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Samsung Galaxy S21's three models compared: S21 vs. S21 Plus vs. S21 Ultra – CNET

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Drew Evans/CNET

Samsung has announced its latest flagship: the Galaxy S21 lineup, which includes the S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra. (Here’s the CNET Galaxy S21 review and Galaxy S21 Ultra review.) The whole lineup is now officially on sale, and here’s how you can buy one. As the names suggest, each model is slightly upgraded (and slightly pricier) than the one before it, resulting in a spectrum of specs to meet just about any Android user’s needs. But how do you decide whether you’re a baseline kind of person or if you should go directly to the top of the line? Sure, your budget can make the decision for you, but price doesn’t tell the whole story and, depending on your needs, a higher-priced phone might also be the best value.

Read more: Galaxy S21: Lower prices make the choice between the S21, Plus and Ultra even harder

The most obvious differences among Samsung’s Galaxy S21 line, besides the price, are screen size, battery capacity and camera capabilities. Going up the line, each phone increases in size. If you’re small-handed, you might hate the heft of the Ultra. But if you’re going to be watching a lot of videos, bigger is probably better. 

  • Galaxy S21: 6.2 inches
  • Galaxy S21 Plus: 6.7 inches 
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra: 6.8 inches 

Battery capacity also increases as you move up the line, though we don’t think you’ll have any trouble getting through the day on a charge even with the baseline S21 phone. We’ll be testing the Galaxy S21’s battery soon and will have a better idea of battery life then. 

  • Galaxy S21: 4,000 mAh
  • Galaxy S21 Plus: 4,800 mAh
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5,000 mAh

Camera geeks are probably going to want to upgrade to the S21 Ultra. You can tell just by looking at the three phones that the S21 Ultra has some extra camera tricks up its sleeve, evidenced by its extra-large quadruple camera module, which also houses its flash. The S21 Ultra gets Space Zoom, an extra telephoto camera and a 108-megapixel wide-angle lens — so far we’re particularly impressed with S21 Ultra’s zoom.

A few other things to consider: You want a pretty pink phone? Then you’ll have to get the S21. Want S Pen support? Only the S21 Ultra has that. Ditto for storage greater than 256GB: Only the Ultra goes up to 512GB (that model gives you more RAM too), and none of the Galaxy S21 phones accommodates expandable storage. The S21 Plus and Ultra both feature a Gorilla Glass Victus backing, which lends durability that the plastic-backed S21 won’t have.

Check out the chart below for all of the Galaxy S21 specs compared, and read our comparison of the Galaxy S21 vs. iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 vs. S20 vs. S20 FE vs. Note 20

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S21 Plus vs. S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display (2,400×1,080 pixels), 6.7-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2,400×1,080 pixels) 6.8-inch Edge WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (3,200×1,440 pixels)
Pixel density 421 ppi 394 ppi 515 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.80×5.97×0.31 in 2.97×6.35×0.30 in 2.97×6.50×0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 71.2×151.7×7.9 mm 75.6×161.5×7.8 mm 75.6×165.1×8.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.03 oz; 171g 7.12 oz; 202g 8.07 oz; 229g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 11 Android 11
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (telephoto), 10-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz) Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz) Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz)
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB, 512GB
RAM 8GB 8GB 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage No No No
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,800 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No No
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 10x optical zoom; S Pen support
Price off-contract (USD) $800 (128GB) $1,000 (128 GB) $1,200 (128 GB)
Price (GBP) £769 £949 £1,149
Price (AUD) AU$1,249 AU$1,549 AU$1,849


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Amazon, Apple not to charge extra for lossless music

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Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc will let users stream high-quality lossless audio at no extra charge, as they explore new ways to keep subscribers tuned in to their services amid intense competition.

Amazon Music, which so far charged a premium for lossless audio, became the first major music service on Monday to upgrade its subscribers to the format.

Lossless is a higher quality audio format that preserves every detail of the original audio file without compressing the quality while streaming.

American rapper Jay-Z’s Tidal was among the first to roll out the technology, charging $19.99 per month for lossless music.

The e-commerce giant’s Amazon Music Unlimited with lossless music will cost less than half that at the industry standard price of $9.99 per month.

