Samsung Galaxy S21 + S21 Ultra Review
So i know that the design of this phone is really divisive. Some people are gon na love. This thing some people are gon na hate, the look of it, but i do think that the purpose of this design language was to make it memorable identifiable right, and i think it does a really good job at that. You see the shape. You know it’s a phone from the s21 family and in that regard, they’ve done a really good job with you know, creating something that does that, but it’s, definitely not for everyone and in terms of the plastic on the regular s21. I like it again. This is going to be divisive, some people are going to really hate this because it’s a premium product and it should be made out of glass. Traditionally, these things are made of glass, but there’s. Just so many advantages of the plastic – and i really feel like samsung – does a good job with their plastic backed phones, they just own it and they just make it a high quality, nice feeling plastic, but the black. So i mentioned this briefly in my kind of preview of this device. This is not a special block. I know samsung spent like a couple minutes during the presentation to talk about how this is like a really cool. Looking black color, i think for most people, if you didn’t tell them as a special phantom black. This would just be a regular matte black glass phone it’s relatively unique for samsung they’ve, always gone for that glossy stuff, but it ain’t a special black, at least not to me it’s a nice black, but i don’t think it’s special.
All right. Let’S talk about the screen, so let’s go with the s21 screen first, this has a flat edge now, which is something that i’ve always appreciated. If you’ve seen any of my older samsung videos i’ve been asking for a flat edge on their galaxy s line for a really long time. However, now that it’s here i like it, don’t get me wrong. I think this is the move, and i this is a way more usable and practical thing, but it definitely changes the kind of vibe you get. The from the phone i’ve always thought that they looked cool in videos and looked cool in photos to have those curved edges, but the flat edges that’s, just the the better choice for me, uh now, the s21 ultra. This still has a bit of a curve. I think it’s the exact same kind of curvature as the s20 ultra from last year, when i put them side by side, they look identical if you like curved screens. This is that perfect mix of good curvature without it impeding with usability. So if that’s your jam, this curvature will be nice, but the screens themselves are quite interesting, there’s a lot to talk about now on the regular s21 we’re looking at a 1080p panel, 120 hertz, but 1080p. Now on a galaxy s device. This is not normal right. The relatively low resolution it’s still high ppi 421 ppi it’s sharp to the naked eye, but you can tell the difference if you’re someone who’s been looking at a high resolution screen like a 1440p panel on your phones for years, and you switch to this, you will Notice a drop in resolution, particularly when it comes to just streaming videos right.
If you’re watching high resolution, videos, you’ll notice it doesn’t matter, it really depends on the person, for me, i’d be perfectly happy with the 1080p panel, but as a reviewer like you’re you’re, actively. Looking for this stuff right, you’re you’re, how can you not? How can you review a phone and try you, you can’t, ignore it it’s noticeable. It just really depends on the user as to whether or not it’s important uh so i’ll leave that up to you, but the panel itself. Even the s21 is really nice. It’S bright, it’s, colorful, it’s, fast it’s, an awesome screen, but when you put it in comparison to the 1440p of the s21 ultra it’s, just on it’s just on another level, this is a it’s. An amazing screen like that was really good. This is an amazing screen. This goes to 1440p, also, 120 hertz a little bit brighter. It really is one of the best screens i’ve ever used on a phone now, both of these screens, the s21 and the 21 ultra use ltpo panels. So you can down clock these fast, 120 hertz screens to something slower like a lower refresh rate when you’re trying to preserve battery life like any time, it’s idle, it’ll drop down that refresh rate. Now this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this tech right. I think yeah the note 20 had it. I think that was the first samsung phone to do it, but other companies have used it like oneplus 8 pro that also used an ltpo screen.
