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Looking forward to the Galaxy S21? Here's everything we know so far!

Samsung has big shoes to fill in 2021.

2020 has seen the release of some truly impressive Android phones, one of the best being the Galaxy S20 from Samsung. The S20 set out to deliver on every front that it could, and for the most part, it succeeded with flying colors.

It's now been a few months since the S20 came out, though, which means it's time to start looking ahead. The smartphone industry moves at a rapid pace, and before you know it, it'll be time for the Galaxy S21 (or S30, we're not sure yet).

We're using this article to round-up all of the latest S21/S30 rumors, reports, and leaks, so if you're at all interested in learning about the phone, this is where you want to be.

Unmatched

Samsung Galaxy S20

$850 at Amazon $850 at Best Buy $1000 at Walmart

One of the best Android phones you can buy in 2020

We're just as excited about the Galaxy S21 as you are, but if you need a phone right now, don't feel like you have to wait months for it. The Galaxy S20 that's currently available is excellent in just about every regard. It has a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, incredible performance, great cameras, and long battery life — all in a wonderfully compact form factor.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Announcement & Release date

Samsung's Galaxy S phones launch early on in the year, often around March. For some perspective, here are the release dates for the past few Galaxy S handsets.

  • Galaxy S8 — April 21, 2017
  • Galaxy S9 — March 16, 2018
  • Galaxy S10 — March 8, 2019
  • Galaxy S20 — March 6, 2020

One would assume that Samsung will follow suit with that timeline, but it appears that things will be very different in 2021. Android Central understands through reliable sources that the Galaxy S21 series will be announced in January 2021, at least six weeks earlier than usual. The phones will likely be released around the world in either late January or early February, at least a month earlier than usual.

The way Samsung announces the Galaxy S21 lineup will also be quite a bit different than usual. The company usually holds a big in-person event where press and media from all over the world come to attend, but that seems highly unlikely for this lineup of phones. Samsung hosted a virtual event for the Galaxy Note 20 unveiling, and that's most definitely what we should anticipate for the Galaxy 21, too.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Regular, Plus, Ultra?

For the past two years, Samsung's Galaxy S has come in a package of three distinct models. 2019 saw the release of the Galaxy S10e, S10, and S10+, whereas 2020 gave us the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra. According to the latest rumors, we're in for another year of three different phones.

A report from August 24 revealed three codenames for the Galaxy S21 series, including M1, N2, and O3. Specifics on these different versions remain unclear, but it is being said that O3 will either come with an S Pen or support it, similar to the Galaxy Note.

In October, reliable leaker OnLeaks released renders of the smaller Galaxy S21, which resembles the Galaxy S20, and the largest model, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which looks very similar to the Galaxy S20 Ultra. We haven't seen renders of a "middle" Galaxy S21+, but we're expecting a unit that fits in between the smallest and largest variants.

As for the Ultra, the inclusion of an S Pen, or at least the support of an S Pen, would be a massive shift for Samsung's smartphone strategy, seeing as how the S Pen has been offered exclusively for Galaxy Note devices and not for the Galaxy S series. We've had longstanding rumors that Samsung would eventually phase out the Note, and assuming this rumor is legit, the S21 could be the catalyst that finally begins that change.

Will there be a Galaxy S21e?

Unfortunately for people looking to Samsung to compete with the iPhone 12 mini, there's no indication that Samsung will follow suit in 2021 with a smaller Galaxy S21e. That said, the regular S21 should be roughly the same size as the S20 at 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Price

Similar to the release date, pricing for the Galaxy S21is also a mystery. Once again, however, we can make some educated guesses based on past years.

  • Galaxy S9 — $720
  • Galaxy S9+ — $840
  • Galaxy S10 — $899
  • Galaxy S10+ — $999
  • Galaxy S20 — $1000
  • Galaxy S20+ — $1200
  • Galaxy S20 Ultra — $1400

Just like virtually all smartphone makers, Samsung is known for increasing prices every year. The Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra were easily the most expensive Galaxy S phones ever, but they also introduced technologies we hadn't before seen — such as 120Hz displays and Qualcomm's (extremely costly) Snapdragon 865 chip with 5G connectivity.

While it would be logical to expect a similar price bump for the S21 series, we're hearing that Samsung may try to tone down the prices of its newest phones to make them a bit more palatable for a smartphone market beset by pandemic-related financial anxieties. People aren't willing to spend money right now the same way they used to, and unless Samsung wants to double down on its premium pricing to offset lower device sales, it will likely keep prices the same as they were in 2020, or decrease them across the board.

Here's our speculation for Galaxy S21 pricing:

  • Galaxy S21 — $899
  • Galaxy S21+ — $1150
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra — $1300

We have no inside knowledge about those prices, but given the fact that Samsung released the Note 20 Ultra, an arguably better phone than the S20 Ultra in almost every way, for $1300, it stands to reason the company will see it overshot the landing on last year's models and course correct in early 2021.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Design

As for what kind of design we can look forward to for the Galaxy S21, Samsung has a couple of options — 1) keep the Galaxy S20's design language or 2) usher in a completely new design.

The Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra took the S20's design and refined it a bit, meaning we could be treated to similar-looking phones for the 21 series. The highlights here include slim display bezels, a centered hole-punch cutout, and possibly matte glass on the back.

The most recent leaks of the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra suggest that the design will be very similar to the S20 lineup, but with subtle differences. For example, the smaller S21 looks to have a flat display as opposed to the curved glass on the S20. Both the S21 and S21 Ultra appear to have large protruding camera bumps, but the glass that covers them wraps around the side of the phone in a modernist panache.

The backs of the phones still appear to be covered in glass, but like the Note 20 series is matte instead of glossy, making it easier to grip and more difficult to scuff of cover in fingerprints. Otherwise, we have a bunch of phones that look very similar to Samsung's 2020 models, including an edge-to-edge display with a centered selfie cutout, two sets of buttons on the right side of the device, and a USB-C port on the bottom next to the microphone and speaker ports.

Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Specs

At this point, we're speculating on the Galaxy S21 series specifications, but we can all but guarantee a few things so far.

The first is that the phones will launch with One UI 3.0 running Android 11; we already see Samsung beta testing this update for its 2020 lineup, and there's no reason to think it won't launch the S21 series with this software out of the box.

We also know that the screen sizes will likely be identical or very similar to what we've seen this year.

Category Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21+ Galaxy S21 Ultra
Operating System Android 11
One UI 3
Android 11
One UI 3.0
Android 11
One UI 3.0
Display 6.2-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
563ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
6.7-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
525ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
6.9-inch
Dynamic AMOLED
Quad HD+
511ppi
120Hz
HDR10+
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 / Exynos 1000 Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 / Exynos 1000 Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 / Exynos 1000
Memory 12GB 12GB 12GB
16GB
Storage 128GB 128GB
512GB
128GB
512GB
Rear Camera 1 12MP wide 12MP wide 108MP wide
Rear Camera 2 64MP telephoto 64MP telephoto 10MP telephoto (5x?)
Rear Camera 3 12MP ultra-wide 12MP ultra-wide 10MP telephoto (10x?)
Rear Camera 4 ? ? 16MP ultra-wide
Front Camera 10MP 10MP 40MP
Battery TBD (likely 4,000mAh) TBD (likely 4,800 mAh) 5,000 mAh
Dimensions 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm TBD 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm

We know more about the S21 Ultra's camera setup because of a tweet by Max Winebach who teased the below configuration. We've heard speculation that the S21 Ultra will have two telephoto lenses at different focal differences, at least one of which will be powered by a prism, though it's possible that they could use the same mechanism for both lenses.

We also know that the latest Qualcomm processor is a must. That means the Snapdragon 875 with support for 5G. We also anticipate Samsung will stick with its 120Hz AMOLED displays, at least three rear cameras, and ample RAM and storage. In Europe, there are rumors of a brand new Exynos 1000 chip that could bring Samsung's chip performance back to the level of Qualcomm's.

The addition of 5G and the 120Hz screen were big staples for the Galaxy S20, making the phone an exciting upgrade even if you had the S10. We think the S21 will be a year of refinement for Samsung rather than major breakthroughs, so while it may not be as buzzworthy, it should take all of what made the S20 great and crank it up just a little more.

As for other rumored specs, an August 20 report hinted at a 4,800 mAh battery for the Galaxy S21+ — marking a decent upgrade from the 4,500 mAh battery found in the S20+. It's also said that the entire Galaxy S21 lineup could ditch time-of-flight sensors, just like we saw for the Note 20 series.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: FAQ

Why is Samsung launching its phones earlier than usual in 2021?

There are many reasons Samsung may choose to push up its flagship phones' launch date, but at its core, it comes down to anticipating the market. Samsung usually launches its phones months after the new iPhones, which puts it out of cycle for people cross-shopping. By launching in January, Samsung gets to go head-to-head with the new iPhones more closely than ever before.

Samsung is also launching these phones into an economic downturn, which will affect demand. Being in the market longer than any other 2021 flagship phone will ensure that it gets the longest and more serious chance at success.

If the Galaxy S21 comes with an S Pen, does that spell the death of the Galaxy Note?

The Galaxy S and Note lines have been converging for half a decade now, and this year they're more alike than ever. While there's no indication that Samsung plans to eliminate the Note line completely, adding S Pen support to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, even if the stylus doesn't come in the box, opens the door to doing away with the Note down the line so Samsung can once again go back to focusing on two major product launches: its Galaxy S and, in this case, its burgeoning folding phone brand, the Galaxy Z.

Unmatched

Samsung Galaxy S20

$850 at Amazon $850 at Best Buy $1000 at Walmart

One of the best Android phones you can buy in 2020

We're just as excited about the Galaxy S21 as you are, but if you need a phone right now, don't feel like you have to wait months for it. The Galaxy S20 that's currently available is excellent in just about every regard. It has a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, incredible performance, great cameras, and long battery life — all in a wonderfully compact form factor.



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