Samsung Galaxy S21 launch event officially Jan.14 — here’s what to expect

samsung galaxy s21
(Image credit: Evan Blass (Modified))

You can start counting down the days until a new Galaxy phone appears. Samsung is hosting its latest Unpacked event on Jan. 14, where we're expecting to see the Galaxy S21.

The event — billed as Galaxy Unpacked: Welcome to the Everyday Epic — will take place at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. Like the Galaxy Note 20 launch back in August, this one will be an online-only affair that streams on the web. You'll be able to follow along at Samsung's website (in addition to Tom's Guide, where we'll be covering whatever Samsung announces).

In its Unpacked announcement, Samsung didn't mention the Galaxy S21 by name. "The accelerated transition to a mobile-first world brings with it the need for devices that can transform everyday life into an extraordinary experience," is all Samsung teases in its event announcement.

Samsung Unpacked Jan 14 2021

(Image credit: Samsung)

But given the number of leaks about the company's upcoming phone plans, along with Samsung's usual strategy of releasing a phone in the first three months of a new year, the Galaxy S21 seems like a probable headliner for Jan. 14.

If this feels a little early for a Galaxy S release, that's because it is. In the past two years, Samsung has shown off its new phones in February, launching them by March, so a January unveiling would be the earliest we've seen the latest Samsung flagship in some time. However, Samsung apparently wants to move the Galaxy S21 release forward after archrival Apple had to push back last fall's iPhone 12 launch.

Based on the latest rumors surrounding the Galaxy S21, we're expecting to hear about three phones — the standard Galaxy S21 along with a Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra. The S21 and S21 Plus figure to be similar phones, save for different screen sizes and batteries. Samsung will reserve its key features for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which reportedly include support for the Galaxy Note's S Pen stylus as well as a pair of telephoto lenses in the quad camera array on the device's back.

Samsung Electronics president TM Roh has already said that more Galaxy Note features will find their way into other Samsung phones. He's also promising more affordable foldable devices from the company in 2021.

Galaxy S21 rumors also suggest this year's flagship phones could cost a little bit less than the Galaxy S20 lineup did when it debuted a year ago, but that's not official at this point.

If Samsung follows the same pattern as previous Unpacked events, you can expect more than just the Galaxy S21 to be unveiled at the show. Samsung is reportedly working on a follow-up to the Galaxy Z Flip that it introduced last year alongside the Galaxy S20. And we've also heard rumors that a Samsung SmartTag for tracking keys will also debut soon.

We're fairly confident that Samsung will also show off the Galaxy Buds Pro, especially after the company's Canadian website posted details about the upcoming wireless earbuds. These earbuds will feature active noise cancellation, Dolby Atmos support and a spatial audio feature to go toe-to-toe with Apple's AirPods Pro. 

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.