(Pocket-lint) – Samsung typically announces two flagship smartphone series every year – the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note – with the former launching in the first half of the year and the latter in the second half.
With the Galaxy Note 20 officially unveiled on 5 August, all heads have now turned to the next Galaxy S, expected to be called the Galaxy S21.
This is everything we have heard so far about what we can expect for the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ smartphones. We’ve covered the Galaxy S21 Ultra in a separate feature.
What will the next Samsung Galaxy S be called?
- Likely Galaxy S21, S21+
- Galaxy S30 is possible
Before the Samsung Galaxy S20 arrived, the naming strategy for Samsung’s Galaxy S devices was easy to predict as the company followed sequential numbers. After Samsung jumped from the Galaxy S10 to the Galaxy S20 in 2020 however, it’s now harder to determine what the next Galaxy S will be called going forward.
We would put our money on the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra as this would tie in with the year too. All the leaks have followed the S21 naming, so we think that’s likely for the 2021 phones.
Release date and price
- Early 2021 launch – 14 January?
- On sale from late 2021?
Samsung usually announces the Galaxy S range of smartphones in February, followed by a March release but there have been reports suggesting the devices might arrive in January 2021. It’s suggested that there could be a Galaxy Unpacked event on 14 January to show off the new devices, with an on-sale date of 29 January, although these dates have not been confirmed.
In terms of pricing, it looks like Samsung might be looking to move halt the inflation of prices and make the Galaxy S21 models slightly more affordable. It’s suggested that slow sales of the S20 models might be behind this, with the S20 FE providing an alternative route, with a cheaper overall design, which we’ll talk about now.
- Plastic and metal design
- Camera housing reaches to edges
- S21+: 161.55 x 75.6 x 7.86mm
The biggest design change expected for the Galaxy S21 models is on the rear, with the camera housing reaching to the edges of the frame, so it’s no longer an island. This design has been shared in a number of renders and a leak in a side-by-side photo with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
But the other change that might come to the rear of the phone is a switch to a plastic panel rather than glass. Samsung made the same move on the Galaxy Note 20 and on the Galaxy S20 FE and we can’t say it’s a problem – although the aim here is to bring down the prices, which we expect to happen. We’d expect the IP68 waterproofing to stay in place.
The colours are reported to be grey, pink, violet and white for the Galaxy S21, and black, silver, and violet with pink for the Galaxy S21+. Not all regions will get all colours – it’s likely that some of these colours will only be available in Korea.
- 6.2in, 6.7in displays, Full HD+
- 120Hz refresh rates
- 1400nits peak brightness
It’s thought that the display sizes for the Galaxy S21 and S21+ will be the same as the previous generation at 6.2 and 6.7-inches respectiviely. A drop to a Full HD+ resolution has been claimed and we suspect that this will be another cost saving measure to help Samsung keep the price down – as it did with the S20 FE in 2020.
We’re also expecting these to be a flat display, with Samsung moving along from the curved edges that it helped to popularise over the past 5 years. That might also help keep the price down, while providing a point of differentiation to the S21 Ultra, which will have curved edges.
The 120Hz refresh rate is expected, but this will lack the power-saving adaptive feature that the Note 20 Ultra offered – and is expected on the S21 Ultra too.
Both displays are reported to come with a peak brightness of 1400 nits.
Hardware and specs
- Exynos 2100 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 5G
- 128GB/256GB storage options
- S21 Plus: 4800mAh battery, 25W charging
- S21: 4000mAh battery, 25W charging
We’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ to be powered by the Exynos 2100 in some regions and the recently-announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in others. Samsung’s Exynos 2100 should be the successor to the Exynos 990 and is expected to close the performance gap with the Snapdragon hardware. We’d expect it to be a 5G handset.
It’s also been claimed there will be 128GB and 256GB storage options, while we’re expecting the S21 to come with 8GB RAM as a base model.
In terms of battery capacities, it is said that the Galaxy S21+ will have a bump to 4800mAh, while the S21 could come with a 4000mAh capacity. Both these devices are said to support 25W charging, with a 15W charger in the box.
- Main camera: 12-megapixel, 1.8µm pixel size, optical stabilisation (OIS)
- Zoom: 64MP, 0.8µm, OIS, 3x optical / 30x digital zoom (?)
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.4µm
It’s been claimed that both the S21 and S21+ will come with a triple rear camera made up of a 12-megapixel main sensor, 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and a 64-megapixel telephoto sensor – the same overall selection as the Galaxy S20 models. We’re expecting the DepthVision sensor to be removed from the S21+, but otherwise the offering is likely to be similar to the previous generation.
Additional camera features have also been claimed for the S21 models, including the cameras automatically switching between 30fps and 60fps depending on the lighting conditions, a dual recording mode, improved night mode, more manual controls and improved moon mode. At the moment it’s not exactly clear if the same 30X Space Zoom will be offered, but it seem likely.
Samsung Galaxy S21 rumours: What’s happened so far?
Here are all the rumours surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S21, or Galaxy S30.
14 December 2020: Latest Samsung Galaxy S21 video leak shows just how good the phone looks
A video – which has since been taken down – shows more details of the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S21+, showing thin bezels, a flat display with a punch hole front camera and a matte rear with a triple rear camera.
