S20 vs S21

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

S20 vs S21 Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20, We compared Samsung’s 2021 and 2020 flagship smartphones. Here’s how they stack up in price, battery life, camera specs and more.

Editors’ note: An earlier version of this story misstated the storage capabilities of the Galaxy S21 line. The S21 phone line does not include a microSD card slot.

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 phone line is the latest version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phone, released earlier this year (here’s where to order one.) It’s also the successor to the Galaxy S20 line, which came out in 2020. If you’re in the market for an upgrade, you may be wondering: What exactly are the differences between the two Galaxy phones? Is it worth the $800 for an upgrade? (Or maybe you should go with a Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Flip 3, or wait for the rumored Galaxy S22?)

S20 vs S21.

Here’s everything you need to know for now about how the Galaxy S21 compares with the Galaxy S20. We chose a winner for each category below based purely on specs. For a more in-depth look at Samsung’s new phones, read our full reviews of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

S20 vs S21.

s20 ultra vs s21 ultra

The base Samsung Galaxy S21 includes a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a 4,000-mAh battery and three rear camera lenses, including a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens.

S20 vs S21.

It runs on Android 11, and has a new Snapdragon 888 processor. The phone gets a major price drop compared with its predecessor, starting at $800 (£769, AU$1,249). Read our full Galaxy S21 review.

S20 vs S21.

galaxy s20 vs s21

CNET gave the base Galaxy S20 a rating of 8.7 out of 10, naming it the best out of the S20 line. Our reviewer appreciated top-shelf features such as a sharp display and advanced camera capabilities, but noted that the starting price of $1,000 (£799, AU$1,349) was a bit high for what you get.

S20 vs S21.

While the S21 is mostly similar in features, unless S20’s price drops more (you can get it refurbished for around $550), it seems worth it to upgrade to the S21. Read our full Galaxy S20 review.

Design, screen size and weight

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 are extremely similar when it comes to displays. Both feature 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED screens, a 120Hz refresh rate and an in-screen fingerprint sensor.

S20 vs S21.

The differences are relatively small: The S21 has a pixel density of 421ppi, compared with the S20’s 563ppi. The S21 is also slightly heavier, at 6.03 ounces, while the S20 weighs 5.75 ounces.

The two phones also appear to be close to identical in design. The only major difference in appearance is the rear camera module — on the S21, it has a metal overlay. Both phones are IP68-rated for water and dust resistance. Neither phone has a headphone jack.

In terms of colors, the Galaxy S21 comes in pastels called phantom violet, phantom gray, phantom pink and phantom white (other colors are available for the S21 Plus and Ultra models). The Galaxy S20 is available in cosmic gray, cloud blue, cloud pink and cosmic black.

Winner: Tie

Read more: Which Samsung Galaxy phone should you buy? We compare all of them


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.

S20 vs S21 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.

S20 vs S21.

It also boasts a fast Bright Night sensor and pixel binning technology, which makes your photos more detailed.

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.

S20 vs S21.

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.

S20 vs S21.

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.

S20 vs S21.

Read moreGalaxy 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: S20 vs S21.

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)

First published on Jan. 7, 2021 at 4:00 a.m. PT.

Best Samsung Phone for 2022

Samsung’s phones can cost more than $1,000 or less than $200, depending on the model. Here’s how to choose.

Samsung’s phone lineup has something for every budget, from the $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra to the $180 Galaxy A12. Whether you want a giant phone with one of the best cameras available or a more affordable device that nails the basics, there’s something for everyone.

Samsung has already launched several phones this year, but we’re expecting to see even more devices debut later this summer. The company typically launches new foldable devices in August, meaning there’s a chance we might see a Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 next month.

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Samsung’s nonfoldable phones like the Galaxy S21 FEGalaxy S22 lineup and Galaxy A53 5G are still just a few months old, so they should still feel fresh and new. Samsung also committed to supporting four generations of Android and Samsung operating system updates on these devices.

But if you can hang on six months or so, you might want to wait before making a purchase. Since Samsung typically launches its new Galaxy S phones within the first couple of months of the year, we’re likely to see a successor to the Galaxy S22 in the January through March timeframe.

Finding the best Samsung phone will ultimately come down to preference. Choosing between so many options can get complicated, so here’s how to decide which Samsung phone is best for you.

samsung s20 vs s21

The $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra is Samsung’s most expensive phone that isn’t a folding phone. With its giant 6.8-inch screen and four-lens camera, it’s best for those who want the largest screen and best camera possible in a new Samsung phone. Unlike last year’s model, the Galaxy S22 Ultra also comes with Samsung’s S Pen stylus at no additional cost, just like Samsung’s older Galaxy Note devices.

At 6.8 inches, the S20 vs S21. Ultra is noticeably larger than the 6.6-inch Galaxy S22 Plus and 6.1-inch Galaxy S22. The camera is also one of the biggest reasons you should consider this phone over Samsung’s smaller and cheaper devices. While all three new Galaxy S22 phones can take better photos in the dark and have improved color and contrast, the S22 Ultra is the only one with two telephoto lenses. As a result, the S22 Ultra has the closest zoom of any Samsung phone — and perhaps any phone, period. It also has a 108-megapixel main sensor similar to the one in last year’s phone, along with a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and the two 10-megapixel zoom lenses.

The Galaxy S22’s high price and large size are probably too much for most people, and its battery life could be better. But for those who love big screens and who really want a superior zoom camera and the S Pen for taking notes, the S22 won’t disappoint.


The Galaxy S22 Plus is the middle child of the S20 vs S21. lineup, but don’t overlook it. Its 6.6-inch screen size is just right for most people, it has a sharp new glass-and-metal design and the camera has gotten a major upgrade compared with the S21 generation. Although it’s a bit pricey at $1,000, it feels like the right option for those who want a screen that’s big but not gigantic paired with one of the best cameras around.

