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This might be the reason why the Galaxy S21 will launch much earlier than usual

Published Nov 11th, 2020 7:31AM EST
Galaxy S21 Release Date
Image: Samsung

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  • A new report says Samsung will launch the Galaxy S21 in late January 2021, seemingly confirming a recent leak.
  • Samsung isn’t just worried about the iPhone 12, the report notes. The company is looking to take advantage of Huawei’s ongoing crises.
  • Huawei is still banned from doing business with US tech companies, and that makes it increasingly harder to compete in the mobile business.

A prominent leaker said a few days ago that Samsung would unveil the Galaxy S21 series on January 14th, and the phones will launch in stores on January 29th. If accurate, this would give the Galaxy S21 the earliest launch of a Galaxy S phone so far. The Galaxy S phones usually launch in February, and they ship to buyers a few weeks after the official announcement. A few days ago, I speculated that the sub-par sales performances of the Galaxy S20 and Note 20, combined with the successful launch of the iPhone 12 series that arrived in two delayed waves, and the coronavirus pandemic, may have convinced Samsung to launch the S21 earlier than usual. But it turns out there may be another major factor at play here that Samsung is trying to take advantage of: The ongoing Huawei crisis.

Huawei’s mobile business has been delivered a significant blow when the Trump administration banned the Chinese smartphone maker from working with US tech companies. This essentially hindered Huawei’s plans to become the world’s top smartphone vendor by preventing it from getting new smartphone hardware and software deals. Huawei doesn’t have access to the chips it needs to keep up with the iPhone and Samsung, and its Android devices can’t run Google’s version of Android. As a result, selling a top-of-the-line Android phone that doesn’t feel like an Android phone has hurt Huawei’s bottom line.

Samsung is trying to take advantage of the entire situation, especially considering America’s recent political developments. Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, and it’s unclear how the latter will act relative to China compared to his predecessor.

Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Samsung is planning to launch the new Galaxy S phones more than a month earlier than expected “in a bid to grab market share from Huawei and fend off competition from Apple.”

The report notes that South Korean chip industry officials hope that Biden will ease some of the restrictions imposed on Huawei, but they also expect the incoming administration to maintain a tough stance on China. Huawei is in “survival mode,” per Reuters, as the restrictions are hurting its supply of chips and other telecom equipment. The report also notes that a person at a major supplier of chips said Huawei’s stockpiles would run early next year.

Samsung will launch the Galaxy S21 in late January next year, compared to early March in 2020. The report likely refers to the S21’s store launch rather than the announcement. The Galaxy S20 series was unveiled in mid-February this year.

The report also notes that Samsung sold 59% fewer Galaxy S20 units in the second quarter of the year compared to the previous model’s performance a year earlier. Apple sold 15% more iPhone 11 units during the period compared to the iPhone XR sales a year earlier.

The iPhone 12 offers an even better performance than the iPhone 11, it comes in four sizes, and all of them support 5G connectivity. What’s even worse for Samsung is that the iPhone 12 starts at a much lower price point than the S20 and Note 20.

Aside from the iPhone, Samsung has to worry about increased competition from other Chinese smartphone makers. Xiaomi and Oppo are also expected to take advantage of Huawei’s problems.

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.

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