Samsung launches Galaxy S21 range, with S Pen now supported by Ultra device

Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times
Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Manila - Wired headphones, charging blocks removed from packaging as company boosts sustainability push

By Alvin R. Cabral

Published: Thu 14 Jan 2021, 7:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Jan 2021, 7:57 PM

Samsung Electronics on Thursday introduced its newest Galaxy S smartphone range as it seeks to carry over its momentum from an unprecedented 2020 and kick off a year that is set to be a significant one for the global tech giant.

The Galaxy S21 range promises to offer "amazing" experiences at a greater value for consumers, with more enhancements bestowed on cameras and overall user experience to help navigate daily work and play lives.

“2020 was a year of change — but through it all, technology kept us connected. In 2021, our top priority is to bring the benefit of technology to more people," said T.M. Roh, president and head of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business.

"We will also help enrich our users’ lives and their everyday experiences through deeper and more enhanced collaborations with industry leaders, in order to open an exciting new era of mobile ecosystems and experiences beyond mobile, including seamless connections at home and even in the car,” Roh added.

Samsung’s other segments have also performed admirably during a challenging year: In the wearable market, the company posted a 35 per cent surge, with total shipments hitting 125 million units. In the hearables vertical, sales more than doubled — 60 per cent — the average industry growth.

At the virtual Unpacked event, Samsung introduced three new devices — the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra. Design-wise, they have a new contour cut camera design that integrates the camera block into the body.

The S21 and S21+ come with 6.2- and 6.7-inch displays, respectively, which feature Samsung's edge-to-edge Amoled 2X screen and a 120Hz refresh rate. Their cameras are comprised of wide and ultra-wide lenses at 12MP and a telephoto lens at 64MP. Its Zoom Lock promises steady shots even at 30x zoom.

Meanwhile, the most premium of the lot, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, promises a 'superior' experience with future-proof technology. It comes with a quad-lens camera: 12MP ultra-wide, 108MP wide and two telephoto with 10MP each, plus laser autofocus detection. Those Samsung-first dual telephoto lenses power its 100x Space Zoom — first seen in last year's S20 — which promises to be steadier and more reliable.

It supports 12-bit HDR, which provides up to 64 times more colours. It also features the first-ever 4K filming across all lenses at 60fps.

All S21 devices are powered by Samsung's new 5nm chipset, which promises significantly faster processing and longer, more optimised battery life.

Perhaps the biggest addition to the Galaxy S line-up is the S Pen support offered by the S21 Ultra. When the feature first floated, the future of the Note series was put into question, with further talk of its discontinuation amid Samsung's aggressive push on its Fold devices.

Samsung hasn't offered much on the Note's future either.

“We are committed to innovating new mobile experiences that flow seamlessly and continuously to make our consumers’ lives easier and better. We’ve made the bold decision to expand the S Pen experience to Galaxy S21 Ultra, and plan to expand the S Pen experience across additional device categories in the future," Roh said.

Samsung has also decided to remove wired headsets and charging blocks in the S21's packaging — following a similar move by Apple when it launched the iPhone 12 devices in October — citing commitment to sustainability and the environment.

"We discovered that more and more Galaxy users are reusing accessories they already have and making sustainable choices in their daily lives to promote better recycling habits. To support our Galaxy community in this journey, we are transitioning to removal of the charger plug and earphones in our latest line of Galaxy smartphones," said Patrick Chomet, executive vice-president and head of the customer experience office at Samsung's Mobile Communications Business.

He added that the gradual removal of charger plugs and earphones from in-box device packaging can help address sustainable consumption issues and remove any pressure that consumers may feel towards continually receiving unnecessary charger accessories with new phones.

The Galaxy S21 and S21+ in 128GB and 256GB storage options, both with 8GB RAM, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra will have 12GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB and 16GB/512GB variants. Prices start at Dh3,199, Dh3,799 and Dh4,899, respectively.

Samsung also introduced the new Galaxy Buds Pro, which will take “every day to new levels”.

It now also has the highest water resistance in the Galaxy Buds line-up at IPX7; by definition, this means it can be submerged up to one metre for 30 minutes.

Its hardware is also the best by far in the series, with an 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter combining to give comprehensive sound and “the best audio experience”, delivering more solid levels of treble and bass.

Its microphone system, meanwhile, comes with what Samsung dubs a Voice Pickup Unit, Wind Shield audio tech and a mic with a high signal-to-noise ratio that are able to filter out unwanted sound to enable clear and smooth sound quality for calls.

Samsung has also included its improved active noise cancellation (ANC) feature — the ‘most intelligent’ on true wireless earbuds — which blocks up to 99 per cent of noise. Users have the option to either adjust ANC levels or let the Buds Pro automatically do it.

The device’s most advanced feature, however, is the ability of ANC and ambient sound modes to work together. It can automatically switch to and from either mode, and turns down music when you want to speak to somebody.


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