Samsung Galaxy S21 release date, price, news, rumors and leaks

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is the company's most premium and impressive smartphone to date, but now we’re dreaming of what Samsung will cook up for the Galaxy S21 range.

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 Fan Edition safely launched, there are no more top-end phones coming from the company until the S21 line at the beginning of 2021.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 devices are sure to be some of the most exciting phones of 2021, so hype is already building, and we’re even hearing the first very early rumors – and we now think the device is going to come carrying the Galaxy S21 name, rather than the Galaxy S30.

You’ll find everything we've heard so far below, and we’ll be adding to this article any time there’s new information, so make sure to check back regularly if you want to stay up to date.

You’ll also find our wish list for the Samsung Galaxy S21 further down – these are the things that we most want from Samsung’s next Galaxy S phone, in order to make it as good as possible.

Latest stories: A Samsung official has reportedly said that the Galaxy S21 Ultra will support the S Pen stylus.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The successor to the Galaxy S20
  • When is it out? Possibly January 14, 2021
  • What will it cost? Likely upwards of $999 / £899 / AU$1,499

Samsung Galaxy S21 release date and price

Samsung always unveils its new Galaxy S models early in the year, and in recent years it has been announcing them in February, then selling them from March, so we were expecting the same with the Samsung Galaxy S21 range.

However, several rumors are now pointing to January being the month when these handsets are going to be unveiled, and early January at that: it seems Samsung wants to get a head start on the competition in 2021. It's not just one rumor saying that either - a second one backed up the former and added it was done so Samsung could compete with the iPhone 12's sales better.

Now a third rumor has got even more specific, with a leaker saying that the Samsung Galaxy S21 range will be announced on January 14, with pre-orders opening the same day, and the phones going on sale on January 29.

The phone has also passed through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification process a month earlier than normal, further suggesting a January launch.

As for how much the Samsung Galaxy S21 range will cost, the phones will probably be at least as expensive as the Galaxy S20 range, likely meaning a starting price for the basic model of at least $999 / £899 / AU$1,499, with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra likely costing even more.

Samsung Galaxy S21

The Samsung Galaxy S20 range is very expensive (Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy S30 or Galaxy S21?

Before the Samsung Galaxy S20 launch we thought it'd be called the Galaxy S11, and separate leaks referred to it differently. History might repeat itself – a top leaker has stated the Galaxy S30 is actually the Galaxy S21.

We initially thought it'd be the S30, and the first leaks backed that up, but now we're not so sure. So will the phone be called the Samsung Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S30? 

There's no way of knowing for sure at the moment now – though it's worth pointing out that we're hearing the S21 moniker being used more and more.

As the phone's launch gets closer, we'd expect more noteworthy leakers to throw their worth behind one name or the other, which should give us a better idea of what to expect.

Samsung Galaxy S21 leaks and news

The Samsung Galaxy S21 rumors are flowing in, and Android Police has published a whole host of specs about the three phones coming in the series: the 6.2-inch Galaxy S21, the 6.7-inch Galaxy S21 Plus and the 6.8-inch Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The same sources say that the Snapdragon 875 or Exynos 2100 processors are going to be running these phones, CPUs which have not yet been officially announced. We'll get a 64MP+12MP+12MP rear camera on the S21 and S21 Plus, apparently, with a 108MP+12MP+10MP+10MP array on the S21 Ultra.

We've also seen our first proper look at the phone courtesy of @OnLeaks. These renders show a front design very much like the Galaxy S20, but a rear camera setup that's been revamped to create a wraparound effect over the corner of the phone.

It's quite a dramatic change, though the signs were there in the evolution of the Galaxy S20 and then the Note 20 handsets. The screen size of the standard model is said to be 6.2 inches, and it will apparently be flat. Dimensions meanwhile will apparently be 151.7 mm x 71.2 mm x 7.9 mm.

The renders would seem to rule out earlier whispers that the phone might have an in-screen camera, though Samsung is apparently evaluating the feasibility, so it sounds like the tech might not be ready.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 leak

(Image credit: @OnLeaks)
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Samsung Galaxy S21 leak

(Image credit: @OnLeaks)
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Samsung Galaxy S21 leak

(Image credit: @OnLeaks)

A picture of the Galaxy S21 camera bump taken from inside a factory backs up that render, as it's exactly the same shape as the module shown in the image. This makes it seem very likely it's accurate.

We've also heard that the phones could come in black, white, grey, silver, violet and pink shades.

The source doesn't say which models will be available in which colors, but Ross Young who regularly shares smartphone screen leaks replied saying that the standard S21 will come in grey, pink, violet and white, the S21 Plus will come in black and silver, and the S21 Ultra will land in black, silver and violet.

