Leaked Samsung Galaxy S21 Teasers Show Off Divisive Design

Illustration for article titled Leaked Samsung Galaxy S21 Teasers Show Off Divisive Design
Screenshot: Samsung

Rumors have been swirling around claiming the Galaxy S21 could get announced as early as January (possibly a month sooner than S20's debut last year), and now it appears some official teasers have leaked out giving us a glimpse at the S21's unique design.

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First discovered by Android Police, the Galaxy S21's new signature colors appear to be a combo of soft purple which Samsung seems to be calling Phantom violet with bronze or copper accents. The S21 is said to come with 12-MP main camera, a 12-MP ultra-wide camera, and a 64-MP telephoto camera, with the main differences between the S21 and the S21+ being increased screen size and battery capacity.

As before, it appears that Samsung will continue putting out an Ultra version of the S21 with even better specs, which Android Police claims will include a display with curvy, rounded edges, and perhaps even more importantly, four rear cameras instead of three. Based on current rumors and info, we’re expecting the S21 Ultra to feature a huge 108-MP main sensor, a 12-MP ultra-wide sensor, a 10-MP telephoto sensor with a 3x zoom, and a second telephoto cam that uses a periscope-style lens setup to provide a 10x telephoto zoom, with the S21 Ultra also getting a bonus laser autofocus system to help make sure pics look sharp.

Recently, noted leaker Ice Universe tweeted out that for the Galaxy S21, Samsung has also upgraded to a new in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader that’s significantly larger than before (1.7 times bigger than what’s in the S20), which should not only give S21 owners a wider area to unlock their phones but hopefully better accuracy and speed of recognition as well.

Ice Universe claims the Galaxy S21 will be available in three sizes with the standard S21 getting a 6.2-inch screen, the S21+ featuring a 6.7-inch display, and the S21 Ultra topping out with a 6.8-inch display. Ice Universe claims the S21 line will be available in a range of colors including gray, white, pink, and purple for the S21, black, silver, pink, and purple for the S21+, and black and silver for the S21 Ultra.

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However, based on the teasers, the wildest thing about the S21 won’t be its specs or colors, but rather its design, as the S21's camera bump appears to have been pushed even farther into the top left corner of the phone with Samsung also blending the edge of the camera bump into the metal band that runs around the outside of the device. On one hand, Ice Universe says “The Galaxy S21's design is unique and deserves praise,” and in some respects he’s right. The phone’s two-toned design certainly stands out from pretty much every other phone on the market. It’s definitely a look, but a look that might not sit right with everyone.

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For anyone hoping that one of the world’s biggest phone makers would return to the days of less conspicuous camera bumps or even cameras mounted flush against the back of the phone, the S21's design is almost certainly a disappointment. With a shiny metal housing that flows into the rest of the phone, the S21's camera is quite in-your-face.

However, one thing to consider is that with the front of phones having basically become all display, that means the only place where phone designers can try to create unique looks or IDs is on the back, especially the cameras as they tend to be the only real feature of note that stands out. This design trend is something that has been going on for a few years now across a range of phone makers, with Google’s designers even saying the big square camera module on the Pixel 4 was created in part to draw attention to the cameras and help remind buyers about the Pixel’s camera features.

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So what say you? Does the S21's new design make the phone more attractive or less? Right now, I’m still not sure, but if it’s divisive in the same way that the curves and flowing lines of the PS5 help Sony’s new console stand out from the Xbox Series, that’ll probably be a win in Samsung’s book.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

DISCUSSION

Most of the time, I’m going to put my phone in a case (mostly to add a kickstand), so I don’t really care that much about color / design.  The case is cheap enough that when I want a new design, I just swap cases.  I’m on the fourth case for my S9+.  A fresh look without shelling out $1k+.