Samsung made its comeback this afternoon, through a press conference rich in announcements. The brand has indeed presented in quick succession a Galaxy S2 1, a Galaxy S21 + , a Galaxy S21 Ultra , Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy SmartTags . So many products that will complete its ecosystem and allow it to rally more users to its cause.
So of course, these products will all be subject to detailed testing, but Samsung was extremely kind to invite yours truly to its Paris offices last Monday.
And I obviously took the opportunity to bring back pictures… and get my first opinion on this whole range of products.
Galaxy S21 & Galaxy S21 +
The Galaxy S21 and S21 + look exactly the same. They use the same recipe and the only ingredient that changes, ultimately, is the size.
The Galaxy S21 is, unsurprisingly, the most compact of the bunch, with a screen with a diagonal of 6.2 inches. Against 6.7 inches for the Galaxy S21 +.
This difference has a direct impact on the grip. The Galaxy S21 is much more manageable and it can even be used with one hand. The S21 +, for its part, will be more suited to viewing content.
In both cases, the screen remains impressive. The panel is of very good quality, of course, and it will even be able to reach a definition in 1080p while offering a refresh rate of 120Hz. An adaptive rate that will increase or decrease depending on use. This will translate, at least in theory, into better autonomy.
The punch is still there, center at the top of the slab. Samsung hasn't managed to get rid of it yet, but that may change in the future. The patents filed by the manufacturer seem in any case to go in this direction .
The back is mat. Be careful, however, because it is not made of glass. Samsung has indeed opted for plastic. A strategy similar to that of the Galaxy Note 20 , therefore. Still, the look remains exactly the same and it will therefore be necessary to tap on the plate to feel a real difference with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, to which we will come back a little later.
If this choice will probably not be to everyone's taste, it does have an advantage: the Galaxy S21s are very light in the hand. And this goes even for the largest model. As a direct consequence, they will also be more manageable.
The photo module is a bit special. It is in fact located in the extension of the border of the telephone. There is also no separation between the two elements. No good change more in terms of materials. In fact, we remain on aluminum.
I'll be honest, when the Galaxy S21 renderings started leaking, I wasn't more excited about this mod than that. Fortunately, in hand, the atypical look of this module is more convincing.
True to form, Samsung has decided to offer its phones in several colors. The Galaxy S21 will therefore be offered in gray, white, purple or pink. The Galaxy S21 + will be offered in black, silver or purple. As a bonus, new colors will be on sale on the Samsung site. The Galaxy S21 + will thus be offered in red and gold.
The grip remains very comfortable. The buttons fall naturally under the fingers and there are two speakers as well as a type-c usb connector. Precision which is important, the Galaxy S21 will be delivered without charger unit.
Samsung assumes that the USB type-c is widespread enough that everyone has a charger in rabe at home.
Price side, the Galaxy S21 will be offered at 859 € in 128 GB version or 909 € in 256 GB version. The Galaxy S21 + will cost you 1059 € in 128 GB version or 1109 € in 256 GB version.
They both skip the micro sd slot, just like the Ultra model, which is now time to take a look.
Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is placed on the top of the basket. It is therefore aimed at those who have great demands and who have the means – financial – to meet them.
Samsung did not want a clear break between the three smartphones in its range. The Galaxy S21 Ultra therefore looks like two drops of water to other models … with a few subtleties all the same.
The screen is still majestic, but it gains in size and definition. It passes if if at QHD while maintaining a refresh rate of 120 Hz … including this definition. We remain of course on an adaptive rate.
The panel is also a little more rounded than that of the Galaxy S21. The curvature is not very marked, but you can still feel it under your fingers. Nothing to say about the edges or the chin which are reduced to their strict minimum.
The real novelty is, finally, on the side of the stylus. The screen of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is indeed compatible with the S Pen. However, the accessory will not be provided.
To get it, you will have three solutions: buy it separately, buy its special protective case or reuse the stylus of your Galaxy Tab or your previous Galaxy Note. Be careful, however, because if the uses are the same, the S21 Ultra will ignore all functions related to Bluetooth. It will therefore not be possible to use an S Pen to control the smartphone remotely. In return, you will not need to recharge the stylus to use it.
Unlike the other two devices in the range, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a glass back, a back treated with Gorilla Glass 7. With the added bonus of the choice between two colors.
On the one hand, we will find a magnificent iridescent gray whose colors will change depending on the ambient light. On the other, a deep black. And in both cases, the manufacturer went for a matte finish.
Note that three exclusive colors will also be on sale on the Samsung site: chocolate, navy blue and titanium.
