Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review
S21. Ultra again i say that because we did a first look at the regular s21 and at the ultra, but now here’s our full review. Now that the embargo has ended and i’ve had a chance to live with it for a week or more at this point – and this is good times for me, because you know when products are just it’s a challenging video to do sometimes, but this time samsung got It right on the second try. I think a lot of us know that the s20 ultra the last generation, one wasn’t all that it was 200 more expensive than this one. This one starts at 11.99 and it was supposed to have the most advanced cameras and the space zoom, and all that and the cameras had so many issues. It just wasn’t great, and there were other issues too and pretty much. All of them have been addressed and we’ve ended up with a really good phone we’re gon na look at it now. Okay, so let’s face it. Maybe i don’t even need to watch the rest of the video. I already told you it’s a good phone, but you probably want to know more about why that is right. First, off it’s, fast it’s, not just fast it’s, zippy, it’s, fluid it’s, responsive good times. Now we have the snapdragon 888 cpu. That is the first five nanometer from qualcomm. I can’t speak to how the exynos 2100 is that some of you in other countries outside the us gets i’m sure there’ll be european reviews that can cover that, but it sounds like samsung has been working hard to step up the game with the exynos processor.
Also, the design is better this year that last year’s battleship gray on a flagship phone, just never really rang my belt. Let me put it that way. Man, this one looks better than what they’ve done to kind of hide the camera cluster by raising the one bezel on the side on the back that’s, very nice, it’s, gorilla, glass, victis front and back unlike the less expensive, s21 that’s, now using a glaston kind of Product, to be honest, i don’t always hate that even in a so called flagship phone, because it’s more durable than glass will ever be, but that’s okay anyway, the colors are a little dreary. You got silver and you got black though samsung does have a few custom. Staid color options on their website. If you order directly from them, no more wobbling on the desk did i mention that very nice, i’m glad it’s a flattened camera cluster and the way they’ve designed it. It works out nicely this one is the only one that still has curved sides: the s21 and the s21 plus have straight flat glass on the front. The little bit of curve here is probably necessary because let’s face it. Folks, this is a big honk or heavy phone and it’s, not the easiest thing to hold as a result, so the curved edges mean your fingers can wrap around a little bit more easily. I haven’t had a lot of accidental edge touching issues. Most cases help with that anyway.
Also, now that we’re in mask times and covid times, i’m happy that the front fingerprint scanner that’s embedded underneath the display is 1.7 times larger and much faster and more reliable, it’s ultrasonic, so it’s the more secure kind as well, which is always good because you know It does have the 2d facial recognition there, but given the fact that we do wear masks a lot it’s handier to have that fingerprint sensor and to finally have it working really well. Samsung says this is their best display yet which is what they say every year, and it does turn out to be true, it’s, a very nice looking display and if you’re thinking about this versus the s21 plus model other than the significant camera differences there there’s also The fact that this is the biggest and most high resolution now the difference isn’t that great the s21 plus is 6.7 inches. This is 6.8 inches, but this is higher resolution at 3200 by 1440 515 ppi and a max brightness of 1500 nits when auto brightness is enabled and you’re playing, hdr video or your very bright place, and last year’s s20 ultra was 1200 nits. To give you an idea, so certainly that helps it is a very nice looking display. The default vivid mode is a little over the top. So if you’re taking photos and you’re thinking – oh my god, samsung’s still over baking, the colors on this now change it from vivid mode to the screen to natural mode and you’ll, see something more representative with the photographs actually are like that.
It takes what you see if you transfer them to your computer and so on, or share them on social networks, so it’s a good screen. You have your options, natural, if you like super vivid it’s there for you too fine that display is also 120 hertz. Even if you want to run it at max resolution on like last year’s phones and it’s, a variable refresh on the s21 ultra, so it can refresh it anywhere from 10 hertz, all the way up to 120 hertz, because let’s face it. If you’re looking at a static web page you’re not scrolling, what would be the point of wasting your battery on high refresh speeds? So, yes, the s pen is supported. Yes, it’s still wacom emr, which is one of my favorite digitizer technologies in terms of tilt, support, natural pen feel silky yummy great for notes, nice for art and with a 6.8 inch display, you could actually have some fun drawing on this phone now it doesn’t support Any of the bluetooth features that you’ll see on the note line, for example, so air command works because that basically is just a hovering of the cursor that’s detected to do air command stuff. But the fancy stuff like for presentations or remote camera, shutter that’s, not present here and, of course, the cameras. The ultra is largely about the cameras and yes this year they actually are great. The s20 ultra sounded awesome on paper last year and execution not so much.
