Apple also has been offering cheaper versions of the iPhones in recent years, a trend that was amplified last year with the April release of a model selling for $400 and another scaled-down device released last fall that sells for $700 compared to $1,100 for its latest top-of-the-line model
Samsung quickly learned about how the pandemic might reshape the smartphone market when last year’s Galaxy S20 models hit the stores in the U.S. last March just as lockdowns were shutting down wide swaths of the economy and unemployment rates were soaring to their highest levels since the Great Depression nearly a century ago.
The downturn curtailed demand for the Galaxy S20 lineup, contributing to a 29% drop from the previous year in Samsung’s smartphone shipments for the April-June period, according to the research firm International Data Corp. The plunge temporarily knocked Samsung from its perch as the world’s leading seller of smartphones, but the company reclaimed the mantle from China’s Huawei after its shipments rebounded during the July-September period.
But the slump prompted Samsung to release a lower cost phone, called the Galaxy S20 FE, in October that wasn’t in the company’s original plans last year, Blackard said. That model sold for $700, down from the $1,000 price that Samsung had set for its lower-priced standard Galaxy S20.
In this year’s lineup, the standard Galaxy S21 phone will start at $800, a 20% markdown from last year’s comparable model. The latest Galaxy fine will feature a new design for the camera modules, with more photography options, increased privacy controls and a battery that Samsung promises will last at least a day before it needs to be recharged.
The two other phones have slightly bigger screens in addition to a few other bells and whistles not offered on the basic model. The Galaxy S21 Plus will sell for $1,000, a 17% reduction from last year’s comparable model while the Galaxy S21 Ultra will sell for $1,300, down by $100 from last year’s comparable model.
And the Ultra model will become the first Galaxy S phone capable of working with a Samsung pen that will be sold separately to allow users to digitally draw on the display the screen. Previously, Samsung has only designed the pen for its Galaxy Note models that are aimed for buyers who use those devices primarily for getting work done rather than for entertainment and leisure. The standard S Pen costs $40.
Samsung also announced it is teaming up with Audi, BMW, Ford and Genesis to enable the Galaxy S 21 phones to be used as digital keys that can unlock vehicles made by those automakers. That is something Apple already started to do last with on a more limited basis with BMW. Samsung didn't specify when the the digital car key feature on its new phones will be enabled.
All three phones will be available in stores Jan. 29, although they can be preordered beginning Thursday.
This photo provided by Samsung shows the Galaxy S21. Samsung’s next crop of smartphones will boast bigger screens, better cameras, and longer-lasting batteries at lower prices than than last year’s lineup that came out just before the pandemic toppled the economy. The three Galaxy S21 phones unveiled Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 during a virtual event will face similar challenges in an economy still hobbled by the COVID-19 crisis. (Samsung via AP)
This photo provided by Samsung shows the Galaxy S21 Plus. Samsung’s next crop of smartphones will boast bigger screens, better cameras, and longer-lasting batteries at lower prices than than last year’s lineup that came out just before the pandemic toppled the economy. The three Galaxy S21 phones unveiled Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 during a virtual event will face similar challenges in an economy still hobbled by the COVID-19 crisis. (Samsung via AP)