9 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 passes through FCC, Snapdragon 888 in tow
The Samsung Galaxy S21 was spotted on an FCC listing with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 under its hood.
8 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 teaser leaks include close-ups of cameras, violet colour
Renders and promotional videos of the Galaxy S21 – supposedly from Samsung itself – appeared online thanks to Android Police.
8 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 may not come with a charger or earbuds after all
Brazilian site, Tecnoblog, uncovered a report at Anatel (Brazil’s equivalent to FCC) that states (roughly translated) that “the cell phone will not be sold with a power supply” and also “the cell phone will not be sold with headphones”.
7 December 2020: Side-by-side image of real life S21 Ultra and S21 appears online
Here is the the real world photo of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and S21 Plus, side by side.
— sakitech (@sakitechonline) December 7, 2020
7 December 2020: Fresh Samsung Galaxy S21 renders and specs dump reveals everything about Samsung’s future phones
A fresh set of renders and a huge dump of specs give an insight into the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+.
2 December 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 renders appear online, along with alleged pricing
More images of the Galaxy S21 appear on line, cementing that design.
16 November 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 with Snapdragon 875 appears on benchmark
Sammobile reported that a Samsung Galaxy S21 with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset appeared on Geekbench with a score that beat the Galaxy S21 with Exynos.
16 November 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 series features revealed in huge spec leak
A report on Android Police detailed a number of specifications, as well as features expected for the S21 and S21+.
5 November 2020: Galaxy S21 colours leak
Reports on the colours for the forthcoming devices have appeared from a reliable source.
Small correction/update in upcoming S21 models. S21+ and 21 Ultra are basically reversed.
S21 is still Gray, Pink, Violet and White.
S21+ is Black, Silver and Violet with Pink in Korea.
S21 Ultra is Black and Silver.
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) November 6, 2020
4 November 2020: Is Samsung going break with tradition to launch the Samsung Galaxy S21 in January?
Leaker Jon Prosser claimed on Twitter that Samsung will announce the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra on 14 January 2021, with pre-orders starting immediately. He claimed the devices would be available on 29 January.
27 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could come without charger and headphones
Sammobile reported that Korean media has claimed the Samsung Galaxy S21 could come without a charger and headphones, like Apple’s iPhone 12 range.
23 October 2020: Colours of Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ revealed
Twitter user Ross Young tweeted the colours expected for the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+.
S21 Leak, 100%
S21 – Gray, Pink, Violet and White
S21+ – Black and Silver
S21 Ultra – Black, Silver, Violet
Production in Brazil, Indonesia, Korea and Vietnam
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) October 23, 2020
19 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could arrive early and here it is…
The Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra are said to be coming in January 2021, rather than the series’ usual spring release window. And “early January” at that.
And, on top of that, renders of the S21 and S21 Ultra have already appeared online – adding further weight to the idea of an early release.
16 October 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 will reportedly come with 25W fast charger in the box
A report has claimed the Samsung Galaxy S21 will come with a 25W fast charger in the box.
8 October 2020: Tipster indicates Samsung will introduce Galaxy S21 chipset soon
20 August 2020: S21/S30+ battery might get a bump in capacity
The 2020 Samsung Galaxy S21/S30 devices might get an increase in battery capacity compared to the S20 models.
27 July 2020: Details leak about Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 875
Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon chipset won’t be unveiled until the end of 2020, but Roland Quandt of WinFuture claimed on Twitter it’s called Snapdragon 875 SoC with the codename SM8350.
The new mobile device processor is expected to be built on a 5nm process, with Qualcomm using a Cortex X1 and Cortex A78 large-core architectural combination. It’s expected it will be used in the US models of the Galaxy S21, at least the Ultra model.
25 July 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 might use 5nm Exynos 991 or 992
A leaker called Mauri QHD claimed on Twitter that the Samsung Galaxy S21 will opt for the Exynos 991 or 992 without AMD GPU. The leaker put a question mark next to the Galaxy S21+.
24 July 2020: Samsung making three Galaxy 21 models
Sammobile reported that its sources claimed Samsung is making three models for the Galaxy S21 series, likely to be called the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra – though the names could change.
The site also said the model numbers for the 5G variants are SM-G991, SM-G996, and SM-G998 and they are in development with 128GB and 256GB storage options.
7 May 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could have selfie camera with OIS
Sammobile reported that Samsung was apparently testing two Galaxy 21 prototypes – one with a 1/2-inch front sensor it thinks likely has a 48MP resolution and the other featuring a 1/2.55-inch sensor with 12MP resolution and OIS.
9 April 2020: Samsung Galaxy S21 could have under-screen camera
Leaker Ice Universe tweeted saying Samsung was considering using under-screen camera technology on the Galaxy S21 first and is testing the technology.
16 March 2020: Samsung developing 150MP sensor
A report appeared on Clien claiming Samsung was developing a 150-megapixel 1-inch sensor using the same Nonacell technology as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. The rumour doesn’t say the sensor will be used in the Galaxy S21 but it’s possible a version of it could be.
Writing by Britta O’Boyle.