Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra leak reveals how it will beat iPhone 12 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S21 renders
(Image credit: @OnLeaks)

Dispaly specs for the Samsung Galaxy S21's range-topping model, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, has just been leaked. And for better or worse, it's a familiar story.

Ice Universe is responsible for revealing these details, via a very concise tweet that you can read below, detailing how the Galaxy S21 Ultra will have a "2K" display and a 120Hz refresh rate. 

To help contextualize what's written here, "S21 U" refers to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the expected name of the most expensive Galaxy S21 model. Samsung introduced this naming convention with the 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra earlier this year.

2K resolution would be an unusual one for smartphones, which tend to be either full HD (FHD) at 1080 x 1920, or quad HD (QHD), at 1440 x 2560. Samsung's Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra all use 3200 x 1440 QHD displays, but the basic Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 FE both use FHD panels instead.

The official dimensions of 2K are 2048 x 1080 pixels, but since this is a resolution normally used for movie projectors, it's common for 2K to mean the same as QHD when talking about consumer displays and smartphones. Therefore it's possible that IU is either confirming another QHD line of displays for the S21, or is claiming that Samsung is aiming at a new intermediate resolution between FHD and QHD.

The 120Hz refers to a 120Hz refresh rate, just like the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Note 20 series. This is an excellent premium feature used on many high-end Android flagships, but 120Hz panels can drain battery life very quickly. Hopefully this is something Samsung is working on improving.

The best version of the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, uses a 2778 x 1284 Super Retina XDR display. This doesn't fit neatly into a normal resolution category, but we can see from the numbers that it's slightly smaller and lower-res than the current QHD panels that Samsung uses. Combine that with the fact that the iPhone only has a 60Hz refresh rate instead of 120Hz, and it becomes pretty clear that the S21 Ultra, if not all S21 models, will have a big advantage over Apple's hardware.

Other leaks we've heard for the Galaxy S21 include a new design for the rear camera block, which includes a 108MP main sensor aided by a laser autofocus sensor like the Note 20 Ultra. The Galaxy S21 lineup will also likely feature the latest Qualcomm flagship chipset, the 5nm Snapdragon 875.

Normally, Samsung releases its new Galaxy S models in February each year. However, rumors have claimed that the release date of the Galaxy S21 will be  January. It's suspected that this is in an effort to get ahead of the iPhone 12, which is already proving to be a big seller.

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.