Another whisper that's reached our ears is that Samsung could bump the fast charging speed up to 65W – something that we'd definitely welcome, though we're not certain that we'll see this tech in the Galaxy S21 just yet.

Elsewhere we've heard that the Samsung Galaxy S21 will ditch the time-of-flight (ToF) sensor that the Galaxy S20 had. Apparently, Samsung is shelving the technology until it has a sensor that can compete with the one Apple uses.

On the other hand, we've now seen a Samsung patent for a ToF sensor - previously the company was using Sony-made ones, but this suggests it's building its own, rather than ditching them altogether. If so, the sensor could be used for facial recognition, bokeh effects, or augmented reality features. Of course, the existence of a patent doesn't mean the sensor will be ready in time for the Galaxy S21 range.

Elsewhere, there's also a Samsung patent (below) detailing a smartphone camera design with six rear camera sensors. This would include five wide-angle ones and one telephoto one, and each lens would be individually tiltable, so they could point in different directions.

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: Samsung / LetsGoDigital)

That would have a number of potential applications, from adding a bokeh effect to panoramas, to potentially improving low light shots and HDR. However, the patent hasn't specifically been linked to the Galaxy S21, so we wouldn't count on seeing this design – it's perhaps something for 2022 or beyond.

Older leaks included benchmarks suggesting that some versions of the Samsung Galaxy S21 will use a new Exynos 1000 chipset with GPU performance that's up to three times faster than the Snapdragon 865 – which is the best Android chipset at the time of writing. Buyers in the US though will probably get a Snapdragon 875 instead, which is sure to be similarly fast (that's an idea backed up by the latest leaks described above).

Having said that, another benchmark - seemingly for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus - shows an Exynos 2100 chipset, which is something we've not heard of. Its scores aren't particularly impressive (though are certainly high-end) and it's listed alongside just 8GB of RAM. We would however take this with a pinch of salt.

We've also now seen a benchmark for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus with a Snapdragon 875 chipset and 8GB of RAM. This is likely the US model, and its scores are better than the Exynos benchmark above, though elsewhere leaker @UniverseIce suggests that the Exynos version may actually be the faster of the two, so we're really not sure what's right at the moment.

On the battery front, unofficial reports suggest that the S21 could be in for a small battery capacity boost compared with the equivalent S20 models – but we'll have to wait and see whether this translates into better battery life overall.

A small piece of news on the Galaxy S21 development is that Samsung had been rumored to switch suppliers of its screen tech to a company called BOE. Newer reports suggest that isn't the case anymore though, and it's likely the screen tech will remain similar to the Galaxy S20 as Samsung continues to make its own screens for its phones.

Samsung Galaxy 21: will it come with a charger and headphones?

One of the most intriguing questions about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 range is whether the phones will come with chargers and headphones in the box, as normal – or whether Samsung will make you buy them separately.

The benefit for manufacturers is two-fold: it increases their eco-friendly credibility, and it saves them money. Apple has adopted this approach with the iPhone 12 series, and if past history is anything to go by, once Apple does something everybody else usually follows suit.

We've been hearing Samsung might do the same for months, but then again Samsung's social media team did rather poke fun at Apple for not including a charging block and headphones in the iPhone 12 box.

Social media tomfoolery aside, it looks as though Samsung won't be bundling the usual accessories in with the Galaxy S21, as per the most recent rumors. It just makes a lot of sense to cut down on e-waste, packaging and price, and at this stage most of us have chargers and headphones lying around anyway.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra leaks and news

We've heard enough information on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to necessitate a separate section on it.

The same source that provided the prior Galaxy S21 images also leaked renders of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, one of which you can see below.

This is shown with a curved screen of apparently around 6.7 to 6.9 inches, and a much larger camera block than the standard S21, housing four lenses and a flash. Based on the latest rumors, the screen size will apparently be 6.8 inches.

The dimensions meanwhile are apparently around 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm, and there's a punch-hole selfie camera on the front, but no slot for an S Pen, despite some other leaks suggesting Samsung's stylus might be supported.

Other leakers have speculated that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could support the stylus, but it may be that you have to buy an extra case to attach the accessory so it wouldn't be available by default.

A source claims to have even now heard from a Samsung official that the Galaxy S21 Ultra will support the S Pen stylus, so this is looking likely.

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: @OnLeaks / Voice)

Another leak says the phone will have a 5,000mAh battery, 40MP front-facing camera and four rear snappers, with a 108MP main – all the same as the S20 Ultra.

That backs up earlier rumors that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will have a 108MP camera (just like the S20 Ultra) but with a new and likely improved image sensor.

