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The Galaxy S21 is official, will get an across-the-board $200 value drop

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Samsung’s new smartphones are lastly official, so let’s meet the Galaxy S21 household. The design and specs line up with what was rumored, however the huge information at this time is the value vary, which is hopefully an indication that the sky-high costs in 2020 are coming down a bit.

The Galaxy S21 line is seeing an across-the-board $200 value minimize in comparison with final 12 months. Beforehand, (including a penny for readability’s sake) Samsung was charging $1,000, $1,200, and $1,400 for the S20, S20+, and S20 Extremely, respectively. This 12 months, the S21 is $800, the S21+ is $1,000, and the Extremely is $1,200. The cheaper fashions are seeing some seen cost-cutting, however I would not say it is sufficient to justify a $200 value drop—the value is genuinely decrease. And there is not any arguing this for the Extremely mannequin, which nonetheless appears each bit as “Extremely” as final 12 months, with a lower cost.

Samsung is now calling the bottom mannequin S21 a “value-oriented” gadget and, just like the Note20, is altering the S21 to a plastic again for a decrease invoice of supplies. The opposite two telephones are glass, and the whole lot supposedly has a “matte end,” which sounds nice for fingerprint discount.

In the case of specs, the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are just about the identical telephone on the within. They’re normally talked about as a pair in Samsung’s press releases, whereas the Extremely has unique specs and options.

Galaxy S21Galaxy S21+Galaxy S21 Extremely
SCREEN2400×1080 6.2-inch 120Hz (424ppi) OLED2400×1080 6.7-inch 120Hz (393ppi) OLED3200×1440 6.8-inch 120Hz (516ppi) OLED
OSAndroid 11 Pie with Samsung One UI
CPUEight-core, 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 5nm
RAM8GB8GB12GB or 16GB
STORAGE128GB or 256GB128GB or 256GB128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
NETWORKING802.11b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC(Identical) + 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E
5G assist sub-6 GHz and mmWavesub-6 GHz and mmWavesub-6 GHz and mmWave
PORTSUSB Kind-C
REAR CAMERA12MP Primary
12MP Extensive Angle
64MP Telephoto (1.06x optical)
12MP Primary
12MP Extensive Angle
64MP Telephoto (1.06x optical)
108MP Primary
12MP Extensive Angle
10MP 3x Optical Telephoto
10MP 10x Optical Telephoto
Laser AF
FRONT CAMERA10MP10MP40MP
SIZE151.7×71.2×7.9 mm161.5×75.6×7.8 mm165.1×75.6×8.9 mm
WEIGHT171 g202g229g
BATTERY4000mAh, 25W charging4800mAh, 25W charging5000mAh, 25W charging
STARTING PRICE$799.99$999.99$1,199.99
OTHER PERKSWi-fi charging, in-screen fingerprint sensor. IP68 water and mud resistance

The bottom mannequin and the S21+

All three telephones have a 120Hz show, and new this 12 months is a dynamic refresh fee, which lets the show regulate its refresh fee primarily based on what’s on the display screen. If executed nicely, this might give the telephone silky-smooth scrolling and animations when it wants them (and save battery when it does not). Samsung does not give a ton of particulars about what it really works with, however ideally, you’d need a 120Hz refresh fee for scrolling and different system-generated animations, 60Hz for 60fps video games, 24Hz for 24fps motion pictures, and one thing like 1Hz whereas studying static textual content.

Samsung’s first-gen implementation of this is not excessive: on S20 and S20+, the show can regulate from 120Hz all the way down to 48Hz. On the Extremely mannequin, you may sluggish all the way in which to 10Hz. Final 12 months, you could possibly solely lock the telephone to 120Hz or 60Hz.

One signal of cost-cutting: the 2 cheaper fashions are seeing a decision drop from 1440p to 1080p. Android telephones have all the time had tons of pixels to spare, and even the worse-off Plus mannequin remains to be clocking in at a good 393ppi. The 2 telephones are additionally getting much less RAM: 8GB as a substitute of the usual 12GB of final 12 months. The battery is similar on the S21 and S21 Extremely, however the plus mannequin is getting a bump from 4500mAh to 4800mAh.

In the US and different choose territories, all fashions of the telephone function the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC.

