It’s that time of the year again for another Unpacked from Samsung, but this time, it’s the Galaxy S21 series as well as Samsung’s newest true wireless earbuds, the Buds Pro.
The highlight of the event is definitely the new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, sporting a huge 6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The S21 Ultra 5G also has a quad-camera array on the back, with a 108MP main camera that allows for 4K 60FPS video recording and 12-bit RAW file option for photos. You also get a 40MP selfie camera that will definitely make for some high-quality selfies.
The S Pen has always been a feature that’s exclusive to the Note series, but rumours started swirling in late 2020 that Samsung was planning to merge the Note and Galaxy S21 series together. Well, we can’t confirm that the Note series is no more, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G now has S Pen functionality, even though the S Pen has to be purchased separately. Existing S Pens can also be used with the S21 Ultra 5G.
There’s also ultra-wideband (UWB) technology in the S21 Ultra 5G and S21+ 5G, which means that the phones can be used to unlock compatible car doors or use AR finder to send messages to other Galaxy smartphone users and ask for help in searching for lost objects.
The S21 Ultra 5G comes with a 5,000mAh battery which should be more than enough for a whole day’s use, as well as 25W Super Fast Charging, 15W Fast Wireless Charging and Wireless PowerShare.
The Galaxy S21+ 5G is the middle brother with a 6.7-inch display and the S21 5G being the smallest at 6.2-inches. Both displays are FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED panels that support 120Hz refresh rate.
The S21+ 5G and S21 5G both come with a triple-camera array at the back, with a 64MP main camera that allows for 8K video recording as well as a steady 60FPS if you’re shooting at 1080p.
All the phones run on the newly announced Exynos 2100 processor, and while the S21+ 5G and S21 5G only come with 8GB of RAM, the S21 Ultra 5G has 12GB of RAM if you go for 256GB of storage and can be specced up to 16GB of RAM if you choose the 512GB of storage option. The S21+ 5G and S21 5G phones start with 128GB of storage and can be increased to 256GB.
IP68 water and dust resistance is present on all three phones, and the S21 series phones will all make use of Gorilla Glass Victus. If you’re wondering whether Samsung is following Apple’s lead and removing the charger from the box, yes, they have. There will be a charging cable in the box, but there won’t be a power adapter inside, which means you’ll have to use an existing one or purchase a new one from Samsung.
Preorders for all three phones are now live at selected online stores and the phones will be available from 29 January onwards at telcos, major consumer electronics stores, Samsung stores and more.
Here in Singapore, we’ll only be getting one configuration for the S21+ 5G and S21 5G phones, at 256GB of storage. The S21 5G will cost S$1,248 and comes in Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Pink and Phantom Violet.
The S21+ 5G will come in at S$1,498 and there will be three colours to choose from: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver and Phantom Violet. Preorders for both the S21+ 5G and S20 5G will be entitled to a complimentary set of the Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy SmartTag and 1 year of Samsung Care+.
The S21 Ultra 5G comes in two configurations, either with 256GB of storage or 512GB of storage, with prices being S$1,798 or S$1,998 respectively. The phone will come in just two colours, Phantom Black and Phantom Silver. Preorders for the S21 Ultra 5G will come with a free set of the new Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy SmartTag and 1 year of Samsung Care+.
Speaking of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, these are the brand’s most expensive earbuds to date. Priced at S$308, they are more expensive than the Galaxy Buds Live (S$288) and the Galaxy Buds+ (S$268). That being said though, they don’t quite follow the new bean-shaped design that the Buds Live have, being something of a cross between the Buds Live and Buds+.
There’s ANC which Samsung claims can reduce background noise by up to 99%. A nice feature which Samsung has included is the ability for the earbuds to automatically detect when you’re speaking or holding a conversation. Once detected, your music volume is reduced and Ambient mode kicks in, ensuring you can hear your voice and the replies from whoever you’re talking to. There’s also the ability to set how long you want the earbuds to wait before the music level returns to normal. It’s similar to what Sony did with the WH-1000XM4 headphones, and it’s definitely a nice touch. If you’re used to singing along with your music though, you’ll want to turn this off.
With ANC turned on, you get five hours of battery life in the earbuds, which isn’t fantastic, to be honest, but it goes up to eight hours with ANC turned off. The case provides an additional 13 hours of battery life if you have ANC on, or 20 hours if you turn ANC off.
There’s IPX7 water resistance on these, so no worries if you’re planning to bring them out to the gym or if it starts drizzling when you’re out on a run. There’s also wireless charging capabilities in these, which is great.
The Galaxy Buds Pro is available for preorder now from major consumer electronics & IT stores, Samsung Online Store, Samsung Experience Stores and more. The earbuds will be generally available from 29 January onwards, and all orders will receive a complimentary Nukin clear carrying case, although preorders will also receive a free Wireless Charging Pad.
Written by Cheryl Tan