Samsung Launches Galaxy S21 Series: Here’s What To Know

Samsung is debuting three models in its new Galaxy S21 series, with updates around the display, design and cameras, as well as a reduction in prices.

Galaxy Quest

Samsung isn’t wasting any time in 2021 with rolling out its newest Galaxy S series smartphones. In the midst of the all-digital CES 2021 tech show this week, Samsung is unveiling its new Galaxy S21 series with three new devices. The new Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra will offer updates around the display, design and cameras--as well as other updated specs and a reduced price compared to last year’s Galaxy S20 series. Among the most notable changes is a design overhaul on the back of the phones with a new camera housing, as well as the first-ever support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus on a Galaxy S device--with the Galaxy S21 Ultra supporting the S Pen (best known for its inclusion in the Galaxy Note series).

In the following slides, we’ve rounded up the top things to know about Samsung’s Galaxy S21 lineup, including key features, specs and price.

Galaxy S21 And S21+

While Samsung is changing up a lot with its Galaxy S21 series, the display sizes of the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are not among the changes. The base model Galaxy S21 will feature a 6.2-inch display, the same as on the Galaxy S20, while the Galaxy S21+ will also stick at 6.7 inches.

The Galaxy S21 and S21+ will include an identical three-camera system on the rear--consisting of a pair of 12-megapixel cameras (wide-angle and ultra-wide) along with a 64-megapixel telephoto camera. The cameras will offer 30X “space” zoom capabilities, as well as a new zoom lock feature that provides clearer photos by compensating for shaky hands while zooming.

Another update is that both the Galaxy S21 and S21+ will support both types of 5G connectivity--i.e., both sub-6GHz and higher-speed, millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G. In last year’s Galaxy S lineup, the Galaxy S20 had only supported sub-6GHz 5G.

Galaxy S21 Ultra

As part of the 2021 redesign, Samsung has slightly decreased the display size on the Galaxy S21 Ultra--with its display measuring 6.8 inches, down from 6.9 inches on last year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra. But on the camera system, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will expand to a quad-camera setup on the rear, from three cameras on the S20 Ultra. The quad-camera system will retain the 108-megapixel wide-angle and 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensors of the S20 Ultra, but will swap in a pair of 10-megapixel telephoto cameras in place of last year’s 48-megapixel telephoto lens. For zooming purposes, the S21 Ultra camera system will offer “space” zoom of up to 100X as well as the zoom lock feature.

Meanwhile, like the other two models in the lineup, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will support both sub-6GHz 5G and mmWave 5G.


One design difference between the Galaxy S21/S21+ and the S21 Ultra will be on the display design--with the Galaxy S21 and S21+ featuring a flat display and the S21 Ultra offering an “edge” display design that brings more of a curve. On the back of the phones, meanwhile, Samsung has redesigned the camera housing in what the company is calling its “Contour Cut Camera” housing design. The idea is to blend the camera housing more seamlessly into the phone’s metal frame, Samsung said.

Display And Stylus

All three of the new Galaxy S21 devices will offer displays with vibrant AMOLED technology and a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth display motion. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will offer a higher-res display than the other models, with WQHD+ resolution (3,200 x 1,440, or 515 pixels per inch). The S21 Ultra display will also offer up to 1,500 nits of brightness, as well as automatic adjustment for the refresh rate (between 10Hz and 120Hz) to optimize both viewing quality and battery life. The Galaxy S21/S21+ will have FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) resolution--which works out to 421 ppi on the S21 and 394 ppi on the S21+--and an adaptive refresh rate between 48Hz and 120Hz.

Additionally, a new display feature for the full Galaxy S21 lineup is the inclusion of “Eye Comfort Shield” technology for automatically adjusting blue light levels (based on the time of day) to reduce fatigue on the eyes.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra display is getting another big update, as well--with Samsung bringing in support for the S Pen stylus. It’s the first time that Samsung has brought the S Pen technology over to the Galaxy S series from the Galaxy Note series, and it will only be offered on the S21 Ultra (not the other two S21 models) to start. Leveraging Wacom technology, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will work with the S Pen stylus from previous Galaxy Note devices, but will not have housing within the device for the S Pen (which will be sold separately).

Key Specs

All three of the Galaxy S21 models will be powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888, an eight-core chip with a clock speed of up to 2.8GHz. Samsung didn’t provide estimates on battery life, but all three models with feature sizable battery capacities--at 5,000 mAh for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, 4,800 mAh for the S21+ and 4,000 mAh for the Galaxy S21.

In terms of RAM and storage options, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will have three configuration choices--all with a massive amount of RAM. The options are for 12GB of RAM with either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, or 16GB of RAM with 512GB of storage. For the Galaxy S21/S21+, there will be two options on storage--128GB or 256GB--with both featuring 8GB of RAM.

Business Features

Key business features on the Galaxy S21 lineup of devices includes improved support for the DeX Android desktop. The S21 devices will now support wireless connectivity to DeX on PCs and Macs, in addition to wireless connectivity to displays that support Miracast.

Samsung announced that it will also be launching an Enterprise Edition model of the Galaxy S21 in the U.S., with no incremental costs to businesses. The Enterprise Edition will include a year of free access to the Knox Suite, which provides tools for mobile enrollment, setup and endpoint management. The Enterprise Edition also includes a tiered product lifecycle for 5-year security maintenance release support.

Price And Availability

Pre-orders for all three of the Samsung Galaxy S21 models are set to begin today (Jan. 14) at 11 a.m. ET, with the devices shipping on Jan. 29.

Samsung has reduced the starting prices for all three models by $200 compared to the pricing for the Galaxy S20 series. The Galaxy S21 price will start at $799.99, down from the S20’s starting price of $999, while the Galaxy S21+ starts at $999.99, down from $1,199 on the S20+. For the Galaxy S21 Ultra, pricing starts at $1,199.99 -- compared to $1,399 for last year’s S20 Ultra model.