Samsung Galaxy S21 tipped to launch in December — wait, what?

Samsung Galaxy S21
(Image credit: Miror pro/YouTube)

Samsung may be planning a holiday surprise for us — yet another smartphone launch. The word out of of South Korea is that the electronics giant is moving up the production schedule for its Galaxy S21 flagship and that a December release isn't out of the question.

The report comes from MTN, a Korean business and financial news channel which reports that parts suppliers will begin making the components for the Galaxy S21 in November, as Samsung looks to ramp up mass production for its next phone. To put that timing in context, MTN says mass production of the Galaxy S20 began in January, with Samsung releasing three Galaxy S20 models on March 6.

The report, spotted by PhoneArena, claims that Samsung "is in a hurry to release [Galaxy S21]," at least according to a Google Translate transcript. "Some people are also discussing the possibility of launching in December this year," the report continues.

That would seem overly aggressive, given both market conditions and Samsung's rollout of flagship phones this year. Besides the spring launches of the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung only recently took the wraps off the Galaxy S20 FE, a lower-cost version of the S20 models. A month before the Galaxy S20 FE, Samsung had introduced the Galaxy Note 20 lineup, not to mention a couple of updates to its high-priced foldable phone lineup. 

In other words, that's a lot of phones to introduce in the span of seven months before you even considering adding the Galaxy S21 to the mix.

There's another reason why phone makers prefer to get all their new products out in the fall. That gives the phones time to reach retail outlets before holiday shopping begins in earnest. With Black Friday deals expected to launch earlier than ever this year as retailers try to combat the economic strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a December phone launch just isn't going to get the mindshare — or sales — of a phone released in a more conventional time.

Besides, there's a big event in January just aching for high-profile product announcements. CES is slated to run Jan. 11  through Jan. 14, and with the 2021 edition set to go entirely online, organizers would doubtlessly welcome a new flagship phone unveiling by Samsung to kick things off.

Samsung has good reason to want to move up the Galaxy S21 launch, according to MTN. An earlier launch might help spike sales. That's what happened in 2016 with the release of the Galaxy S7, which came out a month earlier than the Galaxy S6 had the year before. 

MTN also reports that Samsung is also eyeing Huawei and its struggles to make phones amid a US export ban that prohibits US-based tech firms from sharing software or hardware with the Chinese phone maker. Samsung appears to be moving up the Galaxy S21 launch to take business away from one its chief rivals in the smartphone space.

The Galaxy S21 will reportedly feature three different models, much like the Galaxy S20 did. This time around, the high-end version of the phone could come with an S Pen, a feature Samsung normally reserves for its Galaxy Note lineup.

Other rumored features include a 180MP main camera, a truly full-phone display, and a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. That last feature could be another reason why the Galaxy S21 might not appear as soon as MTN reports. Qualcomm hasn't even announced the successor to the Snapdragon 865 and likely won't until early December.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.