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Samsung launches new flagship Galaxy S21 range

Samsung has unveiled its latest range of flagship smartphones with three models ranging in price from £769 to £1,149. 

The S21 range from the South Korean tech giant features an entry level model, the mid-range Plus and the Ultra.

Much of the spec aligns with previously leaked renders and information, with a renewed focus on the devices' camera system.

Pre-order of the handsets opens today and the phones will be available as of January 29. 

The S21 is available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Grey, Phantom Pink and Phantom White and the Plus model is only available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.

The Ultra however comes in Phantom Black and Phantom Silver as well as three exclusive colours: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown.

The S21 range from the South Korean tech giant features an entry level model (right), the Plus (middle)and the Ultra (left)

The Ultra also comes with S-pen compatibility, the first Galaxy device to do so. The Galaxy devices were formally unveiled at Samsung's Unpacked event featuring the tagline 'welcome to the everyday epic'

The devices were formally unveiled alongside Samsung's Unpacked event featuring the tagline 'welcome to the everyday epic'.

Patrick Chomet, executive vice-president and head of Samsung's customer experience office, says: 'Galaxy S21 series is built for those who want premium mobile innovations to capture and share their world. 

'With a head-turning, iconic design, an epic pro-grade camera, a super smooth, immersive display and the most advanced processor ever in a Galaxy device, the Galaxy S21 series offers unrivaled connectivity, power and performance.

'Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are for people who want to take and share high quality photos and videos, to enjoy a premium viewing experience, plus powerful connectivity no matter where you are. 

'Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate premium, cutting-edge smartphone that delivers top-of-the-line mobile innovations that bring you closer to the people and things that matter most. 

'This device is available for people who want the best of the best and demand to be a step ahead, as can be proved by its groundbreaking features.'

Screen size varies depending on the model, increasing from 6.1 inches on the entry-level device up to 6.7inch on the Plus and 6.8inch for the Ultra. 

The bigger body also means the larger models pack a bigger battery. The smallest of the three is 4,000mAh whereas the Plus and Ultra have a 4,800 and 5,000 mAh powerpack, respectively. 

All three phones have Samsung's world-leading fingerprint recognition security.  

The 5G-compatible phones also come with a rapid refresh rate of 120Hz to allow for smooth scrolling, viewing and gaming. The S21 is the only one which does not support ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. 

They all feature a dynamic AMOLED 2x display which Samsung says will be perfectly suited to gaming.  

Samsung is also introducing '8K video snap' which allows users to take pictures from short 8K quality video recorded on the handset at 60 frames per second. 

For the first time on a Galaxy device, the Ultra also brings 4K video recording capability, again at 60fps, and the ability to save it as a 12-bit RAW file so none of the quality is lost.  

All three models come with new Eye Comfort Shield technology which Samsung claims reduces the amount of harmful blue light produced by the screen. 

Screen size varies depending on the model, increasing from 6.1 inches on the entry-level device up to 6.7inch on the Plus and 6.8 for the Ultra

Samsung's major pitch to consumers to convince them to buy the S21 range focuses around offering a comprehensive photography experience. The S21 and Plus both have a 10MP front camera whereas the Ultra has a monstrous 40MP sensor, for example 

Galaxy S21 range specifications 

S21 

Screen size: 6.2'

Ram: 8GB 

Storage: up to 256GB 

Display: 120Hz/dynamic AMOLED 2x 

Network: 5G/UWB

Battery: 4,000 mAh 

S21+

Screen size: 6.7'

Ram: 8GB

Storage: up to 256GB

Display: 120Hz/dynamic AMOLED 2x 

Network: 5G/UWB 

Battery: 4,000 mAh 

S21 Ultra 

Screen size: 6.8'

Ram: 8GB

Storage: up to 512GB

Display: 120Hz/dynamic AMOLED 2x

Network: 5G/UWB 

Battery: 4,000 mAh 

Both the S21 and the Plus have 8GB of RAM whereas the Ultra has 16GB. The top-end model also packs twice as much internal storage, 512GB compared to 256GB for both the S21 and the Plus.  

But Samsung's major pitch to consumers to convince them to buy the S21 range focuses around offering a comprehensive photography experience. 

The S21 and Plus both have a 10MP front camera whereas the Ultra has a monstrous 40MP sensor. 

