As we speak, Samsung is taking the digital stage to launch the brand new Galaxy S21 sequence of gadgets, together with the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Extremely. In a time the place smartphones change into increasingly more costly, Samsung is making an attempt a unique method this yr, and as an alternative of accelerating gadget costs, really reduces them – not less than for the baseline S21 and S21+ fashions. The transfer is an attention-grabbing one, nevertheless very a lot dilutes the Galaxy S sequence as a flagship line-up of gadgets, with Samsung performing some function compromises that wouldn’t had been thinkable in previous iterations of the sequence.
In the meantime, the Galaxy S21 Extremely continues to be Samsung’s focus level in delivering true no-compromises flagship experiences and options, with this yr’s iteration aiming for extra capabilities than ever earlier than, together with a brand new quad-camera setup, the one gadget within the line-up now that includes a 1440p display screen at 120Hz, and for the primary time now additionally providing S-Pen help as an exterior accent. Naturally, this continues to return at a really excessive(er) finish price level, creating a bigger discrepancy throughout the line-up than ever earlier than.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Sequence|
|Galaxy S21||Galaxy S21+||Galaxy S21 Extremely|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
1x Cortex-X1@ 2.84GHz 1x1024KB pL2
3x Cortex-A78 @ 2.42GHz 3x512KB pL2
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.80GHz 4x128KB pL2
|Samsung LSI Exynos 2100
1x Cortex-X1 @ 2.9GHz ? pL2
2400 x 1080 (20:9)
2400 x 1080 (20:9)
3200 x 1440 (20:9)
120Hz Refresh Fee
|Dimensions||151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
|161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
|165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm
|RAM||8GB||8GB||12 / 16GB|
|128, 256GB||128, 256 GB||128, 256, 512 GB|
|Battery||4000mAh (15.4Wh) typ.
3880mAh (15.01Wh) rated
|4800mAh (18.57Wh) typ.
4660mAh (18.03Wh) rated
|5000mAh (19.25Wh) typ.
4855mAh (18.87Wh) rated
|Entrance Digital camera||10MP
4K video recording
4K video recording
|Main Rear Digital camera||79° Huge Angle
12MP 1.8µm Twin Pixel PDAF
|79° Huge Angle
108MP 0.8µm DP-PDAF
3×3 Pixel Binning to 12MP
|fastened f/1.8 optics
OIS, auto HDR, LED flash
4K60, 1080p240, 720p960 high-speed recording
Rear Digital camera
|76° Huge Angle
(Cropping / digital zooming telephoto)
f/2.0 optics, OIS
8K24 Video Recording
f/4.9 prism optics, OIS
Rear Digital camera
Rear Digital camera
|120° Extremely-Huge Angle
12MP 1.4µm f/2.2
|–||Time of Flight (ToF) 3D Sensor|
|4G / 5G
|SIM Measurement||NanoSIM + eSIM|
|Wi-fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2×2 MU-MIMO,
BT 5.1 LE, NFC, GPS/Glonass/Galileo/BDS
|+ WiFi 6E|
no 3.5mm headset
|Particular Options||Beneath-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor|
|(Qualcomm QC 2.0, Adaptive Quick Charging, USB 3.0 PD PPS),
reverse wi-fi charging (WPC & PMA),
IP68 water resistance
|Launch OS||Android 11 with Samsung OneUI 3.1|
|Launch Costs||128GB 5G:
$799 / € / £
$899 / € / £
$ / € / £
Beginning off with the center of the brand new telephones, that’s one space the place the brand new S21 sequence don’t differ – the trio of gadgets are both powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888, or Samsung LSI’s Exynos 2100. Each chipsets are characterised by being among the many first Samsung 5nm manufactured SoCs available in the market, and each function Arm’s latest Cortex-X1 efficiency core at both 2.84GHz or 2.9GHz. The Exynos chip has barely larger frequencies on its center and little cores, and may give it a small multi-threaded efficiency benefit. Each promise massive GPU efficiency upgrades over the S20 SoC generations, and each chips are actually built-in with an inner 5G modem as an alternative of an exterior discrete one.
