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This might be the best thing about Samsung’s new Galaxy S21

Published Jan 15th, 2021 6:50AM EST
Galaxy S21 Features
Image: Samsung

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  • Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21 on Thursday, confirming most rumors that preceded the Unpacked 2021 event. The handsets are available for preorder at lower price points than their predecessors.
  • Google appeared in a segment of the press conference, with Hiroshi Lockheimer highlighting all the ways the two companies have been working together to improve the Galaxy S21 experience.
  • The Google Messages app will be native to the Galaxy S21, and the app will support RCS messaging where available. Google also customized other apps for the Galaxy S21, including Google Duo, Discover, and TalkBack.

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21 series on Thursday, basically confirming most S21 rumors since November. The S21 comes in three versions, and all phones have new designs that include a metal camera module on the back. The S21 Ultra offers the best overall hardware, but it’s also the most expensive of the three. The base Galaxy S21 starts at $799, which is a great entry price compared to last year’s $999 S20. The handsets are all available for preorder, but you should know they ship without chargers or headphones in most countries. All phones feature the same high-end chip, whether it’s the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 platform, and run the same Android 11 version with Samsung UI on top. The S21 will easily be one of the best Android phones of the first half of the year, and we’re just getting started. But the phone might have one significant advantage over the competition: Google.

Samsung and Google seem ready to work together more closely than ever, with Google already hyping the partnership, with a particular focus on the Galaxy S21. Google was part of the S21 launch event, with Google’s Senior Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer appearing in a segment toward the end of the Unpacked press conference.

“The Galaxy S21 is a major step forward, as we’ve pushed the boundaries with Samsung and their world-class technology to create an amazing, cohesive product experience,” Lockheimer said, highlighting a few of the Google apps that will receive prominent placement on the Galaxy S21 phones.

“The Galaxy S21 is an incredible device that brings the best of the Samsung and Google collaboration,” he said.

“Staying connected with friends and family is a top priority for many of us,” the Google exec said. “Google Duo and Messages are great examples of how we’ve worked with Samsung to make these apps more helpful and easy to use.”

Google Messages will be native to the Galaxy S21 series, and users will be able to use RCS messaging if they so desire. Availability might vary by market, however. Google Duo will support mirroring to Samsung TVs.

Google is also bringing Discover to the Galaxy S21, which “will provide personalized, high-quality content on the S21, with a single swipe from your home screen,” according to the exec.

Samsung and Google’s partnership doesn’t stop there, as the two companies worked on other products. “we’ve collaborated with Samsung to develop a new version of TalkBack, a Google screen reader, available first on Galaxy,” Lockheimer said.

The partnership also covers additional screens in our “multi-device” world, including Android Auto, Google Nest, and SmartThings.

On the security side of things, the S21 runs the latest Android 11 release, which “gives you more control over your data and privacy than ever before.”

“For those of you interested in using the S21 for work, you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s an Android Enterprise Recommended device,” Lockheimer said. “The S21 exceeds the program’s elevated hardware and software requirements for business use.”

The fact that the Chrome browser is placed in the default Galaxy S21 dock seen in the official press at the top of this post is future proof of the importance of this Samsung-Google deal.

Google also highlighted the S21 in a blog post titled The best of Google, now in new devices.

Add to all that Samsung’s commitment to three years of Android updates for its flagships and other Galaxy-branded devices, and the increased collaboration with Google might be one of the best things about the Galaxy S21, especially in a world where Huawei can’t use any of Google’s apps on new smartphones.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.