The Samsung Galaxy S21 is rumored to land in early 2021, and it’s expected to be the next flagship phone from the company to follow up the Samsung Galaxy S20 that is currently our number one best smartphone in the world.
What can Samsung do to improve its flagship handset? The leaks and rumors of the Samsung S21 suggest there will be a lot to change for the 2021 handset that we currently expect to land as early as January next year.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 devices are sure to be some of the most exciting phones of 2021, so hype is already building, and we’re even now hearing lots of rumors including leak specs and more.
Some expected this to be called the Samsung Galaxy S30, but most recent rumors suggest the company will be switching to Samsung Galaxy S21 for its next flagship device. Why is that? We think Samsung want it to match the year it is released.
You’ll find everything we’ve heard so far below, and we’ll be adding to this article any time there’s new information, so make sure to check back regularly if you want to stay up to date on the latest Samsung S21 news.
An early Samsung S21 benchmark test has leaked, but it shows a pretty poor result for the phone. Hopefully Samsung is working hard on optimizations to improve this.
We’d expect Samsung to be making some major changes to its chipset and tinkering away on the smartphone series before it debuts. You can read more about the power of the Samsung S21 in the specs section below.
Samsung Galaxy S21: Cut to the chase
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The successor to the Galaxy S20 series
- When is it out? Possibly January 14 reveal, then out end of January
- What will it cost? Likely upwards of $999 / £899 / AU$1,499
Samsung Galaxy S21 release date and price
Samsung Galaxy S21 release date and price
Samsung always unveils its new Galaxy S models early in the year, and in recent years it has been announcing them in February, then selling them from March, so we were expecting the same with the Samsung Galaxy S21 range.
However, several rumors are now pointing to January being the month when these handsets are going to be unveiled, and early January at that: it seems Samsung wants to get a head start on the competition in 2021. It’s not just one rumor saying that either – a second one backed up the former and added it was done so Samsung could compete with the iPhone 12‘s sales better.
Now a third rumor has got even more specific, with a leaker saying that the Samsung Galaxy S21 range will be announced on January 14, with pre-orders opening the same day, and the phones going on sale on January 29.
The phone has also passed through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification process a month earlier than normal, further suggesting a January launch.
As for how much the Samsung Galaxy S21 range will cost, the phones will probably be at least as expensive as the Galaxy S20 range, likely meaning a starting price for the basic model of at least $999 / £899 / AU$1,499, with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra likely costing even more.
That said, one leak from Korean Insider has suggested the Galaxy S21 series may be cheaper than last year’s handsets. It says insiders claim the Galaxy S21 will cost somewhere between $849 and $899 (while the Galaxy S20 started at $999).
Samsung Galaxy S21 design and display
Samsung Galaxy S21 design and display
The Samsung Galaxy S21 rumors are flowing in, and Android Police has published a whole host of specs about the three phones coming in the series: the 6.2-inch Galaxy S21, the 6.7-inch Galaxy S21 Plus and the 6.8-inch Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Elsewhere, leaker Ice Universe has said that the Galaxy S21 range is likely to have flat screens – or at least that the S21 and S21 Plus probably will. Notably they don’t mention the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, so perhaps that will be curved.
I firmly believe that the S21 and S21 are flat screens. They have been trial-produced. If they are changed to curved screens now, the S21 series will be postponed at least until the end of February. This is impossible. https://t.co/4ZrPuTrUpgNovember 24, 2020
We’ve also seen our first proper look at the phone courtesy of @OnLeaks. These renders show a front design very much like the Galaxy S20, but a rear camera setup that’s been revamped to create a wraparound effect over the corner of the phone.
It’s quite a dramatic change, though the signs were there in the evolution of the Galaxy S20 and then the Note 20 handsets. The screen size of the standard model is said to be 6.2 inches, and it will apparently be flat, as other leaks have suggested. Dimensions meanwhile will apparently be 151.7 mm x 71.2 mm x 7.9 mm.
The renders would seem to rule out earlier whispers that the phone might have an in-screen camera, though Samsung is apparently evaluating the feasibility, so it sounds like the tech might not be ready.
A picture of the Galaxy S21 camera bump taken from inside a factory backs up those renders, as it’s exactly the same shape as the module shown in the images above. This makes it seem very likely the renders are accurate.
The same source that provided the prior Galaxy S21 images also leaked renders of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, one of which you can see below. From a different source we also saw Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus renders which fit with the images we’ve seen of the other devices.
This is shown with a curved screen of apparently around 6.7 to 6.9 inches, and a much larger camera block than the standard S21, housing four lenses and a flash. Based on the latest rumors, the screen size will apparently be 6.8 inches.
