Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event that normally takes place in February or March has already taken place and now we finally have some much expected announcements of new devices from Samsung. Of course the main part of the event is the launch of the Galaxy S21 Series.
This year we have another three devices launching with the same moniker being used since last years introduction of the Ultra device. The S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra are now official. Let’s not waste anytime and dive right in and take a look at what Samsung is offering to start out 2021.
The Galaxy S21 and S21+
This year we have a larger device parity with the S21 and S21+. Previously there are more differences that separated the too. This time around it really comes down to size of the device, which in turns means the size of the display and battery capacity. The back of the S21 itself is also made of plastic, instead of Glass like its bigger siblings. Both devices will launch with Android 11 and Samsung’s own OneUI 3.1. The S21 will launch at €849 and the S21+ will launch at €1,049
The S21 series design now includes a continuous contour from the frame of the device that encompasses the camera hump on the back. This acts as a way to give the design more uniform and looks as if a single piece of metal was used to create the shape.
The S21+ has glass on the back and aluminum frame while the S21 is plastic on the back, but again with an aluminum frame. Both devices feature Gorilla Glass Victus on the front. Other than that, we have a another slab phone that is mostly display and there is nothing wrong with that.
Display and Specifications
The Galaxy S21 has a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120HZ and 1,080 x 2,400 resolution (412ppi). The S21+ has the same spec (resolution and refresh rate) but with a 6.7-ich display. Both will most likely provide some of the best display quality on the market, which is typically what Samsung have always been good at. Both display’s can output up to 1,300nits.
It is interesting to see both the S21 and S21+ now have 1080p displays. Last year it was the S20 that had 1080p, with the S20+ still offering 1440p. However, since the S21 now has 120Hz, as does the S21+, it might be that Samsung felt smooth refresh rate was more important than resolution. It;s worth nothing that varible refresh nature of the display ranges from 48Hz up to 120Hz, which means if your simply browsing a web page, there is not need to refresh at full 120Hz.
Samsung continue to separate their devices specifications by region and specifically with regards to the chipsets used inside the device. Most will recall the upset nature of the Note 20 launch that included the same Exynos processors as the S20 in some regions, but in other the Note 20 was upgraded to the latest Snapdragon 865+ (at the time). This was considerably worse for Exynos Note users since the original Snapdragon 865 chipset was already significantly better in efficiency over the Exynos counterpart. Let’s hope this time around their isn’t that same difference between them.
Inside both the S21 and S21 Ultra we have the latest Exynos 2100 chipset with Octa-core(1 x Cortex-X1 (2.9 GHz), Cortex-A78 (3 x 2.80 GHz) & Cortex-A55 (4 x 2.2 GHz) setup and Mali-G78 MP14 GPU and 8GB’s of RAM.
In other regions – most notably the US, the S21 series will include the Snapdragon 888 chipset with Kryo 680 1 x 2.84 GHz, 3 x 2.42 GHz, & 4 x 1.80 GHz. It also has an Adreno 660 GPU and 8GB’s of RAM also.
Samsung have now done away with any form of expandable storage, so the model of storage you get is more important than before. Both the S21 and S21+ come with either 128GB of 256GB of storage.
Other specs for the Galaxy S21 and S21+ include Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 6, under display finger print reader, USB Type-C. Samsung Dex support, 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging. Both devices are also IP68 certified. The battery capacity for the S21 is 4,000 mAh, with the S21+ having 4,800 mAh. Both devices have 5G support as standard.
Samsung did spent a good portion of their event talking up the camera’s on the their devices, and again the S21 and S21+ have the same treatment. The more special hardware is reserved for the S21 Ultra – which we will get too shortly. Samsung weren’t just focusing on hardware, but also software and AI got some pretty hefty mentions, as it seems Samsung are finally realizing software is just as important as hardware.
The S21 and S21+ include a triple camera system on the rear of the device. We have another Wide, Ultrawide and Telephoto setup this time around. The main sensor is a Wide 26mm lens with 1/1.76″ 12MP shooter with f/1.8 aperture and 1.8µm pixel size. It features Dual-Pixel AF and has OIS.
The Ultrawide is a 13mm lens with 120″ field of view and 1/2.55″ 12MP sensor and f/2/2 aperture. It has a 1.4µm pixel size. Lastly the Telephoto camera has a 29mm lens with 1/1.72″ 64MP sensor and f/2.0 aperture. it supports PAD and OIS with effective 1.1 optical zoom and 3x hybrid zoom (cropping the large sensor).
