Samsung on Thursday held its first event of 2021. The event was streamed across several platforms, including Twitch and TikTok, where the company unveiled a trio of new Galaxy S-series smartphones. In addition to the new phones, Samsung also announced new wireless earbuds, Galaxy Buds Pro, and small trackers you can attach to items, called Samsung SmartTag.
Unlike the last few smartphone launches from Samsung, the entire S21 lineup supports both Sub-6 and mmWave 5G networks. And while the phones share many of the same features, the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra are clearly a cut above the S21, with the latter blurring the lines between Samsung's S-Series and the Note lineup thanks to the ability to use an S Pen stylus on the Ultra's display.
Taking a page from Apple's playbook, Samsung has decided to remove the charger and headphones from the S21's box, even though the company was mocking Apple just a few short months ago with the launch of the iPhone 12 for doing the same thing.
There's plenty more to learn about Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup, so we've rounded up all the details we could find and break it all down for you below.
Galaxy S21: How many models, and what are they called?
Three models in total
Samsung is using the same naming scheme as prior phones
Samsung announced three new Galaxy S21 phones, the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S21: Release date
Preorders go live today, Jan. 14 at 11am ET
Orders will arrive on Jan. 29
Samsung along with carrier and retail partners are taking preorders starting Thursday, Jan. 14. If you preorder, you'll get a free Samsung SmartTag and up to $200 in Samsung store credits based on which model you order.
Samsung Galaxy S21: Pricing
Prices are lower than the Galaxy S20 lineup
There are multiple variants of each model
Here's pricing by model:
Galaxy S21 Plus
Galaxy S21 Ultra
The S21 and S21 Plus comes with 8GB of memory, regardless of storage amount. The 128GB/256GB versions fo the S20 Ultra comes with 12GB of memory, while the 512GB version comes with 16GB of memory.
All three S21 models feature a new, sleeker design with a metal frame and a completely redesigned camera array on the back of each phone.
There are several different colors, but as is usually the case with Samsung phones, your options will be based on which model you buy.
If you buy the Galaxy S21, you can pick from phantom violet, phantom gray, phantom pink and phantom white. The 256GB version is only available in phantom gray.
Potential Galaxy S21 Plus owners can select from phantom violet, phantom silver and phantom black. The 256GB version is only available in phantom black.
Then the Galaxy S21 Ultra gives options of phantom silver or phantom black. The 256GB and 512GB models will only come in phantom black.
Galaxy S21: What about new features?
100x Space Zoom is supposed to be better
UWB can be used to find lost items... eventually
The Ultra gains S Pen support
There are several new camera features, including the ability to shoot 8K video across all three models and multiple mic recording to improve your videos. The Ultra has two telephoto lenses, which according to Samsung, will improve the overall quality of the 100x Space Zoom photos.
The S21 Plus and S21 Ultra include ultra wideband connectivity, just like the Note 20 Ultra did, but instead of launching a phone with UWB support without any accessories that support it, Samsung announced SmartTag, a Tile-like tracker that can be used to track down your lost keys or a pet.
However, the UWB version of the SmartTag isn't available at the same time as the S21 line. Instead, Samsung is launching a Bluetooth Low Energy version first, for $30, and will release the UWB version later.
Arguably the most notable announcement today is that Samsung has expanded support for the Galaxy Note's S Pen stylus to the S21 Ultra. The Ultra is the first smartphone to work with the iconic stylus, but not the first Samsung product outside of the Note line. The Galaxy Tab and several Samsung Windows 10 laptops as well as Chromebook have had S Pen support.
In fact, you can use the S Pen from a Galaxy Tab or Note with the S21 Ultra. It's a good thing, too, because the S21 Ultra doesn't come with an S Pen. You'll have to buy it separately for $40, or bundled with a case that holds the S Pen for $70. Yea, that's right, the Ultra doesn't have a place to hold the S Pen, so you'll most likely end up buying the case if the S Pen is something you want to use.
Galaxy S21: Specifications
Here's a breakdown of the specs you can expect in each model. Notice, Samsung didn't provide some details like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi version for all models. I'll fill in once I have more info.