Buyer’s guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 – which to choose and why


The release of a new line of flagships from Samsung usually raises a question that has not lost its relevance in recent years: is it worth buying the newest smartphone or staying with last year’s model. What you get and what you don’t get. From year to year we try to help you in your choice, tell you about all the little things that can push you to one or another choice, and we will do exactly the same now. To compare the 2020 and 2021 models, I chose the basic S20 and S21 models, with a number of small reservations, the same considerations can be applied to the S20 + and S21 +, but the differences in the Ultra models are more noticeable, so let’s leave them aside for now, there will still be time and reason to return. For simplicity, the text is divided into small chapters that outline the pros and cons of each solution. I think that you yourself will be able to choose what is important to you and what is secondary, since we are all different and what is good for one person is not at all the same for another. Nobody can make a choice for you.


  1. Design, dimensions, ergonomics
  2. Display – diagonal and screen quality
  3. Chipset, performance and memory
  4. Battery and running time
  5. Cameras – photo quality
  6. Prices and what to choose

Design, dimensions, ergonomics

The design of these models is very different, for example, the S20 is made according to the patterns of the flagships of previous years – a metal frame, glass that covers the back of the body.

Buyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and why

The S21 uses reinforced plastic (glastic, the same as the Note20), it is matte, pleasant to the touch, and does not leave marks from your hands. The strength of this material is also excellent, but the perception of “plastic” is such that this is not the lot of flagships. If this moment is very important to you, then remember that the S21 uses such materials, while the frame is exactly the same.

Buyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and whyBuyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and whyBuyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and why

The colors for the S21 have been updated, and you can also see a different design of the camera, it is done in a bead on the rear panel.

Buyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and whyBuyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and why

Externally, the devices are quite comparable, but the S21 looks unambiguously fresh, although this is a matter of taste. The ergonomics of these solutions are comparable. I will give the dimensions of the devices:

  • S20 – 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm, 163 grams
  • S21 – 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm, 172 grams

They are perceived the same, you will not notice any difference. Compact devices with very good ergonomics for everyday use.

Display – diagonal and screen quality

The screen in a modern smartphone determines a lot, because its quality depends on how tired you will be when working with the device, how your photos will be displayed, how comfortable it will be to watch a video or play. Samsung has always put the best screens in their flagships, they compare favorably with their counterparts from other manufacturers. In the Galaxy S20, the screen does not raise any questions, brightness up to 1200 nits, screen type Dynamic AMOLED, maximum resolution and refresh rate up to 120 Hz (only for FullHD + resolution).

Buyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and why

Complaining that the screen in the S20 is somehow different is impossible – it is excellent by any standards and is second only to newer models, and these concessions are in the details, you will not notice much difference.

Buyer's guide. Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20 - which to choose and why

The Galaxy S21 has a Dynamic AMOLED 2x screen, it reproduces colors more accurately and better, but the difference is visible only in direct comparison, and it is not colossal. Another important point to consider is that the screen is limited to FullHD + resolution (the S20 has the same resolution by default). The diagonals of the screens are quite comparable – 6.2 inches.

On the one hand, the S21 has a slightly better and newer screen, on the other hand, the maximum resolution for it was limited. In everyday life, this will not give any problems, everything else is comparable, both devices are different in their displays, you will not see a noticeable difference unless you put two devices side by side and start looking for differences meticulously. We can probably say that there is parity here.

Chipset, performance and memory

In Russia, like a year ago, smartphones are available on Exynos, this platform has no flaws, the S21 has Exynos 2100, made at a rate of 5 nm. This processor is faster and more efficient than last year, it has new subsystems for AI algorithms, photo processing (hello, new shooting modes and quality effects). But it is impossible to argue that you will see any difference in the interface. For several years now, manufacturers have limited (slowed down) the interface, since a further increase in the speed of work is unnecessary, outwardly for the human eye it is unpleasant. From here, tales about brakes and other horrors begin to sound exactly like fairy tales, although, on the other hand, if you want, you can break anything, you would have a fuse.

