Samsung’s new S21 5G starts at £769, while it has also added stylus pen compatibility to its S-series phones for the first time, with the S21 5G Ultra, starting at £1,149. The move will fuel speculation the firm will phase out its separate Note handset range.
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 lineup is packed with refinements to the cameras, displays as well as 5G, of course. The new phones feature a redesign that accentuates the camera lenses on their backs while linking them with their metal frames, which Samsung calls “Contour Cut Camera” housing. The base amount of storage for all of the S21 models is 128GB, and Samsung boosted the photo and video capabilities for vloggers and others.
The lower price is a nod to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic shutting down many global economies and eliminating millions of jobs. “In 2021, our top priority is to bring the benefit of technology to more people,” TM Roh, the head of Samsung’s mobile communication business, said in a statement, calling the Galaxy S21 series “the most powerful and versatile flagship lineup ever.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the S21 Ultra is designed for people who want the “best of the best,” claims the manufacturer. It features a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x display, Samsung’s best camera of the S21 lineup with four back lenses, andon the front and back.
The S21 and S21 Plus have 6.2- and 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x displays, respectively, and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front. The S21 Plus also has the glass on the back, while the regular S21 features a plastic polycarbonate backing. Both have three camera lenses on the back.
The South Korean technology company last year clawed its way back to being the world’s most prolific smartphone vendor, having been knocked off the top spot by China’s Huawei. The launch follows that of Apple’s iPhone 12 last year, Apple’s first device compatible with 5G.
What the experts say:
“These new products come at an important time for Samsung. Despite Huawei’s woes, Samsung faces fierce competition from ambitious Chinese rivals, while Apple’s iPhone franchise continues to go from strength-to-strength. Samsung needs these flagship products to stand out from the crowd in a tough competitive and macro-economic climate.”
“The new Galaxy S21 range follows the formulaic approach to annual upgrades that all phone makers are now locked into. In a cut-throat smartphone market featuring a buoyant Apple, I think the biggest differentiator is the decision to announce these products earlier than usual rather than the incremental improvements to the camera, display and design.”
“Samsung’s decision to announce its latest flagship Galaxy smartphones early is a sensible move given the market turmoil created by the global pandemic and the postponement of the annual MWC event, which usually provides a showcase for Samsung’s latest new devices. It also narrows the gap since Apple’s announcements in October 2020 offering Samsung something new to compete with the iPhone 12 portfolio.”
Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com:
“After weeks of speculation on how the pandemic might affect this launch, Samsung has pulled a rabbit out of the hat and given fans three impressive devices at a range of prices.
“At £769, the standard S21 model with its 6.2-inch screen is cheaper than last year’s equivalent S20, reversing years of steadily increasing prices and acknowledging the strain on many consumers’ budgets.
“The £949 S21+ has a 6.7-inch display, while the top-of-the-line S21 Ultra boasts a 6.8-inch AMOLED screen which is 25% brighter than the S20.
“The Ultra’s quad-camera set-up includes a 108MP wide lens and two telephoto snappers in the latest bout of the continuing arms race between manufacturers for the crown of best picture-taker.
“Consumers can finally use the S Pen so beloved of Note-series fans, but the gadget can only be used with the Ultra model, which retails at £1,149.
“Like the iPhone 12 there’s no charger in the box, and this looks like being a trend that we are likely to see more of this year as manufacturers brag of their environmental goals.”