Samsung is starting the smartphone year 2021 early with three models of the Galaxy S series. The “normal” Galaxy S21 is again the smallest and cheapest variant. There is also the Galaxy S21 Plus and the new flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra. We show how the models differ and compare them with their predecessors Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 + and Galaxy S20 Ultra from 2020. Is it worth upgrading?
Price, release and colors
Samsung presented the Galaxy S20 on February 11, 2020, and it went on sale on March 13. This year, the group is much earlier: The Galaxy S21 was presented on January 14, 2021. Sales start on January 29, 2021.
After the particularly colorful Galaxy S10e, Samsung has reduced the color palette a bit in 2020. The Galaxy S20 was initially available in gray, blue and pink, the Galaxy S20 + in black, gray and blue. The largest model, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, was only available in black and gray.
By choosing between models with 4G and 5G, buyers also had a relatively large leeway in terms of price. The Galaxy S20 with 4G started at 899 euros. With 5G it cost 999 euros – as much as the Galaxy S20 + with 4G. The 5G version of the S20 + was available from 1,099 euros, with 512 GB of storage for 1,249 euros. The Galaxy S20 Ultra was only available with 5G for 1,349 or 1,549 euros. A year later, the prices for the Galaxy S20 are between 600 and 700 euros, with 5G around 800 euros. The Galaxy S20 + with 5G is also available from around 800 euros, the Galaxy S20 Ultra starts at around 900 euros.
The Galaxy S21 comes in the colors gray, white, pink and purple, the Galaxy S21 + in silver, black and purple. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the smallest color selection again, but this time with a lighter version: It is offered in silver and black.
In Germany, Samsung sells the S21 series exclusively with 5G. The prices start at 849 euros for the Galaxy S21 with 128 GB of storage, 899 euros for 256 GB of storage. The Galaxy S21 + with 128 GB costs 1,049 euros and 1,099 euros with 256 GB of storage. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is available in three versions: 128 GB for 1,249 euros, 256 GB for 1,299 euros and 512 GB for 1,429 euros.
Experience has shown that the prices of the Galaxy S21 models are likely to drop significantly in the coming weeks and months. The Galaxy S20 could also become cheaper once the successor is on the market.
Reading tip: Other Galaxy S smartphones
Display, size and design
The display sizes remain largely the same for the Galaxy S21 models. Like their predecessors, the Galaxy S21 and S21 + also have 6.2 and 6.7 inch displays. Only the Galaxy S21 Ultra has shrunk slightly at 6.8 inches compared to the 6.9 inches of the Galaxy S20 Ultra. While all three S20 models have WHD + resolution (3,200 x 1,440 pixels), only the Galaxy S21 Ultra uses the high resolution in the new models. S21 and S21 + have FHD + resolution with 2,400 x 1,080 pixels. The S20 models had a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz for the first time, which can also be found in the S21 models.
Despite the same display size, the housing dimensions have changed slightly, and the smartphones have also become a bit heavier. The Galaxy S21 measures 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm and weighs 169 g (S20: 152 x 68 x 7.9 mm; 163 g), the dimensions of the S21 + are 161.4 x 75.6 x 7 , 8 mm and 200 g (S20 +: 162 x 74 x 7.8 mm; 186 g) and the S21 Ultra is 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm and 227 g (S20 Ultra: 167 x 76 x 8.8 mm; 220 g).
When looking at the front, there are no major visual differences between the models. The front camera is again designed as a simple punchhole and sits in the middle of the display. It looks different on the back: While the S20 models, especially the S20 Ultra, had rectangular camera modules protruding far, the area around the cameras on the S21 models looks like an extension of the frame. Although the camera module is still large here, it blends in a little more elegantly in the appearance.
Except for the Galaxy S21, all models are equipped with a glass back. As with the Galaxy Note 20, Samsung uses polycarbonate for the cheapest model this year. For the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung has also taken over a function from the Note models: It now supports the S-Pen. However, the smartphone does not have a slot for the stylus.
Processor, battery and memory
Samsung installs both Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm and its own Exynos processors in its smartphones. The Galaxy S20 models on the European market run with the Exynos 990, with the Galaxy S21 models the successor Exynos 2100 is used. Like its predecessor, it also has eight cores, but is made in 5nm technology and should bring more performance.
With the Galaxy S20 you could choose between 8 and 12 GB of RAM, only 128 GB of user memory was available. The Galaxy S20 + offered a choice of 128 and 512 GB, as well as 8 and 12 GB for RAM. The Galaxy S20 Ultra offered 12 or 16 GB RAM and also 128 or 512 GB user memory.
Galaxy S21 and S21 + offer 8 GB of RAM and either 128 or 256 GB of storage. The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with 12 GB of RAM with a choice of 128 and 256 GB of storage as well as with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of user storage. While memory expansion by up to 1 TB was possible with the S20 models, Samsung does without a slot for micro SD cards in the S21 generation.
With the battery, Samsung remains largely true to the values from the previous year. The Galaxy S21, like the Galaxy S20, comes with 4,000 mAh, the S21 Ultra, like its predecessor, has 5,000 mAh. There are only differences in the Plus model: The Galaxy S20 + had a 4,500 mAh battery, the Galaxy S21 + offers 4,800 mAh.
The pressure filling of the battery is possible with all models with up to 25 watts. The only exception is the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which supports up to 45 watts. However, while the required 25 W power adapter was included in the scope of delivery of the S20 models, this must now be purchased separately for the S21 models.
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