The dimensions meanwhile are apparently around 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm, and there’s a punch-hole selfie camera on the front, but no slot for an S Pen, despite some other leaks suggesting Samsung’s stylus might be supported.
We’ve also now seen images seemingly showing either the Samsung Galaxy S21 or the S21 Plus in a case, and the camera design makes for a surprisingly ugly cut-out.
Another leak of the design doesn’t show the final version of the devices, but instead shows renders that are based on information directly leaked from sources at Samsung on what to expect from the design.
You can see these below that were posted by LetsGoDigital and built by its in-house designer Giuseppe Spinelli. These are meant to show elements of the design that have been leaked through sources, so don’t expect this to be the final look of the phone and instead we’re showing you these as a flavor of what you may get.
Finally, a small piece of news on the Galaxy S21 development is that Samsung had been rumored to switch suppliers of its screen tech to a company called BOE. Newer reports suggest that isn’t the case anymore though, and it’s likely the screen tech will remain similar to the Galaxy S20 as Samsung continues to make its own screens for its phones.
Samsung Galaxy S21 colors
Samsung Galaxy S21 colors
As for the colors, we’ve heard that the phones could come in black, white, grey, silver, violet and pink shades. The source didn’t say which models will be available in which colors, but a further leak – that Android Police story we’ve mentioned before – has suggested the exact colors you can expect.
- Samsung S21: Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, Phantom Gray and Phantom White
- Samsung S21 Plus: Phantom Silver, Phantom Black and Phantom Violet
- Samsung S21 Ultra: Phantom Black and Phantom Silver
Exactly what those shades are set to look like are unclear, but the company has clearly switched from its ‘Cosmic’ branding to ‘Phantom’ for the S21, but we wouldn’t expect the colors to change dramatically.
What you should know is that colors will differ per market, and you can expect the company to bring out further shades in the coming months after release in different territories. That means, if you’re willing to wait, it’s likely you’ll get more choices in the long run.
Samsung Galaxy S21 camera and battery
Samsung Galaxy S21 camera and battery
Sources speaking to Android Police say that we’ll get a 64MP+12MP+12MP rear camera on the S21 and S21 Plus, apparently, with a 108MP+12MP+10MP+10MP array on the S21 Ultra.
Another leak similarly says the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra will have four rear snappers, with a 108MP main one, along with a 40MP front-facing camera.
An earlier rumor also suggests that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will have a 108MP camera (just like the S20 Ultra) but with a new and likely improved image sensor.
And yet another Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera leak has said much the same thing. Apparently the device will have a 108MP main, 12MP ultra-wide and 40MP selfie camera, like the S21 Ultra, but with two zoom lenses instead of one, and no ToF sensor. These zoom cameras are said to facilitate 3x and 5x optical zooming.
The 108MP rumor has been repeated quite a few times, and some rumors say it could be an improved sensor to before.
Sounds like the S21 Ultra cameras are set in stone? Well, it might not be as simple as that. We’ve also heard that Samsung is working on a 150MP camera for smartphones that can combine nine pixels into one, for 16MP shots that can take in a lot of light.
We would however take this claim with a serious side of salt, as the source doesn’t have a track record, and even if Samsung is working on that camera, that doesn’t guarantee that we’ll see it in the Galaxy S21 range.
Having said that, the claim of a 150MP main snapper has since appeared again, with another source adding that it could be joined by a 64MP telephoto, 16MP ultra-wide, and 12MP macro snapper, plus a depth sensor, for five sensors in total.
Elsewhere we’ve heard that the Samsung Galaxy S21 range will ditch the time-of-flight (ToF) sensor that the Galaxy S20 had. Apparently Samsung is shelving the technology until it has a sensor that can compete with the one Apple uses.
On the other hand, we’ve now seen a Samsung patent for a ToF sensor – previously the company was using Sony-made ones, but this suggests it’s building its own, rather than ditching them altogether. If so, the sensor could be used for facial recognition, bokeh effects, or augmented reality features. Of course, the existence of a patent doesn’t mean the sensor will be ready in time for the Galaxy S21 range.
So all in all there’s some confusion over what camera hardware the Galaxy S21 range will have.
There’s also a Samsung patent (below) detailing a smartphone camera design with six rear camera sensors. This would include five wide-angle ones and one telephoto one, and each lens would be individually tiltable, so they could point in different directions.
That would have a number of potential applications, from adding a bokeh effect to panoramas, to potentially improving low light shots and HDR. However, the patent hasn’t specifically been linked to the Galaxy S21, so we wouldn’t count on seeing this design – it’s perhaps something for 2022 or beyond.
