It’s official: the Samsung Galaxy S21 is here along with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and the range-topping Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which looks truly spectacular. The best thing, though, all three models are a whopping $200 less than their predecessors.
As you would expect, though, these Samsung Galaxy S21 models come in different sizes, have different displays and they also have some key differences in processors, memory and storage, too.
As such, right here we break down the phones in the Samsung Galaxy S21 range and explain what each one delivers and who we think each device is best suited for. From specs to features, and onto Galaxy S21 price and release date, we've got all the confirmed, official information you need to know right here.
There's an everything you need to know video to kick start things, too, which shows what each phone looks like up close and personal.
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Samsung Galaxy S21: Video
Samsung Galaxy S21: price, release date and best deals
There are three versions of the Samsung Galaxy S21, with starting spec pricing as follows:
Samsung Galaxy S21 price: $799
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus price: $999
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra price: $1,199
That means the S21 and S21+ are the same price as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro respectively. The S21 Ultra is $100 more than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Samsung Galaxy S21 pre-orders begin on the 14 January 2021 and in-store sales will begin on 29 January.
And, for those who are thinking of pre-ordering, there's a really tempting offer available. Pre-order any of the Samsung Galaxy S21 phones and you can claim a free pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and you also get a free Samsung SmartTag.
To see the best Samsung Galaxy S21 offers in your area check out the below pre-order deals.
Samsung Store Official Galaxy S21 Pre-orders [USA] (opens in new tab)
Samsung Store Official Galaxy S21 Pre-orders [UK] (opens in new tab)
Samsung Galaxy S21: design and size
Depending on the model, there are up to four colour options to choose from. The Samsung Galaxy S21 is available in pink, violet, white or grey; the S21 in violet, white or black; and the Ultra in black or white.
The three Samsung Galaxy S21 phones are different sizes due to their different displays. The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 6.2” display and comes in at 71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm with a weight of 172g. Unlike the rest of the range its casing is plastic rather than aluminium, presumably to help keep the price down.
The Samsung Galaxy S21+ has a 6.7” display, a weight of 202g and dimensions of 75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 6.8” display and dimensions of 75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm. It weighs 228g.
All three models have very similar designs with edge to edge infinity displays, a tiny centred hole-punch at the top of the screen for the front-facing camera and a protruding vertical camera block on the top left of the rear case. The camera block for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ contains three cameras and the one on the Ultra has four. The Ultra also has support for Samsung’s popular S Pen but you'll have to buy that, and a case to put it in, separately.
As expected, none of the Samsung Galaxy S21 models have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
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Samsung Galaxy S21: display
There are three different screen sizes here and two different screen resolutions. The 6.2” display in the Galaxy S21 and the 6.7” display in the S21+ deliver FHD+ resolution with 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, while the 6.8” display in the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers WQHD+ resolution of 1,440 x 3,200.
That means the standard Galaxy S21 has a lower screen resolution and pixel density than the Galaxy S20. We've seen quite a few unhappy posts about this already, but it still delivers a very crisp and clear picture. We suspect the reason is purely financial: this phone is 20% cheaper than last year's model, after all.
Underneath the screen, the fingerprint sensor is 1.7x bigger than before. That should mean faster and less fussy unlocking.
All three displays are Dynamic OLED supporting refresh rates of 48-120Hz and are protected with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. Refresh rates aren't just important to gamers, although that's a key market for 120Hz displays. They also deliver smoother scrolling and video.
The display in the range-topping Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is also capable of scaling down to a refresh rate of just 10Hz to preserve battery life. It's brighter than the other models too, delivering 1,500 nits of brightness compared to their 1,200.
Samsung Galaxy S21: processor, OS and storage
As ever, the Samsung Galaxy S21 handsets have different processors for different markets. The Galaxy S21 range has the Snapdragon 888 in the USA, China and Korea and the Samsung Exynos 2100 in the rest of the world.
