Samsung has unveiled its new flagship smartphone series for 2021, the Galaxy S21. Under the tagline ‘Every day epic’, the three new models will be in stores from 29 January starting from USD 800. Samsung also released the new Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earphones, which go on sale 15 January for USD 200.
Samsung has brought forward the launch of its flagship series this year, after normally releasing the devices around the Mobile World Congress in late February. With that event cancelled and smartphone sales lagging expectations in the past year, the company is hoping to give a boost to sales with an early release of the new range.
New camera housing, faster processor, S Pen available
The S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra offer few major changes compared to the S20 series released less than a year ago. In addition to a faster 5nm processor (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung’s Exynos 2100, depending on the market), the phones come with a new design that Samsung calls the ‘Contour Cut Camera’, where the back camera housing extends to the top left edges of the phone.
The edge-less Amoled displays come in the three sizes of 6.2, 6.7 and 6.8 inches, with the Ultra model supporting use of Samsung’s S Pen stylus, a first outside the company’s Note range.
All three models come with a 120 Hz refresh and adaptive frame rate, which extends from 10 to 120 Hz on the top model. The Ultra edition offers a Quad HD+ resolution as well, while the two standard models come with Full HD+ resolution. A pinhole centre notch houses the front camera, which offers a 10-megapixel sensor on the basic models and 40 megapixels on the Ultra model.
In addition to a larger 5,000 mAh battery, the Ultra comes with a more advanced quad camera on the rear, compared to a triple camera for the S21 and S21+. Similar to last year’s model, the fourth camera offers a second telephoto lens with 10x optical zoom and Samsung’s 100X Space Zoom function, while the main sensor supports up to 108 megapixels, compared to 64MP on the basic models.
All three models run Android 11, and Google announced separately enhanced integration with the Samsung devices. These include features such as mirroring Google Duo on Samsung TVs, controlling Nest devices on Samsung’s SmartThings app, and RCS in the Messages app.
The companies are also bringing SmartThings integration to Android Auto, so customers can control their smart home devices from the car.
The new Samsung phones all support standalone 5G, also in mmWave bands. In addition, the S21 Ultra will be among the first phones on the market to support the new Wi-Fi 6E standard for access to a third Wi-Fi band, based on Broadcom’s BCM4389 wireless chip, and Ultra Wide Band connectivity is available on the S21+ and Ultra models.
Extra colours, credit on Samsung website
The devices are priced from USD 800 for the S21, USD 1,000 for the S21+ and USD 1,200 for the S21 Ultra. To encourage customers to buy direct from Samsung online, the company is offering the new models in a number of exclusive colours on its own web store.
Samsung is also offering up to USD 200 credit for customers who pre-order the devices in the next two weeks, which can be spent on its online shop on other Samsung products. Trade-ins of older Samsung phones are worth up to USD 700 towards the new phones, with financing plans up to 36 months.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s most premium Bluetooth wireless earbuds to date and will be included free with the new phones for a limited time in selected markets. Available in black, violet or silver with their own charging case, the earphones come with IPX7 water resistance, two levels of active noise cancelling, three microphones with wind shield, and a two-way speaker.
Samsung said they have a playback time of up to 28 hours on a single charge, or 18 hours with the noise cancelling activated. A 5-minute quick charge can deliver one hour of playback.