Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus, its first flagship phones for 2021. The devices make up the lower two thirds of the trio of S21 smartphones debuting today. I have separate coverage of the S21 Ultra which is getting all of the crazy specs and features. Meanwhile, the S21 and S21 Plus are more subtle flagships, but they certainly pack a punch.
Samsung tweaked the design of these phones juuust enough so that you can tell the S21 and the S20 apart. The new phones ship with a camera housing that pours over the side of the left top corner of the phone, while the screen doesn’t pour over to anywhere. For the first time in forever, Samsung has decided not to include a curved display on any of its Galaxy S devices, significantly reducing the amount of accidental touches on your screen and creating a much better grip.
Unfortunately, the displays take a hit in terms of quality this generation. Samsung has given the S21 and S21 Plus Full HD+ resolutions which is down from the WQHD+ resolutions of the S20s last year. Luckily, they’re still Dynamic AMOLED screens and pack 120Hz refresh rates. It’s just a shame to see such a drop in pixels.
The S21’s screen measures in at 6.2-inches while the S21 Plus’ is 6.7-inches. Both have slightly larger bezels than the S20 series, but they’re still really thin. They each also have hole-punch cutouts for the selfie camera.
Rounding off the design, Samsung is sticking with IP68 certification for the new S21s, while the back of the S21 is plastic instead of glass. You’ll have to buy an S21 Plus if you want something a bit more premium feeling.
Under the hood, Samsung is using the Snapdragon 888 processor and, in other markets, its own Exynos 2100 chipset. You also get 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage on both models. Of course, you get both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G, and you’ll also find Wi-Fi 6.
On the back of both phones, Samsung includes a 12MP main camera with a 12MP ultra-wide and a 64MP telephoto. You can take up to 8K videos and pull 8K stills from then using the company’s new 8K Video Snap feature. there’s also a new director’s View that lets you see a viewfinder of all the cameras on the device so you know which lens will take the best shot. You also get 30x Space Zoom, night mode, improved facial recognition, studio lighting, and portrait mode.
Meanwhile, the two devices also get 10MP selfie cameras.
As for endurance, the S21 gets a 4,000mAh battery while the S21 Plus has a 4,800mAh cell. Both support 25W Super Fast charging in addition to 15W fast wireless charging, but you’ll need to buy a compatible adapter separately since Samsung isn’t shipping wall warts in its boxes anymore (just like the iPhone 12). You also get Wireless PowerShare which lets you wirelessly charge accessories like headphones by placing them on the back of your phone.
Each device comes with One UI 3.0 based on Android 11 with all the features we’ve seen in Android 11 updates for Samsung’s past devices. There are stereo speakers tuned by AKG with Dolby Atmos support, and there’s a new ultrasonic fingerprint reader under the screen for security. It’s actually the new one Qualcomm showed off at CES 2021.
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 will start at $799 while the S21 Plus will start at $999. Both are up for preorder starting today and will launch on January 29th.
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