What to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy S21 event

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What to expect from Samsung’s Galaxy S21 event

Samsung’s next Unpacked event is less than a day away, kicking off on January 14th at 10AM ET, and thanks to copious leaks, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the upcoming event.

Samsung is widely expected to announce its next lineup of flagship phones, which will likely be called the S21, S21 Plus, and the S21 Ultra. The S21 Ultra is rumored to have top-of-the-line specs, cameras, and, in a first for an S-model Galaxy phone, support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus. The S21 and S21 Plus are expected to have similar specs but differ in size. And since we first published this post, we’ve seen even more leaks about the phones.

A new set of true wireless earbuds, the Galaxy Buds Pro, and a Tile-like item tracker, the Galaxy SmartTag, also seem like a lock. Rumors about both products have hit the web recently, and they each showed up in a leaked preorder ad for the S21 Ultra. And of course, Samsung may surprise us with things that we don’t know about yet.

We’ll be covering the whole thing here at The Verge. But if you want to get an idea of what you can expect from the big day, here’s the rundown of what we think we know so far.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra will support the S Pen stylus

The Galaxy S21 Ultra lineup.

Image: Roland Quandt on Twitter

Let’s talk about the Ultra flagship first. The big new feature for the S21 Ultra is support for the S Pen stylus, as confirmed by Federal Communications Commission filings. However, the stylus will apparently be an optional accessory, and the phone isn’t rumored to have a dedicated slot to store it, unlike the company’s Note series of phones. The S Pen will cost just under €40, which translates to less than $49, according to WinFuture.

Samsung seemingly does plan to release cases that allow you to store the S Pen, though, and you can see pictures of two of those cases below, shared by WinFuture. Some cases may also come with the S Pen, according to a marketing render shared by leaker Evan Blass.

Grid View


  • A Galaxy S21 Ultra case that can store an S Pen stylus.


    Image: WinFuture


  • Another Galaxy S21 Ultra case that can store an S Pen stylus.


    Image: WinFuture

As for cameras, the Ultra will apparently have four back cameras, including 3X and 10X telephoto cameras, according to WinFuture. Both of those telephoto cameras are also expected to have optical image stabilization and a 10-megapixel resolution. The phone may also have Samsung’s 100X “Space Zoom” feature that first debuted in the Galaxy S20, reports Android Police.

The other two back cameras are rumored to be a 108-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and the selfie camera may be 40 megapixels. The phone could also have laser-assisted autofocus, something that was included with last year’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

You can get a closer look at the rumored camera setup and features for the Ultra in this leaked marketing image from Blass:

The Ultra is also expected to have a 6.8-inch WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) resolution display, according to WinFuture. It’s expected to support a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, and leaker Ice Universe says the S21 Ultra may be able to run at that full WQHD+ resolution with the 120Hz refresh rate, something that the S20 Ultra couldn’t do.

The S21 Ultra is rumored to support 5G networks, be IP68 certified for water and dust resistance, have a 5,000mAh battery, and come with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. It also could come in a wide range of colors — including brown — though some of the colors may only be available on Samsung’s online store, according to WinFuture.

Blass shared what appears to be the full spec sheets for the S21 Ultra (and the S21 and S21 Plus) across two tweets. These tweets also include information about what Samsung is including in the box — which we’ll touch on a bit later.

The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus will offer similar specs at different sizes

The Galaxy S21 Plus lineup.

Image: Roland Quandt on Twitter

Samsung also plans to announce the Samsung S21 and S21 Plus, which won’t have quite as powerful specs as the Ultra.

The most obvious difference between the S21 and S21 Plus is a smaller camera module. The two phones are expected to have a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, reports WinFuture. And both phones will reportedly have a 10-megapixel selfie camera.

Here’s a better look at the cameras on the S21, thanks to another leaked marketing render from Blass:

The Galaxy S21’s and S21 Plus’ rumored camera setups.

Image: Evan Blass

As for screens, the standard S21 is expected to have a 6.2-inch display with an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution, while the S21 Plus is rumored to have a 6.7-inch screen with an FHD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution. Both are expected to support an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, according to leaked marketing renders shared by Blass.

