CES 2021: Samsung Galaxy S21's standout feature is...its $200 price cut

But you would still have to buy your headphones and charger seperately, anyway

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is available in a variety of colors

Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup, presented during company's first virtual Unpacked event of the year at CES 2021, includes the vanilla Galaxy S21, a plus model that provides largely the same internals in a larger package and the Ultra that has a strong claim for the throne of the ultimate cameraphone.  

From what we know so far, the whole line gets a lot of updated features: Better cameras, faster 5G, a new design and even S Pen support on the Ultra model, which fits Samsung's marketing tagline for Samsung’s new phones - ‘Everything Epic’. The most notable difference and maybe advantage from last year's Galaxy S20, however, is the lower price.

Samsung on Thursday said it's cut the starting price of its three new smartphones by $200 from last year's Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra. The Galaxy S21 will start at $800, while the S21 Plus will retail for $1,000. The top-end Ultra will cost $1,200. Last year's Galaxy S20 lineup, which marked the first time 5G came standard in all US variants of Samsung's phone, started at $1,000 for the lowest-end version and $1,400 for the Ultra. (In the UK, the S21 will start at £769, just £30 cheaper than the S20.) 

As CNET writes, the move is a reversal from a few years ago, when Apple and Samsung made $1,000 the standard starting price for high-end phones. At first, many people accepted the hike, though plenty of others balked at the cost. Many held onto their older phones longer than before - about three years in the US - or sought out budget versions of iPhones and Galaxy phones. When 5G and more advanced materials were added to the devices, the companies again found it easier to justify the prices. Having the latest and greatest innovations isn't cheap. 

But some of those innovations have now been in the market long enough that Samsung and other companies can lower their base prices. This year, we've already seen a 5G phone in the US that costs $300. We're also in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and recession that shows no signs of abating, despite the availability of vaccines. 

"In 2021, our top priority is to bring the benefit of technology to more people," TM Roh, the head of Samsung's mobile communication business, said in a statement, calling the Galaxy S21 series "the most powerful and versatile flagship lineup ever."

So onto the important part - the specs!

Samsung's Galaxy S21 lineup is packed with refinements to the cameras, displays and 5G capabilities. The new phones feature a redesign that accentuates the camera lenses on their backs while linking them with their metal frames, something Samsung calls "Contour Cut Camera" housing. The base amount of storage for all of the S21 models is 128GB, and Samsung boosted the photo and video capabilities for vloggers and others. 

Both the S21 and S21 Plus have AI support to ensure your photos come out great, especially with its enhanced auto white balance that ensures your natural skin tone will appear in any selfie. If you have photobombers, you can instantly remove them, as well.

But, perhaps, what's even more amazing is that you can now take 8K videos, which have a higher definition than 4K videos and are much sharper, combined with the Director's View, a feature that allows you to change angles when you are taking videos. Another amazing feature is the Single Take, which allows users to take both a photo and a video at the same time.

As for the display, the S21 and S21 Plus have 6.2- and 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x displays, respectively, and Gorilla Glass Victus on the front. The S21 Plus also has glass on the back, while the regular S21 features a plastic polycarbonate backing. Both have three camera lenses on the back.

Of course, what's under the hood is as spectacular as what we see outside.

The company guarantees the new Galaxy S21 series will have more speed, energy, and efficiency, thanks to its Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset (which is also available for Galaxy S21 Ultra) 5-nanometer processor for 20% faster CPU, 35% faster GPU, and 2x faster AI.

The devices are available at 8GB RAM with choices for 128GB to 256GB storage capacity.

Moreover, the company wants to ensure that the new series will be their "most private and most powerful yet," so they have included an enhanced security system that can go against even the most advanced hardware attacks known as the Samsung Knox Vault with several features such as the Private Share, where you can choose which date to share with your friends and how long they can see it.

The Galaxy S21 has a 4000mAh battery, while the S21 Plus has 4800mAh, which can help the device last longer, even with 5G.

Gamers will also be overjoyed to know that Samsung will keep its partnership with Microsoft to bring Xbox Game Pass games to the device, plus they are also partnering with Unity and other developers, including Riot Games, Square Enix, and miHoYo.

As for the most expensive model of the line, the S21 Ultra is designed for people who want the "best of the best." It features a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and Corning's scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back. On the inside, it has 12GB RAM with up to 512GB of storage capacity, as well as 5000mAh battery that can definitely last you a whole day of use. In other words, it is basically has everything the S21 and S21 Plus have, and more. But what made the S21 Plus is its amazing camera setup, complete with a 12MP Ultra-wide camera, 10x 10MP Telephoto lens, another 3x Telephoto camera, a 108MP wide camera, and a laser Auto-focus sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also uses Wacom technology, so it's compatible with S Pen - a hallmark of the Galaxy Note lineup and a first for the Galaxy S series. Of the three new phones, however, only the S21 Ultra works with the S Pen, and it comes as a separate accessory that costs $40 for just the pen or $70 when bundled with a specially designed case that stores the stylus. Users can't stow the S Pen away inside the S21 Ultra like they can with Note, but they can use their old Note styluses with the S21 Ultra. 

Furthermore, there are two versions: the S-Pen Standard model that will be available at launch, and the S-Pen Pro that allows you to use Bluetooth actions. An official introduction of Samsung's S Pen Pro is expected later this year, which is why Samsung didn't give a price or release date for the S Pen Pro. 

Another thing that's worth mentioning about the new lineup is that, as expected, Samsung would be no longer including a pair of wired headphones in the box when you buy one of its 2021 flagship phones. You also won't get a charger in the box of the Galaxy S21, as Samsung assumes you'll be able to use one of the many USB-C chargers you have lying around at home from previous smartphones. Yet, to charge at slightly faster 25 W speeds, owners of an S21 will need to pay for the respective charger.

Samsung's decision to remove the charger comes after Apple announced it was charging extra for a charger on last year's iPhone 12. Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi is also making the charger optional on its latest flagship, the Mi 11.

In previous Galaxy phones, Samsung had gained praise precisely for including high-quality wired headphones. However, following the removal of the headphone jack from the S20, Samsung is now counting on people to buy its wireless earbuds instead.

At CES 2021 it even launched the Galaxy Buds Pro, the successor to their popular bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live. For around 230 euros, you get 360-degree sound, active noise cancelling, up to eight hours of playtime and a wirelessly rechargeable case.

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