Therefore, the speed of operation in the interface will be the same, but the speed of launching third-party applications is different, the S21 copes with this task faster. The amount of RAM is 8 GB, both in the S20 and S21! The memory type does not differ either, there is full parity here.

The S21 does not support memory cards, in the S20 you can put a memory card up to 1TB! And for some, this will be a very significant change that is worth paying attention to. The internal memory is 128 GB, the S21 also has a 256 GB model.

I also note that all S21s have 5G support, while in Russia the S20 is sold without support for 5G networks. In the absence of commercial networks, this point is not so important, but it might be worth taking it into consideration. Most likely, in 2-3 years you will change the device, so it is definitely not worth thinking about the long term.

Battery and running time

Here again we see full parity, the models are similar – built-in 4000 mAh battery. All other parameters are the same, fast reverse wireless charging is present, wireless charging is also good. But there is an important difference – the S21 does not come with a charging unit, following Apple, Samsung removed this accessory. The decision is stupid, bad, and there is no way to approve of it. Let me remind you that the S20 comes with 25 W fast charging, which already saves you about 2 rubles.

Many manufacturers, when moving from 7nm to 5nm processors, reduce the size of the battery, since the operating time remains exactly the same. Samsung did not do that, and the S21 is about 7-10% more durable than its predecessor, it lasts longer. It all depends on what you are doing on your smartphone, what settings and usage profile, but full-time, both devices live with ease for most users.

Cameras – photo quality

Do you want to be surprised? In the S20 and S21, the hardware has the same cameras, both the front (10 megapixels) and the main unit:

  • Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, 1.4μm, F2.2
  • Wide angle: 12 MP, 1.8μm, F1.8, OIS
  • Telephoto: 64 MP, 0.8μm, F2.0, OIS

These are excellent cameras in the case of the S20, and in the S21 there are more different AI-modes, portrait shooting has been redesigned, it is possible to record 4K video from different camera modules at the same time (thanks to the new processor and ISP). But the volume of changes is not at all such that the average person would say that the camera shoots in a fundamentally different way. Better in certain plots, automation works a little faster, but formally this is one level, it is definitely not worth waiting for something else. Both cameras are different, and the difference for most people is not important.

Look at the sample photos on the S20, we’ll add a comparison with the S21 later.

Prices and what to choose

At the moment, in the Samsung brand store, the cost of the Galaxy S20 (8/128 GB) is 54 rubles, a year ago the device came out for 990 rubles. This model remains one of the most popular in its segment; within the framework of various promotions, the price for it often drops to 69 thousand rubles (excluding trade-in, with it you can get the price even lower). The new Galaxy S990 comes out at a cost of 50 rubles (21/74 GB) or 990 rubles (8/128 GB). The difference in the cost of the basic options is 79 thousand rubles! It is also worth remembering that the set with the new devices does not include wired headphones and a charger unit, there is only a USB cable.

Whatever one may say, the advantage of the S20 with the similarity of the main characteristics (screen, cameras, etc.) is obvious. In terms of price / quality ratio, the Galaxy S20 is one of the best flagships on the Russian market, and with the release of the S21, this statement becomes even more true. The difference of 20 thousand rubles cannot be justified by a better processor, as well as minor changes in the hardware. For some, it is important to have the very, very latest smartphone, but such people will look at the S21 +, S21 Ultra, and not the basic version. Usually, the basic flagship is chosen because of its relative compactness, screen size, and not a fashionable component.

The conclusion is not paradoxical, but usual for 2021 and subsequent years, the model of the previous year, by and large, is in no way inferior to the new product, and the difference in price is staggering. Therefore, it makes sense to pay attention to the S20, it will be extremely beneficial in terms of price / quality ratio, and we will see a surge in sales of this model, consider it inevitable. I will make a reservation that this is the correct reasoning regarding the majority of buyers who choose rationally and pragmatically, there are more and more such people every year, since the image component of flagships is getting thinner, many go with devices 3-4 years old and do not feel in something limited or unfashionable.

Please vote – for which apparatus, knowing the difference between them, do you cast your vote?

And, of course, we are waiting for you in the comments to discuss which of these devices is better, in your opinion.

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