With the Samsung Galaxy S21 due to launch in about a month, it's not surprising to see it pop up in regulatory filings. What's exciting is that one of these filings has helped reveal some key specs.
First spotted by Android Central, an FCC record for a phone believed to be the Galaxy S21 confirms a couple of specs for the new Samsung flagship phone lineup. The biggest confirmation is that the chipset inside the S21 will indeed be the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888.
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The use of Qualcomm's latest flagship silicon isn't a surprise. Samsung always uses the latest and greatest Snapdragon chip in its flagship phones, at least in the U.S.
Elsewhere, we'll likely see Samsung's own Exynos 2100 chipset; the jury is still out on whether it will be slower than Qualcomm's new silicon, as is often the case, or if it will deliver a surprising amount of power thanks to a partnership with AMD.
What's notable about the Snapdragon 888 is it'll be Qualcomm's first 5-nanometer chip, following in the footsteps of Apple's A14 Bionic. And through the use of a CPU subsystem to be based on the Arm Cortex-X1, the Snapdragon 888 is promising speeds that top out at 2.84GHz and a 25% boost in overall CPU performance over the previous generation.
On the graphics side, the Snapdragon 888's Adreno 660 GPU is supposed to increase the speed of graphics rendering by 35% over last year's chip, with power efficiency improving by 20%. The performance gain is the biggest yet for the Adreno GPU, Qualcomm says, which bodes well for gaming on the Galaxy S21 phones.
Samsung Galaxy S21 25W charging revealed
The filing also mentions the Galaxy S21's support for 25W charging. This isn't surprising either, since it's what the Galaxy S20 supported by default. The Galaxy S20 Ultra can also use up to 45W charging if you buy a separate charging head capable of that wattage. So we can expect that to be the case with the Galaxy S21.
What is different this time around is that there may be no charging block included in the S21's box. We first saw Apple do this with the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6, and the decision was widely mocked, including by Samsung. It now looks like Samsung will eat humble pie and is going to try the same thing.
We also see mention of 9W reverse wireless charging support within the FCC document. Currently the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 series are capable of delivering 4.5W to power up wirelessly chargeable peripherals like the Galaxy Buds Live or Galaxy Watch 3. 9W would mean faster charging for new peripherals, such as the leaked Galaxy Buds Pro.
There are a lot of other Galaxy S21 specs that previous leaks have revealed. The design, including the unusual-looking camera bump that flows over the edge of the phone, has been leaked several times. And from the looks of leaked 'official' teasers, it seems they’re accurate.
We know that there will be three models, named Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra. These have displays measuring 6.2 inches, 6.7 inches and 6.9 inches respectively, with all supporting a maximum 120Hz refresh rate. The base and Plus models are tipped to have an FHD+ resolution, but the Ultra will reportedly use a QHD panel instead, which is also expected to have curved edges and potentially supports the use of an S Pen stylus like the Galaxy Note 20.
For rear cameras, the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus will have 12MP main, 12MP wide and 64MP 3x telephoto sensors. The S21 Ultra gets a lot more, swapping the main sensor for a huge 108MP one, and the 64MP telephoto for a pair of 10MP sensors, one capable of 3x zoom and the other of 10x zoom.
Rumors for the S21's release event have claimed it will take place next month, with January 14, 2021 being the most likely day. That's earlier than the Galaxy S20's February release was, which is likely a reaction to late-2020 releases like the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro or OnePlus 8T.
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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.