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Samsung Galaxy S21 release date, price, features and news

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Samsung Galaxy S21 release date, price, features and news
The Samsung Galaxy S21 series is now official. New colors, a slight visual redesign, and top-notch specs. Read more below.

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Galaxy S21 Price and Release Date

Samsung was criticized for its decision to increase prices with the Galaxy S20 series, but it seems that an ear has been kept low to the ground. The Galaxy S21 series doesn't incur a higher price tag; actually, the pricing is a bit lower than what we had braced for. Here are the official starting prices for the lineup:

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 5G 128GB — $799
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G 128GB — $999
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G 128GB — $1,199

Currently, these are the best Galaxy S21 deals:

*Discount prices with trade-in, BOGO, and/or store credit S21 Ultra offers
*Discount prices with trade-in, BOGO, and/or store credit S21 Plus offers
*Discount prices with trade-in, BOGO, and/or store credit S21 offers

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Galaxy S21 Design

With flat displays and a redesigned camera island in tow, the Galaxy S21 series is definitely more elegant than the somewhat unrefined and crude Galaxy S20. All three feature refreshed design that aims to blend the camera with the frame of the phone and make it less obtrusive. Aside from that, the S21+ and S21 Ultra both use Gorilla Glass back and front, with an aluminum frame sandwiched in between, whereas the Galaxy S21 boasts a polycarbonate back instead of a glass one.

Unlike the bland Galaxy S20 color options, the Galaxy S21 series comes in much livelier colors. Rumor has it that Samsung could introduce even more colors to the lineup down the line (these are likely Phantom Brown, Phantom Blue, Phantom Navy, and Titanium), but at launch, the phones are available in a few colors. You can read more about the colors right here.

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 — Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, Phantom White, and Phantom Gray
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ — Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra — Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.

Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra Specs & Hardware

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset will power the Galaxy S21 models in the US, while the fresh Exynos 2100 is planned for European and Indian units, as well as devices destined for other international markets like South Korea. Here are some preliminary benchmarks between the two chipsets.

Both chipsets are based on the latest 5-nanometer process, which enables noticeable battery life improvements, and offer 5G network connectivity. Qualcomm chips have a long history of outperforming Exynos, but we are so ready to be surprised in 2021.

As standard, the S21 and S21+ come with 8GB of RAM. whereas you will find 12 or 16GB of RAM inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung is betting on 128GB of storage as standard with the option of 256GB variants, as well as an extra 512GB model for the S21 Ultra. This would certainly be a welcome move because both the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 settled for 128GB. Samsung has offered microSD card support on its flagships for years, but that is changing with the Galaxy S21 series. None of the three new phones come with microSD card slots on deck.

Circling back to the displays, the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are equipped with 6.2-inch and 6.7-inch AMOLED panels, respectively. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, on the other hand, goes a little further with a 6.8-inch screen. All three devices support a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, but there are some very important differences regarding the refresh rate. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is capable of switching its refresh rate in the range between 10 and 120Hz depending on the screen context, while the Galaxy S21 and S21+ can only do so between 48 and 120Hz.

In terms of the resolution, the affordable models have been limited to Full-HD+ (2400 x 1080p), which feels like a big win. Samsung's Ultra is the only device with a QHD+ (3200 x 1440p) resolution and, unlike previous flagships, is capable of sustaining this resolution at 120Hz.

One final Galaxy S21 Ultra feature that's worth mentioning is the S Pen support, although the device won't offer the stylus built-in. Instead, Samsung is planning a dedicated range of S Pen cases designed to carry the stylus when not in use. Watch out, Galaxy Note!

Completing the internal Galaxy S21 series package is the battery. Samsung has chosen a 4,000mAh cell for the Galaxy S21, a 4,800mAh battery for the Galaxy S21+, and a 5,000mAh implementation for the Galaxy S21 Ultra

A charger isn't included in the box, despite Samsung mocking Apple for removing its charger in October, but a new 30W fast charger is reportedly in the works as an optional accessory. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 specs 

  • 6.2-inch Full-HD+ 48-120Hz AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB storage
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 11 and One UI 3.1
  • 5G connectivity 

Samsung Galaxy S21+ specs 

  • 6.7-inch Full-HD+ 48-120Hz AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB storage
  • 4,800mAh battery 
  • Android 11 with One UI 3.1
  • 5G connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs 

  • 6.8-inch QHD+ dynamic 10-120Hz AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset
  • 12GB or 16GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB or 512GB storage
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • Android 11 with One UI 3.1
  • S Pen support
  • 5G connectivity

Galaxy S21, S21+ Camera

  • Galaxy S21/S21+ camera specs: 12MP main/64MP zoom/12MP ultra-wide camera sensors
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra camera specs: 108MP main/10MP 3X telephoto/10MP 10X telephoto/12MP ultra-wide
  • New Galaxy S21 camera features: Brighter 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 Galaxy S21 and S21+ are not very different from their predecessors in terms of camera hardware, their 64MP zoom sensors, 12MP main cameras, and the 12MP ultra-wide shooter have undergone an evolution in the arguably way more important software department. Thus, despite the unchanged megapixel count, we could argue that the new entrants will shoot better photos.

Part of this is thanks to the new 5nm chipsets, which 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.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is where most of the Samsung's camera R&D was invested and where most of the improvements can be found. It features a new quad camera system on the back with not one, but two separate telephoto lenses: a 3X zoom lens and then a periscope, 10X zoom lens that gives you more reach than on most other phones. In fact, with the S21 Ultra, Samsung is resurrecting the Space Zoom branding and allows you to zoom in 100X. However, for the most part, images past 10X zoom are rarely usable.

The main camera features an 108-megapixel sensor, the next generation of the one Samsung introduced with the S20 Ultra in 2020, and this one should improve on two key areas, focusing and low-light performance. It is also paired with a wider lens than on most other phones out there. It uses a 24mm lens versus the commonly used 26mm focal distance on others, and that means you will get wider shots, especially useful for landscape photos, for example.

Here are some of the camera comparisons we've made with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

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More Galaxy S21 content you'll like

Galaxy S21 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 will be 5G-capable as standard, at least in the United States. For that region, Samsung offers both mmWave and Sub-6GHz 5G support on all devices, as it did with the Galaxy Note 20 series.

Europe is also going to benefit from 5G connectivity with the Exynos 2100, although mmWave 5G likely won't make the cut. For developing nations such as Brazil, rumor has it that Samsung has 4G LTE versions of its devices planned. 

This 5G launch strategy isn't surprising at all. The required networks are much more accessible now than they were a year ago in developed regions such as Europe and North America, but they still have a long way to go elsewhere. 

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