Samsung Galaxy S21 leak reveals biggest upgrades to fight iPhone 12

(Image credit: Miror pro/YouTube)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra may inherit an improved version of the Galaxy S20 Ultra's 108MP camera, as well as several key upgrades that could help fend off rival flagships come early next year.

This comes from Ice Universe, one of the most reliable leakers around, who says that the S21 (also possibly called the S30) will use the second generation version of the HM1 camera sensor. That's the 108MP sensor found in the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

While seeing Samsung keep to the same enormous camera resolution it introduced earlier this year is to be expected, what definitely has to change is the experience of actually using the camera. While the HM1 sensor has the potential to capture enormous amounts of detail in a photo, it can be difficult to get the camera to focus properly on the Galaxy S20 Ultra based on our testing.

Samsung has managed to fix this by adding a laser depth sensor to the Note 20 Ultra, which is now one of our favorite camera phones on the market. Happily, Ice Universe, in reply to tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, says that they believe there will be a similar sensor on the S21. With help from a laser sensor, plus whatever other improvements Samsung's made to the second-generation sensor itself, this hopefully means a much better photography experience on the S21.

Previous rumors have mentioned Samsung's working on a 150MP camera sensor too. This doesn't necessarily mean IU's leak is false, since Samsung sells components to other phone makers too. So we may see rival Android devices with this even larger sensor next year, or perhaps the Samsung flagships following the S21 will upgrade to the 150MP camera when it's fully ready.

Other rumored Galaxy S21 features include a 4,800 mAh battery, which would be larger than both the 4,000 mAh S20 and 4,500 mAh S20 Plus cells. This is thought to be accompanied by 60W fast charging, which would be a big bump from the 25W charging on the Galaxy S20. 

The S21 series will most likely use Snapdragon 875 chipsets in the U.S., the first 5nm chips to be used by Samsung. This will add more power and likely help the battery life too with improvements to power efficiency.

Beneath the S21's screen, we could see on the S21 is Samsung's first under-display selfie camera. We know that this feature is at least being considered for the phone, so hopefully it's ready in time for next year's launch. Also believed to be hidden under the panel is an upgraded ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, Qualcomm's 3D Sonic Max, which is 17 times larger than the current sensor, and is capable of scanning two fingerprints at once. 

All of these upgrades could combine to make a compelling rival to the iPhone 12, which is expected to roll out Whatever happens, we'll likely find out more and more rumors as we count down to February 2021, when we expect the next Galaxy S-series phone to appear.

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.