Galaxy S21 could already be in trouble as Samsung reportedly lowers expectations

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: Future)

Samsung recently launched three new Galaxy S21 models, and the early reviews (including ours) are promising. But good reviews don’t spell the whole story, since consumer demand is the most important element behind a phone’s success.

According to Korean publication The Elec, Samsung has reportedly lowered its shipment expectations for the Galaxy S21 series, likely to determine whether it needs to ramp up or lower production. 

Last year was strange for a lot of reasons, but it seems as though Samsung is being careful with this year's Galaxy S21 release when it comes to shipment estimations. The first quarter of a phone’s lifecycle is its most important in terms of sales. According to industry sources, the Korean tech giant has lowered its shipment expectations to 26 million units, which is down from the S20’s 35 million.

The Galaxy S21 lineup features three phones: the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung has estimated that it will ship 8 million units of the Ultra, followed by another 8 million of the Plus, and 10 million of the regular S21. This drop in shipment expectations is likely due to how the Galaxy S20 performed last year, with the COVID-19 pandemic having a serious impact on sales.

It’s worth noting that shipment expectations and sales expectations are not always equivalent, even though one does affect the other. If this report is true, Samsung is simply playing it safe so that it doesn’t make too many Galaxy S21 phones. The pandemic is still going on, so that may also be playing a role in Samsung’s alleged decision.

Lower shipment expectations might mean lower initial sales, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Galaxy S21 will sell poorly. Samsung is likely keeping an eye on the market and will adjust production and supply accordingly.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.