In contrast to previous years, the SoC scenario on the Galaxy S21 sequence this yr must be considerably extra balanced as each the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 share much more commonalities, that includes the identical CPU IP, being manufactured on the identical course of node, and likewise quoting related efficiency figures in terms of issues like NPU and GPU efficiency, which is sweet information for customers on the market which previously may need seen inferior gadget experiences with significantly the Exynos variants of Galaxy telephones.
When it comes to DRAM, the S21 and S21+ include 8GB. That is really a downgrade in comparison with the S20 sequence because the 5G variants there had been configured with 12GB. The S21 Extremely stays an choice of both 12 or 16GB variants, relying on the storage dimension, with the 16GB choice solely accessible for the 512GB variant.
The S21 and S21+ are available both 128 or 256GB storage, whereas the S21 Extremely additionally has a 512GB choice. What’s controversial about this technology’s gadgets is the elimination of the microSD slot. Whereas it’s true that microSD’s have change into fairly outdated and the trade has didn’t transition to a more recent commonplace, Samsung right here is just eradicating the choice with out both giving another or rising the bottom storage of the telephones.
Galaxy S21 Extremely – The brand new “True” Flagship
Beginning off with the Galaxy S21 Extremely, Samsung right here is equipping the brand new mega-flagship gadget with its greatest show ever, basing off on the work of the model new panel know-how that was launched within the Galaxy Note20 Extremely which makes use of a brand new hybrid oxide backplane. The brand new show is on the anticipated 3200 x 1440 decision, nevertheless in contrast to final yr’s gadgets, Samsung has now lastly enabled the complete 120Hz operation at this native software program rendering decision as properly – becoming a member of within the uncommon few gadgets able to this, such because the OnePlus 8 Professional. The utilization of the brand new panel know-how and VRR ought to permit the S21 Extremely to supply this decision and refresh fee with out too many compromises in battery life. Final yr we noticed that the Note20 Extremely’s display screen VRR function trusted ambient brightness, with it not working in dim conditions – it’s to be seen if the S21 Extremely has an identical limitation or if Samsung’s engineers have been in a position to optimise this limitation away.
Design-wise, the entrance of the Galaxy S21 Extremely appears to be like to be fairly much like that of the S20 Extremely, nevertheless Samsung has really barely diminished the footprint of the telephone because the display screen is now 6.8” as an alternative of 6.9”.
The brand new Galaxy S21 Extremely is definitely barely smaller than the S20 Extremely, being 0.4mm narrower and 1.8mm shorter, though it’s now additionally 0.1mm thicker. It’s nonetheless a big telephone, and truly it’s now 7 or 9g heavier than its predecessor, weighing as much as 229g within the mmWave variant.
On the again of the telephone, we’re seeing a extra vital redesign of the gadgets, significantly across the cameras. The Galaxy S20 Extremely’s digicam bump actually wasn’t one among fairly aesthetics, with extra of a really feel in direction of performance – making it really feel misplaced and stand out in context of the remainder of the telephone design. The Note20 Extremely had barely improved upon this with a considerably rearranged design, nevertheless the brand new S21 sequence and the brand new S21 Extremely actually showcase a big design shift within the digicam bump.
The “bump” is definitely now a flowing with the body of the telephone (although it’s nonetheless a separate piece), beginning off on the edges and nook of the telephone, as an alternative it being a standalone design component raised throughout the again glass panel. With this design, Samsung removes two sharper edges on the a part of the digicam bump. As a substitute of a bigger glass cowl over the digicam meeting, the person cameras appear to have their very own smaller glass covers, recessed towards the steel body bump.
It’s to be famous that this digicam body appears to be like to be flat, in distinction to previous technology gadgets which have a really small steel lip upon which the telephone rests on. I don’t understand how this may play out by way of scratches – often the lip itself would get broken whereas right here it might be that the entire floor could be extra vulnerable to scratches.
New Quad-Digital camera Setup
On the digicam aspect of the S21 Extremely, we’re now seeing a transfer in direction of a quad-camera setup, with Samsung altering up the telephoto digicam components but once more.
