6.8-inch, 1,440 x 3,200-pixel AMOLED screen, with a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. With this device you can order either 12 GB or a whopping 16 GB of RAM, while the internal storage options are 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB. The battery capacity is 5,000 mAh, and if this is the phone for you, you'll need to pay from $1,199.
We've already mentioned the stylus support, and there are four rear cameras on the back: a 10-MP telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom, a 10-MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, a 108-MP wide camera, and a 12-MP ultrawide camera. It's reportedly the "most advanced pro-grade camera system" Samsung has ever made.
In terms of specs and Samsung hyperbole at least, these phones are going to be tough to top over the rest of the year – and it's impressive that Samsung managed to get the starting prices down from last year's models too. The Galaxy S21 series really goes all out with the available colors as well: four for the S21, five for the S21+, and five for the S21 Ultra, so you should be able to find something you like. Preorders are open now, with shipping and store availability on January 29.
Samsung also used the Galaxy S21 launch event to unveil its new Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds. There's intelligent active noise canceling technology on board, as well as support for Dolby Atmos and 360-degree audio. Samsung says the new earbuds offer the most immersive sound of the series so far. They'll set you back $199.99.
Finally, we have the Galaxy SmartTags to round out the event. These Tile tracker competitors stick to your gadgets and let you locate them with a map or by making them emit a noise – the idea being that you never misplace your phone (or any other device) again. There are standard and Plus models, and they start at $19.
Product page: Samsung Galaxy S21