Pre-orders for Samsung's S21 series much higher than last year's S20

More than 45% of 5G phones sold in the UAE last year were Samsung models

Samsung registered a 46 per cent increase in pre-orders for its newly-launched Galaxy S21 phone series in the Gulf region compared to last year's S20 line-up, a senior company official said.

The premium model in the series, the S21 Ultra, attracted the most interest with more than 65 per cent of total pre-orders, Osman Albora, senior director of Samsung Gulf Electronics' mobile division, told The National.

“Orders were even higher in the UAE … 56 per cent more than the S20 series,” said Mr Albora, who did not disclose the exact number of orders.

The consumer electronics giant began sales of three new models – the S21, the S21+ and the S21 Ultra – across the GCC on Sunday. It began taking advance orders for the devices on January 14, when they were launched globally.

The S21 Ultra starts from Dh4,899. The S21+ and S21 start from Dh3,799 and Dh3,199, respectively.

Samsung said it sold 45.2 per cent of 5G phones in the UAE, the second-largest economy in the Arab world, in 2020, and Mr Albora predicts this will increase.

“5G enhances the overall mobile experience … its share will continue to grow … Samsung has democratised the technology by offering it across [a] different range of portfolios,” Mr Albora said.

Last year, Samsung’s business in the premium phone segment – which includes handsets priced at $600 or above – grew in double digits in the UAE, Mr Albora said, citing data from German research company GFK's UAE market report.

“In the premium segment, we held 34.1 per cent market share in the UAE – nearly 12 per cent more than 2019 … we experienced a similar growth in other parts of the Gulf region.”

Samsung is adding a stylus to the S21 Ultra – a first in the series. Users can either opt for an existing S Pen from a Note device or buy one separately.

As with its US rival Apple, Samsung has also stopped shipping wired headphones and in-box chargers with the S21 series, citing sustainability reasons.

Mr Albora is optimistic about growth in 2021.

Pedestrians walk past a Samsung Electronics Co. Digital Plaza store in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Samsung is schedule to announce fourth-quarter earning figures on Jan. 28. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

“2020 was the year of change and technology helped us to stay connected throughout the unpredictable time.

“It also accelerated the mobile-first world as people have started using their smartphones much more. This trend is here to stay in the post-Covid world and 5G will be one of the main driving forces,” he added.