Samsung Galaxy S21 buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

Welcome to your Galaxy S21 guide that contains all the info you need, including specs, pricing, release dates, and more.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 3

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series represents the latest-and-greatest from the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer. Last year, Samsung tried to mostly appeal just to the ultra-premium buyer, but the Galaxy S21 series is a bit more well-rounded.

That being said, there are still three models in the line and each one has different pros and cons. Don’t worry, though: we’re here to help you navigate the series and find the phone that’s best for you (and your wallet). We’ve compiled all the info you could ever want to know about the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Editor’s note: This Samsung Galaxy S21 buyer’s guide is current as of January 2021. We will update it with new content regularly.


Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra at a glance

Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 series on January 14, 2021. That’s a much earlier date than usual for a Galaxy S launch. This is perhaps partially due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-orders for the three phones in the series opened on January 14 as well, with the devices hitting store shelves on Friday, January 29, 2021, in the US and across Europe.

If you want the most powerful phone in the series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is for you. It comes with the largest display at 6.8-inches, the biggest battery at 5,000mAh, and the best camera setup with a primary 108MP sensor. It also comes with as much as 16GB of RAM. However, it’s also the most expensive with a starting price of $1,199 (€1,249/£1,149).

$1199 .00
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Buy it Now
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Buy it Now
$1199 .00

The Galaxy S21 Plus is the middle child. It features a slightly smaller 6.7-inch display and a 4,800mAh battery. It has three rear cameras instead of five and only 8GB of RAM. However, because you’re losing out on some of those high-end features, the entry-level price comes down significantly to $999 (€1,049/£949).

$999 .00
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Buy it Now
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Buy it Now
$999 .00

Finally, the vanilla Galaxy S21 is the smallest and weakest of the three. On the plus side, you do get a more palm-friendly 6.2-inch display and basically the same specs as the Galaxy S21 Plus. You do need to sacrifice battery capacity by a bit, though, as the Galaxy S21 only has a 4,000mAh cell. The rear is also made out of “Glasstic” rather than true glass. Your wallet will be happy, however, because the starting price of the phone is just $799 (€849/£769).

$799 .00
Samsung Galaxy S21
Buy it Now
Samsung Galaxy S21 Buy it Now
$799 .00

Are the Galaxy S21 phones worth buying?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back camera macro

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

Like clockwork, a Galaxy S phone always ends up in the running for one of the best phones in the year of its launch. Objectively speaking, there won’t be many phones launched in 2021 that will offer the speed, power, and reliability of a Galaxy S21 smartphone.

If all you do with your smartphone is browse the web, answer email, check Instagram, and send a few texts, any of these Galaxy S21 phones will be overkill. You may be better off saving a ton of cash and grabbing a budget Android phone, which will do everything you need without issue. It’s a different story for power users, people who absolutely need 5G access, and those buyers for whom price isn’t a barrier.

Our first impressions: Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Cheaper, but are they better?

People who use their phones for processer-intensive tasks and have a need for the best-of-the-best would very likely benefit from owning a Galaxy S21 phone. The phones all feature the latest flagship silicon (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in certain countries and the Exynos 2100 everywhere else). They also have tons of RAM and internal storage space which power users will no doubt appreciate.

If you’re a shutterbug, the Samsung Galaxy S21 lineup will likely all capture some great images. We haven’t had a chance to test them all out yet, but the second-gen 108MP sensor on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, in particular, should be a powerhouse for both stills and videos. That being said, it’s become quite rare for Samsung to beat out other players for the best camera of the year. Check out our 2020 roundup for more info.

Phones in the Galaxy S series have always been a rock-solid investment for power users.

Also, do keep in mind that Samsung has committed to eventually launching more Fan Edition models of its flagships following the success of the Galaxy S20 FE — the device that walked away with Android Authority‘s 2020 Editor’s Choice award. The seemingly inevitable Galaxy S21 FE will probably offer many of the core specs of the Galaxy S21 phones launched today but with a price that’s hundreds-of-dollars less. If you want to save some cash and can wait until the summer for a new phone, you might want to hold for the Galaxy S21 FE.


