Samsung has finally announced its 2021 flagship smartphone series: Galaxy S21.
As expected the Korean device maker is releasing three versions of the Galaxy S2: a standard variant, a Plus variant and an Ultra variant.
As has been the case lately, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the hero of the trio, which arrives with 5G as standard across the board.
The standard Samsung Galaxy S21 packs a 6.2-inch display while the Galaxy S21+ has a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, which is standard across the Galaxy S21 series including on the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 6.8-inch panel which is a hair smaller than last year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, its direct predecessor.
With the bigger frame, the Galaxy S21+ has a bigger (4,800mAh) battery compared to the S21’s 4,000mAh sealed unit.
Where the Galaxy S21+ (and the Ultra as well) has Gorilla Glass Victus (“the toughest Gorilla Glass, yet”) on the front and at the back, the Galaxy S21 shamelessly parades a plastic back.
Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Galaxy S21 Ultra, which headlines the series, has the more advanced specifications in the camera department, in addition to distinguishing itself from its two siblings by having an Edge panel while they have to make do with flat displays, something some, depending on where you stand, prefer over the other.
Samsung says that the display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, at 1,500 nits of brightness, is “the brightest on a Galaxy smartphone”. This is in addition to a feature it shares with the Galaxy S21 and S21+: adaptive refresh rate that sees it intelligently switch between a refresh rate as low as 10Hz to as high as 120Hz.
It has a 40-megapixel selfie camera giving it a leg up over its siblings’ 10-megapixel lenses. At the back, a quad camera arrangement takes care of the rest. A distinguishing feature of the Galaxy S21 Ultra over all the past Galaxy S series smartphones (and the entire Samsung smartphone lineup, in general) is that for the first time ever, all the lenses (front and rear) on the device can shoot in 4K (at 60fps, no less).
The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 108-megapixel pro image sensor is heads and shoulders above the 64-megapixel equivalent found on the Galaxy S21 and S21+. Another distinguishing feature between the camera system on the Ultra and that on the standard and plus models is the 100x Space Zoom on the Ultra which is matched by 30x Space Zoom on the other two smartphones.
In a decision that will make the Galaxy Note lineup a little less relevant, and plays into the rumours that it may be on its deathbed, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, as expected, arrives with ready support for a stylus, the S Pen, as we have known it on Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones, Galaxy Tab tablets and select Samsung laptops.
Unlike the Galaxy Note series smartphones and the other aforementioned Samsung devices that have featured a stylus in the past, the Galaxy S21 Ultra does not have any place to store the S Pen.
Also unveiled at Samsung’s Unpacked event are a number of accessories: the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag, a Bluetooth-powered Internet of Things device that can be attached on just about anything (from keys to bags to even the leash of a pet) in order to be able to easily locate it when needed if within a 120-metre range, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro which Samsung says feature the “most intelligent ANC (active noise cancellation) capabilities of any true wireless earbuds”.
Pricing and availability
Pre-orders for the three smartphones start on January 22nd in Kenya. The pre-order period runs all the way to early February (11th) when the first units will start landing in the hands of those who pre-ordered. Samsung Mobile Kenya is throwing in the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag and the Galaxy Buds Pro for free in a bundle for those who pre-order any of the three devices.
Pricing is as follows:
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (512GB) – Kshs 170,000
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (256GB) – Kshs 154,000
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ – Kshs 125,000
- Samsung Galaxy S21 (256GB) – Kshs 106,000
- Samsung Galaxy S21 (128GB) – Kshs 100,000
Now that you know how much the new Samsung Galaxy smartphones cost, guess what you won’t get with them?
- There is no expandable storage. Yes, the microSD card slot is dead and gone. There’s more than sufficient storage but you won’t have the option to expand it should need arise (especially once you start shooting videos in 8K).
- There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack either. It’s not surprising but it’s still worth noting.
- There’s no charger in the box. Yes, that. Samsung has gone the “Apple way”. Samsung will be including a USB-C-to-USB-C cable in the box, which has now shrunk in size, and not much else. Need a wall adaptor? Pick one from the huge heap of old ones that you have lying around (that is the assumption, no?). Or pay to get one. Especially if you want to take advantage of the 25W fast charging if 15W wireless fast charging doesn’t tickle your fancy.