It had focus issues up the wazoo. It was using a older kind of focusing technology that really is too slow and also the fact that they using a second generation main camera sensor – 108. Megapixel still so very high resolution and, yes, you can even shoot in a 108 megapixel mode instead of the pixel binning down resolution and you can save in 12 bit raw files too, but the with bigger sensors. You tend to have a shallower plane of focus. That means very little is in focus at a given point: there’s a lot of depth of field, another way of saying it. So this time they have managed to control that so you don’t have such a narrow focus plane. So you think that you got whatever it was in focus, but no is actually focusing slightly behind or slightly forward last year, blurry shots everywhere this year. No, focusing autofocus is very fast there’s laser autofocus in the back camera cluster you’ve got four lenses and the other thing up there. A little round hole is the laser autofocus it’s instant. I was doing things foreground background, switching where i was focusing to, and it was instant so not a problem. There catching my cat zipping around the house as much as any camera phone can ever manage that it does all right so it’s sounding like puppy dogs and roses here right. Well, you know there’s some gotchas. There is no micro sd card slot anymore and i think some power users are going to miss that and those of you who, when you upgrade your phone, you got all your pictures and whatever else you want on your card, you just put the card in the New phone, that sort of thing: no, no more so you can get this with 12 gigs of ram and either 128 or 5 or 256 gigs of storage.
If you want to go up to 256, gigs is 50, more which isn’t too painful there’s. Also, a 16 gig of ram and 5 12 gig storage model that will add 180 to the base price for those who need more storage. But if you’re, one of those people and samsung says they do surveys and focus groups, and not many people are. But if you’re one of those people who was using like a terabyte micro sd card plus whatever was built into your phone, you might not be happy. Will the next note have in microsd card slot? I would guess yes, because this is the ultimate power user phone, but we’ll see next. You have nsc for payments like samsung pay, all that sort of stuff, but no magnetic stripe, emulation mst, so i’m. I’M. Sorry, i just i don’t feel that bad about that. I mean it’s already been phased out years ago in europe and it’s, not really a very secure technology compared to things like nfc for payments, so it’s gone bye. Fine, it has curved glass. If you hate curved glass, like i said, even though it does make the phone easier to hold well there’s, that and despite the fact that it has this nifty matte finish on the back, this is still a hella slippery phone. Unfortunately, yes, but you’ll, be using a case right i’m sure you will be and it’s big and heavy. But you know this and it’s not the only really big and heavy android phone and there’s the iphone 12 pro max out there weighing in about the same and having similarly huge dimensions, so it’s 229 grams, which is about a half a pound.
You know it is a tablet in your pocket at this point, a very tall and narrow one, but most awesome now is, if you swipe to the side where you used to see samsung’s, you know useless kind of home screen. Bixby information news, sell you stuff, whatever that’s gone, you just get the google discovery page. So it has the latest news tailored to you all that sort of thing yay. Well, the only thing is, there is still big speed and honestly i’m sorry samsung, but give it up at this point, google assistant is so stellar and most people really like it. I just don’t think people are that into bixby. Just give us google assistant all right. So let’s talk about those cameras more because they are the get it focal point of this phone aren’t. They 108 megapixel main sensor like i said, which you can call your wide camera there’s a 12 megapixel ultra wide camera on board and there are two telephoto lenses. So you have optical zoom, which is the sharper better kind of zoom. You have a 3x and a 10x telephoto lens both of those are 10 megapixel and if you’re doing in between zoom ranges or extending out to 30x or space zooming, you know that kind of thing. It will actually combine both telephoto lenses together and it’ll. Take nine shots and combine those into, hopefully the best shot that it can possibly do and samsung is making a big deal about how the new snapdragon 888 and their new xnose processor make this ai photography or computational photography that much better they’re sort of doing what Google did with the pixel phones where they had good, solid sensors, but nothing out of this world in terms of hardware, but the computational photography is what made those shine.
Samsung also says that their night mode is significantly improved thanks to the new ai computational photography stuff and they are not lying. Take a look at my friend yorick. That is an artist’s skull in case you think i’m like too creepy, but he is there in nightmare with a glass flower and some nice little christmas tree style lights there and the detail there. You can see he has the the suture marks on the skull there. That are marked as if it was a real skull. All that stuff is there it’s, not water, coloring it’s, not over sharpened it’s. Just stunning, i took the same photo with the iphone 12 pro max and it did not look nearly as good. This is good night mode folks now in terms of the rest of the stuff, you’ve got ois on the main and the two telephoto lenses, and they have some software based stabilization to help space zoom be a little bit less whoa whoa. You know the longer you zoom, the more any movement is magnified. You can see what the zoom range does for you first, you might think. Well, i don’t really need this, but it is kind of cool, say you see a cute squirrel or a bird or something like that. You know there’s many instances you don’t want to get that close to whatever you’re photographing and to get a crispy shot with nice. Colors and detail, and all that sort of thing is very good and they’re, not over sharpening yay, that which is something samsung used to do and, like i said, the colors are not garish and also, i guess, they’ve heard all the complaints, so the on the beauty Effect that they used to do on skin that’s, not on by default.
