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Samsung Galaxy S21 can now be delivered by drone — but there's a catch

Samsung is delivering phones by drones
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung is now delivering the likes of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy Buds Pro and the Galaxy Watch 3 via drone — but only to the residents of one small town in Ireland. 

The pilot scheme, a first for Samsung anywhere in the world, is currently limited to the town of Oranmore, which sits on the outskirts of the city of Galway. That’s certainly disappointing if you’re not one of the 5,000 residents of the town, but it may point to a future of Samsung drone delivery. 

The service uses drones built by Irish company Manna Aero. According to Samsung, they fly at an altitude of around 50-80 meters and can hit speeds of 37 mph. That, Samsung says, allows them to reach homes in around three minutes — which is great if you absolutely can’t wait for that new smartphone. 

The service is available now to people in the Oranmore area who buy a device on Samsung.com, and Samsung says it’s keen to expand it across Ireland in the future. 

The big advantage to drone deliveries is that they allow a contract-free shipping experience for people who are stuck at home, presumably bored of their Samsung Galaxy S20 and in urgent need of a new device. 

While this is a nice bit of PR for Samsung, it’s unlikely that drone delivery of phones will be the largest market for this sort of aerial distribution. Indeed, in current times we’re more likely to see other products such as food and even medical supplies delivered via these quadcopters. 

In fact, Manna Aero was supposed to be piloting its drone delivery by shipping takeaway meals to students at the Dublin University campus, until coronavirus shut everything down. The company then pivoted to using drones to send medical and other critical supplies to elderly, isolated people in Ireland. 

According to Reuters, a pilot scheme in Moneygall, a tiny town with a population of around 300 people, saw supplies shipped from a convenience store and pharmacy at the Barack Obama Plaza motorway service station. The firm spent weeks testing deliveries to prove the technology works. 

It remains to be seen whether Samsung does expand the service, but it feels like an exciting move toward a future where products can be delivered quickly and cheaply — and that has to be a good thing.

A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.