Samsung’s new Galaxy S21 smartphones bring high-end features down to earth

When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra last February—its first all-5G lineup—they didn’t merely follow the classic good, better, best strategy. Instead, each model went so far beyond the previous Galaxy S10 line that it felt like Samsung had decided to do high end, really high end, and incredibly high end. The catch was that the prices, which started at $1,000 for the S20 and went up to $1,399 for the S20 Ultra, were high-end, too.

Now the company is announcing the S20 line’s successors, the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra. This time around, a pandemic is raging and plenty of people are spending their gadget money carefully. So it’s not a shocker that Samsung didn’t pull out all the stops yet again. The new models are reminiscent of their predecessors in many ways, but each costs $200 less than its 2020 equivalent: $800 for the 6.2-inch S21, $1,000 for the 6.7-inch S21+, and $1,200 for the 6.8-inch S21 Ultra. They go on preorder today and will be available starting on January 29.

It should be a cinch to tell an S21 model from the S20 one it’s replacing: Samsung is introducing a new industrial design built around a feature it calls Contour Cut Camera. Instead of the cameras on the back sitting in a rounded, rectangular island—as they do on the Galaxy S20 models as well as the iPhone 12–they’re part of a camera bump that runs all the way up to the left-hand side of the phone’s back and then wraps around the edge. I haven’t seen the new models in person yet. But in photos, the Contour Cut looks like a slick touch that could become a Galaxy S signature if Samsung sticks with it in future models.


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