Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S20: Each distinction between Samsung’s flagship telephones

Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S20: Every difference between Samsung's flagship phones

Editors’ be aware: An earlier model of this story misstated the storage capabilities of the Galaxy S21 line. The S21 telephone line doesn’t embrace a microSD card slot.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 telephone line is the newest model of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy telephone, launched earlier this 12 months (this is the place to order one.) It is also the successor to the Galaxy S20 line, which got here out in 2020. For those who’re out there for an improve, you might be questioning: What precisely are the variations between the 2 Galaxy telephones? Is it definitely worth the $800 for an improve? (Or perhaps it is best to go along with a Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Flip 3, or watch for the rumored Galaxy S22?)

Here is every thing you should know for now about how the Galaxy S21 compares with the Galaxy S20. We selected a winner for every class under based mostly purely on specs. For a extra in-depth take a look at Samsung’s new telephones, learn our full evaluations of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Extremely.

Learn extra: Galaxy S21: What did Samsung change since final 12 months? Not a complete lot

Drew Evans/CNET

The bottom Samsung Galaxy S21 features a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X show with a 120Hz refresh charge, a 4,000-mAh battery and three rear digicam lenses, together with a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens. It runs on Android 11, and has a brand new Snapdragon 888 processor. The telephone will get a significant worth drop in contrast with its predecessor, beginning at $800 (£769, AU$1,249). Learn our full Galaxy S21 overview.

Angela Lang/CNET

CNET gave the bottom Galaxy S20 a score of 8.7 out of 10, naming it one of the best out of the S20 line. Our reviewer appreciated top-shelf options akin to a pointy show and superior digicam capabilities, however famous that the beginning worth of $1,000 (£799, AU$1,349) was a bit excessive for what you get. Whereas the S21 is usually comparable in options, until S20’s worth drops extra (you will get it refurbished for round $550), it appears value it to improve to the S21. Learn our full Galaxy S20 overview.

Design, display screen dimension and weight

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 are extraordinarily comparable in relation to shows. Each function 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED screens, a 120Hz refresh charge and an in-screen fingerprint sensor. The variations are comparatively small: The S21 has a pixel density of 421ppi, in contrast with the S20’s 563ppi. The S21 can also be barely heavier, at 6.03 ounces, whereas the S20 weighs 5.75 ounces. 

The 2 telephones additionally seem like near an identical in design. The one main distinction in look is the rear digicam module — on the S21, it has a metallic overlay. Each telephones are IP68-rated for water and dirt resistance. Neither telephone has a headphone jack

By way of colours, the Galaxy S21 is available in pastels referred to as phantom violet, phantom grey, phantom pink and phantom white (different colours can be found for the S21 Plus and Extremely fashions). The Galaxy S20 is obtainable in cosmic grey, cloud blue, cloud pink and cosmic black. 

Winner: Tie

Learn extra: Which Samsung Galaxy telephone do you have to purchase? We examine all of them

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The base model Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21 have the exact same camera setup: The rear camera modules have a 64-megapixel telephoto camera, a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. Both phones also come with a 10-megapixel selfie camera. The cameras are the same on both Plus models, too. 

The major camera upgrades come with the S21 Ultra. This model has four rear cameras: a main 108-megapixel wide sensor and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, plus two 10-megapixel telephoto lenses — one with 3x zoom and one with 10x zoom. It also boasts a fast Bright Night sensor and pixel binning technology, which makes your photos more detailed. 

Winner: Tie (except in the case of the S21 Ultra, which wins over the S20 Ultra)

Read more: Galaxy S21’s camera features are good, but are they enough?

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Processing speed

Two of the biggest upgrades to the S21 are the phone’s processor and the software it runs — it’s now on Android 11 with a Snapdragon 888 processor, which should lead to increases in speed and performance. The S20 was originally released with Android 10 and has a Snapdragon 875.

Winner: Galaxy S21

Battery life

The base Galaxy S20 and S21 models have the same battery size of 4,000mAh. The battery size rises to 5,000mAh in both the S20 Ultra and S21 Ultra. The only difference between models is in the Plus versions: The S21 Plus gets a battery size increase to 4,800mAh, compared with 4,500mAh in the S20 Plus.

Winner: Tie (except in the case of the S21 Plus, which wins over the S20 Plus)

Read moreSamsung Galaxy S21: What to know about battery life and battery sizes

5G connectivity

All S21 and S20 models support 5G connectivity, so no difference there. 

Winner: Tie

Stylus support

One of the bigger differences between the two phone models comes at the Ultra level. The Galaxy S21 Ultra includes support for the S Pen stylus (sold separately for $40), whereas none of the S20 models do. That means S21 Ultra owners will soon be able to use the small digital pen to jot notes, take better screenshots, sign documents or draw in their favorite apps.

Read more: Galaxy S21 Ultra works with Samsung S Pen, Pro stylus: Price, features and limitations


Outside of the processor, perhaps the biggest difference between the base S20 and S21 is the price tag. The Galaxy S21 is now on sale, starting at $800 for the 128GB model. (Buy the S21 here.) By comparison, the Galaxy S20 started at $1,000. Though the price on the S20 has fluctuated since the Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung didn’t say whether it would get a further decrease, and thus far it doesn’t seem to have done so. For international pricing see the chart below.

Winner: Galaxy S21 

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Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S20: Spec comparison

Here’s how the specs of the two phones compare, now that the S21 details have been officially released.

For more about the Galaxy S21 and everything else Samsung announced, you can check out our roundup

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. Galaxy S20 specs

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S20
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (2,400×1,080 pixels) 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (3,200×1,440 pixels)
Pixel density 421 ppi 563 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 2.80×5.97×0.31 in 2.72×5.97×0.31 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 71.2×151.7×7.9 mm 69.1×151.7×7.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 6.03 oz; 171g 5.75 oz; 163g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 Snapdragon 865 or 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5GHz + 2GHz)
Storage 128GB, 256GB 128GB
RAM 8GB 12GB (5G), 8GB (LTE)
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No
Special features IP68 rating for water and dust resistance, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 120Hz refresh rate 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; IP68 rating for water and dust resistance,
Price at launch (USD) $800 $1,000
Price (GBP) £769 £799, £899 (5G)
Price (AUD) AU$1,249 AU$1,349 (4G), AU$1,499 (5G)
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