On the battery front, a source claims the Galaxy S21 Ultra will have a 5,000mAh one, likely meaning the other models will have lower capacities than that.
That said, unofficial reports suggest that the S21 could be in for a small battery capacity boost compared with the equivalent S20 models – but we’ll have to wait and see whether this translates into better battery life overall.
Another whisper that’s reached our ears is that Samsung could bump the fast charging speed up to 65W – something that we’d definitely welcome, though we’re not certain that we’ll see this tech in the Galaxy S21 just yet.
Samsung Galaxy S21 specs and features
Samsung Galaxy S21 specs and features
A benchmark – seemingly for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus – shows an Exynos 2100 chipset. Its scores aren’t particularly impressive (though are certainly high-end) and it’s listed alongside just 8GB of RAM. We would however take this with a pinch of salt.
We’ve also now seen a benchmark for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus with a Snapdragon 888 chipset and 8GB of RAM. This is likely the US model, and its scores are better than the Exynos benchmark above, though elsewhere leaker @UniverseIce suggests that the Exynos version may actually be the faster of the two, so we’re really not sure what’s right at the moment.
We’ve seen another Galaxy S21 benchmark that showed a pretty poor score, but hopefully that’s not indicative of the final product.
Older leaks included benchmarks suggesting that some versions of the Samsung Galaxy S21 will use a new Exynos 1000 chipset with GPU performance that’s up to three times faster than the Snapdragon 865 – which was the best Android chipset when this was leaked.
That confuses matters given that most leaks are talking about the Exynos 2100, but it’s likely that the two chips are one and the same, just with sources having different ideas about the name.
In any case, based on past form US buyers will probably get a model with the Snapdragon 888 – that’s a chipset that was unveiled at the start of December, while UK buyers will probably get an Exynos model.
Expect all models of the Galaxy S21 to come with 5G support options, and it may be the company goes all in on the next-gen internet connectivity and doesn’t offer 4G alternatives in 2021.
As for features, some leakers have speculated that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could support Samsung’s S Pen stylus (like the Galaxy Note range), but it may be that you have to buy an extra case to attach the accessory so it wouldn’t be available by default.
A source claims to have even now heard from a Samsung official that the Galaxy S21 Ultra will support the S Pen stylus, so this is looking likely.
More recently, we’ve heard claims that Samsung has ordered digitizers for the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – that’s a component that’s necessary for the S Pen to work.
One other rumored feature is the ability to unlock the Samsung Galaxy S21 range with your voice. This would apparently be powered by Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant, though it’s not clear whether it would involve a password or whether the phone would just recognize your voice.
Samsung Galaxy S21 series: which is for you?
Samsung S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra: which is for you?
We’ve put together all the leaks and rumors we’ve seen so far (and spoken you through above) into a chart that should give you the clearest picture of the specs to expect.
This is an amalgamation of a bunch of different leaks, so as with everything on this page take it with a pinch of salt until Samsung announces the new phones on stage in 2021.
|Specs||Samsung S21||Samsung S21 Plus||Samsung S21 Ultra|
|Screen||6.2-inch, Full HD+||6.7-inch, Full HD+||6.8-inch WQHD+|
|Refresh rate||120Hz||120Hz||120Hz adaptive|
|Dimensions||151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm||N/A||165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm|
|Colors||Violet, Pink, Gray and White||Silver, Black and Violet||Black and Silver|
|Chipset (US)||Snapdragon 888||Snapdragon 888||Snapdragon 888|
|Chipset (UK / Aus)||Exynos 2100||Exynos 2100||Exynos 2100|
|Cameras||Ultra wide: 12MP Main: 12MP Telephoto: 64MP||Ultra wide: 12MP Main: 12MP Telephoto: 64MP||Ultra wide: 12MP Main: 108MP 3X Optical: 10MP 10X Optical: 10MP|
|Software||One UI 3.1 / Android 11||One UI 3.1 / Android 11||One UI 3.1 / Android 11|
|S Pen?||Not likely||Not likely||More likely|
Samsung Galaxy S21 accessories
Samsung Galaxy S21 accessories: will it come with a charger and headphones?
One of the most intriguing questions about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 range is whether the phones will come with chargers and headphones in the box, as normal – or whether Samsung will make you buy them separately.
The benefit for manufacturers is two-fold: it increases their eco-friendly credibility, and it saves them money. Apple has adopted this approach with the iPhone 12 series, and if past history is anything to go by, once Apple does something everybody else usually follows suit.