The Galaxy S21 is not the primary 888 gadget on the earth (that is the Xiaomi Mi 11), however for a lot of territories, it will likely be the primary business gadget. Elsewhere on the earth, almost certainly in Europe, the telephones use Samsung’s new Exynos 2100 SoC. Each are 5nm SoCs with Arm’s new X1 core, three A78 cores, and 4 A55 cores. The most important variations will likely be within the modems and GPUs, which the Web will undoubtedly make the topic of on-line benchmark battles as soon as the telephones really launch. In comparison with final 12 months, Qualcomm is promising efficiency enhancements of 25 p.c from the CPU, 35 p.c from the GPU, and 35 p.c from the ISP.

You may most likely additionally file the Snapdragon 888 below “causes for a lower cost.” All final 12 months, we had been harping on the Snapdragon 865’s design, which pulled the 4G modem off of the SoC and caught it on a separate modem chip, all for the sake of additionally bolting on first-gen 5G assist. Corporations do not speak about elements costs, however Qualcomm chips have had onboard modems endlessly, and the 865’s additional modem chip almost certainly raised the price of Qualcomm’s chip bundle. The 5G {hardware} took up additional house and extra energy, and possibly to keep away from the issues that plagued first-gen 4G telephones, producers compensated with bigger telephones and greater batteries, additional elevating the value. This 12 months, the Snapdragon 888 is Qualcomm’s first flagship SoC with an onboard 5G modem, and whereas the sizes aren’t happening, the costs are.

In the US this 12 months, all three fashions are getting mmWave compatibility. That is an improve for the bottom mannequin, which final 12 months solely supported sub-6GHz. mmWave is a troublesome promote since even the most important pusher of mmWave, Verizon, solely has protection in 4 p.c of its community.

The fingerprint reader

Whereas we’re as regards to Qualcomm, the Galaxy S21 has a brand new under-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader that’s “practically double in measurement” in comparison with the earlier model, and it might scan your fingerprint quicker. Samsung wouldn’t verify the mannequin or producer of the fingerprint reader when requested. Qualcomm simply introduced its next-generation ultrasonic fingerprint reader, although: the 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2, which contains a 77 p.c bigger reader space and is 50 p.c quicker.

Qualcomm is nearly the one producer of ultrasonic (versus optical) fingerprint readers. Since Samsung used a Qualcomm sensor final 12 months and the advance specs match, we’re calling it a match. Beforehand, Samsung shipped a super-tiny first-generation fingerprint sensor within the S10 and S20, with an space of solely 9×4mm. Qualcomm’s new sensor is a much bigger 8×8mm, which ought to assist with accuracy. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless smaller than a fingertip, which is round 14×14mm.

The digital camera

A closeup of the new camera block.
Enlarge / A closeup of the brand new digital camera block.

Samsung

The large design change this 12 months is the rear digital camera, which is now an enormous block that’s a part of the nook of the telephone. Samsung calls it the “Contour Lower Digicam housing.” In contrast to the early speculative renders, the glass does not wrap across the nook of the telephone. There’s nonetheless metallic there, so it should not be too smashable. Like final 12 months, we have got a 12MP most important digital camera, a 12MP wide-angle, and a 64MP Telephoto. The telephoto appears to be the identical setup as final 12 months, with a barely-there 1.06x optical zoom and many digital zoom from the 64MP sensor, in a bundle Samsung is looking a “Hybrid Optic 3X” zoom.

One of many stranger options we noticed within the Snapdragon 888 launch was the power to concurrently seize information from three totally different rear cameras, and we questioned what telephone producers would do with that. Samsung has turned it right into a useful function within the S20 digital camera: stay previews of every digital camera lens within the digital camera app. The function—known as “Dwell Thumbnails” in picture mode and “Director’s View” in video mode—will let customers see how the principle, wide-angle, and telephoto lens would all body a shot. Hopefully, it would invite less-savvy customers to check out the pile of cameras on the again of their gadget.

Behold the full power of Samsung's camera app. On the right side there are three live previews of the three rear lenses, and on the left is the front camera.
Enlarge / Behold the complete energy of Samsung’s digital camera app. On the proper facet there are three stay previews of the three rear lenses, and on the left is the entrance digital camera.

Samsung



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