Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20: What’s Changed

Credit: Samsung

Samsung’s newly-minted Galaxy S21 isn’t a radical redesign of last year’s Galaxy S20 but there are a few key differences to take stock of. Here’s the quick version.


This time around all three models are moving away from the curved edges found in last year’s S20 series, ending up in line with the flat-edge design recently popularized by Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup.  

The Samsung Galaxy S21 boasts a 6.2-inch Full HD+ Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED Always-On display with an adaptive refresh rate that can go all the way up to 120Hz. The Samsung Galaxy S21+ is slightly larger at 6.7-inches while the the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the largest of the bunch at 6.8-inches.

The high-end Galaxy S21 Ultra is also boasts a higher resolution screen with curved edges for those who want them.


Sometimes, the most significant improvements are the least visible. Beneath the slick exterior of the Samsung Galaxy S21 beats a stronger silicon heart than that found in the S20. If you’re in China or the US, the Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra will run on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. In markets like Australia, the device will instead rely on Samsung’s latest house-brand alternative, the Exynos 2100.  

Expandable Storage

Where last year’s Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+ touted a MicroSD slot, this year’s Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are ditching expandable storage. Same goes for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Credit: Samsung

Ultra Wide Band

The new Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra incorporate the same Ultra Wide Band connectivity introduced by last year's Galaxy Note 20, which isn't something you'll find in last year's S20, S20+ or S20 Ultra.


 If you want the device with the best photography hardware, you’re gonna want the Galaxy S21 Ultra - which is armed with a quad-lens rear camera built around a 108-megapixel wide angle lens. That primary sensor comes complemented by an additional 10-megapixel periscope lens, a 10-megapixel telephoto lens and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens. 

Meanwhile, the standard Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are hardly pushovers. They’re equipped with a 10-megapixel (f/2.2) front-facing camera plus a triple-lens rear camera that combines a 12-megapixel primary sensor (f/1.8), a 12-megapixel ultrawide sensor (f/2.2) and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens.

When it comes to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung are also talking up major improvements when it comes to low-light performance as a result of the larger sensor and 12-megapixel nona-binning techniques.

S-Pen Support

Credit: Samsung

In a sharp break from the formula, the Galaxy S21 Ultra brings with it support for a Galaxy Note-style S-Pen. This new S-Pen has to be purchased as an accessory for the device but it’s an interesting inclusion that has us wondering how long Samsung’s Note range will stick around.


In Australia, the Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a starting recommended retail price of AU$1249 - about $100 less than the launch price of last year’s S20. There are two storage options available here: 128GB (AU$1249) and 256GB (AU$1349). 

If you’d prefer the larger handset, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ starts at AU$1549 for the 128GB model. Bumping the storage up to 256GB brings the price to AU$1649. 

Both phones (plus the high-end Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra) will go on-sale via Samsung’s usual Australian retail and ecommerce places from January 29th.

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Fergus Halliday
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