We’ve been hearing Samsung might do the same for months, but then again Samsung’s social media team did rather poke fun at Apple for not including a charging block and headphones in the iPhone 12 box.
Social media tomfoolery aside, it looks as though Samsung won’t be bundling the usual accessories in with the Galaxy S21, as per the most recent rumors. It just makes a lot of sense to cut down on e-waste, packaging and price, and at this stage most of us have chargers and headphones lying around anyway.
As we’ve already mentioned, Samsung may include an S Pen stylus on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. That’s unlikely to be a choice for those who go for the Galaxy S20, and it’s unclear if it’ll be included in the box with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S30 or Galaxy S21?
Samsung Galaxy S30 or Galaxy S21?
Before the Samsung Galaxy S20 launch we thought it’d be called the Galaxy S11, and separate leaks referred to it differently. History might repeat itself – a top leaker has stated the Galaxy S30 is actually the Galaxy S21.
We initially thought it’d be the S30, and the first leaks backed that up, but now we’re not so sure. So will the phone be called the Samsung Galaxy S21, or something else?
There’s no way of knowing for certain at the moment – though it’s worth pointing out that we’re hearing the S21 moniker being used more and more. We’re starting to become more convinced the company will opt for Galaxy S21.
As the phone’s launch gets closer, we’d expect more noteworthy leakers to throw their worth behind one name or the other, which should give us a better idea of what to expect.
Samsung Galaxy S21: what we want to see
What we want to see
We don’t know much about the Samsung Galaxy S21 yet but we know what we want from it, with the following things being top of our list.
1. A more reasonable price
There’s no getting around how expensive the Samsung Galaxy S20 range is. Even the basic model will set you back a lot, with prices rising compared to the previous year and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra almost creating a new category of ultra-premium phones.
The situation isn’t helped by the absence of a Samsung Galaxy S20e or Samsung Galaxy S20 Lite – though it’s possible one will arrive at some point.
In any case, we’d like to see either a cost reduction for 2021’s models or a Samsung Galaxy S21 Lite alongside the rest of the range. Or better yet, both.
2. 100x zoom across the range
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has some of the flashiest camera credentials we’ve seen on a smartphone, headlined by its 100x zoom.
So, for the Galaxy S21 range we’d like to see that feature move down to the more affordable models. But we’d also like to see it improved, as in its current form the quality isn’t great, making it more of a party trick than a feature you’ll actually be using a lot.
3. An in-screen camera
Samsung’s current flagships have camera cut-outs in the screen for the selfie camera, and we feel this is a rather inelegant solution, so for the Samsung Galaxy S21 we’d really like the camera to be built into the screen, just like the fingerprint scanner.
That would allow Samsung to deliver a truly all-screen design without having to resort to a pop-up camera (which takes up more internal space and is likely to be more vulnerable).
We’re not confident that we’ll see this – it will likely largely depend on whether the tech is good enough – but it would certainly be a standout feature.
4. A new look
The design of the Galaxy S range didn’t change much with 2020’s models, and other than switching a bezel for a punch-hole camera the design hasn’t changed a whole lot in years, so we’d say it’s time for Samsung to switch things up with the Galaxy S21 range.
One way to do that would be with an in-screen camera, as mentioned above, but one way or another we want the phones to look truly different to the Galaxy S20 range.
5. The same chipset everywhere
One odd feature of the Samsung Galaxy S range is that the chipset differs depending on where you are in the world, with some regions getting Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon chipset of the time, and others getting Samsung’s top-end Exynos one.
The trouble is these chipsets are rarely equal. Whether in terms of performance or battery life, there’s usually a difference. How much of a difference can vary from year to year, and it’s not normally too massive, but there is always a weaker version of the phone.
So going forward we’d like to see Samsung use the same chipset in all regions.
6. 120Hz at QHD+
Another quirk of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range is that you can have a 120Hz refresh rate or a QHD+ screen resolution, but not both at the same time.
That’s rather restrictive, especially when plenty of other phones – such as the OnePlus 7T Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL – have at least a 90Hz refresh rate paired with QHD+, whereas on Samsung’s phones you have to drop right down to 60Hz.
There are rumors that Samsung might remove the restriction with a software update, but whether it does or not, it’s not a restriction we want to see on the Galaxy S21 range.
7. A slicker scanner
The in-screen scanner in the Samsung Galaxy S20 range isn’t bad, but it’s still not as fast or reliable as the best physical fingerprint scanners, so that’s another thing we’d like to see improved for the Samsung Galaxy S21.
We want it to work instantly, every time, while still being secure.