The selfie camera is a 1/3.24″ 10MP sensor with f/2/2 aperture and 25mm lens. It has dual-pixel PDAF support and 1.22µm pixel size.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra
The big boy flagship that includes everything Samsung has to offer right now is the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The price point starts at a whopping €1249 with Samsung aiming to throw as many key word high ends specs you way. The S21 Ultra will also launch with Android 11 and OneUI 3.1.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra
The design is mostly the same compared to the smaller devices, but of course we have some extra sensors on the camera hump and the display is slightly larger too. We have Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, and Gorilla Glass on the back (not Victus) and an aluminum frame that again contours with the camera hump.
The display is a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x with 120Hz and 1,440 x 3,200 resolution. Thankfully the refresh rate now works with the full native resolution should you wish to take advantage of it. It also supports full variable refresh rate changes – ranging from 10hz up to 120hz. The display supports a massive 1,500nits of brightness (that’s seriously bright) and wait for it. S-Pen support. Samsung have officially brought the S-Pen to the S series. Sort of.
While the device will fully support S-Pen, it does not come with the device directly, and does not have a built-in slot for it to hideaway. That being said, the support is completely there and basically gives anyone wanting an S-Pen that option. There is a handy case you can buy for the S21 Ultra that includes a cut out to hold the S-pen, which would be the best option.
The chipset is the exact same as the S21 and S21+, so depending on region your getting the Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888. The difference is RAM; with the base model including 12GB with either 128/256GB versions, and 16GB of RAM with the 512GB version. Again we have no expandable storage, so the your model choice is slightly more important.
The S21 Ultra includes Bluetooth 5.2, WiFi 6e support, USB Type-C, Samsung Dex, 25W charging, 15w wireless charging, 4.5w reverse wireless charging, IP68 certified. under display fingerprint reader. The S21 Ultra also supports 5G connectivity as does all models of the S21 Series.
The camera game takes things up again as it did with the Ultra series on the S20 last year. This time we have a 5 sensor setup with Samsung aiming to offer a larger variety of sensors and lens to cover your various shooting needs. We have 4 main camera sensors, and an additional Laser AF for fast focusing.
The main shooter has a 26mm lens and 1/1.33″ second generation 108MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture. . It had a has 0.8µm pixel size and supports PDAF, Laser AF, along with OIS for stability.
The Ultrawide 13mm lens has a 1/3.24″ 10MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture and 1.4µm pixel size. It feature Dual-Pixel PDAF for focusing. The telephoto camera is a 70mm lens with F/2.4 aperture and paired with a 1/3.24″ 10MP sensor that has 1.22µm pixel size. It allows supports dual pixel PDAF, OIS and altogether offers a 3x optical zoom.
The last camera on the rear, we have is the sideways periscope that offers 10x optical zoom with the 240mm lens and 1/3.24″ 10MP sensor. It has an f/4.9 aperture and supports dual pixel PDAF and OIS. The selfie camera is a 1/2.8″, 40MP sensor with f/2/2 aperture and 26mm lens. It has PDAF support and 1.22µm pixel size.
There is definitely a lot going on regarding camera’s with the S21 Ultra. While 8K video is supported, its still very much a a wishful feature that pretty much no one will really use or should. 4K@60fps however is now supporedt on every single camera on the device. Samsung had a short video filmed by the S21 Ultra and it looked better than ever before, but we shall hold of judgement of any pre-recorded demos.
Samsung are looking to make some decent pushes with the Galaxy S21 series. We aren’t too happy about the lack of charger in the box and believe that is pre-mature as we are still yet to have a true standard in terms of charging, but the price of the devices have come down somewhat, and Samsung are now offering their fast charger for around €20, so perhaps not all bad.
The S21 and S21+ do look like solid upgrades all around. It’s good to see 120Hz all around, but at the same time the resolution was dropped on the S21+, it effectively bridges the gap between the two devices in terms of specs < size. If you want a smaller device – you won’t be missing out compared to the larger S21+ – which is good, but at the same time, it makes the Ultra all that more appealing to anyone looking for a larger device and of course for more money.
The Ultra almost ticks all the boxes for Samsung right now. It offers high resolution/high refresh rate AMOLED display, latest chipsets, great array of camera’s, 5,000mAh battery. all forms of connectivity possible. Oh and it now includes support for S-Pen as an optional accessory.
All Samsung S21 devices will launch on January 29th and are available for pre-order now. The S21 will retail for €849, the S21+ at €1,049, and finally the S21 Ultra at €1,249. All prices is for the 128GB model.