Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

The Samsung Galaxy S21 – the tech titan’s next big flagship smartphone – is set to launch in less than 24 hours. Samsung has even posted the official Galacy Unpacked 2021 YouTube trailer. Can’t wait for the event to begin? A slew of leaks have revealed teaser videos, colour options, prices, camera upgrades and more. Here’s what to expect from Samsung’s next potential iPhone-killer… 

It seems like only yesterday that the five-star Samsung Galaxy S20 hit stores, but Samsung isn’t one to rest on its laurels. The company launches a new Galaxy S series flagship phone every year like clockwork and nothing – not even a global pandemic, it seems – has been able to blow the Galaxy S21 off course. 

If the latest rumours are true, the Galaxy S21 family – the S21, 21 Plus and 21 Ultra – will be Samsung’s fastest and thinnest phones yet. Users will be treated to a next-gen processor, a new camera and a big boost in battery life. There’s even talk of Samsung repositioning the price of the S21 to tempt Samsung S20 owners to upgrade.

As the excitement builds, and with the launch now days away, let’s take a look at the predicted Galaxy S21 features, release date, price and specs…

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung has now all-but-confirmed that the Galaxy S21 will on 14th January 2021 and ship on the 29th January. 

Just over a week ago, the company recently posted invitations to Galaxy Unpacked 2021, a virtual event tagged “Welcome to the Everyday Epic” that will kick off at 10am ET (3pm UK time) on Thursday 14th. The Korean company has even opened pre-order reservations within its US-only Samsung Shop app (via XDA-developers).

With less than 24 hours to go, Samsung has posted the Galaxy Unpacked 2021: Official Trailer video on YouTube. It teases the S21’s new camera upgrades and gives a brief glimpse of its curved edges.

Samsung fans have has 14th January circled in their diaries for many months. There have been many leaks surrounding the release of the hotly-anticipated smartphone, including this 3rd November tweet from tipster Jon Prosser, who advised tech fans to keep the 14th January free.

The release date was also seemingly confirmed by India’s largest Samsung experience store, which broke the news that Unpacked would take place on the 14th January some weeks ago. The store even claimed to have started taking pre-orders for the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra handsets. 

Samsung Galaxy S21: price

Like other tech giants, Samsung is dealing with the economic fallout of Covid-19. So while the firm has typically raised prices of its flagship ‘S’ phones each year, the S21 is tipped to debut as a lower price than last year’s S20.

The prices of the Galaxy S21 were leaked days ago by Belgian mobile network Voo, which posted what seem to be the European prices. The S21 will cost €849 (£799), the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra will set you back €1,049 (£949) and €1,399 (£1249) respectively. The S21 and S21 Plus have from 128GB storage while the Ultra has from 256GB storage.

If the leak is correct, it suggests that Samsung is going to undercut the Apple iPhone 12 Pro, currently priced at €849, but some fifty euros.

According to a tipster in South Korea (via @SamMobile), Samsung wants to sell the S21 between $850 and $899 in the United States, which translates to £800 or £850 (AU$1399). For comparison, the standard S20 launched at $999 (£899/AU$1499).

The rumoured S21 Plus model is expected to debut at $1050 and $1099 in the US – over $100 less than the current S20 Plus – while an S21 Ultra would set you back $1250 to $1299, rather than the $1399 (£1199/AU$1999) of the S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S21: display

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: Steve Hemmerstoffer)

In November, an extensive leak claimed to lay bare the Samsung S21 series. According to the report, there will be three versions/screen sizes:

Samsung Galaxy S21: 6.2-inch FHD+ screen 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: 6.7-inch  FHD+ screen

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 6.8-inch WQHD+ screen

All three devices are tipped to get 120Hz panels, but only the S21 Ultra is said to boast Samsung’s ‘adaptive refresh’ LTPO panel, as found on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The tech would allow the S21 Ultra to deliver up to a 1600-nit peak brightness, 200 nits more than the S20 Ultra, as well as deliver smoother scrolling and better gaming experiences. 

Samsung is supposedly planning to boost the contrast ratio by 33 per cent compared to the S20, too. Even if it doesn’t, you can expect the S21 to feature one of the best displays of any smartphone. HDR10+ support is pretty much a given, too.