Samsung Galaxy S21 series specs

 Samsung Galaxy S21Samsung Galaxy S21 PlusSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 421ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM8GB8GB12 or 16GB
Storage128 or 256GB128 or 256GB128, 256, or 512GB
MicroSDNoNoNo
Battery4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
4,800mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
5,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
CamerasRear:
- Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
- Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x "Space Zoom"

Front:
- 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
- Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x "Space Zoom"

Front:
- 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
- Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
- Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
- Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x "Space Zoom"

Front:
- 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF
Connectivity4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
S Pen supportNoNoYes
Operating SystemOne UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistanceIP68IP68IP68
SecurityUltrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlockUltrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlockUltrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Color128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White

256GB only in Phantom Gray

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red
128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB only in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red
128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown
Dimensions and weight71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g

What AA readers think of the Galaxy S21 phones

Since the Samsung Galaxy S21 series is so new, we don’t have a ton of user-generated data on them yet. However, we do have one chart that might be of interest to prospective buyers.

In October of last year, we saw our first leaked renders of the Galaxy S21 phones. We ran a poll asking our readers what they thought of those designs. Check out the results below:

Now, those answers are based on leaked renders, not the actual products. However, those leaked images very closely align with the real phones, so we suspect that the chart would look much the same if we re-ran the poll today.

What can we glean from this info? More than half of Android Authority readers like the designs of the Galaxy S21 series, which is a pretty substantial number. If you include the folks who are only lukewarm to the designs, you see a whopping 85% of readers who think Samsung did a decent job with this year’s flagships.

We will have more charts based on reader data to post here soon. In the meantime, head to the bottom of this article to vote in some live polls!


How good are the Galaxy S21 cameras?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra macro of back cameras

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

In general, Samsung’s flagships have great cameras. If you want to own one of the best phones for photos and videos in the Android world, you can’t go wrong with the latest entry in the Galaxy S family. We expect the 2021 series to continue that trend.

It’s early days yet, so we haven’t been able to run the phones through our rigorous testing suite. However, we can let you know what each phone has as far as hardware goes and give some insight on how that hardware has stacked up historically.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra back in hand 4

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

There are five premium imaging sensors on the back of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Combined, they create the most advanced camera phone Samsung has ever launched. Check out what’s included:

  • 108MP wide-angle — ƒ1.8, 0.8μm, with autofocus (AF) and optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • 12MP ultra-wide — ƒ2.2, 1.4μm, with AF and a 120-degree field of view (FoV)
  • 10MP telephoto — ƒ2.4, 1.22μm, with AF, OIS, and 3x optical zoom
  • 10MP telephoto — ƒ4.9, 1.22μm, with AF, OIS, and 10x optical zoom
  • Laser autofocus sensor

The 108MP sensor is the primary lens. The Galaxy S20 Ultra from 2020 had a similar sensor, but this version is the second generation. In our testing with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, we found the sensor to be powerful and capable of delivering some incredible images. However, those image files will be huge if you shoot at the highest-quality settings.

The 12MP ultra-wide lens will allow you to capture more of the scene in your frame without physically needing to move backward. Samsung generally nails wide-angle shooting, so we expect this feature to be top-notch when tested.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra's camera hardware combined makes it the most powerful camera phone Samsung has ever launched.

The two telephoto lenses allow you to zoom in on your subject with no loss in image quality. One of these lenses is capable of 10x optical zoom. This is twice as much as the 5x optical zoom offered with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which used to be the reigning champion for zoom on Samsung flagships. As such, the optical zoom will likely be really good with this phone.

Keep in mind that Samsung is still using the “Space Zoom” branding to describe its 100x digital zoom feature with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. In practice, 100x digital zoom results in horrible image quality. We recommend avoiding zooming in this much with your smartphone, even if it is capable of the feat.

