Samsung Galaxy S21 killer feature revealed — and the iPhone 12 can’t match it

Samsung Galaxy S21 blade bezel display
(Image credit: Snoreyn/LetsGoDigital)

If a new rumor about the Samsung Galaxy S21 is accurate, your voice is going to be your password to next year’s flagship phone. And it’s a capability that will potentially make iPhone 12 owners green with envy.

Reporting on the phone expected to debut in early 2021, SamMobile says the often-overlooked Bixby assistant is picking up the ability to offer biometric unlocking instead of a face, pin code, or pattern. In the past, Bixby has been an available unlocking option for users to set to follow  voice commands after using the wake phrase "Hi, Bixby." 

Bixby had offered and unlocking voice command two years ago, but Samsung disabled that feature amid security concerns. Presumably, if voice-unlocking is coming back, Samsung feels that it’s worked through those issues.

The voice-unlock capability would be part of One UI 3.1, Samsung’s phone interface built on Android 11. That means the feature would eventually make its way to other Galaxy devices, including some of the flagship available now, though the Galaxy S21 would have voice unlocking out of the gate.

There aren't really any details floating around on how you’ll be able to set Bixby to utilize this option or what voice unlock entails, but it's certainly a tantalizing new addition to the options users have when setting up their phone's lock screen. It also isn't clear how secure a voice unlock would actually be, or how simple it would be to fool the phone just like you can with facial recognition. 

Right now, we're still unsure of what kind of release date we're looking for when it comes to the Galaxy S21 series. Reports have indicated it could be as early as January 2021. In recent years, Samsung has shown off the new Galaxy S phones in February before releasing them in March. 

As far as pricing goes, we can likely expect the Galaxy S21 to be in a similar ballpark as the Galaxy S20 line, starting around $999. Rumors point to four models — a Galaxy S21 joined by a Galaxy S21 FE. Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.