Following the launching of Samsung Galaxy S20 a couple of months ago, there have been a lot of comments about the release. While some users are impressed by the features that came with it, some are already anticipating the next series. As a result, people are already talking and speculating about the features and the next Galaxy S series in line. As part of those carrying the rumors, Ice Universe, a noted leaker on Twitter, has suggested in one of his tweets that it’s going to be called Samsung Galaxy S21.
There’s another rumor that Samsung Galaxy S21 will come with a 150MP rear camera. According to it, the S21 will use the same Nano-cell technology as the 108MP ISOCELL Bright HM1 sensor used on Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. If this is true, then it’s going to be a huge improvement by Samsung.
According to a report by Clien.net, Samsung is testing two different selfie camera prototypes for the Galaxy S21. One prototype camera has a large 1/2-inch sensor with OIS while another prototype has a slightly smaller 1/2.55-inch sensor with OIS. By comparison, the iPhone 11 Pro’s main camera features a 1/2.55-inch sensor.
The bigger selfie camera sensors will allow users to take better photos and videos in low lighting. Larger sensors capture more light. Samsung’s rivals – mainly Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus – have upped their camera game and Samsung needs to catch up.
Under-screen camera technology
As with the rumors about Galaxy S21, we have our first one from the tweeter influencer Ice Universe. The speculation tipped that Samsung plans to use the under-screen camera technology first on the Galaxy S21, with the expectation of launching it by next year.
Since Samsung are fond of debuting their new and major camera developments first on the Galaxy S series, it would be interesting if S21 can come with this amazing camera technology.
Supply chain rumors suggest the under-screen camera technology has reached close to maturity. It would still take Samsung some time to refine it. So, there is little chance of the under-screen camera appearing in the Galaxy Note 20 series. But the next year’s Galaxy S21 could be Samsung’s first flagship to boast the under-screen camera technology.
However, it’s not always easy to come up and incorporate technologies like that in smartphones. That’s because it first requires planning and evaluating the feasibility of the technology. Apart from that, one other issue that needs consideration is insufficient light reaching the sensor. And that requires matching the pixel density with areas where the sensor is placed with the rest of the screen.
Of course, that isn’t a big issue if the company has plans to incorporate the camera technology in its next Galaxy S series. Samsung is one of South Korean’s chaebols and one of the leading smartphone manufacturers in the world. So, we should be expecting the under-screen camera technology pretty soon.
Samsung Display is the global leader in the OLED display technology. It is rumored to have been testing under-display camera technology for a long time. We wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung Display manages to introduce the under-screen camera tech with the Galaxy S21 next year.
A new display supplier for Galaxy S21? No
Last month, there were speculations that Samsung Electronics had approached China’s BOE to source OLED panels for the Galaxy S21. Samsung is the world’s largest maker of OLED displays. But BOE’s screens would have been significantly cheaper, reducing the cost of the Galaxy S21 production. The Korean company was testing BOE’s OLED panels.
Twitter tipster Ice Universe reports that Samsung has decided not to use BOE’s OLED displays in the Galaxy S21 series. Why? Because BOE panels failed in the very first stage of Samsung’s testing process. There is a reason why cheap is synonymous with poor quality. Last month, the Display Supply Chain Consultants had reported that BOE could supply 6.67-inch panels to Samsung. But that’s not going to happen now.
BOE was also interested in securing OLED panel orders from Apple for the upcoming iPhone 12. But it failed to meet Apple’s quality standards. Notably, BOE currently supplies TFT LCD panels for Samsung’s Galaxy Book S.
Next-gen Snapdragon and Exynos chips
Apart from the under-screen camera, the rumor has it that Galaxy S21 will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 875 chipset. Snapdragon is a suite of systems on chip semiconductor products for mobile devices. Just like the 865, Snapdragon 875 will also support 5G and advanced gaming and graphics.
It will be based on TMSC’s 5nm technology, meaning that it’ll feature over 171 million transistors per square millimeter. An advantage of that is that users will be able to enjoy improved device performance and efficiency.
Folks at 91Mobiles have learned from supply chain sources that the Snapdragon 875 will be equipped with Kryo 685 cores. There will likely be at least eight such cores. The Snapdragon 875 unveiling would take place towards the end of this year.
The Snapdragon 875 will integrate the next-gen X60 5G modem within the chip. Notably, Samsung will be responsible for manufacturing the X60 5G modem for Qualcomm, though the Snapdragon 875 will be fabricated by Taiwan-based TSMC.
Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon processor will have a new GPU called Adreno 660, which would have more than 1250 GFLOPS. Sources told 91Mobiles that the Snapdragon will also include an Adreno 665 vector processing unit, Adreno 1095 data processing unit, Spectra 580 image signal processor, and support for quad-channel PoP high-speed LPDDR5 RAM.
Samsung’s Exynos chips haven’t been able to match the performance of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips. The Korean company is considering a refresh to its Exynos 990 chipset. However, Samsung has joined hands with AMD to step up the game, and the Galaxy S21 could be the first device to benefit from the partnership.
According to the rumor mill, the non-US Galaxy S21 will get Samsung’s in-house Exynos 1000 processor. Just like Snapdragon 875, it will be based on the 5nm manufacturing process. However, Samsung has partnered with AMD for GPU to ensure that the Exynos-powered Galaxy S21 delivers the same level of graphics performance as the Snapdragon 875-powered version.
The Exynos 1000 will be using AMD’s custom RDNA GPU technology instead of Mali GPU. The AMD graphics processor will take GPU performance to a whole new level. AMD’s chips are insanely popular among gaming enthusiasts.
According to the Korean tech forum Clien, Samsung and AMD’s Radeon-based GPU has ‘crushed’ Qualcomm’s high-end Adreno 650 in a GFXBench test. The Samsung-AMD GPU scored 181.8fps compared to Adreno 650’s 123fps on Manhattan 3.1 test. It also scored 138.25fps on Aztec Normal and 58fps on Aztec High, much higher than Adreno 650’s 53.5 and 20fps, respectively.
These performance numbers suggest AMD could help Samsung’s next-gen Exynos chip perform better than Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon. Samsung will likely unveil the new GPU based on AMD Radeon early next year, just in time for the Galaxy S21 launch. However, Clien added that the yet unnamed GPU is still facing power consumption and other minor issues.
Galaxy S21 release date
There is no official confirmation about the Galaxy S21 release date. The Korean electronics heavyweight has typically launched new Galaxy S series phones in February or March. This year’s Galaxy S20 series debuted on February 11 at an Unpacked event in San Francisco and started accepting pre-orders immediately after unveiling.
We expect Samsung to launch it in February or March of 2021. But the coronavirus pandemic could force Samsung to delay the launch. It’s difficult to assess how the virus would affect manufacturing over the next several months, especially considering the fear of the second wave. A second wave of the pandemic could disrupt the electronics supply chain, and Samsung will not be immune.
Galaxy S21 price
The Galaxy S20 series was a dud, to be frank. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt its sales in recent months. But the biggest factor behind its low sales volume was the price. The Galaxy S20 series launched with a starting price of $999. It was like Samsung was trying to rob its customers, especially considering most of the competing devices had prices between $600 and $700.
The upcoming Galaxy S21 could be even more expensive than the S20. The main reason will be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 875 processor. According to a Korean message board, the Snapdragon 875 will be integrated with the X60 5G modem. It added that Xiaomi received a $250 per kit quote from Qualcomm for the Snapdragon 875 Mobile Platform, and $130 for a single chip.
By comparison, the Snapdragon 865 kit was sold at $150 and the single-chip was available at $80. It means the Snapdragon 875 will be more expensive than the Snapdragon 865. If Samsung decides to use the upcoming 875, it will make the Galaxy S21 series more expensive than its predecessor. The ridiculous cost of Snapdragon 875 is one of the reasons why Google chose to make its own chips for Pixel phones.
Of course, the S21 launch is still several months away and Samsung hasn’t officially confirmed anything yet. The Korean company has a few options on the table to bring down the cost. One way is to use chips made by other vendors such as MediaTek. Another option is to use the Snapdragon 875 only in the Plus/Ultra version of Galaxy S21 and have a lower-price chipset in the regular S21.
A third option is to reduce its profit margins to avoid increasing the cost for consumers. A fourth way would be to use the older Snapdragon 865. It is still blazing fast and capable of offering high-end experiences. According to Twitter tipster @MauriQHD, Samsung is internally discussing whether to use the older 865 in the next-gen Galaxy S21.
For now, these rumors and speculations should be taken with a pinch of salt. The device is about a year away, and a lot could change between now and then.
This post was updated on 30 June, 2020 with the latest information.