But the main changes come with the rear camera, as the S21 and Plus both have three lenses: a 12MP ultra wide lens, 12MP wide lens and a 64MP telephoto lens. 

This means both have the same vertical unit fitted to the top left corner on the rear of the phone, but the Ultra is stuffed with even more optical technology.

The 5G-compatible phones also come with a rapid refresh rate of 120Hz to allow for smooth scrolling, viewing and gaming. The S21 is the only one which does not support ultra-wideband (UWB) technology

On the Ultra the three lens layout of its smaller siblings is replaced with a five-lens wedge that includes the same 12MP ultrawide lens, but that's where the similarities end

The three lens layout of its smaller siblings is replaced with a quad-lens wedge that includes the same 12MP ultrawide lens, but that's where the similarities end. 

It has two telephoto lenses which focus on different ranges of distance as well as a 108MP wide lens and a laser autofocus sensor.

But Samsung has tried to make the camera technology easy and quick to use as to not alienate users, championing a 'point and snap' approach which lets the software and improved AI in the phone do the heavy lifting. 

Samsung is also touting improvements to night and portrait mode as well as its space zoom feature which still reaches a remarkable 100x zoom. 

But now using some clever technological trickery Samsung has made it possible to hold on extreme zoom and minimise wobbling caused by an unsteady hand. 

KJ Kim, Chief Technology Officer at Samsung, said: 'At Samsung, our goal is to help everyone take pro-quality photos and videos, no matter if you are in a low or bright light environment, near or far away from the subject. 

'When innovating the camera for the Galaxy S21 series, we focused on capturing the best, high-quality photos and videos at any time, making it easy for consumers to enjoy professional looking, cinematic results powered by improved on-device AI. 

'There is a lot of new technology and innovation required to achieve this and it starts with our most advanced image sensor. 

'We also built the Galaxy S21 Ultra with our most advanced pro-grade camera system. It raises the bar for professional photographers and tech enthusiasts looking for the best in mobile camera performance and future-proof innovations.'  

The Ultra also comes with S-pen compatibility, the first Galaxy device to do so. 

Samsung has also followed the lead of its US rival Apple and removed wired headphones and chargers from the box of its S2 range. 

Mr Chomet says the company 'discovered' a high proportion of Galaxy customers continue to use accessories they already possess from older models. 

'We believe that the gradual removal of charger plugs and earphones from our in-box device packaging can help address sustainable consumption issues and remove any pressure that consumers may feel towards continually receiving unnecessary charger accessories with new phones,' he says.

'We've also been implementing standardized USB-C type charging ports since 2017, so older chargers can still be compatible with our newest Galaxy models.'

Samsung unveils trio of new robots to help out around the house 

Samsung has unveiled a range of new robots designed to help out around the home – capable of filling the dishwasher and even pouring owners a glass of wine.

The line-up includes a robot vacuum cleaner which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify cables and fragile objects when tidying.

It is joined by the Bot Care, a robotic assistant which also uses AI to learn a person's schedule and habits, and the Bot Handy, which includes a robotic arm and is able to analyse objects and pick them up with the correct force to help with household chores.

To demonstrate the Bot Handy, the tech giant showed it lifting items from a kitchen side into a dishwasher, as well as pouring a glass of wine without any human help.

The JetBot 90 AI+ robot vacuum includes a camera as well as sensors to navigate around the home, and the camera can also be used remotely by owners to check in on pets.

However, there was no word on when the robots might be made available to the public.

The trio of new devices were part of Samsung's new gadget announcements at CES, the annual technology convention which has moved entirely online for the first time in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Samsung said it was increasingly looking at ways of improving life at home for people, as lockdowns and social distancing measures mean many spent more time working and studying from home.

'Our world looks different, and many of you have been faced with a new reality – one where, among other things, your home has taken on a greater significance,' said Samsung's Sebastian Seung.

'Our innovations are designed to provide more personal and more intuitive experiences that express your personality. We're hard at work to bring you next-generation innovation, with AI as the core enabler, for your better tomorrow.'

Devices designed to improve life in the pandemic as well as respond to new trends emerging from it has already been an early theme of this year's CES, with fellow tech giant LG announcing a robot which uses UV light to disinfect surfaces earlier on Monday.

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