Jan 15, 2021 - Technology

Samsung's new phones focus on lower prices and improved cameras

Picture of samsung phones
Courtesy: Samsung

There were few surprises as Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21 family on Thursday, but it's always interesting to see where the Korean electronics giant puts its energy with each successive generation of flagship gear.

Why it matters: In the U.S. and many places around the world, Samsung is the single biggest phone rival to Apple and its Galaxy S family is the iPhone's most direct competitor.

Details: Samsung announced three models, all of which support 5G networks, wireless charging and IP68 water resistance. Unlike past models, the S21 won't support adding storage via an SD card.

  • The Galaxy S21 starts at $799 and comes with a 6.2-inch screen, a Qualcomm 888 processor (in the U.S.), a 10 megapixel front camera and three rear cameras (wide, ultrawide and telephoto).
  • The Galaxy S21+ starts at $999 and sports a 6.7-inch screen and a similar processor and array of cameras.
  • The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199 and includes four rear lenses (wide, ultrawide and two telephoto lenses, one of which has a 10x optical zoom). The Ultra also supports (but does not come with) the S Pen that typically has been found on Samsung's Galaxy Note series.
  • All three models can be pre-ordered now and will be available starting Jan. 29 from Samsung as well as major carriers and retailers, many of which will have their own promotions.

The company also announced high-end Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds and Galaxy SmartTags, for keeping track of household objects.

Between the lines: Two things stand out about the S21 family: the starting prices — coming in $200 below the starting prices of its predecessor line — and the enhancements Samsung has made to the camera.

  • Those include an improved night mode and a 10x optical zoom on the S21 Ultra, as well as software across the line that makes it easier to pull high-quality still frames from video footage.
  • Samsung has also added the ability to film from front and rear cameras simultaneously, as well as to use multiple microphones when paired with the Galaxy Buds Pro.
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