Samsung's plans for releasing phones in the second half of the year are coming into focus. And it looks like the lower-cost Galaxy S21 FE will debut alongside updated versions of Samsung's foldable phones at the same press event later this summer.
That's the word from South Korea's Yonhap, which is reporting that the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy S21 FE will all launch at the same time. The report claims the phones will debut in late August, just after an event earlier in the month to showcase the new devices.
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If true, that's a bit different from earlier rumors about Samsung's launch plans for its foldable phones. Earlier reports suggested the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip updates would come out in July. But even if the August date is correct, it would be earlier than Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Galaxy S20 FE last year. Both those phones shipped in the fall.
Samsung may have a really strong incentive to release these phones sooner rather than later. The Yonhap report goes on to say that Samsung "has decided not to release a new Galaxy Note this year."
There's been no official word from Samsung on the status of the Galaxy Note 21. But the writing's been on the wall for the phone for some time, with rumors circulating since the start of the year that an updated phablet may not appear in 2021. In March, co-CEO DJ Koh told Bloomberg that the company was considering not releasing a Galaxy Note model this year in part because of chip shortages and in part to streamline its product lineup. Even if there's no new version in 2021, the Note series could return next year, Samsung has said.
Samsung has emphasized that it wants to make foldable phones more mainstream this year, and an event that focuses on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 may be part of that strategy. Yonhap's report claims that Samsung is looking to make the new Z Flip lighter than its predecessor, and it repeats an earlier report that Samsung is looking to drop the price on this year's Galaxy Z Flip.
As for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, it's rumored to feature an under-display camera. That would be a first for Samsung, though other phones have added the feature, such as the ZTE Axon 20 5G. You can expect that the foldable phone will join the Galaxy S21 Ultra in offering compatibility with Samsung's S Pen, making the Galaxy Z Fold 3 a potential stand-in for the Galaxy Note.
The Yonhap report doesn't contain too many new details about the Galaxy S21 FE, though it does give us a better idea of what that phone will cost. The S21 FE will reportedly debut at 700,000 won in South Korea — roughly $629 based on current exchange rates. That price range is in line with what we'd expect from a phone that's a cheaper version of the $799 Galaxy S21 that offers scaled-back features and specs.
All three of the new Samsung phones slated for the August launch event are expected to be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 system-on-chip, the same silicon found inside the S21 lineup.