With Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra launched and improving considerably on the S20 Ultra, we’re excited to see what Samsung will stuff into its next Galaxy S phones. We don’t know a lot yet, but here’s what we do have.
When is the Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 release date?
It is very likely that Samsung will announce the Galaxy S30 in February 2021. The company has announced in February for the past few years after it moved its Galaxy S announcement from Mobile World Congress to its own standalone Unpacked event.
If Samsung continues this trend, and we have no reason to believe it won’t, the S30/S21-specific Unpacked will take place in February and the phones should start shipping in March. But with the pandemic affecting manufacturing worldwide, these dates could well change.
What will the Samsung Galaxy S30/S21’s price be?
We expect the Galaxy S30/S21 range to priced similarly to the S20 phones. The regular S20 started in the UK at £799 – but that was for the 4G version – with the 5G model starting at £899.
The 4G model was only available with Samsung’s own Exynos chip, sold in regions like Europe and Australia. The Snapdragon 865 chip used in the US model was only ever paired with 5G support, so the cheapest S20 there is $999.
The S20 Plus was £999/$1,199 while the spec-heavy S20 Ultra was £1,199/$1,399. We think the S30/S21 phones will start at around £899, as it’s unlikely Samsung will offer a 4G-only version of any within the range come next year.
Samsung does indulge in a price hike from time to time and it does depend on if we see the S30, S30 Plus and S30 Ultra as expected, but we are easily looking at launch prices that orbit around £1,000.
Samsung phones tend to drop in price pretty fast, but those are still big numbers.
What about the Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 specs?
The S30/S21 range will, in all likelihood, have Qualcomm’s expected Snapdragon 875 chipset onboard, if that is what the company’s next-gen high-end mobile processor is named.
Samsung normally uses its in-house Exynos chipsets in the UK and other regions – though did switch that up with the S20 FE – so it’ll likely be the top of the line entry from that series of chips in those markets. We hope Samsung can improve the Exynos version of the S30/S21 though, as the Snapdragon versions of the S20 and Note 20 lines have significantly better battery life (not to mention better performance) when compared against their Exynos-powered equivalents.
What is alleged to be a Galaxy S30/S21 Plus appeared on benchmarking app Geekbench, sporting 8GB of RAM and a processor named the ‘exynos2100’. That may be a codename though, rather than indicating a shift in Samsung’s naming strategy, but either way, the multi-core score of 3107 is a big step up from the score of 2695 we saw when we tested the S20 Plus – though it’s still behind the top-performing Snapdragon phones.
The S30/S21 is likely to be a design evolution rather than revolution. The S20 looks very similar to the S10, with the move of the camera cut out to the centre of the screen. The S20 range also brought 120Hz refresh rates all round, so we fully expect to see this on the S30/S21 phones too.
Rumours on the cameras are scant, however, the below tweet from Samsung leaker Ice Universe suggests that the ‘S21 Ultra’ (i.e. the S30 Ultra) will pack in a 108Mp camera – just like the S20 Ultra – albeit with an updated sensor.
Galaxy S21 Ultra，Still 108MP, the sensor is the successor to HM1
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) August 19, 2020
The S20 Ultra was a fine phone save for its disappointing cameras, which struggled with autofocus issues and other faults that don’t come across based on its spec sheet alone.
There’s a rumour that Samsung might drop the time-of-flight sensor from the S30/S21 too, just as it has done with the Note 20 phones. The hardware helps with portrait mode phots but Samsung lags behind here compared to Apple and Google.
SamMobile states, via industry sources in Korea, that the upcoming flagship will still feature a quad-camera setup. Improvements, though, will come as “more telephoto glass should equate to a better variety of quality images at higher focal lengths.”
The site says the S30/S21 Ultra will have two telephoto zoom lenses with one at 3x and another periscope-style module at 5x magnification. There will also be a 108Mp wide-angle camera, 12Mp ultra-wide lens and a 40Mp selfie camera.
Meanwhile, the other two members of the range won’t come with significant upgrades in this area. Like the Ultra, they won’t have a time of flight (ToF) sensor but will have better optical image stabilisation.
For a brief moment, it was also thought that this next range of Galaxy S phones would be the first of Samsung’s to debut an under-display front-facing camera setup, however, according to Korean news site The Elec (via Android Authority), this tech is now being bumped onto the Galaxy Z Fold 3 – assumed to be launching later into 2021.
The reasoning behind the S30/S21 series missing out? Low yield at the manufacturing stage – a limitation of certain cutting-edge technologies that makes it a much better fit on a more exclusive device like the Z Fold 3 – assuming that’s what Samsung decides to call the future foldable.
Separately, it looks like there could be significant upgrades to the phone line’s wired charging chops. Dutch publication GalaxyClub reports that the S30/S21 could support 65W speeds, up from 45W on Samsung’s current flagships. The site has unearthed a Samsung charger certification called ‘EP-TA865’, with the last 2 digits hinting at 65W. This seems like a credible rumour, especially when you consider the current charger is officially known as ‘EP-TA845’.
That said, an unknown Samsung device dubbed ‘SM-G9910’ (for reference, the Galaxy S20 was model number SM-G981) has recently made its way through CCC approval (China’s approval certification system) with a reported 25W fast charging; this coming via MyFixGuide, who previously suggested that next year’s S30/S21 Ultra will have a huge 4855mAh battery.
Separately, the same source has suggested that the base S30/S21 will feature a smaller 3880mAh cell.
Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 wish list
Here are a few things we wish Samsung would do to improve the S30/S21 handsets over the S20 generation.
120Hz at full resolution
What could Samsung possibly add to make the S30/S21 better than the S20? There is no bezel left to get rid of really, and Samsung even made the displays of the S20 range flatter, something we prefer as curved displays look nice but often result in false inputs. Instead, we’d like to see the option of 120Hz at full QHD+ resolution. On the S20s you have to pick between QHD+ at 60Hz or 1080p at 120Hz – you can’t have both the highest settings. Samsung needs to fix that this time around, as other OEMs offer it.
Better all-round camera performance
We hope that Samsung adds in the Note 20 Ultra’s excellent 5x optical zoom, which is more stable and better performing than the S20 Ultra’s 4x affair. The Note 20 Ultra was a better-balanced phone all-round, and the S20 Ultra has ended up being one of 2020’s smartphone disappointments. Samsung’s saturated images are just about keeping up, but Apple has a better all-round camera array on the iPhone 11 Pro than any of the S20 phones.
Face ID-style biometrics
If it can’t do an in-screen camera then we’d like Samsung to try and incorporate a 3D face ID system similar to Apple if possible. Currently, manufacturers are avoiding doing this because the camera array needed requires a physical notch. But until Samsung’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensors are more reliable, it’d be nice to have secure face unlock and biometric identification. All the S20 and Note 20 phones only use 2D face recognition for unlocking the device, and not for biometrics.
Snapdragon for everyone
Unless Samsung can bring the Exynos chips up to scratch with Qualcomm’s 8-series, then we’d love to see the Snapdragon 875 in every S30/S21 phone in 2021. It’d go some way to improving the performance of the phone for European customers who are year-after-year buying a phone with noticeably worse battery life and a ceiling on performance.