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Should I still buy a Samsung Galaxy S20 or S21 or wait for the S22?


Samsung’s Galaxy S21 is presently $800, and also you would possibly need to lower your expenses by going with final yr’s Galaxy S20.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 phones are each glorious Android telephones, a lot so {that a} potential purchaser would possibly contemplate shopping for one in all Samsung’s older telephones, quite than ready for the S22, to avoid wasting money. The Galaxy S20 specifically has had fairly the worth drop, launching at $999 proper because the coronavirus pandemic hit again in March 2020 and now out there for $650. That places it considerably decrease than the Galaxy S21, which is presently $150 dearer at $800. However does it nonetheless make sense to purchase an S20 or S21 now, realizing the Galaxy S22 is simply across the nook?

Although Samsung made some thrilling enhancements to the Galaxy S21, there are additionally just a few options that the older Galaxy S20 has that the Galaxy S21 doesn’t, which can be value contemplating in figuring out the higher worth. Plus, theGalaxy S22’s rumored options and specs are value wanting into as properly.

For these contemplating whether or not final yr’s, this yr’s or the potential of subsequent yr’s telephone is the perfect worth, let’s give attention to these key options. And we’ll splash in some Galaxy S22 rumors, simply in case you determine it is higher off to attend.


It is nonetheless early days for 5G. Most carriers are rolling out the community nonetheless, with many promising quicker speeds and wider protection areas over the following a number of years. That mentioned, Samsung has been supporting 5G because the Galaxy S20. As such it is also out there on the Galaxy S21 and a certainty for the rumored Galaxy S22. However there are variations when it comes to the kind of 5G alerts the 2 present telephones help.

The Galaxy S20 on most fashions gives help for the Sub-6 type of 5G, which has slower peak speeds than the millimeter wave model that’s nonetheless being rolled out. The Verizon mannequin does help that quicker type of 5G, nevertheless.

If 5G is necessary to you, then the Galaxy S21 is probably going the higher buy going ahead because it helps each sorts on all fashions. But when it is extra of a “good to have,” then the elevated speeds you will get on the S20 will possible be sufficient for many of your wants, even when it isn’t the quickest of all of them.

To be clear, 4G LTE nonetheless works wonderful and continues to be being supported alongside the 5G rollout.


Samsung’s Galaxy S20 has a higher-resolution display than the Galaxy S21.

Juan Garzon / CNET


The Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S21 have the same cameras, making this explicit comparability a draw on a technical degree, and a win for the cheaper Galaxy S20 on a worth degree. Each have on their backs a 64-megapixel telephoto digital camera, a 12-megapixel wide-angle digital camera and a 12-megapixel ultrawide digital camera. Across the entrance is a 10-megapixel selfie digital camera.

There aren’t as many rumors but on the Galaxy S22’s digital camera on the bottom mannequin, however there may be hypothesis suggesting that the highest-end Galaxy S22 Ultra will include a 200-megapixel camera based mostly on a teaser tweet from Samsung’s Exynos account.

Software program help

Years of software support are sometimes one of many largest causes to not purchase a year-old telephone. Typically talking, most telephones are launched with a transparent timeline on what number of years producers plan to proceed updating them to the most recent variations of Android.

The Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21 sequence are each getting no less than three generations of Android, having launched with Android 10. This implies the Galaxy S20 is assured to obtain Android 12 and Android 13. The Galaxy S21 will obtain help by way of Android 14. However not like Google’s Pixel or Apple’s iPhone line, Samsung takes time to customise Android for its telephones and infrequently launches its software program updates months after an Android update’s launch. This implies Samsung telephones get bumped up nearer to the top of the yr or as late as the primary few months of the next yr.

However, safety updates will proceed for fairly some time on each telephones. Samsung is committing 4 years of safety updates to pick out gadgets launched after 2019, which incorporates each the Galaxy S20 and S21. Meaning the Galaxy S20 is ready for safety updates till 2024 and the S21 till 2025. This could permit for a reasonably substantial interval to make use of the Galaxy S20 earlier than the safety updates finish.

Display screen

Samsung’s Galaxy S20 truly has a higher-resolution display in comparison with the S21. The telephone’s 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED has a 3,200×1,440-pixel decision, a density of 563 pixels per inch and a 120Hz display refresh price possibility (60Hz is ready by default). My colleague Jessica Dolcourt known as the display “tack-sharp” in her overview of the telephone.

By comparability, the Galaxy S21 has a 6.2-inch AMOLED display with a 2,400×1,080 decision, and a pixel density of 421ppi. It is a nominal discount in decision, however my colleague Patrick Holland mentioned in his Galaxy S21 review that the discount is just not as dramatic as it could appear. The display makes use of its adaptive display refresh price to modify between 48Hz and 120Hz, relying on whether or not you might be taking part in a recreation or simply studying an article, permitting the telephone to point out off extra graphical constancy once you need it and save battery when you do not want it.

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Samsung Pay just lost its best feature on the Galaxy…


Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay might sound like the same as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and in many ways it is. All three allow you to use your phone to make contactless payments instead of pulling out a credit card from your wallet. But when they first launched, Samsung Pay had a trump card feature that made it substantially more universal than either of Apple or Google’s options.

That feature was magnetic stripe technology (MST), which allows for Samsung phones that support it to make payments at payment terminals that relied solely on swiping the magnetic strip on a credit card.

It was far from flawless, but was a fantastic way to make secure payments when it worked. Back when I used a Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S10 phone, a bagel shop I enjoy was also one of the last I know to adopt contactless payment. To buy my breakfast there, I would just plop the phone onto the credit card reader and be on my way. The cashier at the store was aware of this too, and anytime someone pulled out a phone to pay, would ask if it was a Samsung since they were the only ones that worked.

But now, the Galaxy S20 and other Samsung phones released in 2020 are the last to include the feature. Starting with the Galaxy S21, Samsung Pay will no longer include the MST feature and rely just on near-field communication (NFC) — basically becoming identical in access to Apple Pay and Google Pay.

That said, contactless payment adoption has escalated quite a bit in the US over the last few years. Mastercard has even announced plans to remove magnetic strips from cards by 2024

Ultimately, while it’s a long time coming, it’s possible that NFC payments using contactless cards or phones will indeed reach ubiquity, and that magnetic swipe really could be relegated to the past soon.

If having that type of access to older payment terminals is important to you, then the Galaxy S20 is your only option among the phones we are comparing. The Galaxy S21 won’t have MST, and it’s doubtful the Galaxy S22 will either.

You may want to wait before deciding

While the Galaxy S20 could save you a couple hundred dollars off the price of the Galaxy S21, it’s worth noting that we expect a rumored Galaxy S21 FE could be arriving soon with a $699 starting price. This would be a sequel to last year’s Galaxy S20 FE, which also launched at that price in late 2020. This could be a compelling phone for anyone considering the Galaxy S20, because it would likely have many of the same features as the Galaxy S21 while also getting a full four years of software support.

Do you currently have the Galaxy S20 or another Samsung phone from 2020 or earlier? Let us know how it’s still running and if you would consider purchasing an older phone over a newer one in the comments section.

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