January 17, 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21: News, Leaks, Release, Specs, and Rumors!


2020 saw the release of some truly impressive Android phones, one of the best Android phones being the Galaxy S20 from Samsung. The S20 set out to deliver on every front that it could, and for the most part, it succeeded with flying colors.

It’s now been almost a year since the S20 came out, though, which means it’s time to start looking ahead. The smartphone industry moves at a rapid pace, and in just a few days, it’ll be time for the Galaxy S21.

Whether you’re interested in specs, design renders, pricing info, or anything else, here’s everything we know so far about the Samsung Galaxy S21!

Unmatched



Samsung Galaxy S20

One of the best Android phones you can buy in 2020

We’re just as excited about the Galaxy S21 as you are, but if you need a phone right now, don’t feel like you have to wait months for it. The Galaxy S20 that’s currently available is excellent in just about every regard. It has a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, incredible performance, great cameras, and long battery life — all in a wonderfully compact form factor.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Announcement & Release date

Galaxy Unpacked London

Source: Android Central

Samsung’s Galaxy S phones launch early on in the year, often around March. For some perspective, here are the release dates for the past few Galaxy S handsets.

  • Galaxy S8 — April 21, 2017
  • Galaxy S9 — March 16, 2018
  • Galaxy S10 — March 8, 2019
  • Galaxy S20 — March 6, 2020

One would assume that Samsung will follow suit with that timeline, but things will be different for 2021. On January 3, Samsung announced that it’ll be holding its next Unpacked event on January 14. This is more than likely where the S21 will be unveiled, making it the earliest in the year we’ve ever gotten a new Galaxy S release.

The way Samsung announces the Galaxy S21 lineup will also be quite a bit different than usual. The company usually holds a big in-person event where press and media from all over the world come to attend, but that isn’t happening for this lineup of phones. Instead, the S21 will be unveiled via a virtual-only event that everyone can watch online.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Regular, Plus, Ultra?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Trio Leaked Renders

Source: LetsGoDigital

For the past two years, Samsung’s Galaxy S has come in a package of three distinct models. 2019 saw the release of the Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+, whereas 2020 gave us the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra. According to the latest rumors, we’re in for another year of three different phones.

Galaxy S21 Leaked Render

Source: LetsGoDigital

Starting first with the Samsung Galaxy S21, this will be the baseline model of the S21 family. It’ll offer three rear cameras and flagship specs across the board, but rumor has it that Samsung will use a plastic back just like it did with the S20 FE and Note 20. Why? The Galaxy S21 is expected to be quite a bit cheaper than the Galaxy S20, possibly costing as little as $850.

Galaxy S21 Plus Leaked Render

Source: LetsGoDigital

Then there’s the Galaxy S21+, which will be a bit more in line with the traditional flagship experience we’ve come to expect. That means a glass back, a larger battery, and a bigger display for even more immersive content consumption. The S20+ ended up earning our praise as the “best phone for most people,” so we’re really interested in seeing if the S21+ can keep that title for another year.

Galaxy S21 Ultra Leaked Render

Source: LetsGoDigital

And, of course, we have the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The S20 Ultra ended up being a bit of a disappointment thanks to its camera focusing issues and exorbitantly high price, but from what we’ve seen so far, the S21 Ultra should be a much more appealing device. Not only do we expect Samsung to have completely resolved the camera issues, but the S21 Ultra will also come with support for the S Pen. That gives a very distinct edge over the regular S21 and S21+, in addition to even better cameras and longer battery life. We still expect it to be rather expensive at around $1400, but it’s looking like Samsung will do a better job of justifying that cost.

Will there be a Galaxy S21e?

Unfortunately for people looking to Samsung to compete with the iPhone 12 mini, there’s no indication that Samsung will follow suit in 2021 with a smaller Galaxy S21e. That said, the regular S21 should be roughly the same size as the S20 at 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm.

More models to come?