According to a tip-off via smartphone specialist site PhoneArena, which ties in with the stats above, the S21 will not sport the 1440p screen found on the standard Galaxy S20. Instead, Samsung has chosen a more “frugal” 1080p screen – a claim supported by previous leaks a few weeks back. So, the important new information is that because both the S20 and S21 are reportedly sharing the same 4000mAh battery, the S21 will see a two-hour bump in stamina, based purely on the new screen – and that’s before we even get to the chipset. 

The lower resolution on the S21 and S21 Plus would mean that the pixel density will be downgraded from that of the S20 and S20 Plus. Yes, a potential disappointment for Galaxy device fans who demand only the newest and most cutting-edge of displays from each year’s update, but the battery life gains here are substantial – if the leak turns out to be true, of course. 

The step down in pixel density from 1440p to 1080p, when said pixels are squeezed onto a display just over six inches in diameter, is arguably negligible to the human eye. And the good news is that according to testing from Android Authority, full-HD (FHD) screens perform on average 24 per cent better in terms of battery life when compared to quad-HD (QHD) displays. As noted by Tom’s Guide, that’s an extra 176 minutes of screen-time – or a particularly hellish January commute eased, thanks to your phone. 

Samsung Galaxy S21: design

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: WinFuture)

Samsung is rumoured to have been working on the “perfect phone design” for over a year. It hasn’t released any official information or images itself, but there more than a few reliable leaks that appear to show the S21 in all its glory.

The entire colour range for the Galaxy S21 series, including three new stunning shades for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, has leaked in a fresh set of renders via @rquandt. These were tipped before, along with a red colour for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+, but only the latter might be getting a richer colour palette.

The base S21 will be available in Phantom Gray, Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White. That’s a lot of phantoms. This prefix is probably to convey the more muted tones. Indeed, some of the finishes are positively pastel.

The leak suggests the S21 Plus come in a bronze and red colour, as well as Phantom Silver, Phantom Black, and Phantom Violet. As

Aside from Phantom Black and Phantom Silver, the S21 Ultra will be available in Phantom Gray, blue and brown. Interestingly, the Ultra appears to distinguish itself with a carbon fibre-style texture on the rear camera housing.

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: Roland Quandt / twitter.com/rquandt)

But what of the actual handset itself? According to leaked renders, tweeted by tipster Ice Universe, it will have insanely-thin (read: almost non-existent) bezels. If true, the face of the S21 would be an almost 100 per cent display.

Most analysts believe the S21 will more likely resemble a refined version of the S20. Slimmer bezels, a matte glass back and a central punch hole are tipped to be the order of the day. The rear is likely to feature a protruding camera bump, similar to that of the iPhone 12.

Tech news outlet Android Police recently got hold of what it says are official, 60-second teaser trailers of all three devices. They depict the S21 with a fetching two-tone ‘Phantom Violet’ paint job and display with a pinhole selfie cam.  

There was some heated debate over whether the screen would be flat or curved. The recently leaked ‘official’ teaser videos appear to confirm that the S21 and S21 Plus will sport flat screens, framed by super-slim bezels, while the S21 Ultra will get a curved display with centered pinhole selfie camera alongside a mighty-looking quad camera setup on the rear.

The range-topping S21 Ultra is also almost certain to offer S Pen support, previously an exclusive feature of the company’s large-screen Galaxy Note phone series. (Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked January 2021 YouTube trailer even suggests S Pen support).  

Leaked images, posted by up-and-coming tech tipster @ishanagarwal24, also showcase the new S Pen, which will apparently be offered as optional accessory for around £40/€40/$50 (via WinFuture).

The new S Pen resembles the one offered with the Galaxy Note and is expected to boast a similar bag of tricks – namely a pressure-sensitive tip, Harry Potter-style gesture controls and the ability to function as a volume control, remote shutter release and pointer.

Unlike the Note devices, the S21 Ultra won’t have a built-in S Pen housing. Instead, Samsung is expected to offer number of specially-designed cases to house the stylus. News of a ‘flip over’ folio case surfaced but new images dug up by tipster @rquandt and posted by WinFuture show a regular case with a nifty S Pen slot on the side. 

Could the S21 Ultra spell curtains for the Galaxy Note series? We’ll find out in a matter of hours. 

Finally, aforementioned tipster Ice Universe also claims that the rough dimensions of the Galaxy S21 will be 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm (9.0mm with the camera bump included). That would make the S21 a touch wider than the S20.

