Technology Samsung's A Series, the perfect phones for pandemic times, get the spotlight at Unpacked
Best phone 2021: Best overall, foldable, stylus & more
While it's easy to find a great smartphone these days, ZDNet mobile expert Matt Miller hand-picks the top 10 best phone models worthy of your consideration -- and all support 5G.Some phones excel at photography, others at serving as a small tablet, and others that can withstand a drop in the field. The term "best" may be specific to your needs, but there are some truly standout devices that are better than others.
Samsung tends to use its splashy Unpacked events to show off the newest high-end gadgets in its , and families of phones. But it's the company's midrange A Series, , that'll take center stage at its next big product event.
On Wednesday at 7 a.m. PT, . Samsung called Wednesday's event "Galaxy Awesome Unpacked" and said it'll explain how it's "bringing Awesome to everyone." (Yes, capital "A" Awesome). Its first Unpacked, in mid-January, marked the introduction of Samsung's flagship phones for the year, the . All , and the devices .
Samsung S21, Galaxy Buds Pro Preorder
Samsung held its first Unpacked event of 2021, during which it announced a new lineup of phones and earbuds, up for preorder January 14. We break down what you need to know about the Galaxy S21, S21+, S21 Ultra, Galaxy Buds Pro, and Galaxy SmarTag.The Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra — the successors to the Galaxy S20 family — arrive with a new design highlighted, faster processor, continued 5G support and camera updates. The Galaxy Buds Pro, the long-rumored high-end true wireless earbuds, boast ANC support and a voice detect mode. Most surprising, though, is the Galaxy SmartTag, a Bluetooth tracker designed from the ground up to work with Galaxy smartphones.
The Galaxy S may be Samsung's most high-profile flagship lineup, and the , but neither are the most popular devices the South Korean giant sells. That title goes to the Galaxy A, which represented more than three out of every four Samsung phones shipped around the world last year, according to Strategy Analytics. The line's quiet rise as a major contributor to sales for Samsung underscores the notion that while high-end specs and cutting-edge features are nice for attention and buzz, people still care about what they're spending on phones -- especially in these times.
Samsung will bring more attention to the lineup than ever when it makes the Galaxy A the focus of Wednesday's Unpacked.
Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra arrive Jan. 29 with new design, $200 price cut
The lineup starts at $800 instead of last year's $1,000. And the Ultra supports an optional $40 S Pen accessory.The South Korean electronics giant on Thursday, during its first virtual Unpacked event of the year, showed off its three new phones : the $800 Galaxy S21, the $1,000 Galaxy S21 Plus and the $1,200 Galaxy S21 Ultra. (In the UK, the S21 will start at £769, just £30 cheaper than the S20.) It also unveiled new $200 earbuds, called the Galaxy Buds Pro; $30 Tile-like Galaxy SmartTags that can track nonelectronic items like pets; and a $40 S Pen accessory. The event took place on the last day of this year's CES and more than a month earlier than normal.
When Samsung , it was with its Galaxy S devices, which propelled , a title it's held for most of the past decade. Similarly, the and the .
Generating much less fanfare is the Galaxy A lineup. The phones have been viewed as devices for people who are more price sensitive -- if anyone thought about the A Series at all. They've been sold internationally for years .
In the past, "every time [Samsung] rolled out the S series, even after carrier subsidies disappeared, that was what sold," Strategy Analytics analyst Ken Hyers said. "Things like the A Series or equivalent product, those were for the people who didn't have the money for a premium phone."
Jana Kramer: A Day in My Life
It seems Jana Kramer can do it all in just 24 hours! Not only does she spend her day-to-day life working hard on her many business ventures — including her “Whine Down” podcast and her new wine brand, One Brick — the actress also makes sure to bond with her family as much as she can. When she’s not getting down to business, Kramer loves to play with her 5-year-old daughter, Jolie, and 2-year-old son, Jace, whom she shares with husband Mike Caussin. In fact, the podcaster loves motherhood so much, she’s even thinking of an expansion. “I’m 37, so I would love more,” she told Us Weekly earlier this month. “I just don’t know if I’m emotionally strong enough to handle another miscarriage. I don’t know how I would feel if I didn’t carry the baby because I love being pregnant minus the fact of throwing up. I thought I felt the most beautiful when I was pregnant.” Caussin’s vasectomy is also playing another factor in their decision, but the two are open to doing “more research on surrogacy” and adoption, which is “definitely” something they’re thinking about, she says. After the little ones are put to bed, Kramer makes it a point to spend one-on-one time with the retired football player, 33, too. Having to quarantine with Caussin — despite their rocky marriage — has been “the best test,” she also admitted earlier this month, noting that the situation was similar to reality show Big Brother. “I truly do feel stronger because of it, because we had the time together. There were times when we were just like, ‘I don’t even want to look at you today,’” she added. “But I feel grateful.” Keep scrolling to see how else Kramer spends a typical day in her life.
Last year's Galaxy A lineup included four 4G LTE phones and two 5G models. They ranged from $110 for the Galaxy A10 to $650 for the Galaxy A71 5G on Verizon's network ( without super-fast 5G millimeter-wave connectivity). All came with some high-end features, though they weren't nearly as premium as the specs found in the Galaxy S, Note and foldables. And none came close to the price tag for Samsung's premium phones, which started at $1,000 for the Galaxy S20. Though the Galaxy A lineup may not have the flash of Samsung's high-end phones, what it does have is a lot of buyers across the world.
