(Pocket-lint) - Samsung has officially unveiled its 2021 flagship, the new Galaxy S21 series. There are three phones in the new line-up, the Samsung Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Here's everything you need to know about the first two of those devices, the Galaxy S21 and S21+. We have covered the Galaxy S21 Ultra in a separate feature.
Release date and price
- 14 January launch
- Available from 29 January
- Galaxy S21: from £769/€849
- Galaxy S21+: from £949/€1049
- Get a £50 gift card when ordering the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ or S21 Ultra from Carphone Warehouse on contract or SIM Free
Samsung usually announces the Galaxy S range of smartphones in February, moved Galaxy Unpacked to 14 January, making for an earlier launch in 2021. That will see the new devices on general sale from 29 January, with pre-orders opening immediately.
The pricing for the Galaxy S21 and S21+ have also dropped a little from 2020, so these phones are now a little cheaper. The Samsung Galaxy S21 will start from £769 in the UK, while the Galaxy S21+ will cost from £949 in the UK.
- S20: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, 172g
- S21+: 161.55 x 75.6 x 7.86mm, 202g
- IP68 waterproofing
There's a couple of big design changes for the Galaxy S21 models. The most noticable thing is the shift from curved edges to the display on previous Galaxy S models, to a flat display, giving a slightly different look to the front of this phone. Around the back of the phone, you'll find that the camera housing is now integrated with teh frame, so it's more of a feature on the back.
Otherwise, much of the design sticks to the familiar from previous Galaxy S phones, with waterproofing to protect the devices to an IP68 level. There's no 3.5mm headphone socket, but the stereo speakers remain.
- S21: 6.2in, FHD+
- S21+: 6.7in, FHD+
- Adaptive refresh rate 48-120Hz
- HDR10+ support
We've mentioned that the display will be flat on these devices, unlike the Ultra which retains the curves to the edges. There's also a shift in the resolution with both getting a Full HD+ resolution. That's also a change of direction of Samsung, which previous put a Quad HD+ display in all its flagship devices. That's not likely to make a huge difference to the S21 with the smaller display, but means that the larger S21+ won't be able to produce as much fine detail.
That probably won't matter: Full HD+ is the default resolution on Samsung devices and we suspect that many have never bothered to switch to Quad HD+ settings when that option was available. What is important, is that these displays will now support adaptive refresh rates, with a range of 48-120Hz being available. That will allow the device to pick the best option for the content that's being displayed, balancing battery life with performance.
As this is an AMOLED we'd expect the bright and vibrant performance that we've seen before from Samsung.
Hardware and specs
- Exynos 2100 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 5G
- 8GB RAM; 128GB/256GB storage options
- S21: 4000mAh battery
- S21 Plus: 4800mAh battery
Samsung's Exynos 2100 is expected to close the performance gap with the Snapdragon hardware, so there might be less of a difference in these devices in 2021.
There will be 128GB and 256GB storage options, while both will come with 8GB RAM. It looks as though that's going to be the only option, but there may be regional differences.
In terms of battery capacities, the Galaxy S21+ will have a bump to 4800mAh, while the S21 will come with a 4000mAh capacity.
- Triple camera system
- Main camera: 12-megapixel, 1.8µm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, OIS
- Telephoto: 64MP, (3x optical / 30x digital zoom) 0.8µm, f/2.0, OIS
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.4µm, f/2.2
- Selfie: 10MP, 1.22µm, f/2.2
Both the Galaxy S21 and S21+ will come with a triple rear camera made up of a 12-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and a 64-megapixel telephoto sensor - the same overall selection as the Galaxy S20 models.
Most of the changes will come in the software, with the addition of a Director's View, Vlogger View and the ability to take 8K stills from 8K video. You'll be able to shoot 4K 60fps on all the cameras. Additions to Single Take will provide moer options, while there will be AI-powered boosts to portrait modes with more options.
Overall, we'd expect the performance of both these devices to be the same when it comes to the camera - and we don't expect it to be hugely different to the S20.
