With the Galaxy S21, Samsung has finally figured out the iPhone’s secret: Value

Apple isn’t exactly known for its low prices. The iPhone X was the first handset to cost more than a thousand bucks, the wheels for the Mac Pro cost $699, and just last month it launched a $549 pair of AirPods. Heck, it sells a charger that isn’t even very good for $129.

But when it comes to its phones, Apple consistently gets it right. It’s true that the most expensive iPhone 12 tops out at $1,399, but for the most part, the iPhone 12 is very attainable, even with 5G and OLED displays across the board. When compared to the top flagship phones of 2020, in fact, the iPhone 12 slides in well under the average premium Android handset.

iphone note 20 bronze blue Michael Simon/IDG

At $829, the iPhone 12 isn’t cheap, but compared to a $1,300 phone like the Galaxy Note 20 it seems like a bargain.

But with the launch of the Galaxy S21 this week, it seems as though Samsung has finally caught on. After years of piling on features and specs in an effort to distance its flagship handsets from the iPhone, Samsung has fully embraced Apple’s strategy with the iPhone, not just cutting the price to match the iPhone 12’s price tag but also distilling the S21 down to its most essential parts in a sort of reboot of the lower end of the line.

Lowering the price and the parts

Last year’s “cheap” Galaxy S20 started at $1,000 and brought a bevy of ultra-high-end features you couldn’t get in the iPhone 11: 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 120Hz Quad HD+ screen, triple cameras, microSD storage, etc.

It’s not so much that the Galaxy S21 isn’t a high-end Android phone, but like the iPhone 12, it makes certain spec-sheet compromises that add value without degrading the experience. There’s a reason why Apple doesn’t list specs for RAM, battery capacity, or clock speed in the iPhone spec sheet—they’re unnecessary. Apple doesn’t need to wow its users with specs. Rather, it strives to deliver the best possible iPhone experience with the bare-minimum parts.

galaxy s21 colors Samsung

The S21’s back is made of plastic rather than glass this year.

And the S21 does something similar. Take a look at the specs compared to its predecessor, the S20:

Galaxy S21

Display: 6.2-inch Flat FHD+ Infinity-O Display (2400×1080), 421ppi, 120Hz
Processor: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,000mAh

Galaxy S20

Display: 6.2-inch Edge Quad HD+ Infinity-O Display (3200×1440), 563 ppi, 120Hz
Processor: Snapdragon 865
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,000mAh