Like the Ultra, both the S21 and S21 Plus are expected to support 5G networks and be IP68-certified. They’re also expected to be offered with either 128GB or 256GB of storage. And depending on which model you buy, they’ll have different battery sizes: the smaller S21 is rumored to have a 4,000mAh battery, while the S21 Plus is expected to have a 4,800mAh battery.

Each phone is also rumored to have a different back cover material. The S21 could have a plastic back, while the S21 Plus may have a glass back, according to WinFuture.

You can see the full spec sheets for these two phones and the Ultra across two tweets from Blass. And like the S21 Ultra, the S21 Plus may come in colors that are only available online, WinFuture reports.

The S21 lineup may not include a power charger in the box

Samsung’s newest phones will take a cue from Apple by not including a charger in the box, according to leaked marketing renders of the box shared by WinFuture and Blass. Inside the box, it seems you’ll only get the phone, a USB-C cable, and a SIM ejector tool. And Samsung recently deleted ads mocking Apple for not including a charger with the iPhone 12 lineup, lending credence to rumors that Samsung will be making a similar move.

While the decision could be a good one for the environment, keep in mind that if you’re thinking about picking up an S21, you may also need to consider purchasing a separate charging brick to go along with it.

The new phones may run Samsung’s One UI 3.1

Samsung’s S21 lineup may run One UI 3.1, and a video from YouTuber Jimmy is Promo reveals some of the features that could be coming in the new update.

The video, which apparently demonstrates One UI 3.1 running on the S21 Ultra, shows off a way to record from the front and rear cameras simultaneously, some of the S Pen features that work on the S21 Ultra, backgrounds for the call screen, the ability to select video resolution from the video recording screen, and more.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds Pro true wireless earbuds could compete with the AirPods Pro

Samsung’s rumored Galaxy Buds Pro.

Image: Evan Blass

In addition to its S21 slate of phones, Samsung is also heavily rumored to announce a new set of true wireless earbuds called the Galaxy Buds Pro. Not only have they been revealed as a preorder freebie for the S21 Ultra in a leaked marketing render shared by Blass, but YouTuber Digital Slang has already posted a hands-on video of the Galaxy Buds Pro and their comparisons with the AirPods Pro and Samsung’s bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live.

The new earbuds are rumored to have active noise cancellation, an eight-hour battery life (up to 28 hours with the charging case), and an IPX7 water / sweat rating. You can see how the Galaxy Buds Pro compare to some of Samsung’s other true wireless earbuds in this leaked spec sheet from WalkingCat. The Galaxy Buds Pro may cost $199, making them a more affordable alternative to the $249 Apple AirPods Pro.

Samsung may launch its Tile-like item tracker called the Galaxy SmartTag

Image: 91mobiles

Samsung’s rumored new Tile-like Galaxy SmartTag will apparently use Bluetooth to connect with devices and share its location. The tag itself looks to be a small square with rounded corners and a loop at the top to make it easier to attach to things, as shown in photos posted on the website of Taiwan’s telecom regulator and shared by 91mobiles. The design in the photos also matches an image of the SmartTag in the leaked ad of preorder bonuses for the S21 Ultra.

It seems likely that the SmartTags will work with Samsung’s new SmartThings Find app, which lets you track the locations of your Galaxy devices, similar to Apple’s Find My app.

Samsung could also announce new wireless charging pads and a rose gold smartwatch

Samsung may announce a few other things at Thursday’s event. WinFuture’s Roland Quandt tweeted about two wireless chargers, including one that seems to have dedicated spots for a phone and a smartwatch.

And speaking of smartwatches, the company may release a rose gold variant of its Galaxy Watch Active 2, according to Quandt. The color of the case and band look to match the purple Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus.

Here’s another look at the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 Rosegold/Violet color variant that matches the Galaxy S21(+)’s new Phantom Violet color option: https://t.co/7zqbsqpIlV

— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) January 13, 2021

Update January 13th, 1:42PM ET: Made updates throughout given new leaks.