See also: Galaxy S20 Ultra revised: Should you still buy it six months later?

Finally, there’s a laser autofocus sensor on the back of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. With the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the focus was our biggest complaint. We are very hopeful Samsung made significant changes here, as a person paying this much for a phone shouldn’t end up with out-of-focus photos.

On the front, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has the same 40MP shooter as the previous model. That sensor has phase detection autofocus, an 80-degree FoV, an ƒ2.2 aperture, and a pixel size of 0.7μm. We found Galaxy S20 Ultra selfies to be excellent, so it stands to reason we’ll see similar results with this new model.

Stay tuned for our full test results!

Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back on table macro

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

For the first time since 2017, the regular and Plus variants in this year’s Galaxy S lineup have identical cameras. Over the past three cycles, the Plus model would offer something extra, such as more sensors, better-quality sensors, or even an extra entire lens. This year, though, both phones will produce the exact same image quality.

Here’s what both the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus pack:

  • 12MP wide-angle — ƒ1.8, 1.8μm, with autofocus (AF) and optical image stabilization (OIS)
  • 12MP ultra-wide — ƒ2.2, 1.4μm, with AF and a 120-degree field of view (FoV)
  • 64MP telephoto — ƒ2.0, 0.8μm, with AF, OIS, and 3x “Hybrid Optic” zoom

Those three lenses are the trifecta of imaging sensors in smartphones. Your standard wide-angle sensor is used for basic shots. The ultra-wide sensor helps you capture more of an image in your viewfinder without needing to physically move backward. And the telephoto lens gives you the ability to zoom in on your subject.

The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus probably won't be as versatile as the S21 Ultra, but the average person is likely to be happy.

When it comes to zoom, you get 3x “Hybrid Optic” zoom. This is marketing jargon that essentially means a certain percentage of the 3x zoom will be optical (i.e. lossless) while another percentage will be digital (i.e. lossy). This will likely result in decent-quality photos when zoomed in at 3x — but it won’t be nearly as good as what you’ll see with the pure optics of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

See also: What a pro photographer can do with a cheap Android phone

Essentially, the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus cameras should be a good fit for the average person. Even for professional photographers, the high-quality sensors here would likely enable them to produce some stunning pictures and videos. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will offer more versatility and slightly better quality, but it would also probably be overkill for the average person.

On the front, both phones have a 10MP shooter housed in a display cutout at the top center of the phone. That sensor has dual-pixel autofocus, an 80-degree FoV, an ƒ2.2 aperture, and a pixel size of 1.4μm.


Do the Galaxy S21 phones have good battery life?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back camera macro

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The battery life of Samsung flagships has been fine over the past few years. There are usually phones on the market with bigger batteries in comparison. There are also usually phones that utilize battery capacity more efficiently than Samsung phones. In a macro sense, though, Galaxy S phones offer adequate battery life that you’ll be able to depend on.

When you consider that the battery capacities of the Samsung Galaxy S21 series are either the same or larger than what we saw in 2020, we are very confident that Samsung will continue to deliver fine results in this regard.

Related: Battery life — A guide to everything that drains your phone’s power

In the case of the Galaxy S21 Plus, its battery capacity is slightly larger than last year’s model. This strongly suggests it will fare better this year in our tests. For the Galaxy S21 Ultra and vanilla Galaxy S21, their capacities stay the same.

As a side note, the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus have lower-resolution displays as compared to last year. This will no doubt help them see longer battery life, as the display is the main source of power depletion. We will need to conduct our testing before making any final judgments, though.


Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 series: What’s changed since last year’s models?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back next to S20 Ultra back

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

As with any tech product, this year’s Galaxy S21 phones are better in many ways than the previous year’s models. However, due to the lowered pricing, some aspects of the phones are actually weaker than the Galaxy S20 series.

Below you’ll find the most significant differences with this year’s lineup. Please note that this is not every difference, just the highlights.

