Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at $799.99, launches Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra with camera upgrades

Samsung is clearly sticking to the premium flagship market with the Galaxy S21 Ultra yet acknowledging the success of the Galaxy S20 FE, which was a mid-market phone with key features from the premium lineup.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung has launched its trio of Galaxy S21 devices that covers price points ranging from $799.99 for the Galaxy S21 to $999.99 for the Galaxy S21 Plus and $1,199.99 for the premium Galaxy S21 Ultra with S Pen support.

The 5G devices will be available for preorder January 14 with January 29 availability. Samsung moved forward its Unpacked event and appears to be setting a product cadence that may or may not include the Galaxy Note and makes room for foldable devices.

Samsung is clearly sticking to the premium flagship market with the Galaxy S21 Ultra yet acknowledging the success of the Galaxy S20 FE, which was a mid-market phone with key features from the premium lineup. 

TM Roh, head of Samsung's mobile communications business, said the Galaxy S21 lineup recognizes "the importance of choice" and "freedom to choose the best device for your style and needs." Indeed, Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra covers the premium category and the base Galaxy S21 can extend to the high-end of the midmarket.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra works with S Pen. 


Judging from a talk from Samsung's Stephen Hawke, director of mobile product manager, the consumer electronics giant put most of its effort on the Galaxy S21's camera systems as well as display and battery life. The Galaxy S21 lineup runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 880 processor in the US.

Core specs include:

  • Galaxy S21 has a 6.2" FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, 8GB of RAM and storage options of 128GB and 256 GB. The triple rear camera system has an Ultrawide 12MP camera, Wide 12MP camera and 64MP telephoto lens. The front camera has a 10MP front camera and 4,000 mAh battery. Galaxy S21 colors: Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink and Phantom White in 128GB and 256GB models with 8GB RAM (256GB available in Phantom Gray only).
  • The Galaxy S21 Plus has a 6.7" display and weighs in at 202 grams, up from the Galaxy S21's 172 gram weight. The Galaxy S21 Plus has the same camera setup, but a larger 4,800mAh battery as well as UWB. Galaxy S21 Plus colors: Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black in 128GB and 256GB models with 8GB RAM (256GB available in Phantom Black only).
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra has a quad-camera system for the rear that includes an Ultrawide 12MP camera, Wide 108MP, 110 telephoto lens and second telephoto lens at 210MP. The front camera is 40MP. Galaxy S21 Ultra is bulkier at 228 grams and has a 6.8" display. As for memory, Ultra has 12GB and 16GB options and storage at 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The battery is 5,000mAh and Galaxy S21 Ultra has S Pen compatibility, UWB and Wi-Fi 6E. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is available in Phantom Black and Phantom Silver.

All devices support 5G sub-6 and mmWave, Samsung DeX and Knox-based security. There's also an enterprise edition of the Galaxy S21 devices with extended 5-year security support, 2-year product cycles and 1 year of Knox Suite.

What's most notable about the Galaxy S21 Ultra is S Pen compatibility. The catch is that S Pen doesn't have a built-in dock like the Galaxy Note. With the design choice, the S Pen is becoming more of an accessory instead of an ingredient like it is for the Note. Samsung said that it will have two S Pen models with the base S Pen and S Pen Pro to be launched later. Samsung also said it is working with pen makers to expand S Pen technology and reach. 


Galaxy Ultra. 


Historically speaking, Samsung's premium devices sell well initially and then the lower-priced options pick up the slack. The Galaxy S21 Ultra could ultimately replace the Note in the lineup.

Samsung also is launching Galaxy Buds Pro for $199 to go with the Galaxy S21 line. From a business perspective, Samsung is positioning the lineup as a key collaboration tool that can provide seamless experiences between devices, video conferencing and calls.

With the focus on camera improvements for the Galaxy 21 line and new design, Samsung is targeting consumer content creators as well as remote workers. The company also said that it improved the Galaxy S21 Ultra's 100x zoom with more stability.

Business use cases

While Samsung has emphasized the Galaxy S21 uses for everything from photography to social media and vlogging, the company also noted business use cases.

Robert Escalle, head of product for Samsung Mobile B2B, said Galaxy S21 devices can bring the "office wherever you are" and be used for everything from professional photos for realtors as well as training for workers in manufacturing and on-the-fly data analysis.

Samsung Galaxy S21 will also sync reminders to Microsoft Outlook and Teams. The S Pen can add more use cases for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but there won't be all the features available in the Galaxy Note at launch. All air gestures for the S Pen will be supported at some point, said Escalle.

What remains to be seen is how Samsung builds out industry-specific apps for the Galaxy S21 ecosystem. The company has focused heavily on industries as well as rugged devices. 

Preorders for Galaxy S21 includes a $100 credit for preorders with the Galaxy S21 Plus has a $150 credit with Galaxy S21 Ultra carrying a $200 credit. All preorders also include a free Galaxy SmartTag.  

Place your pre-order or buy now:

Editorial standards