Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 series (specifications comparison) during a virtual Unpacked event; unveiling the Galaxy S21, S21+, and the top-of-the-range S21 Ultra. Having jumped the shark somewhat in 2020 with its pricing on the Galaxy Note 20 and S20 ranges, the brand appears to have taken stock of the pandemic world we are currently living in and refrained from increasing the cost of the new phones. Powered by the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 processors depending on region, the Galaxy S21 series already looks like a better proposition than Samsung’s last two flagships in terms of pricing, looks, and features.
The Galaxy S21 and the S21+ share much the same hardware, only differing in screen size, memory, battery, and price. The base S21 has a 6.2-inch panel while the S21+ has a 6.7-inch unit, both of which are Infinity-O AMOLED displays with FHD+ resolution (2400 x 1080) and adaptive refresh rates (48-120Hz) with not a curved edge to be seen. While the base model is only available with 8/128GB, the Plus model can be had with 8/128GB or 12/256GB.
Both models feature the same trio of rear cameras; consisting of a 12MP main sensor with OIS, a 12MP ultra-wide lens, and a 64MP telephoto lens with 30x Space Zoom. The 10MP selfie camera is housed in the central punch-hole on the display.
With a 4,000mAh battery, the Galaxy S21 should be good for all-day usage but the 4,800mAh unit in the Plus model should give you a little leeway, even with the larger display. There’s no penny-pinching like there was with the Galaxy Note 20 last year other than the S21 making do with a ‘glasstic‘ rear panel instead of the glass panels on its siblings.
Along with an uptick in price the Galaxy S21 Ultra also sports a number of upgraded internals over its lesser siblings such as its bigger Infinity-O display with a higher resolution, a bigger battery, upgraded cameras front and rear, as well as built-in S Pen support.
The Infinity-O panel boasts QHD+ resolution (3200 x 1440) and has the same central punch-hole as its siblings that now houses a 40MP selfie camera. Unlike its siblings, the Ultra’s display has curved edges that will please some folk and irk others. The battery has been bumped to 5,000mAh although that extra capacity likely won’t affect usage because of the hi-res display and its increased pixel count.
The photography department is one of the main area where the S21 Ultra raises its game; boasting a 108MP main sensor with OIS and PDAF, a 12MP Ultra-wide lens with 120° FOV, a 10MP Telephoto lens with 3x Optical Zoom and a second 10MP Telephoto lens with 10x Optical Zoom, OIS, and 100x Space Zoom. There’s some serious hardware in terms of rear cameras, and hopefully Samsung can make it stick this time around.
As mentioned, the S Pen is supported by the Galaxy S21 Ultra although you won’t get one in the box so you’ll need to buy one separately if that’s something you think would be useful.
All three models boast wireless charging, Wireless PowerShare, IP68 water-resistance, and an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader. MicroSD cards are not supported, so if that’s a dealbreaker you may be better off looking at an older Samsung handset. None of the handsets come with a charger or set of earphones in the box, as part of Samsung’s attempts at being greener.
5G is present on all models (Sub6 and mmWave), as is WiFi 6E, NFC, Samsung Knox, and you’ll find that they run Android 11 out of the box with One UI 3.0 running on top. The series has USB PD 3.0 charging, as well as wireless charging and Wireless PowerShare.
The base Galaxy S21 will set you back $799/£769 while the S21+ starts from $949/£949. The Galaxy S21 Ultra costs $1,199/£1,149 for the 12/128GB variant and $1,379 for the 16/512GB model, with the 12/256GB version coming in at $1,249 when buying unlocked.
Are you going to pick one up?