You can still enable that if you wish to have that and there’s even an option for the portrait mode, which is the foca bokeh kind of thing to to amplify that. So, unfortunately, if you’re over 40, you can see plenty of wrinkles and micro details and flesh tones. Now, unless you do enable you know the skin prettification feature on that. So how would i compare these cameras to the iphone 12 pro and pro max, and particularly obviously it goes up against the pro max. Well, when it comes to telephoto photography, obviously it’s going to just blow the iphone out of the water, because you have optical zoom cameras at 3 and 10 x, going on here and it’s holding its own really well, you might even say looking at the pictures that Some of them are better than what the iphone can do, which is an achievement, because the iphone 12 family of phones have some very good cameras on them. Not only that, but video has gotten better on the samsung too. It looks more natural. It used to look again overly colorful and a little overly sharp, more natural, and now you can do 4k at 60 frames per second, not just 30 frames and then there’s still 8k, and then samsung has some gimmicky things like director mode, which i’m not sure anybody’s. Really going to use all it does, is it gives you access to the three focal zoom ranges all at once on your screen, and you can choose between them.
I don’t think we need that help and then there’s a vlogger mode too. You know they always try out stuff like that to see what sticks in a people like any of that stuff now compared to the pixel 5s here’s the thing with the pixel right, so the pixel 5 camera is pretty much the same as the pixel 4 camera. But years have passed and other phones are getting more advanced and using that computational photography and while i still think the pixel takes very pleasing, very natural sort of slr like photos. I think that this one does as well and goes even further, given the more advanced hardware that’s on board. Also this compared to the regular s21 phones. You can see the difference in the lens quality there’s less barrel distortion, there’s, less of that it looks sort of like a camera phone took it. You know a little artificially made pretty looking. This has a more slr like look again so good, so we’re still looking for chinks in the armor right battery life, usually really big flagship. Android phones, don’t have the best battery life, even if they have big batteries inside they also have ginormous high refresh screens. They have the fastest cpu lots of ram on board that sort of thing well, the story is really good. Here again, i don’t know if it’s samsung’s, optimization of one ui 3.1, that they’re using and the snapdragon 888, probably in conjunction as well for power efficiency.
Being a five nanometer cpu, the first smallest cpu now so that’s a good thing there, but battery life has been good about five and a half hours of screen on time on average, which is solid, it’s a 5 000 milliamp battery i mean it is a big Battery too supports 25 watt wired charging fast charging, not 45 anymore, but that never was a whole lot faster to be honest and it does 15 watt qi wireless charging as well, and it has power shares, so you can charge your galaxy buds or other qi stuff. So what about versus the competition, including samsung’s own again, there is the s21 plus, which used to be my favorite it’s, 200 less and it it’s easier to hold and all that sort of thing. But this time i’m thinking 200 i’d, probably pop for the ultra, because the cameras are so noticeably better on it that’s my biggest reason, but it is a bigger hole in the hand. And then there is the oneplus 8 pro, which is a very solid phone. More annoyingly curved glass cameras, not as good but they’re, pretty confident, but it is a more affordable phone too and then for those who really into photography and want to have android. Particularly there is the pixel 5, but the problem is: there was no pixel 5 xl. This year, so if you’re used to big phones, much of the pixel 5 is very nice. It’S sort of like the hobbit, you know, and the s21 ultra is gandalf and it’s a hard adjustment to make.
If you like, big phones and lastly, there’s the iphone 12 pro max for those who are happy to be on either ecosystem, also a very solid phone, very good photography, obviously it’s not going to win for those long, telephoto shots. It depends on you and how much you think, you’re going to use telephoto for that one, so that’s the samsung galaxy s21 ultra, where samsung gets it right and drops the price by two hundred dollars. You’Ve heard all the reasons why i think it’s a pretty darn fine phone. Obviously the drawbacks are, it is quite expensive and it is big and it’s. Heavy i’m lisa from mobile tech review be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel for more cool tech videos and hit the notification bell.