To start with, the brand new most important digicam appears to be of comparable specs as on the S20 Extremely and Note20 Extremely: a 108MP sensor inside an f/1.8 optics system with OIS. It’s not clear if this is identical technology sensor as final yr of if Samsung has been in a position to improve it.
Samsung right here nonetheless guarantees 8K video recording and even now provides 12-bit RAW video recording capabilities – nevertheless if this nonetheless makes use of a sensor crop mode, it’ll nonetheless lead to a not very optimum ensuing focal-length in comparison with the native optics of the module.
On the ultra-wide, we’re seeing the identical 12MP f/1.4 f/2.2 120° module as on the Galaxy S20 sequence – which we actually can’t complain about because it was an amazing module and amongst one of the best performers of the yr.
The place Samsung has made bigger adjustments now’s within the telephoto division. I actually was not an enormous fan of the S20 Extremely’s telephoto module right here which had provided a 4x optical magnification. On the S21 Extremely, Samsung really elevated this magnification potential to 10x via a redesigned prism optics module. The longer focal size comes at a value of a lower in aperture from f/3.5 to f/4.9, in addition to a transfer from a 48MP sensor to a more recent smaller 10MP unit. Which means that though the S21 Extremely may have better optical telephoto capabilities, it’ll come at a value of sunshine seize potential.
In contrast to the S20 Extremely and the Note20 Extremely nevertheless, Samsung now makes up for the compromises within the new prism telephoto module by including a further secondary 3x optical module with f/2.4 aperture and a 10MP sensor. Basically, this solves the good hole in optical magnification between the primary module and the brand new additional reaching telephoto module, and likewise hopefully solves the standard hole on this widespread focal vary that I think about to be extra necessary for every-day pictures.
Galaxy S21 & S21+ – Cheaper, however Ugly Compromises
Whereas the Galaxy S21 Extremely appears to be like to be an amazing gadget, checking off each single function you’d count on in a 2021 flagship telephone, the brand new Galaxy S21 and S21+ are extra controversial gadgets, actually questioning Samsung’s product line-up as a complete.
To start with, the largest function disparity of the brand new S21 “baseline” fashions is that they don’t seem to be getting the identical top-of-the-line shows as the brand new S21 Extremely. The truth is, the brand new shows are seemingly considerably of a downgrade in comparison with even final yr’s Galaxy S20 sequence. Samsung right here has determined to downgrade the panels to 2400 x 1080 decision, nonetheless sustaining a 120Hz refresh fee.
I discover this alternative really extraordinarily destructive, and I see it as Samsung taking pictures themselves within the foot by way of their gadget line-up and primarily discarding an important side of what a Galaxy S-series gadget is. For the previous decade, it doesn’t matter what technology Galaxy S-phone you have a look at, the one factor that was all the time the important thing differentiator in comparison with different gadget fashions and competitor fashions is that the S-line telephones all the time had no-compromise shows. Samsung used to really take satisfaction on this reality, and shoppers might all the time depend that every technology could be the in a position to obtain one of the best of what’s technically attainable in a telephone show.
Beginning final yr with the Note20, and sadly continued this yr with the S21 and S21+, this doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, and primarily Samsung is diluting a key side of what their flagship gadgets have been all the time identified for.
I perceive that Samsung is making an attempt to cost the gadgets decrease, nevertheless it’s simply not attainable that an S21+ comes with a 1080p display screen when for instance a less expensive new Xiaomi Mi 11 is ready to function a 1440p 120Hz show.
Different design variations to final yr’s fashions is the truth that the shows now are “flatter”, with virtually no side-curvature in any respect. That is really principally a optimistic for a majority of customers, as after a number of years of aspect curvature experiments, evidently most individuals favor performance. Personally, I favored the subdued curvature of the S20 sequence telephones – I’ll need to see how the S21 really feel in hand earlier than arrive to a correct opinion on the brand new gadgets.
