It’s no secret that pricing was the Achilles heel of last year’s Samsung smartphones, but the company is starting off 2021 with a huge step in the right direction with its new Galaxy S21 that sees a $200 price cut. Here’s what you need to know about Samsung’s new trio of flagships.

The base model of the Galaxy S21 series is, well, the Galaxy S21. The new model starts at $799, down from $999 last year. Despite the price cut, it’s still offering a pretty complete package. There’s a Snapdragon 888 processor, a trio of rear cameras, and extra features such as 5G, this time including mmWave on the smallest phone too. The Galaxy S21+ has a nearly identical design, just with a bigger display, and starts at $999.

However, there is one big difference between these two phones. While the S21+ sticks with Samsung’s usual glass back, the regular Galaxy S21 opts for the same matte plastic that was found on the S20 FE. That’s probably not a bad thing, though, as it means added durability.

Downgrades are pretty common through the rest of Galaxy S21 and S21+ story, but with some meaningful improvements sprinkled in. Both phones step down to 1080p displays — 6.2-inch for S21, 6.7-inch for S21+ — but adopt Samsung’s Adaptive 120Hz display that can adjust the refresh rate to better fit content and save on battery. They’re also flat, though, which makes the resolution trade-off totally worth it in my book. Other small downgrades include only 8GB of RAM and a lack of microSD expansion. The usual features are still here, though, with IP68 water resistance, Qi wireless charging, Android 11/One UI, and sizeable batteries.

Galaxy S21

In the camera department, Samsung is using a 12MP sensor for the primary wide angle camera as well as for the secondary ultrawide shooter, which has a 120-degree field-of-view. The “telephoto” camera, though, uses a 64MP to create Hybrid Zoom at 3x. Samsung also offers “30X Space Zoom” on both devices and there’s a 10MP selfie shooter inside of the punch-hole display.

Galaxy S21+

On the other end of the spectrum, Samsung also has the Galaxy S21 Ultra, its top-of-the-line flagship for this year. It offers a lot of the same core specs as the other models with the Snapdragon 888, no microSD slot, Adaptive 120Hz, and ultrasonic fingerprint, but pushes the boundaries in some other areas.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 6.8-inch QHD+ display that’s curved and, like the S21 and S21+, adopts a new “Eye Comfort Shield.” This new tech aims to reduce harmful blue light from hitting your eyes at all times, not just at night. Samsung’s display on the S21 Ultra can also peak at 1,500 nits of brightness. The selfie camera in the centered punch-hole on this display is an upgraded 40MP sensor.

Speaking of cameras, the Galaxy S21 Ultra also packs a punch on its rear camera system. The primary camera is a 108MP sensor with the same laser autofocus system we loved on the Note 20 Ultra. There’s a 12MP camera for ultrawide shots and two 10MP sensors for zoom. The first is a 3x optical zoom lens, while the second hits 10x zoom. Combined, Samsung can use them to hit 100x “Space Zoom,” which should see higher quality this time around compared to the middling performance in last year’s S20 Ultra.

Samsung notes that users can shoot at 4k/60fps on the S21 Ultra on every lens, even the selfie camera. There’s also a new 12-bit RAW option in Pro mode for photos.

Galaxy S21 Ultra

The S21 Ultra also features 12GB of RAM alongside its Snapdragon 888 with the top-tier variant offering 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Like the Galaxy S21 and S21+, it lacks a microSD slot.

Samsung is also expanding S Pen support to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, a first for the long-running Galaxy S lineup. Unlike the Galaxy Note series, though, the Ultra doesn’t have a silo in the phone to house the S Pen. Also, the stylus will be a separate purchase unless you already own an S Pen from a previous Galaxy Note or Galaxy Tab device. Samsung will sell the stylus with cases that can store it as well.

The Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra also support UWB radios, which work with the Galaxy Tag tracker as well as future devices. Samsung is already teasing support for using these phones as your keys for specific cars.

Samsung Galaxy S21:

  • Display: 6.2-inch 2400×1080 Dynamic AMOLED, Adaptive 120Hz
  • Dimensions: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
  • Weight: 171g
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP Primary
    • 64MP Telephoto, Hybrid 3x
    • 12MP Ultrawide, 120-degree
    • 10MP Front-facing
  • Processor: Snapdragon 888
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh w/ USB-C, Qi

Samsung Galaxy S21+:

  • Display: 6.7-inch 2400×1080 Dynamic AMOLED, Adaptive 120Hz
  • Dimensions: 151.7 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
  • Weight: 202g
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP Primary
    • 64MP Telephoto, Hybrid 3x
    • 12MP Ultrawide, 120-degree
    • 10MP Front-facing
  • Processor: Snapdragon 888
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB
  • Battery: 4,800 mAh w/ USB-C, Qi

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

  • Display: 6.8-inch 3200×1440 Dynamic AMOLED, Adaptive 120Hz
  • Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.5 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 229g
  • Cameras:
    • 108MP Primary
    • 12MP Ultrawide, 120-degree
    • 10MP Telephoto, Optical 3x
    • 10MP Telephoto, Optical 10x
    • 40MP Front-facing
  • Processor: Snapdragon 888
  • Memory: 12GB RAM/16GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Battery: 5,000 mAh w/ USB-C, Qi
  • Software: Android 11, One UI 3.1
  • Other: Ultrasonic fingerprint, NFC, MST, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G Sub6/mmWave, UWB (S21+, Ultra only), IP68 water resistance, S Pen support (Ultra only)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series will be available in the US starting on January 29. Pre-orders will open up on January 14. The base model costs $799, while S21+ hits $999 and the S21 Ultra starts at $1,199. Pre-order perks include $100, $150, or $200 credits for, as well as a free Galaxy Smart Tag. Trade-in offers can take up to $700 off the cost as well.

The regular Galaxy S21 will be available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White while Galaxy S21+ will offer Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, and Phantom Silver. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will come in Phantom Silver (128GB only) and Phantom Black. Samsung will also be offering extra colors through its online store, including red and gold for S21/+ and navy, brown, and titanium for S21 Ultra.

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Ben Schoon

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