Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy S21 family of Android phones on Thursday.
There are three models, each with a larger screen than the last: the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. All support the range of 5G networks now available in the U.S. and are the first devices powered by Qualcomm’s new flagship Snapdragon 888 processor that was announced last month.
Samsung remains the world’s largest phone maker with 22.7% of the market, according to the latest figures from IDC. A large portion of its sales comes from lower-cost models, but Samsung competes against Apple in the U.S. with its high-end Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series phones. These are the phones that will go toe-to-toe with Apple’s new iPhone 12 series and they look like the best option for folks who prefer Android over an iPhone and who want the latest cameras and processors.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra with S Pen accessory.
The Galaxy S21 phones have better screens, improved battery life and better cameras than last year’s Galaxy S20 phones, according to Samsung. The cameras can take clearer zoomed-in pictures and have better sensors for taking pictures at night. Samsung also appears to be addressing an issue with last year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra camera, which didn’t focus very well.
For the first time in a Galaxy S phone, the high-end Ultra version also supports Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which previously worked only with its Galaxy Note phones. But you’ll need to buy a special case to store it.
The Galaxy S21 is the smallest of the bunch, with a 6.1-inch screen. The Galaxy S21+ has a larger 6.7-inch display. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the largest screen at 6.8 inches across, but it also has a few other tricks.
Samsung phones are known for great displays. Last year’s phones had two modes: a really sharp mode or a slightly less sharp setting but with a smooth refresh rate that was good for scrolling around websites, playing games and more. This year, you can do both with the Ultra model: keep a high refresh rate for smoothness while also keeping the resolution high for sharper video, games and text.
The S21 Ultra has better cameras than the other versions, too, at least on paper. It has a sharper front-facing camera and four additional cameras on the back, as opposed to three on the S21 and S21+, including two zoom lenses, an ultra-wide lens and a wide-angle lens. The Galaxy S21 and S21+ lack the additional zoom lens. The Ultra also supports up to 100x zoom versus 30x zoom on the other models.
The Galaxy S21 will start at $799.99 and the Galaxy S21+ starts at $999.99. The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199.99. All phones are now available for preorder and will be released on Jan. 29.