According to one genuinely surprising leak, Samsung may have up to 900 Galaxy S21 variants planned for the future. When you factor in the three main models, then add in different chipsets, storage and RAM options, you get a decent variety of unique phones, but certainly not hundreds.

Most of the variety could come from different variants specific to each country, including unique color options you won’t get in the states. Allegedly, there could be as many as 11 different colored Galaxy S21s to come, including navy, red, and brown. And there may be more differences and upgrade options we don’t know about yet, but could learn about at Samsung Unpacked on January 14.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Price

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Phantom Black Official Render

Source: WinFuture

When it comes to price, we don’t have any concrete info at the moment. But thanks to past retail prices of previous Galaxy handsets, we can start to get an idea of what we should expect.

  • Galaxy S9 — $720
  • Galaxy S9+ — $840
  • Galaxy S10 — $899
  • Galaxy S10+ — $999
  • Galaxy S20 — $1000
  • Galaxy S20+ — $1200
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra — $1400

Just like virtually all smartphone makers, Samsung is known for increasing prices every year. The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra were easily the most expensive Galaxy S phones ever, but they also introduced technologies we hadn’t before seen — such as 120Hz displays and Qualcomm’s (extremely costly) Snapdragon 865 chip with 5G connectivity.

While it would be logical to expect a similar price bump for the S21 series, we’re hearing that Samsung may try to tone down the prices of its newest phones to make them a bit more palatable for a smartphone market beset by pandemic-related financial anxieties.

Here’s what we’re expecting according to the latest reports:

  • Galaxy S21 — $850
  • Galaxy S21+ — $1049
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra — $1400

Along with prices (hopefully) going down, you can also expect to get less in the box with the Galaxy S21 than you did with the S20. Rumor has it that Samsung is going to follow in Apple’s footsteps by not including a charger or earbuds in the S21’s box. This is still very much a rumor and not confirmed to happen, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Samsung following suit like this.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Design

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Phantom Silver

Source: WinFuture

As you’ve seen by now, the design language for the Galaxy S21 series is both familiar and different compared to past Samsung devices. We’re expecting flat displays with no drastic curves, centered hole punch cutouts, and matte finishes for the backsides. Where things get really interesting is with the rear camera housing.

Rather than existing as its own separate block, the camera bumps for the S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra seem to flow seamlessly into the rest of the body. It’s a unique look we haven’t really seen before that we expect people will either love or hate.

Samsung S21 Render Leak

Source: Evan Blass

The benefit of this is that it should allow for smaller camera humps than we had for the S20 family, and depending on how crazy Samsung wants to get, some really fun colors. We’ve already seen a purple back color with a gold-accented camera housing, and if you ask me, it’s downright gorgeous.

As for other design elements, we’re not expecting a 3.5mm headphone jack or expandable storage (at least for the regular and Plus models). The headphone jack’s absence isn’t surprising, but the decision to back away from expandable storage for the S21 and S21+ is pretty interesting. You’ll still get expandable storage if you splurge for the S21 Ultra, but this does raise concern around Samsung possibly axing the feature altogether when it comes time for the Galaxy S22.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Specs

Galaxy S21 Plus Leaked Render

Source: LetsGoDigital

When it comes to specs, the Galaxy S21 series looks to be a year of refinement rather than revolution. We’ll get the usual spec upgrades here and there, but outside of some notable camera changes, there isn’t anything here that’s unexpected or out of the ordinary.

Category Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21+ Galaxy S21 Ultra
Operating System Android 11
One UI 3
Android 11
One UI 3.0
Android 11
One UI 3.0
Display 6.2-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
563ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
6.7-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
525ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
6.8-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
511ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
Memory 12GB 12GB 12GB
16GB
Storage 128GB
256GB
128GB
256GB
128GB
256GB
512GB
Rear Camera 1 12MP wide 12MP wide 108MP wide
Rear Camera 2 64MP telephoto 64MP telephoto 10MP telephoto (3x)
Rear Camera 3 12MP ultra-wide 12MP ultra-wide 10MP telephoto (10x)
Rear Camera 4 12MP ultra-wide
Front Camera 10MP 10MP 40MP
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,800 mAh 5,000 mAh
S Pen support ✔️
Dimensions 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm 161.55 x 75.6 x 7.86mm 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm

We know more about the S21 Ultra’s camera setup because of a tweet by Max Winebach who teased the below configuration. We’ve heard speculation that the S21 Ultra will have two telephoto lenses at different focal differences, at least one of which will be powered by a prism, though it’s possible that they could use the same mechanism for both lenses.

