Samsung Galaxy S21 leak just revealed camera specs — and it’s bad news

Best camera phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra will be Samsung's new ultimate phone when it launches next year. But for better or worse, it'll share a lot of its photography hardware with Samsung's last model.

Ice Universe, a long-respected Twitter leaker, has made some interesting claims about Samsung's first 2021 flagship phone. We've got all the details below, but the bottom line is basically that its rear cameras could be the same as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

The headline detail is that Samsung will again be using its large 108MP sensor in the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung is actually working on even larger camera sensors than this, but 108MP will still be tops in terms of total resolution.

We'd expect this camera to be joined by ultra-wide and telephoto cameras, too. We've heard that the S21 Ultra could in fact have two telephoto lenses — one 3x and one 10x — which would be a welcome upgrade. But that's not yet confirmed.

Joining the 108MP camera will be a laser focus sensor, but no time-of-flight (ToF) sensor. The main camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra struggled with focusing on subjects, But for the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung went with a laser autofocus that fixed the issue. In fact, it did a sterling job based on our testing.

IU also provides some more technical details, but camera fans may be disappointed to hear that it's exactly the same as before. While we could have expected the 108MP resolution to remain the same but with a different chip, apparently it's the same HM3 CMOS with 0.8 micrometer-pixels.

The Note 20 Ultra is currently one of our best camera phones, just behind the iPhone 12 Pro. So the similarity between the Note 20 Ultra and the S21 Ultra likely means good things for the S21's photography performance. But Samsung really needs to step up its post-processing game to catch the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

Galaxy S21 display with smaller bezels

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: OnLeaks)

Another recent tweet from Ice Universe mentions a minor improvement to "The next Galaxy" in the form of a smaller chin bezel on its display. While the first tweet in the thread is praising Apple for making the bezel on the iPhone 12 mini the smallest they've come across, IU then references how the Galaxy S21 will also have super-slim bezels.

The size of the bottom bezel is a fairly minor consideration for most users. But as IU said, it demonstrates the competency of a phone maker's engineering and design skills. 

We've already seen Samsung's been thinking about this too, with a recent patent for super-thin 'blade bezels.' Combined with the likely return of a QHD resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, this could be one seriously impressive display.

Normally Galaxy S-series phones debut around February, like the Galaxy S20 did. However a recent Galaxy S21 release date leak says the reveal will take place on January 14, 2021 instead. It's suspected this is in response to the iPhone 12 series, which launched late and is expected to be a big seller thanks to its widest selection of sizes ever and 5G support.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.