The Galaxy S21 hits the same price sweet spot as the iPhone 12, but there are more challenges ahead2
The S20 phones were released in March last year, just as the coronavirus was taking hold around the world. The handsets were also on the higher side of the price spectrum. Sales never really took off, which is apparently why the range is getting discontinued in key markets.
The starting price of the new models has been reduced by $200 at the expense of the microSD slot, charging brick, and earphones.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra features a 6.8-inch screen with QHD+ (3,200x1,440) resolution and a 515 PPI. It also supports a 120Hz refresh rate at QHD+. The S20 Ultra only supported this refresh rate at FHD.
The S21 and S21 Plus have an FHD+ (2,400x1,080) resolution, which is unusual for premium phones. Even last year's S20 and S20 Plus have a QHD+ (3,200x1,440) resolution.
The S21 and S21 Plus have a PPI of 421 and 394, respectively. In contrast, the predecessors offer a PPI of 563 and 525. Samsung claims that lower PPI isn't exactly a spec downgrade and says the standard and the Plus models have higher peak brightness than their predecessors (an increase from 1,200 nits to 1,300 nits).
Regardless of what the company says, it's evident that it has prioritized cost cuts over specs and features. Whether the strategy will work remains to be seen.
Launching the new phones earlier than usual might prove to be a bad idea
According to a pre-launch analysis by analytics company Counterpoint Research, although the new phones will likely perform slightly better than the S20, they might not do as well as the Galaxy S10. The forecast was made on the basis of factors such as extended replacement cycles, increased competition, proximity to the iPhone 12 release, and uncertainty around pricing.
The research firm noted that the delay in the launch of the iPhone 12 and the accelerated release of the S21 series puts Samsung's new phones within 12 weeks of iPhone 12's launch, something which "is not ideal from a price comparison standpoint.”
The firm also said that the iPhone 12 is hitting a sweet spot with the $799 base price and that S21's pricing will need to improve from S20 levels "for Samsung to avoid disappointment.”
Well, the phones are out now, and it's clear that Samsung was listening as S21's starting price matches iPhone 12's entry price.
That in no way guarantees that the Galaxy S21 will overtake the iPhone 12 in shipments, which appears to be doing remarkably well. Counterpoint Research’s Director of US Mobile Devices and Carrier Strategies explains why:
The smartphone industry has also become very crowded and Chinese vendors are not only releasing mid-to-low end phones with competitive specs but also more flagship handsets. Per Counterpoint, the S10 was contending with nearly 48 ‘$800-plus’ phones in 2018. The S21 will have to compete with more than 65.