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Samsung Galaxy S21 makes Google Messages app native, but there's a catch

Samsung Messages may still be the default on the new S21 lineup, but Google Messages is now a native app on Samsung's new phones.

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Google Messages will be native on the Samsung S21 phone line.

Screenshot/Samsung
This story is part of CES, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.

At Samsung Unpacked on Thursday, the electronics giant unveiled its Galaxy S21 smartphones, which will arrive on Jan. 29 with a small but important change: Google Messages will be a native texting platform. 

"We made Messages by Google native to the S21 series to help you to stay close to your favorite people," said Federico Casalegno, head of experience planning at Samsung. CNET has a guide explaining how to use the Google Messages app.

Read more: Check out CNET's Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Google Messages is the default text messaging app on most Android phones, and has a chat feature built in to it that enables advanced features -- many of which are similar to what you'd find in Apple's iMessage. The technical name for this type of messaging is Rich Communication Services (RCS), which replaces Short Message Service (SMS) texts. 

However, if you read the fine print during the Unpacked presentation, it notes that availability may vary based on region or carrier. Samsung confirmed to CNET that Samsung Messages will still be the default messaging app on the S21 phones in the US. But you'll still be able to download the Google Messages app in the Play Store to replace Samsung Messages if you want to.

Now playing: Watch this: Our first look at the new Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus
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