Not only will the Galaxy S21 arrive surprisingly early next year, it looks like Samsung will dramatically shake up its Note and Galaxy S ranges too.
Last week respected tipster Ice Universe claimed that the S21 Ultra will support S Pen useage. Another reliable tipster, Max Jambor, added that the new handset won’t have an in-built space to house the stylus, rather the S21 Ultra will simply support its functionality.
Yesterday, sources speaking with Android Police confirmed that the S21 Ultra will support the stylus, but it won’t be included in the box. Instead, Samsung will sell a case that comes with the S Pen. If accurate, it looks like 2021 could finally be the year Samsung merges the Note and Galaxy S ranges.
But what really caught my eye in Android Police’s detailed specification leak was the Korean company’s pricing plan. The story revealed that Samsung is considering cutting costs to be more competitive, but it won’t go down Google’s route of scaling back features to save cash. Instead, the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra will include the latest Snapdragon 875 chipset (it won’t drop down to a more price efficient 7-series like Google did) and other top-end hardware.
There’s also an improved camera setup in S21 Ultra, which includes laser auto focus to (hopefully) fix the focussing issues in the S20 and two telephoto sensors (3x optical telephoto and 10x optical telephoto). The other two variants will apparently include the same camera hardware as the current S20 range, but there will be new software enhancements like dual recording mode (so you can shoot on both the front and rear cameras at the same time) and more manual controls for night mode.
Crucially, Android Police’s source claims that Samsung will drop the price of the S21 range. The site explains that this is in response to the current economic situation caused by the pandemic. Samsung was quite clear in the Galaxy S20 FE press release that the discounted cost was a direct response to the stuttering economy, so I think a lower upfront price is highly likely.
This, combined with the January release date and the top-end specifications is bad news for Apple and Google – both of which have just launched their flagships.
It doesn’t look like Samsung has compromised in any significant way in terms of specifications according to the leaked list. I had expected a cheaper Galaxy phone next year, but I also expected savings in the processor department for at least one variant. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Samsung could potentially cut costs in the design department to save some cash. For example, opting for a plastic back – reserving the glass frame for the ultra model instead, like it did with the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. Or, perhaps, the introductory price will be discounted for a limited amount of time like Motortola’s Razr 5G was.
Either way, it looks like Samsung will take a financial hit on the chin by putting out a high-end phone at a low cost just to rattle the respective cages of the competition. Google and Apple are facing the prospect of being outgunned in the camera, battery and price departments months after their major launches.
Samsung, too, isn’t shy about additional promotions and discounts. The company has some of the best trade-in deals around, especially for iPhones. Right now the 2018 iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will net $430 and $520 off respectively for any 2020 Samsung 5G phone. Don’t be surprised if those trade-in prices temporarily could go up after the S21 launches. There’s also the three months free of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a free Moga xp5-x plus controller that comes with every Samsung 2020 5G phone purchase, which might stick around for next year’s release too.
I suspect Samsung will be just as aggressive with its promotions and deals for next year’s launch. That, combined with a new low price and extra S Pen functionality, should have the competition concerned.