Galaxy S21 rumors and leaks: A new camera with 10x zoom?
Samsung is getting ready to release the next Galaxy S phone, likely called the Galaxy S21, in just over a month’s time according to reports. The company released a whole slew of phones in 2020 to match almost every budget, from the $100 (about £70 or AU$130) Galaxy A01 all the way through to the $1,999 Galaxy Z Fold 2. But the Galaxy S line is seen as the company’s flagship handsets, and new leaks point to the S21 sporting a new design with improved camera features including a 10x optical zoom. Other rumors say the S21 Ultra might even replace the Galaxy Note phones altogether.
Here’s everything we know so far about the Galaxy S21 phones.
3 Galaxy S21 phones with the same processor
It should come as no surprise that Samsung is expected to launch three different models of the S21: the 6.2-inch S21, 6.7-inch S21 Plus and 6.8-inch S21 Ultra. But an extensive leak from Max Weinbach from Android Police documents almost the entire spec sheet, which reveals even more about these three phones than just the model names and sizes.
The screens will likely all support 120Hz like the earlier S20 series, with the S21 Ultra sporting the highest resolution WQHD Plus display. But the other key reveal is that these phones will likely use the latest Snapdragon processor in the US. Previously thought to be called the Snapdragon 875, it’s actually been branded as the Snapdragon 888 and it was just announced at a Qualcomm virtual event last week. Some of the key claims of the new chip are faster 5G performance and extended battery life.
The other main differences between the S21 phones look to be the design of the camera modules, color options, material finish and of course the battery capacity. The base S21 will have a 4,000-mAh battery, the S21 Plus battery will be 4,800 mAH and the high-end S21 Ultra will get a mammoth 5,000-mAh battery, according to the leaked spec sheet. At the moment, it appears as if the S21 and S21 Plus will have a plastic finish, with the S21 Ultra getting a metal finish.
Renders show a sleek new camera and frame design
Earlier renders published by Steve Hemmerstoffer (@OnLeaks) indicate that the Galaxy S21 won’t look radically different from the earlier S20 phones, but it will have a redesigned camera module. It appears there will be an in-screen fingerprint reader and a hole-punch selfie camera like before on all three phones, with the screens on the S21 and S21 Plus sitting flat and the S21 Ultra’s screen curving at the edges.
The three-camera array on the S21 and S21 Plus has been moved to the top left corner and it’s safe to assume there will be a regular wide-angle, ultrawide angle and telephoto camera. This render matches the leaked spec sheet from Android Police, which says these will be a 12-megapixel ultrawide and wide camera, plus a 64-megapixel telephoto camera. The LED flash has been moved just to the right of the camera housing.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a little different, with a much bigger camera module with four rear cameras: a 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide, plus two 10-megapixel telephoto cameras at 3x and 10x optical zoom. It also appears as if the 100x space zoom seen on the S20 Ultra will also feature on the S21 Ultra. Space zoom is Samsung’s term for the hybrid digital and optical zoom used to reach 100x.
The S21 Ultra’s main camera looks to have a 108-megapixel sensor dubbed “gen 2 sensor” on the spec sheet. We assume it will use a similar pixel binning method to output 12-megapixel shots, like the S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra do with their 108-megapixel sensors. The S21 Ultra also looks to keep the laser autofocus system found on the Note 20 Ultra, opposed to the phase-detect autofocus system on the S20 Ultra.
While the @OnLeaks renders show the S21 series in both a gray and black finish, other colors are expected. The S21 looks to come in a violet, pink, gray or white color; the S21 Plus in silver, black and violet; and the S21 Ultra in black and silver. The render in the video below from Italian site Pigtou shows what the silver finish may look like.
Twitter user Ice universe posted an image showing concept renders of the other S21 colors, then followed up with an image posted to Instagram that they claim is the front of the S21 Ultra.
YouTube user Sakitech also posted the video below that claims to show a photo of the both the S21 Ultra and S21 Plus. It details the camera specs and gives an overview of what preproduction sample might look like. Dutch site LetsGoDigital also posted detailed 3D renders of the Galaxy S21 series that show the SIM tray relocated to the base of the phone.
Will the Galaxy S21 have accessories in the box?
Samsung might follow Apple’s lead in removing both the charger and corded headphones from the box of the Galaxy S21, according to an earlier report. This wouldn’t be the first time that Samsung has removed the headphones from the retail box, as the $1,999 Galaxy Z Fold 2 shipped without headphones in the US (although you could request a pair of AKG headphones from Samsung after purchase).
Goodbye Galaxy Note, hello stylus for the S21?
A report from Reuters reveals that Samsung may discontinue the Galaxy Note line and the S21 Ultra will take its place as the Samsung phone with a stylus. While the renders don’t show a visible location for a stylus, the phone could still support the S Pen with a software update. This would mean that the stylus would have to be housed separately from the phone when not in use.
Older wearables might not be compatible with the S21
Samsung has released lots of different fitness trackers and smartwatches over the past few years, but a notification in the Samsung Members app spotted by GalaxyClub suggests the Galaxy S21 won’t support older wearables like the Galaxy Gear. The full list of affected devices includes the Gear2, Gear2 Neo, Gear S and Gear Fit. This news isn’t particularly surprising, given that some of these trackers were released over five years ago.
The S21 might be less expensive than the S20
There is also the possibility that Samsung will drop the base price of the Galaxy S21, perhaps in response to the drop in sales of mobile phones across the board because of the coronavirus pandemic. South Korean leaker Landsk claims that the S21 will start at $899, the S21 Plus at $1,099 and the S21 Ultra $1,250. This would mark a $100 price drop compared to the launch price of the regular S20 in March 2020.
As for release dates for the S21 series, Samsung usually updates the Galaxy S line in February or March each year. But this has been no ordinary year and several sources say that Samsung may move up the release schedule one month to January 2021.