As of January 14, the Samsung S21 is official. There are three versions, as in 2020 and 2019, but now it is clearer what place they have in your life depending on your budget, preferences, and needs. With this announcement, the first of such importance, start 2021 with a little more optimism than you would have thought at the end of 2020.
The Samsung Galaxy S series made its decade in 2020 and is now in its second year. If we find out about the Galaxy Note that it could disappear every year, it shows that it is doing really well. In 2021, it could work even better thanks to the cheapest model: Samsung S21. At the opposite end is the Samsung S21 Ultra. It’s so big, with so many qualities, that it could be a kind of planet between phones and hold the rest of it like satellites. Price contributes considerably to this “gravity”.
Specifications that say a little about each
In 2020, Samsung re-entered the spec race. Not that he ever left her, but with the Ultra model he threw everything on the table. Do the same this year.
Samsung S21 is a 6.2 inch Dynamic AMOLED Full HD + screen phone. It has a 4,000 mAh battery and will be available in two versions: 8 GB RAM with 128 or 256 GB of storage space. It is water-resistant, and the back is not made of glass, it is made of the same material as the Note 20, which means plastic – but don’t think about the plastic made of lion pens. At first glance, you wouldn’t realize it wasn’t glass. All three are dull. However, it also requires a lower price.
Both phones have these cameras: 12 megapixels ultrawide, 12 MP wide, and 65 MP telephoto. Both can be charged wirelessly, are water-resistant, and have an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. And it looks the same, except that one is considerably larger and has a glass back. At the same time, the S21 Plus benefits from ultrawideband (UWB) which will be relevant a little later.
Finally, the Samsung S21 Ultra. The screen is 6.8 inches Dynamic AMOLED Quad HD +, has a 5,000 mAh battery, and will be in the following configurations: 12 or 16 GB of RAM and 128, 256, or 512 GB of storage space. The cameras are like this: 12 MP ultrawide, 108 megapixels wide, 10 MP telephoto, and 10 MP telephoto. Yes, it has two zoom cameras, so you can get closer or closer. And the selfie camera has 40 MP, while the others have only 10 MP.
Samsung S21 Ultra is the only one that has a refresh rate between 11 and 120 Hz and works at 120 Hz even when set to 2K +. Otherwise, the others have 120 Hz, but the lower limit is 48 Hz. Will you notice the difference? Unlikely. At the same time, the S21 Ultra supports Wi-Fi 6E, UWB, and, most importantly, the S Pen with a dedicated case. Sure, you can use any S Pen, but the one with the case doesn’t risk losing it.
It’s easier to choose one of the three Samsung S21 phones
Each of the three phones feels a little more refined. From the smallest to the Ultra, some changes have been made that will give them more balance and give you the feeling that they are more premium than they were a year ago. The glass or matte plastic on the back also helps here.
But I said it’s easier to choose. The Samsung S21 will cost 850 euros in the basic version, which is where it should be for a Samsung phone that has these features. A year ago, it was a bit more difficult to tell the difference between S21 and S21 Plus (apart from size).
At the opposite end is the Samsung S21 Ultra. It starts at 1,250 euros, which is not surprising, given that even a year ago it was not cheap. But it has everything you want: a curved screen, the fastest internet (if the router also offers the fastest connection), the S Pen, and a huge battery.
In the middle, maybe even by price, is the Samsung S21 Plus the one I don’t see well at all. It doesn’t really happen. It will start at 1,050 euros and, of course, you could say that it is much more than 200 euros for Ultra. But you get a little more. Otherwise, the Plus version is distinguished only by the larger battery and, by default, the larger screen. There may be users who want something like that, but it is more honorable to choose the simple model.
None of the phones have a charger in the package. You could say that Samsung copied from Apple. I think the situation is a little different. Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Google, and others were waiting for the start. If I may say so, Apple did it so that others wouldn’t have to do it.
Now that people are familiar with the idea, it is easier for others to announce, one by one, that they are removing the charger. On the one hand, it’s a matter of extra money. On the other hand, you may even have USB-C chargers. However, what is attributable to the companies is that they deliver USB-C cables (and Apple, and Samsung now), but the first phone with such a charger was delivered only in 2019 or 2020. Finally, a charger is between 100 and 200.
You don’t have any headphones in the package. Coincidentally or not, Samsung is selling new ones: Galaxy Buds Pro. They will start at 230 euros and are what I expected from Samsung since 2020. As I said in the article about AirPods Max, it’s time for Samsung to take the wireless headset market seriously and launch some over-ear as well. Max, because he keeps putting the AKG brand everywhere. Buds Pro is exactly what you need for small headphones with good sound insulation and good battery life. The price is not low, but that’s why they are called “Pro”.
Maybe cheap phones can’t really perform
At the beginning of 2021, with the Samsung S21 series, even this manufacturer drew the line and said: you can’t have a compact, high-performance phone. So it delivers a compact phone with everything a regular user would need. The cameras are good, better than in the past, the screen is also a little better, and the flat screen design is just right. Thus, there is room at the top, where the Ultra is, to cram into a phone everything that could be crowded.
Apple also tried to deliver a compact and good phone, ie iPhone 12 mini. The battery does not last that long, nor is it execrable, and the market for such a thing, as some figures show, is not so big. Apple also put the best camera on the 12 Pro Max, as Samsung does with the S21 Ultra. The bottom line is that there is no demand or purpose for a compact, high-performance phone. I still think so, but that’s the offer now.
Of all the three, the Samsung S21 Ultra stands out for sure. It promises 10x optical zoom in good light conditions. You can go up to 100x if you insist, but it will be digital. On the cameras, however, Director’s View is more important. You enter it, film, and see in real-time what the frame looks like in all the rooms. You choose what suits you and the recording go ahead.
At the same time, Single Take is better than before and helps you to capture even those moments that you would have missed in other circumstances. In any case, there are no radical changes at the software level. Samsung has improved on cameras thanks to the new processors: Exynos 2100 (in Europe and almost everyone) and Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (in the United States and China).
Of all the news, I appreciate the most that Samsung S21 Ultra supports S Pen. Even that case is a good idea, so you don’t lose your “pen”. It is possible that the decision to bring something like this on the Galaxy S series is not motivated by the elimination of the Note line, but by the moment we find ourselves: we work more from home, on more devices, and an S Pen expands a bit range of operations. Coupled with DeX you can already boast that you do more from your phone than from your PC.
I said above about UWB. This year, Samsung also has SmartTag. They are small, square objects that you cling to and find a little easier. They also work on Bluetooth, but it’s even better when you’re using the UWB version. You have on the phone the application in which you see in augmented reality where you take it to get to the lost object. It works, in principle, like Find my phone technology, only you can hang a tag of dog, bag, car, child, old people, favorite cup or house (in case you find it hard to find it). I’m kidding, a little bit, but a SmartTag can be really useful for everyday items that you carry with you. And for the car in the parking lot.
The new series manages to deliver what we expected two years ago: an excellent phone at any price level without annoying compromises. Personally, I would choose the S21 Ultra, because it is a phone that costs a lot and offers everything in terms of specifications and performance. At the same time, it would suit my needs for high battery life, generous screen, S Pen, and 108-megapixel camera.
The “smart” choice would be the Samsung S21. It’s compact, the screen is big enough, and the price is better than in 2020 for an equivalent model. As for the S21 Plus, its place remains only in the preferences of those who want a bigger screen, bigger battery, but not to give more for Ultra (which is even harder). We’ll see when I get to use them at my own pace.