The Galaxy S21/S21+ land with Contour Cut camera, 5G integration, and huge finger scanner!
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If you are wondering what's the Contour Cut Camera we mention in the title, it's the name of the new Galaxy S21 series design that blends the camera island seamlessly with the phones' frame, making them look like they were cut from a single block of marble metal.
Not only do the Galaxy S21 and S21+, as well as the newly-announced Galaxy S21 Ultra, sport an intriguing new design, but they also come in a new color - Phantom Violet - with the hue emphasized by a camera island painted in shiny golden color. The main Galaxy S21 vs S21+ differences?
- 6.2" vs 6.7" Dynamic AMOLED 2x flat 1080p displays with 48Hz-120Hz adaptive refresh rate
- $799 vs $999 price for the base 128GB models
- 4000mAh vs 4800mAh batteries
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ prices and release date
- Galaxy S21/S21+ price: $799/$999 for the base 128GB models
- Galaxy S21/S21+ release date: January 29
- Galaxy S21/S21+ preorder start: January 14
- Galaxy S21/S21+ preorder bonuses: Samsung SmartTags, accessory credit
The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ preorders start at 11am Eastern today, and include Samsung Store credit, as well as free Galaxy SmartTag. Sorry, no free Galaxy Buds Pro, but you can use some of the credit towards a purchase.
What's more interesting, though, is that if you order at the link above, straight from Samsung.com, you will be able to get exclusive Phantom Gold and Phantom Red colors, in addition to the other launch colors.
Galaxy S21 and S21+ colors, dimensions, and display size
Glass vs Glasstic, for a price
Starting from the exterior, the new Contour Cut design is a sight to behold, as it disposes with the perception that the camera island sticks out like a sore thumb at the rear of the phones, an image we have become all too familiar in the last few years when multi-camera phones proliferated.
Not only that, but the camera island that fuses with the frame is painted in a different, glossy color that sits in contrast with the matte surface of the phones' bodies, only one of which is made out of glass, as per Samsung's comment on our question:
The Galaxy S21 and S21+ are available in the following colors and storage models:
- Galaxy S21: Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink and Phantom White in 128GB and 256GB models with 8GB RAM (256GB available in Phantom Gray only)
- Galaxy S21+: Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black in 128GB and 256GB models with 8GB RAM (256GB available in Phantom Black only)
The 6.2" display diagonal of the Galaxy S21 is way smaller than the 6.7" panel of the S21+, making for an easy choice, depending on whether you are out for a compact, or big-screen phone. The phones are a tad wider this time around, but thanks to the tall aspect ratio still bearable for one-handed usage, especially the S21 which could very well be called a compact phone in this day and age.
Moreover, they carry Qualcomm's newest ultrasonic finger scanner that is, thankfully, much larger and faster than the fingerprint readers in the S10 and S20 which were slow and cumbersome to use in comparison with the competiton.
Thankfully, Samsung ditched the 1440p nonsense on small phones like the S21, and equipped both handsets with 1080p panels, which bodes well for their battery lives compared to their predecessors.
This time around, the Dynamic AMOLED 2x displays also can go down to 48Hz when you are watching movies, for instance, or rev up to 120Hz when you scroll and browse, all automagically, and, in a $799 phone like the S21, it's a pretty stand-out feature. The iPhone 12 Pro, for instance, that costs as much as the S21+, is still stuck at a 60Hz display.
Galaxy S21 and S21+ camera
- Galaxy S21/S21+ camera specs: 12MP main/64MP zoom/12MP ultra-wide camera sensors
- New Galaxy S21 camera features: Birghter Night mode, Portrait mode with improved separation for selfies, Zoom Lock for clear shots at 30x
- New Galaxy S21 video features: Super Steady video at 60fps, 8K Snap, Director's View and Single Take with Dynamic Slow-mo
While on paper the new phones don't sport different camera kits than their predecessors, what with the 64MP zoom sensors, the 12MP main ones, and the 12MP ultra-wide shooters, the camera quality has undergone an evolution in the arguably way more important software department.
The new 5nm chipsets now allow for more powerful computational photography that allows for faster low-light and HDR capture, resulting in a brighter, sharper, better-exposed imagery. They also can crank the video recording up to 8K, if needed, or do wonders with 4K 120fps capture. Still, if you have the S20/S20+, you probably won't feel compelled to upgrade just for the camera set improvements alone.
Galaxy S21 and S21+ specs and battery
- 5nm Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 chipsets
- Integrated 5G modems
- 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB storage
- 4000mAh vs 4800mAh batteries
Speaking of the battery life, Samsung promises more than a day of intensive use from the S21, and about a day from the larger, 6.7" S21+. This time around, we are inclined to believe the hype, as the phones ship with several new features that make whole-day battery life extraction from the 4000mAh and 4800mAh packs possible.
First off, the phones ship with chipsets - Snapdragon 888 in the US and Korea, or Exynos 2100 globally - that sport the most modern 5nm EUV process of production, straight out of Samsung's foundries. They are more efficient and at the same time more powerful than the 7nm platform of their predecessors. Not only that, but both Qualcomm and Samsung have now managed to integrate a 5nm 5G modem for a well-rounded and frugal 5G system-on-chip solution at long last.
The new LTPO panesl with adaptive refresh rate also don't run at 120Hz all the time, but only when it makes sense, to the joy of the battery pack. Needless to say, the fact that screen has to light up and the graphics subsystem manage much less pixels now is the biggest contributor to what may turn out to be the best battery life on a Galaxy flagship so far, but we'll pass judgement when we run our tests. Which one would you preorder?