We're expecting to see some spectacular benchmark results when these phones ship. The Snapdragon 888 delivers 20% faster CPU performance and 25% better graphics performance than before.
Samsung says that its Exynos 2100 delivers more than 30% better multi-core performance than its predecessor and that its Mali GPU improves graphics performance by over 40%.
Even allowing for manufacturer hype we're expecting these to be very high performing phones.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 have 8GB of RAM and a choice of 128GB or 256GB internal storage. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has 12GB or 16GB of memory and 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. There is no SD card slot.
All three Samsung Galaxy S21s run Android 11 with the One UI version 3.1, too.
Samsung Galaxy S21: cameras
The Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ have a triple-camera setup with an Ultra Wide 12MP, Wide 12MP and telephoto 64MP. The front-facing camera is 10MP. Their telephoto lenses have 3x optical zoom and 30x Space Zoom. While the specs are the same as last year's phone there's an improved Night Mode for low-light shots and an improved, AI-powered Portrait Mode that does a better job of separating subject from background.
The new Director's View will be good news for vloggers: it enables you record your front and rear cameras simultaneously and displays live thumbnails for each lens so you can see what they see and switch focus accordingly. There's also Single Take 2.0, which makes it easy to capture multiple cameras simultaneously and which offers an impressive dynamic slow-mo.
For photography, things get much more interesting in the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Ultra has a 40MP front-facing camera and a different rear camera assembly: it has a quad-camera setup with an Ultra Wide 12MP camera, a second generation Wide 108MP camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras. It has 10x optical zoom and 100x Space Zoom.
The S21 Ultra has a faster laser focus sensor, 12-bit HDR, 64x more colours and a faster, brighter noise sensor for better low-light photography.
All three phones can shoot 8K video at 24fps and 4K at 60fps with stereo sound recording and they all have both optical and electronic stabilisation. The front-facing camera can record in 4K at 30 or 60fps.
Samsung Galaxy S21: battery and charging
The batteries in the Samsung Galaxy S21 range mirror the size of the screen: the Galaxy S21 has the smallest and The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the biggest.
The battery in the Samsung S21 is 4,000mAh, the same as in the Galaxy S20.
The S21+ gets a larger 4,800mAh battery. That's not just larger than the Galaxy S21, but it's larger than the S20+ too: that shipped with a 4,500mAh battery.
The battery in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is bigger still. That's a whopping 5,000mAh, the same as in the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
You don't get a charger in the box but you do get a range of charging options. All three phones support a selection of wired, wireless and reverse wireless charging.
All three devices support 15W Fast Wireless Charging, and they also support USB Power Delivery 3.0 and Reverse Wireless Charging at 4.5W. They also support Super Fast Charging, but while the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ support 25W Super Fast Charging the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra goes further, with support for 45W Super Fast Charging.
The new Samsungs should deliver better battery life than their predecessors thanks to the more efficient 5nm processor and AI-powered energy saving.
Samsung Galaxy S21: other key features
All three S21 models have IP68 certification for dust and water resistance, ultrasonic fingerprint scanning underneath the display, and secure processors and memory security. They also have the new SmartThings Find app, similar to Apple's Find My: it connects to Samsung's Smart Tags to help you find things like keys or bags.
The S21+ and S21 Ultra also have ultrawideband, which enables very fast short range file transfers and will soon enable you to use your Samsung as a digital car key.
None of the phones come with headphones, but they do have Samsung's impressive AKG-tuned stereo speakers. For business users there's full support for wired and wireless DeX, Samsung’s system for adding external keyboards, monitors and mice, effectively turning your Galaxy S21 into the centre of a PC-style system.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra adds Ultra Wideband and Wi-Fi 6E to the mix as well as support for the S Pen, which is sold separately. The Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t have a slot for the S Pen but you'll be able to get a case designed to keep it safe and snug without adding much bulk to the phone.
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