Specs showdown: Sorry, iPhone 12, but Galaxy S21 may have won this round
Samsung has slashed prices of its Galaxy S21 lineup, but will that give it an edge over the iPhone 12 family? Here's the Galaxy S21 versus iPhone 12 specs comparison.
Sareena DayaramSenior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
trio of S21
-- the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra -- are here, and the lineup starts at a cool $200 less than its predecessor. While the price cut is a welcome change, the smartphone industry is notoriously cut-throat, and (as always) the S21 faces stiff competition from Apple and the
series. So let's see how the S21 stacks up against its long-time rival.
In a nutshell: The $800 S21 is a slightly better deal for the features you get, on paper at least (and only in the US; the price differences vary from country to country, as you can see in the chart below). Although the iPhone 12 line starts at $829 (£799, AU$1,349) you'll have to pony up $879 (£849, AU$1,429) for the 128GB version, which is the same amount of storage you get for the entry-level S21.
Watch this: Camera comparison: Galaxy S21 vs. iPhone 12
Each phone has its strengths, Patrick found, but dollar for dollar the S21 is giving you a little more for your money in terms of photo and video performance.
It's also important to note what Samsung removed from its S21 family to allow it to start at that lower price. One of the most controversial changes is the lack of an in-box wall adapter and earphones. The South Korean company is pushing its customers to reuse older accessories in the name of the environment, just like Apple did with the iPhone 12 family. The S21 line also lost expandable local storage, joining last year's Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Flip foldables in ditching the microSD card slot because "usage has markedly decreased."
One thing you get in the iPhone 12 that's absent on the S21, however, is MagSafe. That's Apple's proprietary magnetically enabled system that lets you charge your
wirelessly and attach all kinds of accessories to the back of the device. The Pro models also have lidar, which is a depth sensor that's useful for auto-focusing in low light for taking photos, videos and slow-motion footage, among other things.
The iPhone 12 is Apple's mainstream 2020 smartphone model. The iPhone 12 Mini offers most of the same features in a smaller body for a lower price, while the iPhone 12 Pro models offer an extra lens with optical zoom, among other upgrades.
The Galaxy S21 is Samsung's keystone 2021 smartphone, released in early 2021. Unlike the dual-lens iPhone, the S21 includes three rear cameras: wide, ultrawide and telephoto. The Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 Ultra are also available in larger screen sizes.