Just weeks after the iPhone 12 arrives, our attention now turns to arch rival Samsung and what its answer, expected to be called the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S30, will be like.
It has been widely reported that Samsung is bringing the launch of its flagships smartphone forward for 2021. Instead of the usual late-February reveal, it is possible the new phone could arrive in January, just three months after the iPhone 12.
- The replacement to your Samsung S20 could arrive sooner than expected
- The Galaxy S21 has leaked already and the camera is bigger than ever
The Samsung gossip began around a month ago, with 3D renders published online that were claimed to resemble the upcoming phone. The highlight of these was a new rear camera design, with up to four lenses sat on a large module that spilled over the top corner of the phone.
Now, Android Police has published a complete set of specifications for three members of the new Galaxy S21 family. These are claimed to have come from multiple sources and are backed up by official press renders from Samsung, but which can't yet be published.
Samsung Galaxy S21 leaks and rumors: What we know so far
First, the regular S21, which is codenamed O1. This phone is claimed to have a 6.2-inch display with an FHD+ resolution, making it slightly larger than the 6.1-inch iPhone 12, but exactly the same size as the year-old Galaxy S20.
Also the same as the S20 (but an improvement on all models of iPhone 12) is the 120Hz refresh rate of the S21's display, double that of Apple's latest phones.
The S21 is said to be powered by the Snapdragon 875 processor, or the company's own Exynos 2100, depending on which country the phone is sold in. The phone is expected to have a 4,000 mAh battery that is the same size as the S20's, and it will of course have 5G, Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
The rear camera of the Galaxy S21 is said to have three lenses (as per the renders mentioned earlier). These lenses are ultra-wide, wide and telephoto, with respective resolutions of 12, 12 and 64 megapixels. Again, this is all the same as the Galaxy S20, suggesting we are looking at a small, incremental update from Samsung in 2021, at least for the regular S21.
Camera upgrades coming across the board for the S21 family are said to include 4K video recording at 60 frames per second on every camera of all three phones; previously only the main sensor was capable of this. There will also be a new 8K recording option at 30 frames person, joining the 8K/24fps from the S20.
Color options for the entry-level S21 are said to be violet, pink, gray and white.
On December 16, renowned and often accurate technology leaker Evan Blass published to Voice an image he claims to be a leaked official render of the Galaxy S21. The image was then also tweeted, below, by leaked Ice Universe, who added: "This is a real Galaxy S21, the bezel on both sides is larger than S20, but the chin is smaller than S20".
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus leaks and rumors: What we know so far
Next up is the larger Galaxy S21 Plus, which is tipped to have a 6.7-inch display – exactly the same as the iPhone 12 Pro Max – and a 120Hz refresh rate.
This phone is very similar to the regular S21, other than its size, so it has the same Snapdragon 875/Exynos 2100 processor, and the same three-lens rear camera system. A major difference, given the larger screen, is a bigger 4,800mAh battery.
Color options for the Galaxy S21 Plus are said to be silver, black and violet, meaning pink and white are exclusive to the smaller S20.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra leaks and rumors: What we know so far
Lastly, we have the Galaxy S21 Plus, which is codenamed the P3. This phone is even larger than the S21 Plus, with a 6.8-inch display that also has a 120Hz refresh rate. Just like the other members of the S21 family, the Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 875 or Exynos 2100 depending on where it is sold.
The slightly bigger screen means space for an even larger battery, this time coming in at 5,000 mAh, which is the same as the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The S21 Ultra is expected to have a different camera to the rest of its family. This, according to Android Police's sources, is made up of a 12-megapixel ultra wide lens and a huge 108MP main sensor described as "gen 2". There are then expected to be two telephoto lenses, which we haven't seen on other smartphones before.
Both of these lenses sit in front of 10MP sensors, with one capable of 3x optical zoom and the other capable of 10 optical zooming, which is significantly more than the 4x optical zoom of the S20 Ultra, which managed 10x magnification but by combining optical and digital zooming. It isn't known yet what sensors Samsung is using with the S21 family, but they are thought to be the same as found in the S20.
Also unique for the S21 Ultra is Wi-Fi 6E, which is claimed to be twice as fast as the Wi-Fi 6 standard.
Color options for the S21 Ultra are claimed to be black and silver.
Will the Samsung Galaxy S21 have S Pen stylus support?
Samsung is rumoured to be discontinuing its Galaxy Note phone range in 2021, with this year's Note 20 being the final model. This doesn't come as much of a surprise, given how the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note have become increasingly similar in recent years. However, this poses the important question of whether the Note's defining features, its S Pen stylus, will be adopted by the Galaxy S21.
Samsung itself may have shed some light on this. In a December 15 company blog post, Samsung's president and head of mobile communications TM Roh looked ahead to 2021. He said: "We've also been paying attention to people's favorite aspects of the Galaxy Note experience and are excited to add some of its most well-loved features to other devices in our lineup."
To us, this suggests that the S Pen stylus will be added to other Samsung products in 2021, potentially including the Galaxy S21 and the company's next folding handsets.
Samsung Galaxy S21 color options:
On December 17, prolific technology leaker Evan Blass published what he claims to be official renders of the S21 family. Uploaded to the Voice social network, and later tweeted by others, the images show the S21, S21 + 5G and S21 Ultra in a range of colors. The images also show the new rear camera module featured in previous leaks.
Blass also published renders of the S21 Ultra, with its larger camera module housing five lenses. Above, we have embedded a Twitter post of the S21 color range, and below we have embedded Blass's images of the S21 Ultra.
The images appeared on the same day that a five-minute hand-on video of the S21+ appeared on YouTube.
Ultra-wideband tech and smart home control
Roh also spoke about ultra-windband (UWB) technology on future Samsung devices. Also being developed by Apple, the technology should see products communicate with each other more effectively and with more precision than they do with Bluetooth today.
The technology could lead to tighter integration between smartphone and smart home devices, Roh said: "We've already advanced breakthrough technologies like ultra-wideband (UWB)...and soon, we'll be rolling out incredible connectivity capabilities that will transform the way you open doors and enable seamlessly integrated car experience that make personalized car connectivity a part of your digital life."
In a nod towards the technology we expect to see from Apple;s Tile-like device trackers, known for now as AirTags, Roh says: "We're also making it easier to quickly locate the things that matter most, from your keys to your wallet – even your family pet."We expect more features to leak out between now and Samsung's first Unpacked launch event of 2021. But so far the S21 family looks like a case of evolution rather than revolution, with noteworthy upgrades to the camera system of the S21 Ultra, but little else to write home about. Hopefully more will come to light and Samsung will prove us wrong on this point.
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