Samsung Galaxy S21 rumours: Everything that happened prior to launch
Here are all the rumours and leaks that appeared before the official launch of the Galaxy S21 series.
12 January 2021: Samsung officially announces Exynos 2100
Samsung has officially unveiled the Exynos 2100, expected to power the Galaxy S21 and S21+.
11 January 2021: Samsung Galaxy S21 series revealed in all their beautiful glory
Serial leaker Evan Blass revealed all three of the Galaxy S21 models on Voice. The images are high resolution, unwatermarked and they show each device in all the rumoured coloured variants.
6 January 2021: Samsung Galaxy S21 series camera specs leak - here's what to expect
The images are very revealing in terms of camera design and specification, correllating with much as outlined above.
4 January 2021: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked confirmed to take place on 14 January
Samsung confirmed the date of its next Galaxy Unpacked event, where it is expected to unveil its 2021 flagship phones in the Samsung Galaxy S21 family.
The tagline for the event is "make your everyday life epic", while the teaser images shows an obscured rotating camera module that matches previous leaks.
31 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event leaks
Ishan Agarwal, who has a solid reputation in finding and releasing information early, claimed on Twitter that the next Galaxy Unpacked event would take place on 14 January.
Galaxy Unpacked 2021 Invite!— Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24) December 30, 2020
The Next Galaxy is coming on January 14. The Live stream will start through Samsung's Official Website at 3PM GMT / 8:30PM IST
Excited for the #GalaxyS21 Series? #GalaxyUnpacked #UNPACKED2021
Please credit & link for more: https://t.co/DWl1WBWaDd pic.twitter.com/KJ0YlVVpdD
21 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21+ hands-on appears
An alleged hands-on video of the Galaxy S21+ appears online, showing a photo comparison between it and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
18 December 2020: Early hands-on video with Galaxy S21+ prototype
A video has resurfaced, spotted by SamMobile, with an early look at a pre-production sample of the Samsung Galaxy S21+.
18 December 2020: Samsung confirms new Exynos on 12 January
Samsung has taken to Twitter to confirm that the next version of its Exynos hardware will be unveiled on 12 January.
18 December 2020: Prices for the Galaxy S21 models leak
A report on GalaxyClub.nl puts a price on Samsung's forthcoming device.
18 December 2020: All colours for the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ appear
Thanks to extensive leaks from Evan Blass and Roland Quandt, we've now got high quality images of the Galaxy S21, showing off a full range of colours for the new phones.
17 December 2020: More press renders of Galaxy S21 and S21+ appear
Following a press render on the Voice of the S21, WinFuture published several more renders of the Galaxy S21 and S21+, showing off both devices from all angles.
16 December 2020: New Samsung Galaxy S21 leaks reveal first press image, Ultra specs, and storage variants
A couple of separate reports gave some more details on upcoming S21 series. An official press render on the Voice is said to be of the S21, while WinFuture claims the S21 and S21+ will come in 128GB and 256GB options.
14 December 2020: Latest Samsung Galaxy S21 video leak shows just how good the phone looks
A video - which has since been taken down - shows more details of the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S21+, showing thin bezels, a flat display with a punch hole front camera and a matte rear with a triple rear camera.
9 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 passes through FCC, Snapdragon 888 in tow
The Samsung Galaxy S21 was spotted on an FCC listing with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 under its hood.
8 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 teaser leaks include close-ups of cameras, violet colour
Renders and promotional videos of the Galaxy S21 - supposedly from Samsung itself - appeared online thanks to Android Police.
8 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 may not come with a charger or earbuds after all
Brazilian site, Tecnoblog, uncovered a report at Anatel (Brazil's equivalent to FCC) that states (roughly translated) that "the cell phone will not be sold with a power supply" and also "the cell phone will not be sold with headphones".
7 December 2020: Side-by-side image of real life S21 Ultra and S21 appears online
7 December 2020: Fresh Samsung Galaxy S21 renders and specs dump reveals everything about Samsung's future phones
A fresh set of renders and a huge dump of specs give an insight into the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+.