  • Designs: Samsung has added a lot more design flair to the Galaxy S21 series. The rear camera module is now more recessed into the side of the phone, giving it a distinct look. There are also more colorways from which to choose. The vanilla S21 is also made of “Glasstic” rather than real glass.
  • Displays: The displays might look the same as last year’s, but they are different. The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus now have flat displays. They also have lower resolutions, clocking in at 1080p instead of 1440p. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, though, keeps the 1440p curved display from last year.
  • RAM: The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus have less RAM than last year (8GB as compared to 12GB). The Ultra model, though, stays the same with 12 or 16GB.
  • Storage: Each phone starts at the same level as last year: 128GB of internal storage. However, the vanilla and Plus models have 256GB versions this year, which didn’t happen last year. Unfortunately, only the Ultra model has a 512GB option now.
  • MicroSD cards: None of the Galaxy S21 phones have MicroSD card slots. This is the first time the entire lineup has lacked this feature since the Galaxy S6 line.
  • Cameras: The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy 21 Plus both have the exact same front and rear camera setups. This hasn’t happened since the Galaxy S8 series. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a slightly new setup with two more sensors as compared to the others.
  • 5G: In the United States, all three phones have both Sub6 and mmWave access. Last year, the vanilla Galaxy S20 did not have mmWave access.
  • S Pen: For the first time ever, a Galaxy S device can support Samsung’s S Pen. Usually reserved for the Note series, the S Pen works only on the Ultra variant of the Galaxy S21 family.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S series — A history of the biggest name in Android


Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Competition and alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 2

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority

Since it’s very early in the year at the moment, there aren’t too many phones out there that directly compete with the Galaxy S21 lineup. As of right now, the only phone officially launched with the Snapdragon 888 processor is the Xiaomi Mi 11, which is currently only available in China.

As the year goes on, we’ll see more phones from other OEMs with the SD888. The next big launch of the year will likely be the OnePlus 9 series. We expect the SD888 to power the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro. However, we don’t yet know when those phones will launch.

The Galaxy S21 series will encounter some tough competition in 2021.

If you don’t need the latest-and-greatest silicon, there are still plenty of 2020 phones that will offer tons of processing power, good battery life, great cameras, etc. We would highly recommend considering the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which was voted by our readers as the best phone of 2020. The Google Pixel 5 and Sony Xperia 5 II were also in the running for our favorite smartphone of 2020, so be sure to give those a look.

Finally, if you’re OK with exiting the Android world, there’s always the Apple iPhone 12 series. The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are the most comparable to this Galaxy S21 lineup. However, the iPhone 12 and the smaller iPhone 12 Mini will also offer plenty of speed and decent photos — albeit with only two rear lenses instead of three.


Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra wide view of back

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The Galaxy S21 series is available to pre-order now. You can grab it unlocked directly from Samsung and a few other third-party retailers. You can also grab it from most major wireless carriers. Keep in mind that the phone doesn’t actually launch globally until January 29, 2021.

United States

In the US, the Galaxy S21 series starts at $799. Check out the prices for each configuration below:

  • $799 — Galaxy S21 (8GB/128GB)
  • $849 — Galaxy S21 (8GB/256GB)
  • $999 — Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/128GB)
  • $1,049 — Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/256GB)
  • $1,199 — Galaxy S21 Ultra (12GB/128GB)
  • $1,249 — Galaxy S21 Ultra (12GB/256GB)
  • $1,379 — Galaxy S21 Ultra (16GB/512GB)

If you pre-order one of the phones, you will earn credit towards merchandise at Samsung.com. Galaxy S21 pre-orders earn a $100 credit, while S21 Plus orders earn $150. Galaxy S21 Ultra orders earn a $200 credit.

Speaking of credits, you can also trade in your old phone at Samsung.com to earn up to $700 towards the cost of a Galaxy S21 device. You can find more info on this during the add-to-cart procedure on Samsung’s website.