We also know that the latest Qualcomm processor is a must. That means the Snapdragon 888 with support for 5G. We also anticipate Samsung will stick with its 120Hz AMOLED displays, at least three rear cameras, and ample RAM and storage.

The addition of 5G and the 120Hz screen were big staples for the Galaxy S20, making the phone an exciting upgrade even if you had the S10. These won’t be new features for the S21, so if you picked up the S20 last year, upgrading this year likely won’t be as compelling.

What is new, at least for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, is its alleged support for 120Hz at Quad HD resolution. Just like the S20 lineup, the S21 and S21+ are expected to support QHD+ or an adaptive frame rate that hits up to 120Hz, but not both simultaneously. The linked leak above showed that the S21 Ultra can be set to 3200 x 1440 (WQHD+) while also placed in “Adaptive” mode, for some top-tier performance.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series Software

Bixby Voice on the Galaxy S20 Ultra

Source: Android Central

In our Samsung One UI 3.0 review, we praised the new OS for bringing Android 11’s best features to Samsung phones starting last month. But the software updates won’t stop there: Samsung will launch One UI 3.1 alongside the Galaxy S21 series during its Unpacked event on January 14, and with it you’ll get access to a bevy of new features and tricks.

Better cameras and displays are swell, but you’ll also want your software experience with your new Samsung phone to feel groundbreaking. Judging by a new leak of Galaxy S21 software features, we’re excited to test them out.

For starters, you’ll find an option to ‘Continue apps on other devices’, letting you transfer what you’re doing to another compatible device. You can assign specific videos or AR emojis to contacts that will appear when they call you. And, taking advantage of the Galaxy S21’s improved cameras, you’ll find a “Director’s View” mode that lets you swap between the front and rear cameras without needing to stop recording.

Other One UI 3.1 software leaks have suggested that you’ll be able to unlock your Galaxy S21 with your voice, or that you’ll be able to substitute Samsung Free with Google Discover when you swipe left on your Galaxy S21 homescreen.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series FAQ

Galaxy S21 Leaked Renders

Source: LetsGoDigital

Why is Samsung launching its phones earlier than usual in 2021?

There are many reasons Samsung may choose to push up its flagship phones’ launch date, but at its core, it comes down to anticipating the market. Samsung usually launches its phones months after the new iPhones, which puts it out of cycle for people cross-shopping. By launching in January, Samsung gets to go head-to-head with the new iPhones more closely than ever before.

Samsung is also launching these phones into an economic downturn, which will affect demand. Being in the market longer than any other 2021 flagship phone will ensure that it gets the longest and more serious chance at success.

Since the S21 Ultra will support the S Pen, what does that mean for the Galaxy Note?

The Galaxy S and Note lines have been converging for half a decade now, and in 2020, they were more alike than ever. Samsung hasn’t officially said anything about getting rid of the Note lineup, but based on where we are right now, that does seem like a possibility. Numerous reports have indicated that Samsung is killing the Note brand so it can focus more on its Z Flip and Z Fold releases, and when you factor that together with the S21 Ultra’s S Pen support, a world without the Note seems more likely than ever.

Unmatched



Samsung Galaxy S20

One of the best Android phones you can buy in 2020

We’re just as excited about the Galaxy S21 as you are, but if you need a phone right now, don’t feel like you have to wait months for it. The Galaxy S20 that’s currently available is excellent in just about every regard. It has a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, incredible performance, great cameras, and long battery life — all in a wonderfully compact form factor.

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