Samsung Galaxy S21 series will come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, and possibly an upgraded ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Samsung Galaxy S21 series will come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, and possibly an upgraded ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

We’re gearing up towards the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, expected to be announced in the middle of January 2021. So far, the devices are shaping up to be pretty exciting, with a refreshed camera bump on the back giving the phones some of their own personality, though you may lose the charger in the box. There’s more in store though, as the Galaxy S21 series will also come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in some regions, and possibly also see an upgrade in the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.

Galaxy S21 and the Snapdragon 888

Earlier last week, Qualcomm announced the new Snapdragon 888 SoC, it’s top of the line mobile platform that will make its way across Android flagships all through 2021. The company also announced the names of 14 OEM partners that will be building a smartphone with this new SoC. Samsung’s name was missing in this list, but this wasn’t entirely unexpected. Many took this omission to mean that Samsung will not be using the Snapdragon 888 in any of its smartphones in 2021, and presumably opting only for its own Exynos flagship processor across the world.


However, this omission is not very surprising if you have been following Qualcomm’s list in the past few years. The list is not meant to be read as an all-inclusive list of partners and products. Instead, it only names partners that have agreed to be named, and the products they have agreed to be named for. There may be other partners working with the new platform, and who may have chosen to not be named on such future projects. So even at the stage of Qualcomm’s announcement, Samsung (or any other OEM) could have gone either way with the Snapdragon 888.

Now, evidence has emerged that Samsung is indeed packing in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in the Galaxy S21 series, at least for the US region.

Samsung flagships in the USA (and some other selected regions) come with a Qualcomm SoC, while the same flagship in other regions of the world comes with an Exynos SoC. In 2021, the US model is once again expected to be a Qualcomm phone, while the word is still open on whether Samsung adopts Snapdragon for all the other regions (keeping in mind the feedback that Samsung received against its Exynos flagship chips).

Samsung Galaxy S21 Forums

Ultrasonic Fingerprint Sensor

The next set of new information comes from @UniverseIce, so treat this as a leak and not confirmed information. According to them, the Galaxy S21 will come with an upgrade to the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. Samsung has used its first generation of the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S10 series, Galaxy Note 10 series, Galaxy S20 series, and the Galaxy Note 20 series. If the leak turns out to be true, this is the first upgrade to the sensor since the Galaxy S10.

Further, according to them, the area of the Galaxy S21’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is 8mm x 8mm (64 sq. mm), compared to the 4mm x 9mm (36 sq. mm), marking it as a substantial increase.

While the leak does not mention what exactly has Samsung opted for as the new sensor, but we presume that it could be the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Max sensor announced last year. This is the second-gen sensor from Qualcomm, and will mark a significant upgrade for Samsung from the first-gen that it has used so far.

What are your thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S21? Let us know in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

A journalist at XDA-Developers and the current Editor in Chief, I have been writing for XDA since 2015, despite being a qualified business-litigation lawyer. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news and tutorials, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Twitter (@aamirsidd94).

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.