The time has finally come, and it was sooner than we originally anticipated. Nevertheless, the Samsung Galaxy S21 lineup of smartphones has arrived and will be arriving on doorsteps in the next few weeks. As is the case every year, the Galaxy “S” devices are always the “flagships for everyone”, while the Note launches in the Fall with power users in mind.
Diving back into Samsung’s history
It seems there is a bit of a shift taking place in terms of Samsung’s ideals on pricing, for one reason or another, which has resulted in the 2021 flagships seeing price drops compared to their predecessors. If you take a look at the pricing for Samsung’s devices over the past few years, there was a clear, yet steady, rise to the top. This culminated in the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s $1399 price tag last year, which was a tough pill to swallow, especially given the circumstances around the pandemic.
- Samsung Galaxy S9: $719
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ $839
- Samsung Galaxy S10e: $749
- Samsung Galaxy S10: $899
- Samsung Galaxy S10+: $999
- Samsung Galaxy S20: $999
- Samsung Galaxy S20+: $1199
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: $1399
Fast forward to this year, and there’s something more exciting about all three members of the Galaxy S21 family – lower prices. All three handsets are seeing a $200 price decrease compared to the S20 lineup, which is extremely welcome to see.
- Samsung Galaxy S21: $799
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: $999
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: $1199
Paying $799 for a device with few compromises (from a hardware perspective) is something that we really didn’t expect to see from Samsung.
Comparing the S21 to the rest of the market
Perhaps it had something to do with Samsung seeing the success of the Galaxy S20 FE, which introduced a near-flagship level experience at just a fraction of the price ($699). Normally, you would have to look elsewhere, like OnePlus with its 8T or even the OnePlus 8 if you wanted to get that kind of performance without emptying the piggy bank in the process.
But instead, Samsung seems to be trying to put the squeeze on the likes of OnePlus, LG, and Motorola with these lower prices. Maybe another reason for the price drop is keeping in line with Apple’s iPhone 12 series of devices, which did not see any price increase compared to the iPhone 11 lineup. Since Apple is Samsung’s biggest competition in the smartphone market, this would make plenty of sense. Including the Galaxy S20 FE, you could say that Samsung has matched up against all of Apple’s latest devices. With devices ranging from $699 and going all the way up to $1199, there’s something for everyone.
What’s the catch?
If you were to compare the Galaxy S21 devices to the Galaxy S20 lineup, there are a few key differences which could help explain the lower prices. Well, at least for the S21 and S21 Plus. Those devices are featuring just 8GB of RAM (which should be plenty for most), but the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus featured 12GB of RAM. That alone will help Samsung cut some of the corners it needed to in order to hit these prices.
Another reason for lower prices in the S21 comes courtesy of Qualcomm and the Snapdragon 888. Instead of needing to account for a separate 5G modem to be built-into the phone, the SD888 has a 5G modem onboard and is compatible with both Sub-6GHz and Verizon’s mmWave. So you’ll get the latest processor, complete with 5G connectivity, while saving some dough. Plus, the cost of the components themselves is lower this year compared to 2020, which helps Samsung’s bottom line and the company actually passed some of those savings onto the market.
The final way, that we can tell, how Samsung was able to justify these lower prices has everything to do with Apple. When the iPhone 12 lineup was announced, Apple confirmed that it would no longer be including the (comically underpowered) 5W charging brick in the box. This decision led to slimmer packaging, which again, helps companies like Apple and Samsung meet their bottom line easier.
However, the problem here is that while Samsung went the same route as Apple, the decision is a rather frustrating one. Unlike Apple, Samsung’s included charger was actually quite capable of fast-charging the phones that it came with. So now when you get your new Galaxy S21, you’ll need to also pick up a compatible 25W charger to get the fastest wired speeds possible.
Ignoring the awkward-looking camera notch, Samsung seems to have made all of the right moves for its 2021 flagship lineup. The prices for all three devices have come down, while making little sacrifices where it counts. Plus, even with including S Pen support and the highest specs possible in the S21 Ultra, you can still get this for $200 less than last year’s model.
If Samsung continues this trend and sticks with lower prices for future flagships, it could be the shift in the smartphone market that we sorely need. And hopefully, this will force other OEM’s to take notice and start shamelessly copying Samsung’s strategy, instead of just raising prices for the sake of raising prices.