Just after that yet another Samsung Galaxy S21 camera leak said the same thing. Apparently the device will have a 108MP main, 12MP ultra-wide and 40MP selfie camera, like the S21 Ultra, but with two zoom lenses instead of one, and no ToF sensor. These zoom cameras are said to facilitate 3x and 5x optical zooming.

The 108MP rumor has been repeated quite a few times, and some rumors say it could be an improved sensor to before.

Sounds like the S21 Ultra cameras are set in stone? Well, it might not be as simple as that. We've also heard that Samsung is working on a 150MP camera for smartphones that can combine nine pixels into one, for 16MP shots that can take in a lot of light.

We would however take this claim with a serious side of salt – it’s very early for S21 rumors, the source doesn’t have a track record, and even if Samsung is working on that camera, that doesn’t guarantee that we’ll see it in the Galaxy S21 range.

Having said that, the claim of a 150MP main snapper has since appeared again, with another source adding that it could be joined by a 64MP telephoto, 16MP ultra-wide, and 12MP macro snapper, plus a depth sensor, for five sensors in total. Though if this is accurate it's probably more likely that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will have these specs.

What we want to see

We don’t know much about the Samsung Galaxy S21 yet but we know what we want from it, with the following things being top of our list.

1. A more reasonable price

Samsung Galaxy S20

Hopefully the Galaxy S21 won't cost as much as the S20 (Image credit: Future)

There’s no getting around how expensive the Samsung Galaxy S20 range is. Even the basic model will set you back a lot, with prices rising compared to the previous year and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra almost creating a new category of ultra-premium phones.

The situation isn’t helped by the absence of a Samsung Galaxy S20e or Samsung Galaxy S20 Lite – though it’s possible one will arrive at some point.

In any case, we’d like to see either a cost reduction for 2021’s models or a Samsung Galaxy S21 Lite alongside the rest of the range. Or better yet, both.

2. 100x zoom across the range

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has some of the flashiest camera credentials we’ve seen on a smartphone, headlined by its 100x zoom.

So, for the Galaxy S21 range we’d like to see that feature move down to the more affordable models. But we’d also like to see it improved, as in its current form the quality isn’t great, making it more of a party trick than a feature you’ll actually be using a lot.

3. An in-screen camera

Samsung Galaxy S21

We've had enough of punch-holes (Image credit: Future)

Samsung’s current flagships have camera cut-outs in the screen for the selfie camera, and we feel this is a rather inelegant solution, so for the Samsung Galaxy S21 we’d really like the camera to be built into the screen, just like the fingerprint scanner.

That would allow Samsung to deliver a truly all-screen design without having to resort to a pop-up camera (which takes up more internal space and is likely to be more vulnerable).

We’re not confident that we’ll see this – it will likely largely depend on whether the tech is good enough – but it would certainly be a standout feature.

4. A new look

The design of the Galaxy S range didn’t change much with 2020’s models, and other than switching a bezel for a punch-hole camera the design hasn’t changed a whole lot in years, so we’d say it’s time for Samsung to switch things up with the Galaxy S21 range.

One way to do that would be with an in-screen camera, as mentioned above, but one way or another we want the phones to look truly different to the Galaxy S20 range.

5. The same chipset everywhere

Samsung Galaxy S21

Not all Galaxy S20's are equal (Image credit: Future)

One odd feature of the Samsung Galaxy S range is that the chipset differs depending on where you are in the world, with some regions getting Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon chipset of the time, and others getting Samsung’s top-end Exynos one.

The trouble is these chipsets are rarely equal. Whether in terms of performance or battery life, there’s usually a difference. How much of a difference can vary from year to year, and it’s not normally too massive, but there is always a weaker version of the phone.

So going forward we’d like to see Samsung use the same chipset in all regions.

6. 120Hz at QHD+

Another quirk of the Samsung Galaxy S20 range is that you can have a 120Hz refresh rate or a QHD+ screen resolution, but not both at the same time.

That’s rather restrictive, especially when plenty of other phones - such as the OnePlus 7T Pro and Google Pixel 4 XL – have at least a 90Hz refresh rate paired with QHD+, whereas on Samsung’s phones you have to drop right down to 60Hz.

There are rumors that Samsung might remove the restriction with a software update, but whether it does or not, it’s not a restriction we want to see on the Galaxy S21 range.

7. A slicker scanner

The in-screen scanner in the Samsung Galaxy S20 range isn’t bad, but it’s still not as fast or reliable as the best physical fingerprint scanners, so that’s another thing we’d like to see improved for the Samsung Galaxy S21.

We want it to work instantly, every time, while still being secure.

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