Many of the updates Samsung made across the Galaxy S22 lineup are iterative, like the phones’ new processors and refreshed designs. But the jump from the Galaxy S21’s 12-megapixel camera to the S22’s 50-megapixel camera is perhaps the most noticeable improvement. Both the Galaxy S22 Plus and regular Galaxy S22 have this new camera system, along with other internal camera enhancements, which results in better low-light performance, color and detail. The Galaxy S22 Plus also lasted the longest in CNET’s battery test of Samsung’s S20 vs S21. phones, although battery life still felt average rather than impressive.

Overall, the Galaxy S22 Plus is the best choice for those who want a premium phone with a top-notch camera and a large, bright screen.


Android users don’t have much choice when it comes to small phones, but Samsung is changing that with the Galaxy S22. The standard S20 vs S21. has a 6.1-inch screen, whereas many competing Android phones have displays that measure around 6.4 inches or larger.

The $800 Galaxy S22 otherwise brings many of the same benefits as the Galaxy S22 Plus. That includes a 50-megapixel camera with better low-light photography, a new processor and a revamped design that feels more elegant than the S21. It’s essentially a smaller version of the Galaxy S22 Plus, except the Plus also has a bigger battery, faster charging and ultrawideband support.


The Galaxy S22 is the best option for those who want a more compact phone that still has most of the premium features found in Samsung’s bigger and more expensive phones. Just keep in mind that the Galaxy S22’s smaller size also comes along with shorter battery life than the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra.

The first S20 FE seriously impressed us with its balance of performance and price, and the new Galaxy S21 FE takes that further with a solid triple camera, a vibrant display and the same powerful processor found in the flagship S21. It has a 6.5-inch screen, making it an ideal choice for those who want a phone that’s larger than the regular S20 vs S21. without the S20 vs S21. Plus’ high price. Although it’s missing some of the Galaxy S22’s bells and whistles — like improved night photography and a newer processor — this phone has a sharper front-facing camera for selfies and video calls.

The Galaxy S21 FE faces some tough competition from Google’s Pixel 6, but if you’re after a great overall Samsung phone and don’t want to pay top dollar for the flagships, then the S21 FE is well worth considering.


New for 2022, the S20 vs S21.gets you a plethora of Samsung features and power at a fraction of the S-series price. It boasts a far larger screen and more versatile camera cluster than the iPhone SE, though Apple’s budget model delivers snappier performance.

Still, Samsung fans will appreciate what they’re getting here considering the affordable price. The Galaxy A53 5G has an ultrawide lens for taking photos with a broader field of view and also supports night-mode photography. Image quality isn’t as good as what you’d get on a more expensive Samsung phone like the S20 vs S21. or S20 vs S21., but it’s certainly clear and colorful enough for basic shots. Other highlights include a long-lasting battery, four guaranteed generations of Android operating system updates and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

Overall, the Galaxy A53 5G is a suitable choice for those who prioritize having a large screen and long battery life for less than $500. Just keep in mind you might have to deal with some occasional lag, and the camera isn’t as advanced as those found on pricier phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.


Samsung’s original folding phone was a novel idea but the latest generation — the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 — refines it further. It’s still essentially a tablet that folds in half to become a phone, but this smartphone has an improved hinge, better specs all round, 5G connectivity and a bigger display on the outside that actually makes it usable as a phone. Folding Samsung Galaxy phones may not be to everyone’s taste and they certainly come at a premium, but if you’re after a futuristic foldable, the Z Fold 3 is the best one to buy. Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.


If the Galaxy Fold is a tablet that folds in half to become a phone, the Z Flip is a phone that folds in half to become a smaller phone. When open, this Samsung Galaxy smartphone has a big 6.7-inch display.

S20 vs S21.

but fold it in half and it becomes a small square that’s easy to slide into a jeans or jacket pocket. We like its neat design, along with its decent all-round specs and 5G connectivity and it’s a more affordable folding option among Samsung Galaxy phones


S20 vs S21. Android phone sits just below the A52, provides less RAM, loses the macro camera and has a lower-resolution front-facing camera. It still has 5G connectivity though, along with a bigger battery and a marginally bigger display, which could make it a great affordable Samsung phone option for those of you who watch a lot of videos on the move.


If 5G speeds are your top Android phone priority but you don’t want to spend much money, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 vs S21. is where you should be looking. Its low price makes it one of the cheapest 5G-enabled Samsung Galaxy phones that it’s possible to buy right now, and you still get a big 6.5-inch display and a multiple rear camera setup. It’s not challenging the overall performance of the S20 vs S21.line, but it’s a solid all-rounder device for the money.


The S20 vs S21. is one of the cheapest phones Samsung sells and it’s the one to consider for those of you who simply want a phone for all of life’s essentials. If you don’t care for extravagant cameras or supercomputer-levels of processing power, you won’t have to pay for them with this model. It doesn’t have 5G, but it does have four rear cameras, a 6.5-inch display and a capacious 5,000-mAh battery. Given the generally low demands of the specs, that battery should easily last a full day.

The camera is one of the biggest factors that distinguishes the S20 vs S21.from Samsung’s other less expensive phones. During CNET’s testing, the S20 vs S21.

took noticeably better photos than the cheaper Galaxy A03S and Galaxy A02S, especially in low light. Just remember you’ll likely have to buy a microSD card since the A12 only comes with 32GB of built-in storage.

S20 vs S21.

Samsung also recently launched the Galaxy A13, which has 5G, more storage and a sharper 50-megapixel camera, which could be worth considering when searching for Samsung Galaxy phones




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