2 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 renders appear online, along with alleged pricing
More images of the Galaxy S21 appear on line, cementing that design.
16 November 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 with Snapdragon 875 appears on benchmark
Sammobile reported that a Samsung Galaxy S21 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset appeared on Geekbench with a score that beat the Galaxy S21 with Exynos.
16 November 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 series features revealed in huge spec leak
A report on Android Police detailed a number of specifications, as well as features expected for the S21 and S21+.
5 November 2020: Galaxy S21 colours leak
Reports on the colours for the forthcoming devices have appeared from a reliable source.
Small correction/update in upcoming S21 models. S21+ and 21 Ultra are basically reversed.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) November 6, 2020
S21 is still Gray, Pink, Violet and White.
S21+ is Black, Silver and Violet with Pink in Korea.
S21 Ultra is Black and Silver.
4 November 2020: Is Samsung going break with tradition to launch the Samsung Galaxy S21 in January?
Leaker Jon Prosser claimed on Twitter that Samsung will announce the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra on 14 January 2021, with pre-orders starting immediately. He claimed the devices would be available on 29 January.
27 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could come without charger and headphones
Sammobile reported that Korean media has claimed the Samsung Galaxy S21 could come without a charger and headphones, like Apple's iPhone 12 range.
23 October 2020: Colours of Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ revealed
Twitter user Ross Young tweeted the colours expected for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+.
S21 Leak, 100%— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) October 23, 2020
S21 - Gray, Pink, Violet and White
S21+ - Black and Silver
S21 Ultra - Black, Silver, Violet
Production in Brazil, Indonesia, Korea and Vietnam
19 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could arrive early and here it is...
The Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra are said to be coming in January 2021, rather than the series' usual spring release window. And "early January" at that.
And, on top of that, renders of the S21 and S21 Ultra have already appeared online - adding further weight to the idea of an early release.
16 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 will reportedly come with 25W fast charger in the box
A report has claimed the Samsung Galaxy S21 will come with a 25W fast charger in the box.
8 October 2020: Tipster indicates Samsung will introduce Galaxy S21 chipset soon
20 August 2020: S21/S30+ battery might get a bump in capacity
The 2020 Samsung Galaxy S21/S30 devices might get an increase in battery capacity compared to the S20 models.
27 July 2020: Details leak about Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon 875
Qualcomm's next-generation Snapdragon chipset won't be unveiled until the end of 2020, but Roland Quandt of WinFuture claimed on Twitter it's called Snapdragon 875 SoC with the codename SM8350.
The new mobile device processor is expected to be built on a 5nm process, with Qualcomm using a Cortex X1 and Cortex A78 large-core architectural combination. It's expected it will be used in the US models of the Galaxy S21, at least the Ultra model.
25 July 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 might use 5nm Exynos 991 or 992
A leaker called Mauri QHD claimed on Twitter that the Samsung Galaxy S21 will opt for the Exynos 991 or 992 without AMD GPU. The leaker put a question mark next to the Galaxy S21+.
24 July 2020: Samsung making three Galaxy 21 models
Sammobile reported that its sources claimed Samsung is making three models for the Galaxy S21 series, likely to be called the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra - though the names could change.
The site also said the model numbers for the 5G variants are SM-G991, SM-G996, and SM-G998 and they are in development with 128GB and 256GB storage options.
7 May 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could have selfie camera with OIS
Sammobile reported that Samsung was apparently testing two Galaxy 21 prototypes - one with a 1/2-inch front sensor it thinks likely has a 48MP resolution and the other featuring a 1/2.55-inch sensor with 12MP resolution and OIS.
9 April 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could have under-screen camera
Leaker Ice Universe tweeted saying Samsung was considering using under-screen camera technology on the Galaxy S21 first and is testing the technology.
16 March 2020: Samsung developing 150MP sensor
A report appeared on Clien claiming Samsung was developing a 150-megapixel 1-inch sensor using the same Nonacell technology as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The rumour doesn't say the sensor will be used in the Galaxy S21 but it's possible a version of it could be.