Samsung Galaxy S21 series has been announced today and it has a few surprises of its own that have been rumoured for a while now.
There are 3 new Galaxy S21 series smartphones announced today by Samsung: The Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. This is the same strategy that they had with the Galaxy S20 series but there are a few controversial changes made.
Samsung has gone with a flatter display which is something I love with a selfie camera cutout at the middle. The back features a camera system with a two tone look which looks quite striking. They all have a metal frame with the S21+ and the S21 Ultra having Gorilla Glass Victus on both sides while the S21 having what Samsung calls a “glastic” rear which is fancy talk for a plastic back.
Speaking of the display, this is where the controversial changes start. The Galaxy S20 series all had 1440p displays but Samsung decided to change things a bit with the S21 family. Only the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 6.8 inch 3200 x 1440 AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. The Galaxy S21 and S21+ both have been relegated to have 6.2 inch and 6.7 inch 2400 x 1080 120Hz screens, which is not bad but it feels like a step down from the previous year. The displays are covered by the latest Gorilla Glass Victus.
They all run the Exynos 2100 chip which is Samsung’s first 5G integrated flaship SoC that promises 20% lower power consumption and 10% more performance. It uses a tri-cluster design like the Snapdragon 888 with a single powerful X1 core that runs at 2.9 Ghz, three high performing Cortex A78 cores and four power efficient Cortex A55 cores. This also as a tri core neural processing unit and can support camera resolutions of upto 200MP. The integrated 5G modem supports sub 6Ghz 5G upto 5.1Gbps as well as mmWave 5G upto 7.35Gbps. The US versions will get the Snapdragon 888 which is similar on paper but with a different image signal processor and GPU so we will have to see the differences between them.
The other controversial change is the RAM. The S21 and the S21 Plus still have 8GB of RAM each which is a bit disappointing while the S21 Ultra can be had with either 12GB or 16GB of RAM. They all come with either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage but the S21 Ultra has a 512GB of storage if you need all that storage. The most controversial one is that they don’t ship with chargers in the box which follows Apple’s move back in October where they stopped shipping travel chargers in the box.
The primary cameras seem unchanged from the Galaxy S20 series. The S21 and the S21 plus share the same 12MP f/1.8 main camera, 12MP f 2.2 ultrawide camera and the 64MP f/2.0 hybrid 3x telephoto camera.
The S21 Ultra has the same 108MP f/1.8 camera from the S20 Ultra, a 12MP f 2.2 ultrawide camera like its peers but adds two telephoto cameras (10MP f2.4 3x optical zoom and a 10MP f 4.9 with 10x optical zoom). The S21 and S21+ share the same 10MP selfie camera while the S21 Ultra retains the 40MP one just like before.
The battery capacities are largely unchanged from the S20 series except with the S21 Plus. The S211 has a 4000mAh battery, the S21 Plus got a bump to 4,8000mAh unit (up from 4,500mAh on the S20+) and the S21 Ultra still retains the 5,000mAh battery pack. They still have 25W fast charging and 15W fast wireless charging across the board.
They still share similar features like stereo speakers across the board tuned by their own AKG brand with Dolby Atmos support. The S21 Series also have IP68 water and dust resistance which has become normal at this point. They also ship with Android 11 out of the box.
The most interesting thing is that the S21 Ultra supports the S-Pen. The Note series have been known for their support for the S-Pen and now the fact that the S21 Ultra supports this feature makes it technically a Note device on paper. Other interesting connectivity features they possess include ultrawide band tracking (S21 Ultra and S21+) as well as WiFi 6 support with the S21 Ultra supporting WiFi 6E which supports 6Ghz WiFi networks in addition to the regular 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ones.
They will ship in different colors. The S21 will ship in either Phantom White, Phantom Grey, Phantom Pink or Phantom Violet. The S21 Plus comes in either Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver or Phantom Black. The S21 Ultra only comes in either Phantom Black or Phantom Silver.
The new S21 Series feel like a small increment at best. They are repackaged S20 series with new SoC’s and with the S21 Ultra, the addition of S-Pen support makes it a Note device by every definition.
Samsung has also dropped the price across the board. Thanks to its plastic back, the Galaxy S21 starts at $799 which is great for a ‘flagship’ phone and the Galaxy S21 Plus is $999 while the S21 Ultra is $1199. We will have to wait for the local pricing of these smartphones when they land in Kenya.