Samsung Galaxy S21 teaser just revealed the biggest camera upgrades

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: OnLeaks/Voice)

We are just a couple of days away from Samsung’s Unpacked event where we expect the Galaxy S21 series to be revealed, but that’s not stopped the flagship phone’s cameras from being teased. 

A video posted on Samsung's YouTube channel basically revealed the much-leaked new rear camera module design, which seemingly curves around the phone's top left-hand side edge, and hints at some of the camera's features.

The video is only 27 seconds long, so this is very much a teaser rather than an in-depth look, but it helps further confirm a lot of the recent rumors around the Galaxy S21. 

The opening burst of clips shows off a Galaxy S21’s curved camera module, which appears to hold a trio of lenses. No specs were mentioned in the video.  But from the leaks so far, this trio of cameras is expected to be made up of a 12MP main lens, 12MP ultra wide camera and a 64MP telephoto camera.

That’s basically the same camera setup as the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus. But we’re expecting Samsung to have made some tweaks on the software side and image processing to boost the rear cameras’ capabilities. 

And that’s what this teaser hints at. For example, at the 8 to 10-second mark, there appears to be an evolved version of what could be Samsung's Single Take mode, in which a short video of a subject or scene is recorded and a Galaxy phone will snap and collate a series of photos from it. 

The Galaxy S20 series could pull 32MP photos from 8K capture; we’d not expect the Galaxy S21 to go above that, but perhaps there will be a more refined take on the feature. This could be done with boosted image processing: at the 5-second mark, the video shows a render that would suggest improved performance between the camera’s and the phone’s chipset. 

A clip at around the 11-second mark shows the Galaxy S21 recording a band, with the phone able to smoothly jump between video capture on all three of its lenses. This is something that's likely to be facilitated by the phone’s Snapdragon 888 chipset, which promises boosted CPU GPU, and image processing performance. 

And there’s what looks like to be a recording within a recording, which hints that the Galaxy S21 can capture video from both its front-facing camera and its rear camera array at the same time. The iPhone 12 can do this, but it needs a third-party app.

Moving on to the 15-second mark, there's a clip of some people enthusiastically jumping off the back of a truck, which hints at the ability for the Galaxy S21 to capture a burst of clear stills from fast-movement situations. Again, this could be an evolved version of Single Take. 

Towards the end of the video, we see a person standing in darkness only for the Galaxy S21 to capture a photo that looks like they are standing in a well-lit building. This a pretty obvious hint at an improved night mode in the Galaxy S21; though delivering these results in a choreographed situation is a lot easier than snapping a night mode photo at a busy bar. So we’ll have to wait and see how much of this teased photography works in real life. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: WinFuture)

What about the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Interestingly, there seemed to be no hint of the Galaxy S21 Ultra in the video. Given the large amounts of rumors and leaks around the phone, we’re expecting Samsung to reveal it on January 14 with the rest of the Galaxy S21 range. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is expected to come with a quad rear camera array. It’s tipped to have an 108MP main lens, a 12MP ultra wide sensor, and a pair of 10MP telephoto cameras - one with 10x optical zoom and the other with a 3x zoom.  

But we saw no clip of that in the official teaser video. We’d posit that Samsung is holding back teasers around the Galaxy S21 Ultra, in order to build up more excitement around what’s set to be its next top-end flagship phone.  

Of course, a load of leaks means we are already expecting it to come with the aforementioned quartet of cameras, the Snapdragon 888, and an LTPO display that can dynamically adjust its 120Hz refresh rate to best suit the content that’s being viewed on it and preserve battery life when a high refresh rate isn’t needed. 

S Pen support is all but confirmed for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. But we’re expecting Samsung to show that off in a different trailer, especially as it’s expected to come with rather neat optional carry cases for the evolved S Pen

We'll know for sure what rumors, leaks, and predictions come to fruition in less than two days when Samsung reveals the Galaxy S21 range; we’re also expecting to see Samsung show off the Galaxy Buds Pro as well. If you want to watch the event, then check out our how to watch Samsung Galaxy S21 event live stream guide. And check back with Tom’s Guide for all the latest Galaxy S21 news as it happens.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.