The brand new S21 and S21+ telephones are wider than their predecessors, with the S21 rising by 2.1mm in width, and the S21+ being 1.9mm wider. This really has massive implications on the usability and the final form-factor of the telephones. The brand new S21+ really has but once more gotten heavier this technology, weighing in at 200/202g. The additional weight is considerably defined by the bigger battery capability which has grown from 4500 to 4800mAh, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a fairly massive departure in comparison with previous years – the Galaxy S10+ solely weighed 175g.
On the again of the telephones, the brand new digicam setup appears to be like fairly good and follows the identical design parts we described earlier for the S21 Extremely. Though at first look it appears to be like just like the digicam bump flows with the body right here as properly, it’s really constructed otherwise to the S21 Extremely, and there’s an additional in-between component between the body and the digicam cowl component. Undoubtedly this is able to be a part of a cost-cutting measure to scale back the manufacturing price of the piece.
Regarding the digicam modules themselves, it’s comparatively simple: They’re the identical as on the Galaxy S20 sequence. This features a most important 12MP digicam sensor with massive 1.8µm pixels with f/1.8 aperture and OIS, a secondary wide-angle module with a 64MP digicam sensor which serves each because the 8K seize module in addition to a “telephoto” module that is ready to crop-magnify fairly properly due to its large native decision, in addition to the identical 12MP f/2.4 120° ultra-wide-angle module as on the S20 sequence and the S21 Extremely.
I’m really fairly proud of this digicam setup and I believe it was among the finest and most well-balanced configurations in 2020, so reusing it on the S21 sequence is a normal optimistic for my part.
One change within the new design is the transfer of the flash to the telephone again panel, in addition to the elimination of the ToF sensor on the S21+ (The S20 by no means had it).
Too Many Compromises?
Whereas the S21 Extremely looks like a correct follow-up to final yr’s fashions, the brand new S21 and S21+ really feel like they’re doing a whole lot of compromises for the worth drop that they’re providing.
Notably the Note20’s “glasstic” again was a degree of rivalry alongside the 1080p show panel – and Samsung right here is doing the exact same selections for the S21, partly additionally to the S21+. Moreover, there’s different function compromises this technology such because the elimination of the microSD slot, and likewise long-term part function discrepancies reminiscent of the truth that new WiFi 6E connectivity is solely reserved for the Galaxy S21 Extremely.
Whereas we’ll need to see how the S21 sequence are being acquired, I’ve made a ballot right this moment on Twitter relating to the Note20, and the way customers perceived that gadget, whether or not it was an excellent compromise, or not fulfilling customers’ expectations:
Sadly, even many months after the discharge of the Note20, the final response to the gadget is massively one-side and really a lot destructive, which just about strains up with my preliminary impressions of the telephone.
Samsung’s alternative to use the identical design and have compromises to the S21 sequence is I really feel like an enormous mistake, and Samsung crippling its personal gadget line-up. I don’t know what they’re making an attempt right here – perhaps they’re making an attempt to redirect customers in direction of the extra full and costly Extremely fashions.
If that’s certainly what they’re making an attempt to do, I really feel like they’re going about it the improper method. The S21 and S21+ seem like superb gadgets, however nonetheless too costly for what they’re, particularly since there’s now very main function overlap with the cheaper telephones, even inside Samsung’s personal sequence, such because the Galaxy S20 FE. In addition to the SoC, I really really feel just like the S21 and S21+ are precise downgrades this yr in comparison with the S20 and S20+.
Apple’s line-up of iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Professional, and iPhone 12 Professional Max makes extra sense to me to cater to the broader vary of customers. For the S21 sequence, I really feel just like the S21 Extremely ought to have been known as the “S21 Extremely+” and we’re lacking a smaller, barely cheaper, perhaps with out the 10x telephoto, however in any other case function similar S21 Extremely gadget.
There are not any such factor as unhealthy gadgets, solely unhealthy costs. I’m scripting this forward of the official Unpacked occasion and the official costs, so we’ll need to see precisely the place the S21 costs find yourself at – however I’ve a sense they’re not going to be low sufficient to make up for all of the misplaced options this technology.
This text was written forward of the Unpacked occasion – additional updates and particular lacking specs and particulars to be added promptly.