Unboxing 2021 in style, we have the Samsung Galaxy S21 for you today. Samsung has revamped its annual release schedule to release its premium S Series for January, and could there be a better way to start the year?
We said ‘bang’, but it’s not the most thunderous of these – of the trio of Galaxy S21 phones being announced, now we’re going to bring you the smallest, vanilla. We also have the Ultra in the office, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that – no event starts with the headliner anyway.
For the second year in a row, Samsung is unveiling three phones as part of the Spring Flagship List (although it’s a lot winter this time around, at least where we’re at). And, just like last time around, there’s a very clear divide between the ultimate uncompromising Ultra and the two more understated, down-to-earth “ classic ” phones. If anything, the gap has even widened.
There are many examples, some more significant than others. Take the example of screens. Unlike last year, when all three phones had 1440p resolution panels, now only the Ultra gets the highest resolution, the “ mainstream ” S21s are at 1080p. All three screens were curved in 2020, now it’s just the Ultra. All three S20s had the same high refresh rate implementation, now the Ultra gets a more advanced Adaptive mode than the other two.
What about the cameras? The S20 Ultra had a vastly superior setup than the other two, regardless of the problems it might have encountered in realizing the full potential of all of its impressive hardware. Well the S21 Ultra builds on that and comes with even better internals in the imaging department. The S21 and S21 +, meanwhile, reuse bits from last year. Hmm.
But there is more. In the case of the little Galaxy S21 we have here, it’s the final blow that hurts the most: it has a plastic back. It’s not the end of the world, and we’ll continue to rationalize how that’s actually a good thing on the next page. But it does highlight the further differentiation between the true flagship and the others below. And then lower below.
Some genes are shared among everyone in the family, after all. The chipset is the same out of all three (always different from region to region, but that’s a whole different topic), all have Qualcomm’s second-generation ultrasonic fingerprint reader, as well as top – stereo speakers and an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. And no, none of them have a microSD slot, this one was the most surprising.
Features of Samsung Galaxy S21 5G at a glance:
- Body: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, 169g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), plastic back, aluminum frame; IP68 dust / water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 minutes).
- Pin up: 6.20 “2X dynamic AMOLED, 120Hz, HDR10 +, 1300 nits (peak), 1080x2400px resolution, 20: 9 aspect ratio, 421ppi; always-on display.
- Chipset: International – Exynos 2100 (5 nm): Octa-core CPU (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55), GPU Mali-G78 MP14. USA / China – Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680; Adreno 660 GPU.
- Memory: 128GB RAM 8GB, 256GB RAM 8GB; UFS 3.1.
- OS / software: Android 11, a 3.1 user interface.
- Rear camera: Large (main): 12 MP, f / 1.8, 26mm, 1 / 1.76 “, 1.8 µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f / 2.2, 13mm, 120˚, 1 / 2.55 “1.4 µm, Super Steady video; Telephoto: 64 MP, f / 2.0, 29 mm, 1 / 1.72 “, 0.8 µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom.
- Front camera: 10 MP, f / 2.2, 26mm, 1 / 3.24 “, 1.22 µm, dual pixel PDAF.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 8K @ 24fps, 4K @ 30 / 60fps, 1080p @ 30/60 / 240fps, 720p @ 960fps, HDR10 +, stereo sound recording, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K at 30 / 60fps, 1080p at 30fps.
- Drums: 4000mAh; 25W fast charge, USB Power Delivery 3.0, 15W Qi / PMA wireless fast charge, 4.5W reverse wireless charge.
- Various: Fingerprint reader (under screen, ultrasound); NFC; FM radio (Snapdragon model only; depending on market / operator); Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), ANT +, Bixby natural language commands and dictation.
Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S21
Here it is, the new high-end retail box from Galaxies (read “smaller”). Following in Apple’s footsteps, Samsung chose to remove the charger and headphones from the retail pack, resulting in a more compact box.
Yes, yes, you’re supposed to have chargers at home already, so not including one with every phone should help reduce waste, and lower shipping volume will reduce the carbon footprint along the supply chain. . It is a noble concept, although saving the environment is still not the key factor.
That said, during the S21’s opening keynote, Samsung mentioned that the adapters will now be sold at a discounted price, which seems like a step in the right direction.
Anyway, what are you are the phone itself and a USB-C-to-C cable are in the box. This means that you must have a moderately contemporary PowerDelivery USB charger, or a USB-AC cable if you intend to use an adapter that does not have a Type C outlet.
As it emerged around the iPhone 12 launch days, local regulations in France specifically require all phones sold in the country to be fitted with a headset. Thus, the S21 in France will indeed be delivered with the usual set of AKG branded headphones to which we have become accustomed from Galaxies in recent years. Still no charger, however.