Samsung Announces Galaxy S21 Lineup

Posted on January 14, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 18 Comments

It’s a month earlier than usual, but Samsung is pushing forward with its next-generation flagship lineup, the Galaxy S21 family.

“We are living in a mobile-first world, and with so many of us working remotely and spending more time at home, we wanted to deliver a smartphone experience that meets the rigorous multimedia demands of our continuously changing routines,” Samsung president TM Roh said. “We also recognize the importance of choice, especially now, and that’s why the Galaxy S21 series gives you the freedom to choose the best device for your style and needs.”

As with previous Galaxy S-series launches, Samsung is launching several models, in this case the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra. But for the first time, a Galaxy handset, the S21 Ultra, is compatible with Samsung’s popular S Pen peripheral as well.

“Galaxy S21 Ultra is another example of how Samsung is driving meaningful innovation forward to give people personalized experiences that enrich their lives and empower them to express who they are,” Mr. Roh added. “Given how indispensable technology has been to our lives during these times, we wanted to take another leap forward and push the boundaries of what a smartphone can do.”

From a specifications perspective, there are no major surprises, but I’m happy to see that Samsung has finally dropped the curved display edges that marred previous S-series flagships. Each ships with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 chipset, at least here in the U.S., and each supports mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G networks. The camera systems on the two lower-end versions seem almost identical to those in the similar S20 products, but the S21 Ultra gets four rear-facing camera sensors: a 108 MP main sensor, like last year, a 12 MP ultrawide sensor, and two 10 MP telephoto sensors, one with 3X zoom and one with 10X zoom.

Pricing is a bit higher than hoped, given the economic situation triggered by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The Galaxy S21 starts at $799, while the S21+ starts at $999, and the S21 Ultra starts at $1199; oddly the S Pen is not included and costs $40 extra, and none of these phones includes a charging brick. Each is available for preorder now, and each will ship to customers starting on January 29.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Samsung Announces Galaxy S21 Lineup”

  1. yoshi

    I'm glad Samsung was brave enough to invent a black phone. (wayyyy too much time on this in the keynote)


    But the phones do look nice. Samsung always has great hardware. I'll be curious to read reviews on the camera.

    • evox81

      In reply to yoshi:

      The reviews: "Good for a tiny imaging sensor in a phone. Demonstrably better than last year in some cryptic metric that can only be measured mathematically. Perfectly acceptable for day to day shooting and more."


      For clarity: This isn't from an actual review. It's just how these reviews always sound with each successive generation, with no reason to suspect anything different this year.

  2. Pbike908

    Samsung will give me $250 for a S8 trade in. $549 for the S21 is a decent price for these specs.


    The only other phone I would consider is a pixel 4a 5G that one can get from Visible for $330 after a $150 rebate. In some respects the 4a 5g is a better deal but I really want a phone with a telephoto lens.


    I liked the S20 cameras but I wasnt wild with the 865 plus the extra modem chip.

  3. h8zgray

    Hi All, I agree with stevesloc regarding the removal of functions, plus the loss of a headphone jack (starting with the S20) and now the apparent ditching of the microSD slot amount to too many compromises considering the cost of the unit. Currently own a S10+ Performance Edition that I purchased at launch and it has been flawless, so much so that I am contemplating buying another one in reserve in case it craps out or I break it. Problem is not sure how long Samsung will be willing to support a phone from 2019.

  4. lilmoe

    I would have complained had they not included a hefty in store credit with the pre-orders. Its actually a much better deal since you can decide if you want a charger, a pair of buds, a case or all the above, which is what I did. Not to mention the great trade in deals. I sound like a salesman now, but the deals are really incredible.

  5. melinau

    Too rich for my blood (or maybe I'm not rich enough!). The hardware is undoubtedly top-quality & very well-built, but one reason I jumped on to OnePlus (price aside) is how poor the on-going OS & software support is with Samsung. Until Android updates become as seamless, painless & long-term as iOS, shelling-out over £700 for a 'phone looks extravagant.


    Should I ever treat myself to another flagship 'phone Apple are very much in the running. Despite the comparative inflexibility of iOS & various usability issues, Apple's support in the medium to long-term is a great USP.

  6. codymesh

    This looks like the best flagship from Samsung since the S9

  7. troughley

    Sticking with my Note 20 Ultra. I do feel they are going down the Apple route with the "sustainability" talk, where most of the people who upgrade really could benefit from the charger in the box.

  8. crunchyfrog

    Can we expect in four years that Samsung Ultra phones will have eight camera lenses? This is getting crazy.

  9. mikegalos

    Personally, I like the curved display edges on the earlier Samsung flagships. They made the display less like a picture in a frame.


  10. stevesloc

    Not happy they dropped support for MST in Samsung Pay. I will hold on to my S10+ longer. I enjoy smugly saying this is not an iPhone and paying when they say I can't.

    • earlster

      In reply to stevesloc:

      I hadn't noticed that they dropped that, thanks for pointing it out. TMobile has a deal, where you can get a new S21 for almost free (have to pay the tax, and stick with them for 36 month), when trading in an S10, and I'm thinking about it, but I really love using Samsung pay on terminals that don't support NFC payments.

  11. bleeman

    I don't understand why they would add the S pen compatibility to the S line. I've heard that they're discontinuing the Note line and this was why. But why on earth would I want to have to carry the S pen around separately or buy some type of case that would hold it, when the Note line always had a slot for it. Looks like I'll be hanging on to my Note for a long time and won't be buying any of the new Samsung phones. Not too surprising I guess as I've been watching them slowly gut their Samsung Health app over the years and lately they've been screwing around with Samsung Pay as they keep trying to shove their Samsung Money product down our throats. I don't mind change but I have to wonder what they're thinking with some of the changes they've been making lately.

  12. dallasnorth40

    It's about time to move on from my fabulous Galaxy S9+. I am extremely interested in these.

  13. ebraiter

    Need to upgrade my S10 soon. Hoping the prices will drop in a few months... Now just depends on what my phone provider scams me for my data plan.

  14. solomonrex

    I'm not surprise they were released early, given that last year's phones underperformed due to being overpriced.


    Hopefully they do the obvious thing next year and release them before the holidays.

  15. earlster

    I ended up taking the incredible trade-in deal (only pay the sales tax) for my S10 from T-Mobile in the US, I went with the 256GB S21 5G for an extra $50, and am really liking it. I don't miss the missing headphone jack or the SD card slot. I have switched to BT headphones a while ago, and getting the 256GB model gets me the same storage I had with my 128GB S10 + 128GB SD card.

    The lack of MST is probably the only real drawback, but it really only worked reliably on 50% of mag stripe terminals anyway. I personally also liked the rounded display corners, it looks a bit more ordinary without them, but not a big deal.


    The display is awesome, the colors are great, the high refresh rate makes scrolling super smooth, and my old eyes can't really tell the difference in resolution. Having 5G is a good future proof feature, and already works pretty well in my area. The cameras are improved, especially night mode, and finally, while I always thought the S10s fingerprint reader was fine, this newer model is super fast and accurate, a big step up.


    The faster processor and new One UI version are not particularly remarkable, the S10 was already fast, and I'm using the MS launcher.


    I wouldn't have spent $800 on it, but the upgrade deal was so great, it was hard to resist, and now I have a phone that will get upgrades for a few more years again.


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