Separately, Apple said subscribers would be able to listen to its entire music catalog of more than 75 million songs by next month in the lossless format at no additional cost.

 

(Reporting by Eva Mathews and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Cyberattack exposes lack of required defenses on U.S. pipelines

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The shutdown of the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline by a ransomware attack highlights a systemic vulnerability: Pipeline operators have no requirement to implement cyber defenses.

The U.S. government has had robust, compulsory cybersecurity protocols for most of the power grid for about 10 years to prevent debilitating hacks by criminals or state actors.

But the country’s 2.7 million miles (4.3 million km) of oil, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines have only voluntary measures, which leaves security up to the individual operators, experts said.

“Simply encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response to the ever-increasing number and sophistication of malevolent cyber actors,” Richard Glick, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said.

Protections could include requirements for encryption, multifactor authentication, backup systems, personnel training and segmenting networks so access to the most sensitive elements can be restricted.

FERC’s authority to impose cyber standards on the electric grid came from a 2005 law but it does not extend to pipelines.

Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. oil products pipeline and source of nearly half the supply on the East Coast, has been shut since Friday after a ransomware attack the FBI attributed to DarkSide, a group cyber experts believe is based in Russia or Eastern Europe.

The outage has led to higher gasoline prices in the U.S. South and worries about wider shortages and potential price gouging ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.

Colonial did not immediately respond to a query about whether cybersecurity standards should be mandatory.

The American Petroleum Institute lobbying group said it was talking with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Energy Department and others to understand the threat and mitigate risk.

THIN STAFFING

Cyber oversight of pipelines falls to the TSA, an office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has provided voluntary security guidelines to pipeline companies.

The General Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, said in a 2019 report that the TSA only had six full-time employees in its pipeline security branch through 2018, which limited the office’s reviews of cybersecurity practices.

The TSA said it has since expanded staff to 34 positions on pipeline and cybersecurity. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it supports mandatory protections.

When asked by reporters whether the Biden administration would put in place rules, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it was discussing administrative and legislative options to “raise the cyber hygiene across the country.”

President Joe Biden is hoping Congress will pass a $2.3 billion infrastructure package, and pipeline requirements could be put into that legislation. But experts said there was no quick fix.

“The hard part is who do you tell what to do and what do you tell them to do,” Christi Tezak, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, said.

U.S. Representatives Fred Upton, a Republican, and Bobby Rush, a Democrat, said on Wednesday they have reintroduced legislation requiring the Department of Energy to ensure the security of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. Such legislation could get folded into a wider bill.

The power grid is regulated by FERC, and mostly organized into nonprofit regional organizations. That made it relatively easy for legislators to put forward the 2005 law that allows FERC to approve mandatory cyber measures.

A range of public and private companies own pipelines. They mostly operate independently and lack a robust federal regulator.

Their oversight falls under different laws depending on what they carry. Products include crude oil, fuels, water, hazardous liquids and – potentially – carbon dioxide for burial underground to control climate change. This diversity could make it harder for legislators to impose a unified requirement.

Tristan Abbey, a former aide to Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski who worked at the White House national security council under former President Donald Trump, said Congress is both the best and worst way to tackle the problem.

“Legislation may be necessary when jurisdiction is ambiguous and agencies lack resources,” said Abbey, now president of Comarus Analytics LLC.

But a bill should not be seen as a magic wand, he said.

“Standards may be part of the answer, but federal regulations need to mesh with state requirements without stifling innovation.”

 

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Marguerita Choy)

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U.S. senator asks firms about sales of hard disk drives to Huawei

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A senior Republican U.S. senator on Tuesday asked the chief executives of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Seagate Technology, and Western Digital Corp if the companies are improperly supplying Huawei with foreign-produced hard disk drives.

Senator Roger Wicker, the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, said a 2020 U.S. Commerce Department regulation sought to “tighten Huawei’s ability to procure items that are the direct product of specified U.S. technology or software, such as hard disk drives.”

He said he was engaged “in a fact-finding process… about whether leading global suppliers of hard disk drives are complying” with the regulation.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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