Samsung releases its range of Galaxy S flagship smartphones every year with design tweaks, camera improvements, and more cutting-edge tech than the year before.
The latest Galaxy S20 line up had three phones in the S20, S20 Plus, and S20 Ultra and is the second time the S range has had that many models in one year. We expect Samsung to continue the trend in 2021 but it’s unclear if the phone will be called the Galaxy S30 or the Galaxy S21.
If smartphone naming trends are anything to go by though, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be the Galaxy S30.
With Samsung’s 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 know.
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 Unpacked will be in February and the phones should start shipping in March. But with the pandemic affected manufacturing worldwide, these dates could well change.
Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 price
We expect the Galaxy S30 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 possible with the Exynos version sold in regions like Europe and Australia. The Snapdragon 865 chip used in the US model necessarily has 5G as standard, 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 phones will start in price at around £899, as it’s unlikely Samsung will offer a 4G only version of any of them this time around.
Samsung does indulge in a price hike from time to time and it does depend 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.
Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 specs
The S30 range will in all likelihood have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset, if that is what the company’s next-gen high-end mobile processor is named.
Samsung uses its in-house Exynos chipsets in the UK and other regions, so it’ll be the top of the line new one in those instances. We hope Samsung can improve the Exynos version of the S30 though, as the S20 and Note 20 lines have significantly better battery life in the Qualcomm models.
The S30 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 phones too.
Rumours on the cameras are scant, despite the below tweet from Samsung leaker Ice Universe suggesting the ‘S21 Ultra’ (i.e. the S30 Ultra) will pack in a 108Mp camera just like the S20 Ultra, but it’ll be 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 despite the excellent spec sheet.
There’s a rumour that Samsung might drop the time-of-flight sensor from the S30 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. 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.
Samsung Galaxy S30/S21 wish list
Here are a few things we wish Samsung would do to improve the S30 handsets over the S20 generation.
120Hz at full resolution
What could Samsung possibly add to make the S30 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 round, 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.
An under-display camera
ZTE has just released the first phone with an under-display camera. Will Samsung be daring enough to bring this unproven tech to a phone as popular as the Galaxy S line? Only time will tell, but it’d be amazing to see a Galaxy with no notch, no cut out, and full waterproofing – every phone so far with an uninterrupted display has had a pop-up camera, rendering the phone unsafe for underwater dips.
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 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.