The photo module retains the same appearance, but is enriched with more sensors. We can even say that he goes quite far in this field. Where the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 + have two 12 mpx sensors and a 64 mpx sensor placed under ultra wide angle, wide angle and telephoto, the Galaxy S21 brings together no less than five sensors.
The main sensor, placed at a wide angle, will reach a definition of 108 mpx. Then we will find a second 12 mpx sensor placed under an ultra wide angle and two 10 mpx sensors accompanied by telephoto lenses with optical zooms in 3x and 10x. The whole thing is rounded off by a laser autofocus which should be able to deliver a fast and precise focusing on any occasion, even in low light.
A solid setup, therefore, which comes with several smart and well-thought-out software optimizations.
The Single Take mode is still present, but it allows to reach more tasks per second thanks to the Exynos 2100. It will thus be able to reach 10 operations. After pressing the shutter button, you will find yourself at the same time with a wide choice of photos and videos.
But there is more. A new mode is entering, the director mode. It will act a bit as a portable control room and it will allow us, for example, to film on both sides of the phone but also to quickly switch between the three focal lengths of the phone. Vloggers should appreciate.
On the video side, we can still shoot in 8K at 24 frames per second, but also in 4K at 60 frames per second… and on all three focal lengths. The 12-bit RAW photo also answers the call.
And be careful, because all these new features do not only apply to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. They will also be present on the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 +. On the other hand, 12-bit RAW will remain the privilege of the Ultra model.
Now is the time to talk about the price. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will come in three versions. The model with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage is priced at € 1,259, compared to € 1,309 for the model with 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. The third model comes with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage for a price of € 1,439.
All three Galaxy S21s are available for pre-order now before a delivery on January 29. If you buy them before January 28th, then you will leave with a Galaxy Smart Tag, but also with Galaxy Buds Live for the S21 and S21 + and Galaxy Buds Pro for the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Galaxy Buds Pro & Galaxy SmartTags
And indeed, it's a good transition, because the time has come to come back to the accessories sold around the Galaxy S21.
It's almost become a tradition, but the Galaxy S21s also mark the arrival of new wireless headphones, the Galaxy Buds Pro.
Exit this time the bean look, Samsung preferred to opt for intra with a slightly more conventional design. The brand did it right, however. The headphones are light and compact, as is their box. But above all, they have two speakers and an ANC capable of filtering 99% of the surrounding noise.
This ANC is not only effective, it is also smart. As soon as you start talking, he will cut himself off to allow you to talk. And then he'll recover when you're done chatting.
The Galaxy Buds Pro also offer an auto switch function that allows them to switch between two sources. As a bonus, we find wireless charging and fast charging, with one hour of battery life for 5 minutes of charging. Expected for January 29, Buds Pro will be offered at € 229.
Another great novelty, Samsung also took advantage of the press conference dedicated to the Galaxy S21 to unveil the Galaxy SmartTags, tags that have only one goal: to allow you to easily find the objects to which they are attached.
Aesthetically, Samsung has been straight to the point. Smart Tags are therefore in the form of crushed macaroons, macaroons made in a mat gray plastic and provided with a cutout to allow us to hang them on a lanyard or even on a keychain.
Very light and very discreet, the Tags are powered by a CR20 battery and they work with Bluetooth. They will therefore be detectable by our smartphone over a range of approximately 120 meters.
But there is better. At the same time, Samsung also had the idea of using all Galaxy smartphones sold around the world to create a large global network. Concretely, if our Tag goes outside our perimeter, we can always find it thanks to this mesh function.
The firm does not impose anything moreover. By default, the function will be disabled on users' smartphones and users will therefore have to activate it for it to be functional. SmartTags are also part of the Smart Things Find service and are priced at € 29.90.
And we come to the third accessory that I wanted to present to you. Which is actually a family of accessories: charging mats.
Samsung offers three. Available at € 99, € 79 or € 59, they differ from each other in the number of products they can top up. The Trio will charge three – a smartphone, a watch, and headphones – the duo will charge two and the single will charge only one.
In all three cases, we have a very clean look that is ultimately very reminiscent of Smart Tags. Samsung has in fact opted for a matte dark gray plastic.
You know, I always wait to have the products tested for a long time to judge their relevance.
Now, the idea that emerges a little from this presentation, finally, is that Samsung has embarked on a rationalization effort. For this new range, we have three smartphones that are cheaper than last year, smartphones that each address a very different target and which will ultimately be able to suit as many people as possible.
A choice that seems wise to me, just like Samsung's decision to focus on the photo. However, to know if the Galaxy S21 live up to all their promises, we will have to wait for their test.