Samsung Galaxy S21
$799 .00
Buy it Now
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
$999 .00
Buy it Now
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
$1199 .00
Buy it Now

Verizon

The nation’s largest wireless carrier is offering the Galaxy S21 series with some promotional benefits. Here’s what you’ll pay monthly if you don’t pay in full:

  • Galaxy S21 — $33.33/month for 24 months
  • Galaxy S21 Plus — $33.33/month for 30 months or $41.66/month for 24 months
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra — $39.99/month for 30 months or $49.99/month for 24 months

If you switch to a Verizon Unlimited plan from another carrier and trade-in an eligible phone, you could earn up to $1,000 in credits, essentially earning you a Galaxy S21 Plus for free. Current customers can also trade-in eligible phones for discounts up to $600.

Current customers can buy a Galaxy S21 phone and add a new Unlimited line to earn up to $1,000 in credit, which you can then apply to a second Galaxy S21. This is a de facto B1G1 deal if you factor out the new line.

Finally, anyone who buys a Galaxy S21 phone from Verizon can then get a discounted smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 3 comes down to $199 with the purchase of any Galaxy S21 device.

AT&T

Like Verizon, AT&T is open to taking in your old smartphone and giving you credit towards a new Galaxy S21. Depending on the phone, you could earn up to $800 in credit, which would get you a Galaxy S21 for free. For this to work, you need to buy the phone on a 30-month installment plan and connect it to a new or existing Unlimited line.

Additionally, for a limited time, AT&T will give you 50% off the brand new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro when you purchase a Galaxy S21 phone from its online portal. That knocks the price of those buds down to just $100.

T-Mobile

The offers from T-Mobile are similar to those from AT&T. New or current subscribers can trade in a phone and get up to $800 off the purchase of a Galaxy S21 device. You don’t need to open a new line or jump through any hoops, either, just bring in the trade!

If you don’t have a phone to trade, you can still get a pretty neat deal. If you buy a Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, or S21 Ultra for one of your lines and then add a new line, you can then get a second Galaxy S21 phone for free. Don’t want two Galaxy phones? You can instead get $800 off any other eligible device.

Here’s how T-Mobile’s pricing breaks down:

  • Galaxy S21 — $33.34/month for 24 months
  • Galaxy S21 Plus — $41.67/month for 24 months
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra — $50.00/month for 24 months

Click the button below to grab your new phone from the Uncarrier.

Visible

If you’d rather grab a Galaxy S21 without a contract, you can head to Visible. To help you make the move, Visible will slash a few bucks off each device and offer a sweet perk. However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is not available from the carrier.

Here’s what each device costs:

  • Galaxy S21 — $792 (128GB) or $840 (256GB)
  • Galaxy S21 Plus — $984 (128GB) or $1,032 (256GB)

If you buy one of the phones and open a new Visible account, and hold onto that account for 32 days, you’ll get a $200 Samsung gift credit which you can use at Samsung.com for accessories. Additionally, if you port in your number from an existing carrier, Visible will give you a set of Samsung Galaxy Buds Live absolutely free. Not bad!

Europe and the UK

In Europe, the Galaxy S21 series starts at €849, and in the UK it starts at £769. Here are the prices in each currency:

  • €849 / £769 — Galaxy S21 (8GB/128GB)
  • €1,049 / £949 — Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/128GB)
  • €1,249 / £1,149 — Galaxy S21 Ultra (12GB/128GB)

You can grab the latest phones in the Galaxy S21 family at the links below:

India

Here is the pricing for the Galaxy S21 lineup in India. The phones will launch on January 29 but you can pre-book as soon as January 15.

  • 69,999 INR — Galaxy S21 (8GB/128GB)
  • 81,999 INR — Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/128GB)
  • 105,999 INR — Galaxy S21 Ultra (12GB/128GB)

If you pre-book your phone from Samsung, you’ll get a Galaxy Smart Tag for free and a Samsung E-Shop voucher of up to 10,000 INR.


