That’s right, just about everything you heard was true. Samsung’s Everyday Epic Unpacked event saw the company launching three new smartphones – the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21 Plus and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
If you’re Samsung, you’re being difficult about the naming. Technically each of these has a ‘5G’at the end because each of the phones supports 5G. Now if only we had more of it here in South Africa. Here’s what you need to know
The S21 they want you to want
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is the smartphone the South Korean company wants you to desire above all others. Which is hardly surprising, because it’s also set to be the priciest of the lot. They’ didn’t put ‘Ultra’ in the name for nothing.
But it does have all the bells and whistles. Samsung’s fitted this thing with a 6.8in WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED screen that runs at 120Hz and is capable of 1500 nits of brightness. That’s among the brightest on the planet, which should make your screen extremely readable in bright sunlight… which assumes you’ll go outside again this year. Isn’t hope grand? There’s also a Priority mode for the display which pulls out all the stops for gaming – it ups the frame-rate, drops latency and makes on-screen inputs even quicker.
There are two different versions to look forward to, as well. They’re more or less identical, running the same Exynos 2100 chipset, but can be told apart by how much RAM and storage each has. If you opt for the 256GB storage S21 Ultra, you’ll get 12GB of RAM. Choose the 512GB edition and you’ve got a massive 16GB of RAM at your disposal. Do you really need that?
Actually, yes, because this handset supports Samsung’s Wireless DeX. Provided you’ve got it close enough to compatible hardware, you can turn it from smartphone to PC without connecting any wires.
Charging for photos
And it should last you. The battery hasn’t change compared to the S20, at least in terms of size. It’s still 5,000mAh and it should be enough to get your through the day. But in the event that it isn’t, the handset’s got a new 25W charger (which’ll cost you extra) that’ll get you to 50% in about 30 minutes. If you prefer your charging wireless, it supports 15W wireless charging as well.
But it’s the camera that’ll make you sit up and take notice. There’s a refreshed 108MP main sensor, as well as a 12MP ultrawide that does double-duty as a macro lens. There are also two 10MP telephoto lenses to look forward to – one provided 10x zoom, the other 3x. And, if you liked Samsung’s Space Zoom, that’s also back to the tune of 100x.
Stills will be typically Samsung (so typically brilliant) but there are also video chops to look forward to. The S21 Ultra supports 8K video at 24fps, will manage 4K at 60fps and features a dynamic frame rate for 1080p that alters according to how much light is available.
There are a couple of other features to look forward to – the S21 Ultra is the first handset to support WiFi 6E, which means speedier wireless transfers and internet speeds. It ships with ultra-wideband support and Samsung intends to set up deals with several auto-makers (like BMW, Ford and Hyundai) to use the S21 Ultra as a key for your vehicle later this year. And then there’s that S Pen we’ve been looking forward to. That’s also a real thing.
The other two S21 handsets are pretty good too
As is usually the case, Samsung’s other smartphones are fairly close in terms of most features. Expect the same processor and similar RAM allocations, with the main differentiator being screen size and, this year, battery capacity.
The S21 5G used a 6.2in 120Hz AMOLED display, which has a max brightness of 1300 nits. The S21 Plus 5G matches it for spec, but the size is a little different – that one’s 6.7in but otherwise is identical.
Both handsets share the same triple rear-camera arrangement as well. It’s not quite as fancy as the Ultra’s offering but expect it to be good enough for anything you might point it at. Both feature 10MP front-facers, while the rear consists of a 64MP sensor (with 30x Space Zoom), and dual 12MP sensors — one wide-angle and the other ultra-wide.
The last differences? The S21 Plus features ultra-wideband, a 4,800mAh battery and a Gorilla Glass rear panel, while the vanilla S21 uses a 4,000mAh battery and it’s encased in polycarbonate. If you’re all about premium feel, you’re going to want to start at the S21 Plus and move up.
And on to the stuff you really, really want to know. Officially, the handsets will launch in SA from 5 February but, if you pre-order the device(s) then deliveries will commence from 26 January. In terms of pricing, you can get the Galaxy S21 from R18,000. The Galaxy S21 Plus starts from R21,500 and the S21 Ultra launches from R28,000. The S Pen launches here in SA at R1,000.
And those pre-order bonuses we heard about? Yeah, that’s legit. You’ll get the SmartTags with any device pre-ordered, while the S21 and S21 Plus get the Galaxy Buds Live and the S21 Ultra gets a set of the Galaxy Buds Pro.