The wait is over! Samsung has held its first Galaxy Unpacked hardware event of the year, where it revealed its all-new Galaxy S21 series. In a move that mimics last year’s Galaxy S20 announcement, the new flagship range is made up of three handsets, with all three scheduled to hit store shelves this month. Galaxy S21 and larger Galaxy S21+ are the successors to the Galaxy S20 and S20+ from last year, while the fully-loaded Galaxy S20 Ultra gets a sequel in the form of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which packs more features than its more affordable siblings but packs a price tag to match.
All three of the new Galaxy S21 smartphone range benefit from a faster 5nm processor, which promises to boost performance by as much as 35 percent. The smaller 5nm process also makes it much more efficient with battery life. Elsewhere, the different Galaxy S21 models all share speedy 5G mobile data downloads, improved camera, and a refreshed design.
There’s also something else all of these devices have in common, with Samsung following Apple and ditching the charger and wired headphones from the box. This is designed to cut down on the amount of packaging and electronic waste in landfill, but does mean you’ll need to buy a plug if you haven’t got one already stuffed in your gadget drawer.
Samsung Galaxy S21
S21 Price, UK Release Date, Specs • From £769
The phone most will probably buy is the standard Galaxy S21 as it’s not only the cheapest in the range but, with a 6.2-inch edge-to-edge display, it’s the easiest to handle with one-hand.
Samsung says this new AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display is the most intelligent it has ever shipped on a smartphone. It has an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, which changes based on what you are doing on the device, so you’ll always get silky smooth scrolling …without a battery life hit. This panel also includes a technology called Eye Comfort Shield, which automatically adjusts blue light levels to make it more comfortable to view for long periods.
Spin the phone around and you’ll find a new triple rear camera which Samsung says should make it easy for everyone to get the perfect photos and videos. That’s all thanks to some clever AI which makes sure things are set perfectly for different environments. Basically, you should just be able to point, shoot and let Galaxy S21 5G do the heavy lifting.
Low-light photos are also improved and users continue to get a range of shot options from the wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses.
Some new additions to the camera include the Director View, which lets you easily switch between lenses and preview your shots plus there’s a Vlogger View which allows both the front and rear cameras to record at the same time.
Samsung’s Single Shot mode which captures photos and a short video clip at the same time has also been improved with a fun Dynamic Slo-Mo option which slows down and highlights moments in the footage.
And an update to the 8K Video Snap now lets you grab crystal clear images from your 8K video footage. One final thing to note about the camera is the new Zoom Lock feature which should stop close-up images looking blurry and it of focus.
As well as taking improved images the new Contour Cut Camera design now seamlessly blends into the rear case making look a little more appealing than the bulbous camera bump found on the S20.
Unlike last year, the S21 doesn’t get a 4G version with all models getting access to speedy 5G data. There are also some striking new matt colours including a signature Phantom Violet. Phantom Grey, Phantom Pink and Phantom White will also be available at launch.
If all that sounds like something you want in your pocket then the S21 will be available from January 29 with prices starting from £769 for the 128GB model with a 256GB version also arriving in stores for £819.
You can pre-order from today with those buying one early getting some Galaxy Buds Live and a SmartTag for free.
Samsung Galaxy S21+
Samsung Galaxy S21+ • Price, UK Release Date, Specs • From £949
If you want a little more screen real estate to watch movies on your commute, play games, or edit photos on-the-go, then the S21+ might be what you are looking for.
Samsung has slapped an expansive 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED screen onto this premium glass and metal design, plus you still get that slick 120Hz adapted refresh rate.
Other features such as the improved camera, faster processor, 5G and wireless charging are all the same as that found on the S21.
You will, however, find a bigger 4,800mAh battery tucked under the hood. The S21+ starts from £949 (128GB) and will also be available on January 29 in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.
Those buying one early will receive some Galaxy Buds Live and a SmartTag for free.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra • Price, UK Release Date, Specs • From £1,149
If you want the best of the best, the Galaxy S21 Ultra should be top of your wishlist. At £1,149 it’s not cheap, but it does pack an improved camera system, which Samsung says is their most advanced Pro-grade camera system ever built. This quadruple-camera array features a new 108-megapixel main sensor with lightning-fast autofocus. As you might expect, there are a few benefits to packing that many megapixels, including 64x richer colours and more than 3x wider dynamic range, Samsung says.
For budding photographers who want the best files for editing, you can also shoot in 12bit RAW on the Ultra.
The 100X Space Zoom also makes a return but hopefully, the Zoom Lock and some new tech called Dual-tele zoom will end the gripes many had with the S20 Ultra’s image quality and the inability to hold things steady when getting really close up to an object. Samsung says this Dual-tele lens system is powered by one optical 3x and one optical 10x both equipped Dual Photodiode so you can capture crystal-clear shots no matter how far you are from the action.
Night Mode has also been improved on this phone thanks to enhanced noise reduction and a faster night sensor. So, you should be able to capture rich details without blinding friends and family with an LED flash in gloomy restaurants, bars, and gigs.
For video, there’s the option to shoot in 4K across all four lenses which should give users more options when producing their home movies.
Another thing you’ll get on the Ultra is an even bigger 6.8-inch screen which gets that 120Hz refresh rate even when viewing content at the best WQHD+ quality. This is also Samsung’s brightest ever screen, which should help users get a clear image even in direct sunlight.
The final bonus of the screen is that it’s fully compatible with the S Pen stylus so you can doddle your heart out without leaving mucky prints on the display.
The last reason you might want to consider switching to the Ultra is that this is the first phone to tap into hyperFast Wi-Fi 6E, which will make your downloads super quick.
“The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G raises the bar of what a smartphone can do, and with the new year we are bringing new innovation for Galaxy fans who want to stay one step ahead,” said Conor Pierce, Corporate Vice President for Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland.
The S21 Ultra starts from £1,149 for the 128GB model with prices rising to £1,329 if you think you’ll need 512GB of storage. It’s available in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black with anyone who pre-orders able to claim a free pair of Galaxy Buds Pro.
All pre-orders will also include a free Galaxy SmartTag.