The Galaxy S21 series adapts to both sides of the same consumer coin
They are finally here, Samsung’s very early 2021 stakes for the rat race known as the smartphone market. And as with any new Samsung flagship, especially expensive ones, the question has always been “why.” For the last year or two, that question has been repeated for each and every variant of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. This year, Samsung is ready to give an answer as it draws a finer line between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and everything else.
Samsung has finally noticed and accepted that not everyone, not even their fans, is willing to go bankrupt for their latest flagships. The success of the Galaxy A series and Fan Edition phones proved that, while stealing some sales from its premium and pricey Galaxy S and Galaxy Note models. This year, Samsung is trying to make up lost ground not only with the prices of the Galaxy S21 but also with its clear demarcation.
The Galaxy S21 and S21 + are intended for consumers who are more concerned with getting the best value without paying four-digit sums. The two are virtually identical except for size and one or two other features. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, on the other hand, is intended for those who are willing to splurge just for an “uncompromising flagship.” Samsung boasts that last year’s Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra models were, in fact, its best-selling devices.
On the outside, the Galaxy S21 series remains almost the same as its predecessor, except for one change that certainly catches the eye. However, it is the same change that could also be quite divisive. Instead of the conventional camera bump, Samsung has employed a new “Contour Cut” that is integrated into the metal frame of the phone. More than the design, however, it will be the color choices that will make or break its acceptance.
There are a total of six color options, all prefixed with “Ghost”. We have yet to see where the leaked “custom colors” come in but officially there are only white, black, silver, gray, pink and purple colors, depending on the model and of course the market. But while the black, gray, silver and white have matching camera bumps, the pink and Violet “hero” model use a contrasting gold that makes the design really pop, not for everyone.
Despite the division Samsung is making between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy S21 / S21 +, all three have their shared characteristics. For example, they use the same processors that, in the US, translate into Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. They are all 5G capable too, both Sub-6GHz and mmWave types.
Most of the features are common across all three as well, from the IP68 rating to a newer ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. All three have dynamic screen refresh rates of up to 120Hz, but only the Galaxy S21 Ultra can go down to 11Hz to save battery life. Unfortunately, that also means that their flaws are also uniform and none of them have a microSD card slot. Samsung has also introduced UWB or Ultra-Wide Band technology, used mainly for digital car keys and integration with Android Auto or SmartThings, although the base model of the Galaxy S21 does not.
The similarities between the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 + are, of course, more pronounced, being smaller or larger versions of the other. They both have FHD + displays that can go from 48Hz to 120Hz, only differing in 6.2-inch and 6.8-inch sizes. They also have the same set of cameras, which sound pretty mediocre at best, and the same memory options of 8GB of RAM and 128GB of 256GB of storage. While the Galaxy S21 retains the 4,000 mAh battery of its predecessor, the Galaxy S21 + has more to give this year at 4,800 mAh.
Everything and the kitchen sink
Of course Samsung put everything it could into the Galaxy S21 Ultra, yes, including support for the S Pen. If you think he went overboard again, at least he held back on some things. Like it or not, S Pen support doesn’t include the Jedi-like gestures you’d see on the Galaxy Note 20 and even the Galaxy Note 10, though they are mulling over whether to finally include it.
The key focus, unsurprisingly, is on the cameras. In addition to the 12MP ultra-wide camera that it shares in common with the Galaxy S21 and S21 +, the Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a huge 108MP Wide main camera that uses the non-binning feature to produce clear and bright 12MP photos. Most likely, the stars of the show will be the dual zoom lens system, comprised of a 10MP 3x zoom camera and a 10MP 10x zoom shooter. And, yes, the marketing for 100X Space Zoom is rearing its head again. The front even has a huge 40MP selfie camera tucked under a small hole in the 6.8-inch QHD + Dynamic AMOLED 2X display.
While Samsung piles up features in the Galaxy S21 Ultra, it did remove one thing that could get quite controversial. That said, it insists that the 128, 256 and 512 GB storage options are more than enough for its consumers, especially if they are more affordable. Samsung increases the RAM to 12GB or 16GB just in case.
Bang for buck
As loaded as these phones are, luckily Samsung has learned a lot from its lessons. Although it saves a few corners when it comes to the Galaxy S21, even the Galaxy S21 Ultra is priced much more competitively than its predecessor. This is how the pricing strategy works:
– The Galaxy S21 starts at $ 799.99 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White. The configuration with 256 GB of internal memory is available only in Phantom Gray.
– The Galaxy S21 + starts at $ 999.99 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black, and the 256GB option comes only in Phantom Black.
– The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $ 1,199,999 with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, available only in Phantom Silver. The Phantom Black color, on the other hand, is available for all three configurations, including the 16GB RAM and 512GB storage model.
Pre-orders start at 11:00 a.m. M. ET, but the phones won’t be available for purchase until January 29, 2021. Samsung has also announced the new Galaxy Buds Pro, as well as the Galaxy smart tags, the latter of which ironically does not. don’t even take advantage of the stylish new UWB capabilities of the Galaxy S21.