Samsung Galaxy S21: cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: Samsung / Android Police)

As you can see from screenshot above, taken from what’s claimed to be an official Samsung teaser video (via Android Police), Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus models are tipped for a triple camera set-up, featuring a 12MP main sensor complemented by 12MP ultra-wide and 64MP telephoto lenses.

It seems you’ll have to splash out on the Galaxy S21 Ultra if want Samsung’s latest and greatest camera tech. The range-topping device is tipped to get a second-generation version of the 108MP sensor found in the S21 Ultra and Note 21 Ultra, plus a 3x optical telephoto sensor and a 10x optical telephoto sensor. That’s quite the haul.

Samsung is also said to be keeping the faith with its 100x Space Zoom, which garnered a mixed response from S20 Ultra users. Apparently, the new 10x optical zoom – combined with laser autofocus – should solve any focus niggles.

The entire S21 range will no doubt support both 4K video capture at 60fps, as well as 8K at 30fps. The camera will automatically switch between 30fps and 60fps depending on light levels – just like the camera on the superb Google Pixel 5.

Samsung may have some other camera tricks up its sleeve, too. Samsung’s Official Galaxy Unpacked 2021 trailer shows people recording from both the front and rear cameras (00:12). Seems Samsung is offering the same dual recording mode as the likes of Apple, Xiaomi and others.

There’s also (yet more) talk of an ‘under-display’ selfie camera, which would remove the need for a punch hole. These appear to be very same rumours that swirled around before the launch of the iPhone 12. They seem pretty far-fetched; as several analysts have pointed out, Samsung has prototyped an ‘under-screen’ camera, but it remains a tricky engineering challenge. What’s more, Samsung is tipped to debut the feature in the forthcoming Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Samsung Galaxy S21: features and specs

Samsung Galaxy S21: release date, leaks and all of the news

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S21 is tipped for the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 processor, which will deliver a serious jump in performance. The latest leaks even suggest the Ultra model could sport the Snapdragon 888, which should also mean a greater power efficiency. This is because (stay with us) the Snapdragon 888 features the X60 5G modem on the die itself, boasting greater efficiency over the S20 (which utilised a separate 5G chip). 

Qualcomm’s wondrous little chunk of Snapdragon 875 silicone supports Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 and 5G. The S21 Ultra is even rumoured to be receiving Wi-Fi 6E support, which Samsung claims is twice as fast as Wi-Fi 6 (via AndroidPolice).

The S21 Plus and Ultra models could also benefit from Ultra Wideband Support (UWB), which could be used to support virtual car keys, a feature that uses NFC tech to automatically unlock vehicles when car owners are in near proximity. (As it stands, users are required to open an app or physically touch their phone against their car door handle to unlock it).

Battery life is in line for a boost too. According to the AndroidPolice leak, the Galaxy S21 will use the same 4000mAh battery as the S20, while the S21 Plus will harness a 4800mAh battery, and the S21 Ultra a 5000mAh juicebox.  

Here’s the important bit: smartphone specialist site PhoneArena claims the S21 will sport a “frugal” 1080p screen, as opposed to the 1440p screen found on the S20. This could see the S21 get a two-hour bump in stamina over its predecessor, based purely on that new screen tech (apparently, the drop in pixels won’t be visible to the naked eye).

Samsung is set to drop the the memory card slot, which currently allows S20 users to boost storage capacity. Reliable tipster Roland Qaundt has tweeted that none of the S21 models will come with a memory card reader.

There are also rumours that the S21 could be the first Galaxy devices to take advantage of lightning quick 65W charging speeds, as seen on the newly-launched OnePlus 8T smartphone. To enjoy 65W charging you need a special charger, so It may be that only the S21 Ultra will come with the nippy new charger in the box.

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs Samsung Galaxy S21

Overall, the Galaxy S21 is shaping up to be decent improvement on the Galaxy S20.

If the leaks so far are on the money, it’s set for a faster processor, better battery life, the ability to record 8K at a higher frame rate (30fps vs 24fps), S Pen support, smarter camera software, a new optical zoom, thinner bezels, faster fast-charging and a brighter display.

Even better, it’s rumoured that Samsung will launch the Galaxy S21 at a cheaper price than its predecessor and potentially undercut the iPhone 12. If that’s the case, the S21 would be a welcome addition to 2021’s pantheon of tech.

With less than 24 hours to go until the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 (10am ET / 3pm GMT on Thursday 14th) we’ll bring you all the latest S21 news, leaks and rumours as they surface.

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