In the US, where there's often a bigger market for pricey phones than many other regions, the A Series' shipments surpassed the S Series, 26% to 19%, according to Strategy Analytics. In the key fourth quarter of the year, nearly half of Samsung's phone shipments in the US came from the A Series. That included models like the $180 Galaxy A11, $250 Galaxy A21 and $500 Galaxy A51 5G.
Samsung's new Galaxy A52, A52 5G and A72 mid-priced smartphones are loaded with cool features
The latest devices in Samsung's A series of mid-range phones focus on camera and screen quality as well as battery life."Galaxy A is awesome all around, so it's no surprise its biggest fans belong to the next generation of influencers. This is the generation that's harnessed the power of we when it's the global cultural thing and come together with friends from around the world...organize around issues, and everything in between," said Charles Hsieh, senior manager for launch and partnerships for Samsung, at the livestream Unpacked event on YouTube.
People are increasingly choosing less expensive phones, even if they can afford the pricier models like the Galaxy S, Strategy Analytics' Hyers said.
Today's phone market looks very different from the industry a few years ago. In the past, many consumers bought the latest and greatest on a regular two-year cadence, and Apple and Samsung . Now people in the US are content holding onto their phones an additional year, and when they upgrade, they're often seeking out less expensive phones. Today's mainstream devices ship with many higher-end features -- like fast processors, big screens and several camera lenses -- that consumers deem to be good enough, especially for the price. Samsung even for this year's S21 models.
"The price of premium products has gotten out of whack with what people think is justifiable for a smartphone," Hyers said. "And midtier phones like the A51 ... don't feel like you're making a compromise."
Samsung declined to comment ahead of Wednesday's event.
The new A Series
This year, Samsung is expected to introduce Galaxy A52 and A72 phones, successors to last year's A51 and A71. The devices likely will come with 4G and 5G variants right away (last year's 5G models arrived after the 4G versions) and several improvements over the older models.
Samsung Galaxy A Series Preorders: Your guide
Samsung, which earlier this year dropped the bar of entry to the Galaxy S21 family to $799.99, is furthering its focus on value with the 2021 Galaxy A Series — a five-phone family that ranges from $109.99 to $499.99. The latest phone drop provides more choice to those who don't necessarily need cameras with ultra-zoom capabilities nor the processing power of a computer in their pocket. © Provided by CNN Galaxy A Series: A quick breakdownThe five phones — four of which are currently available — comprising the line are: Galaxy A02S ($109.99; samsung.com) will be available in the coming weeks.Galaxy A12 ($179.99; samsung.com)Galaxy A32 5G ($279.
The, a better processor and more RAM, while keeping the 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display found in the A51. And the A72 is believed to , a first for any Samsung device. It also may .
Refreshing the higher end of the A Series could have a lower boost on Samsung's unit sales than introducing newer cheap models. It's the company's least expensive Galaxy A models that have proved to be the most popular with consumers, said Mark Bachman, lead tech and telecom analyst at M Science. His firm tracks how well phone models sell.
Looking at the first 20 weeks of sales for each device, the data analytics provider found that the budget models, like the $180 Galaxy A10e and A11 or the $250 A20 and A21, sold in higher numbers than the higher priced $500 A51 5G and $600 A71 5G (or $650 at Verizon). US consumers bought nearly 2.5 million units of the A11 in its first five months of sales, while they purchased only about 300,000 Galaxy A51 5G units.
"While the launch of the A52/A72 series will refresh Samsung's midrange offerings, we believe these phones will have less impact to Samsung's sales in the US when compared to their budget A series and premium priced S series handsets," Bachman said.
Still, Samsung hasn't yet said what its new A Series devices will cost. It could lower the prices for the models, like how it cut Galaxy S pricing.
Hitting the 'sweet spot'
Samsung highlighting its less expensive phones follows a trend found across the mobile industry. The first 5G devices on the market in 2019 . Samsung's and . That's $400 and $200 more than the 4G variants, respectively.
Samsung Event: How to watch the 'awesome' Galaxy A series phone announcement
The South Korean company is promising to bring "awesome to everyone," likely in the form of less expensive Galaxy A phones.Samsung will hold its second Unpacked event of 2021 on March 17.
But and drop pricing for 5G phones much more quickly than expected. In September, for $300 less than its S20 sibling. Then in January, Samsung said its new Galaxy S21 models would cost $200 less than their Galaxy S20 sibling from a year earlier. It's partly because component costs have fallen but also recognition that it's getting harder to convince people to shell out $1,000 for a phone.has forced companies to
The Galaxy S21 lineup meets "sweet spots" in the market when it comes to pricing and features, Drew Blackard, Samsung Electronics America's vice president of product management, said in an interview ahead of January's Unpacked event. And he said the lower starting point is likely here to stay.
The Galaxy A devices are even more affordable, without having to sacrifice features like strong cameras.
A new smartphone that won't drain your bank account may be worth the trouble of all that Unpacked fanfare after all.
The Morning After: Samsung revealed the Galaxy S21 series .
Samsung’s newest smartphones are here. The company managed to hold on to one surprise when it came to its Galaxy S21 phone family — the pricing. Both the S21 and S21+ are roughly $200 cheaper than the phones that came before them, and that’s a big deal for Android phone owners planning to update. We’ll break down the specs for each device below, but the S21, S21+ and the S21 Ultra (yep, three new phones) aim squarely at the iPhone 12 series. AsAs we noted early yesterday, at $800 and $1,000, the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are the same price as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Depending on your mobile OS preference, Samsung’s phones might come out on top in such a comparison.