Samsung Galaxy S21 software updates

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Google Pixel 5 cameras

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority

Over the past year, Samsung has really upped its game when it comes to software updates. There have been many times that Samsung’s flagship phones have seen the monthly Android security patch days before even Google’s own Pixel lineup sees them.

Samsung also has done an exemplary job rolling out Android 11 to its biggest phone lines. By the end of 2020, every phone in the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 lineups saw Android 11. In addition, several phones in the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 lines also saw the upgrade, as did other phones from the brand.

Related: Samsung’s three-year upgrade promise raises the bar for Android OEMs

On top of all this, Samsung went on the record and made a promise last year to deliver no fewer than three Android upgrades to every one of its flagship phones going forward. That means the Galaxy S21 lineup will see new Android versions all the way to Android 14. Time will tell if Samsung keeps its promise in this regard, but it has done nothing but impress us so far.

The bottom line here is that if you value consistent Android security patches and timely Android version upgrades, the Galaxy S21 series is a very good choice.


Top Galaxy S21 series questions and answers

Q: Which Samsung Galaxy S21 phone should I buy?
A: If you don’t want the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the choice between the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus is pretty simple: the Plus is bigger. Although the Galaxy S21 has a smaller battery due to its smaller size and doesn’t have a glass back, those two phones are more alike than they are different. If you want the best-of-the-best (and have deep pockets), then you want the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Q: Are the Samsung Galaxy S21 phones waterproof?
A: Yes, all S21 devices are IP68-rated. This means they can be submerged in up to 1.5m (~5ft.) of water for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Q: Do the Galaxy S21 phones support 5G?
A: In the United States, all of the Galaxy S21 phones support all major 5G wireless networks. If you buy your phone unlocked, you will be able to get a 5G signal on all three of the biggest wireless providers.

Q: Do the Galaxy S21 phones comes with chargers?
A: No. You won’t find a power brick bundled with any of the Galaxy S21 devices. You’ll need to use an existing one or buy one separately.

Q: Do the Galaxy S21 phones support expandable storage?
A: No. For the first time since 2015, no Galaxy S phones in 2021 support MicroSD cards.

Q: Do the Galaxy S21 phones have headphone jacks?
A: Unfortunately, no. You won’t find headphone jacks on any of the S21 models.

Q: Do the Galaxy S21 phones support the S Pen?
A: Only the Ultra variant supports the S Pen. Unlike the Galaxy Note series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t come with an S Pen, nor does it have a built-in slot where you can store it. You can buy a specialized case for the phone that includes a spot to store an S Pen, though.

Q: What chipset powers the Galaxy S21?
A: In most markets across the globe, the Samsung Exynos 2100 chipset powers Galaxy S21 phones. In certain countries — including the US, China, and South Korea — the handsets come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset under the hood.

Q: Which Galaxy S21 phones have a 120Hz display?
A: All of them. However, each phone uses “adaptive” 120Hz. This means the phone’s software will automatically choose the refresh rate of the display based on what you’re doing. For example, if the app you’re using only supports 60Hz, there’s no reason for the 120Hz feature to be on and needlessly draining the battery. The downside to this, of course, is that there will inevitably be apps and situations in which you would want 120Hz but the software prevents it.

Q: What colors are the Galaxy S21 phones available in?
A: Samsung is offering a lot of colors for its phones this year. However, the colorways on offer are limited to certain storage configurations. In addition, Samsung revealed that there are more colors that will be exclusively available from Samsung.com. See the specs table a few sections up for more info.

Q: Will there be a Fan Edition in the Galaxy S21 series?
A: According to a statement from Samsung, it is committed to launching Fan Editions for its biggest flagships. This heavily suggests that you can expect a Galaxy S21 FE. However, that variant likely won’t launch until at least the summer of 2021, if it ever launches at all.


Help other readers out

Do you own the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, or S21 Ultra? Do you plan on getting one? If so, make your voice heard in our polls below, and then go ahead and post your own mini-review in the comments!

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