The opinion expressed in this article does not necessarily reflect the views of tekhdecoded. Please keep this in mind.
Samsung launched their latest flagship S21 lineup at the “Galaxy Unpacked” event on 14th Jan 2021. While the lineup does look great with many features added, they did take away a few which they ridiculed the others for doing so. The way at which we are progressing, it seems like downgraded features on newer flagships are a thing now. SMH.
Normally Samsung would launch their newest chips by Feb, but they really rushed this one by a month! Let’s take a look at the many ways how Samsung effed this launched big time…
The Memory Card Slot! Yes , they did it again!
Back in 2015, Samsung removed the memory card slot from the Samsung Galaxy S6. Their excuse was that memory cards are super slow so and that the phone would have performance issues, so they decided that it wasnt worth it, and that users should experience their latest UFS 2.0 memory storage offered with the Samsung Galaxy S6, which had almost double the read and write speeds when compared to the older eMMC 5.0. But that backfired big time, and users were really frustrated at the lack of the memory card slot. Thus they apologized and added it to the S7 series, right up until the S20. Fast forward to 2021, and they removed it again as they prefer that all their customers experience the new UFS 3.1 blazing fast storage! Sammy be like “Oh FFS you’re getting minimum 128GB of UFS 3.1 storage, so why do you need the card slot?”.
The 3.5mm Jack. Do I even need to explain?
They ridiculed Apple for removing the jack some time back, and they actually did it themselves. Now folks who prefer using a wired headset must grab a converter, and connect it to the type C slot, or go wireless! Maybe they want to force you to grab their TWS earbuds and probably shell out another 20 to 40 bucks on that alone. So it’s true that finding a headphone jack on a flagship is like seeing something happen once in a blue moon. Fortunately, the only two companies that actually stick with the headphone jack are LG and Sony. Eventually, I believe the time is coming soon when it’s gonna disappear from all smart phones once and for all. Hopefully, wireless gets better in the near future that we will make peace with the loss of the 3.5mm jack. Are you ready for that?
No charger in the box. Oh my God Samsung. Are you f**kin kidding me?
So Apple decided that it was fun removing the charger as their excuse was “protecting the environment” but little do they know that producing way too many phones unnecessarily destroys the environment with the metal waste left behind as users discard their older phones. I guess that part didn’t get into their heads. Anyway, Samsung pointed the finger at them for doing so. But they didn’t realise that 3 were pointing back at them! And as it happens, they decided to copy the exact thing they criticized Apple for! Oh boy, this is turning out to be a really good roller coaster ride!
Exynos vs Snapdragon fiasco
Oh come on, we all know about the premium Snapdragon variants hitting the US and China whereas the inferior Exynos being released for the rest of the world. Samsung repeated the same with this flagship with the Snapdragon 888 heading to the US, China and now Korea, while the Exynos 2100 goes to Europe, Asia and the rest of the world. But since both are on 5nm and the fact that the Exynos version is higher clocked, it remains to be seen if the Exynos version gets the thermals right with the extra clocks, or else it’s just another crappy hot tempered CPU.
There are of course some other smaller setbacks Samsung made and they’re addressed below
The entire S20 lineup, with the exception of the fan edition and the 5G version of the fan edition which is another word for a “lite” version, had a 1440p display, and Samsung decided to cut short on the resolution while keeping the refresh rate the same at Dynamic 120Hz. But it’s pretty much a downgrade from my perspective.
Samsung switched from a glass back to a plastic one for the standard one which again is another major downgrade for most people. Although a plastic back is much better considering I have a phone with a glass back, and it fell off the table cracking it up, and I had to shell out approx $70 for a replacement, I feel plastic backs are much better. But then again, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and most prefer the glass. So as you can see, it’s clearly a setback on Samsung’s part.
While the main camera seems to be the same 108MP as the one on the S20, the secondary cameras are inferior with a smaller sensor size too. The downgrade from a 48MP to 10MP is a major one, including the reduced sensor size. There was a TOF 3D camera on the S20 which was skipped on the S21. Even the S21 ultra doesn’t have this sensor.
Battery capacity and charging speed:
There has been no noticeable improvements in battery, except for the S21+ getting a boost of 300 mAh from 4500mAh on the S20+ to 4800mAh on the S21+. The main drawback here is the reduced charging speeds. Okay, if you’re not gonna provide a charger, at least give us a nice 50w charging speed, but “how about no”. Let’s cut the charging speed to a mere 25 watts, even for the 5000mAh top of the line S21 Ultra 5G version because why not?
While the S21 lineup has the same storage capacity as the S20 counterparts, the absence of the card slot should have prompted Samsung to offer higher storage variants as standard, say for example, the S21+ and Ultra should have come by default with a 256GB storage and going higher, with 512GB and 1TB variants. But unfortunately, they skipped the 1TB storage on the S21 Ultra
Main focus is on the Samsung S21 Ultra 5G:
So as you can see, the S21 and S21+ have been deliberately lower specced so that the main focus is on the S21 Ultra 5G. You’ll know why in the next para…
Last but not the least, the pricing. With many corners cut, the pricing should have reduced by at least 10 to 15%. But instead, the prices are almost double than last year’s, and considering the massive corners cut, it never should’ve been priced that much. But while there are cons, we can see a few pros too…
Periscope Telephoto Camera:
While the camera may have a reduced aperture size as well as smaller sensor, it does have a large 10X optical zoom which is sort of a good thing.
It’s the latest Wifi standard which uses the current Wifi standard of 2.4 and 5GHz, with the addition of another band that’s 6GHz frequency hence the term 6e. The Wifi 6e will mostly be free as there are very few devices having the 6GHz band, so getting a phone with Wifi 6e would be a boon right now.
Speedy UFS 3.1 internal storage:
This is a major bump from last year’s UFS 3.0 storage on the S20 series. While it’s not much of an upgrade, it just has speedier writes on multiple files which is a plus.
Coming to the conclusion, we should ask the question..
Is the phone really worth the value it provides?
I wish I could say it does, but Samsung made a really large budget cuts on the new series, and looking at how the cons outweigh the pros, it clearly shows that this phone is high on cost, low on value. If you currently have the Samsung S10 or S20 series, I would advise you to hold your horses. Maybe hold on for the next Samsung series, maybe the S22, or hopefully the Note series in the second half of the year would provide a better value instead.