We had reported previously how Samsung was preparing to unveil its new line-up of devices earlier than usual thanks to an all-virtual Samsung Unpacked event. And last night Samsung delivered on the promise, giving us a first look at the new Samsung Galaxy S21 range which the company is launching on January 29 in the US (local release to come later in the year). You can see the important highlights of the event below thanks to The Verge:
Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus
Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones have always been a draw thanks to their premium build quality, super-powerful specs, and a range of great features, and it’s clear Samsung wants to keep the brand that way. The price for the new S21 and S21 Plus will be $799 and $999, respectively, a full $200 less than the prices from last year.
Considering how top-end mobile devices tend to only increase in price every year, this is a welcome change of direction from the company and hopefully a positive sign that the price creeps on high-end mobile devices may finally be coming to an end. This is only US pricing for now, but when these devices are officially launched locally we might see a similar price drop. Or the cost will remain the same, knowing our market.
Those cheaper prices do mean certain concessions in some areas, with both panel screens actually featuring a drop in resolution from 3200 x 1440 to a more modest but still high quality 2400 x 1080. RAM has also dropped from 12GB to 8GB. Those both seem like a step in the wrong direction from Samsung, though be honest, how many of you really needed all that extra power anyway? Both of these phones still able to achieve 120Hz refresh rates.
It’s not all downgrades though, as both phones feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 chipset and offer 5G, mmWave and sub-6GHz network support. The fingerprint sensors have also been upgraded to Qualcomm’s new 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2 which promises better speed and accuracy.
The battery on the S21 still is a beefy 4,000mAh power brick, while the S21 Plus has been upgraded to an even larger 4,800mAh one. That is enough battery to keep these devices going for a full day of constant usage.
On the design side of things, the phones drop the curved edges that have become a regular over the past two years, plus they’ve decided to embrace the camera bump along the way. Both the S21 and S21 Plus offer a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, along with a 10-megapixel selfie camera. A virtually identical set-up to the S20 models although Samsung is promising improved picture quality throughout, including a 30x “Space Zoom” mode.
Galaxy S21 Ultra
While the base Galaxy models were all about consolidation and improving the value offering rather than trying to just throw more resources into the phone, the S21 Ultra goes in the opposite direction. It keeps a lot of the new design elements from the other devices but offers far more improved specs with a 6.8-inch 3200 x 1440 OLED display.
This device comes with 12GB of RAM, a 5,000mAh battery, up to 512GB of storage, and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 processor, giving it greater power without those compromises. This new device will also support Samsung’s S Pen stylus, though this won’t be included in its starting price of $1199.
The Ultra also comes with an incredible 108-megapixel sensor and 100x zoom mode that might just be enough to prove that there is a brain inside Darryn’s head if you can get the right magnification (Editor’s note: WOW CRAIG RIGHT IN THE BACK). Along with this ridiculously overpowered camera, there is a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and not one, but two separate 10-megapixel telephoto cameras: one with a 3X zoom and one with 10X zoom. With Samsung revealing that the reason for all these extra lenses is to provide far more flexibility to the different shots that budding cell phone photographers need these days.
No charging bricks included
Also, important to perhaps note is that, like Apple, these new phones will not include a new charging brick in the box, though they will come with a USB-C to USB-C cable, so you should be able to use it with other similar power-bricks or USB-slots. With Samsung and Apple continuing to not include charging bricks in their phones, I think its an indication that the market doesn’t need it and we will start to see these becoming additional accessories instead.
Galaxy Buds Pro
Also not included is a pair of headphones in the box, with Samsung realising that most people probably already have a pair of their favourite headphones that they will want to keep using anyway, and if not, they will want you to try out one of their new Galaxy Buds Pro. These will offer improved active noise cancellation, a refined ambient sound mode, and an IPX7 rating for water resistance. From an audio quality perspective there is also an improvement, thanks to an 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter which not only will offer improved quality of sound for whatever you’re listening to but will also let you amplify the surrounding noise by up to 20 decibels to keep you aware of the world around you.
Perhaps importantly, these new buds don’t look like coffee beans either with Samsung preferring to avoid all those jokes this time around.
In the end, it was a surprising offering from Samsung with the company looking to add value rather than continued raw power. With the world in the midst of tough economic times thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic though I think that will be a welcome thing and probably allow them to grow their market share as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer even more.
Last Updated: January 15, 2021