It’S super fluid the whole adaptive refresh rate if they’re dropping down to 10 hertz and spiking back up to 120 hertz in the next millisecond, you will not notice a thing. They’Ve done a good job with that whole ltpo tech on the screen and on the s21. This goes down to 48 hertz, so not as slow, but it does still seem to have an impact on battery life uh real quickly before we get to battery the fingerprint sensor. So these are both using the new qualcomm second gen ultrasonic, fingerprint sensor and they’re supposed to be faster and bigger than the previous generation it’s, better it’s, noticeably improved over the s20, but it’s not the fastest. Now the speakers are both good. The s21 ultra gets a little bit louder and the bass is a little bit stronger, but it’s not significant. Okay battery life, s21, s20 and ultra both have good battery life. The s21. This has a 4 000 milliamp hour battery. This thing gives like a comfortable six and a half seven hours of screen on time, and i do think that the 1080p panel, with the adaptive refresh rate, plays a big part in that now the s21 ultra. This is a different beast, so this guy is, in my opinion, a comfortable two day battery like actually two full days of use before you have to charge it. I had to charge this thing. I think two or three times over the entire review period.
It’S, just weirdly good and again, i really think the big part of it is the adaptive refreshing, because this thing can drop down to 10 hertz, like if you’re sitting on a like a website or you’re, just browsing, reddit and you’re. Your screen is still you’re, not swiping you’re, not scrolling you’re, just reading something 10 hertz is all you need, and the energy saving is legit. I really feel like this screen tech, the whole thing with ltpo and the ability to down clock screens it’s the future. If you put this in phones, you just get significantly better battery life. Obviously, you have to adjust the drivers and the software to handle this stuff, but it’s really good and it’s, clearly effective at extending battery life on phones, okay, cameras, s21, s21. Ultra the biggest difference between these two devices from a kind of average user perspective is going to be the camera system. The s21 has a standard wide and ultra wide and a telephoto, but then the s21 ultra gives you a 108 megapixel regular sensor as well as a punch, your zoom, you get a secondary 10x zoom. If you want that extra kind of range, and then you got the 100x space zoom now both of these phones, the regular wide lens shoots really nicely now on the s21 ultra, you have the option to switch it to 108 megapixels. It doesn’t make for a better image. The image quality is very similar.
It really is for people that maybe want to print it or if you want to be able to crop in and retain the pixel density like you want the resolution it’s really for more niche scenarios, but the image quality is good, as you would expect now. The ultrawide on the s21s are so good. They’Re clean they’re well exposed all the details there. These shoot really well like, i think it shoots better than the iphone 12 pro max shoots better than the pixel 5.. If ultrawides are your thing, i think you’ll like this camera system, but when it comes to shots that need a lot of dynamic range that’s where the samsung s29 phones kind of fall behind. So in these shots, you can tell that the computational photography or whatever is involved in the software to make these images properly composed between, like the bright area and the dark area, the s21 cameras aren’t as good, both the pixel 5 and the iphone 12s to shoot Better when it comes to high dynamic range shots, particularly when it gets really bright in scenes, it is probably fixable with future updates, but in its current iteration yeah it’s, definitely a step below the other two now in terms of the zoom lens. Well, let’s talk about this one first, the regular s21, so you have a 3x seemingly optical zoom, and then you go up to 30x. If you want to go with a lot of digital and it’s, probably clean to about the 10 to 50 next point, and after that it starts to lose some clarity, but it is a very usable zoom with better range than an iphone 12.
But the s21 ultra has a secondary 10x zoom and you probably get to about 20 30 x before it starts to lose its clarity, but because it’s got space zoom we got to test that thing out now. 100X zoom is like it’s, really serious, you’re not going to use 100x zoom in most scenarios for one it’s difficult to hold that shot right. They’Ve had some software features to assist in keeping your shot. Steady to capture 100x photo, but 100x zoom is still 100x zoom and it is better than the s20 ultra from last year and it’s easier to compose that shot with the software zoom lock, but we’re still. Looking at very grainy photos, but what do you expect? It is a 100x zoom. Okay, let’s talk about video, so both the s21 and s21 ultra have pretty mediocre video quality. Worse than i’d expect now granted, the iphones have always had a huge lead in terms of image quality on videos, but i was hopeful, especially with the snapdragon triple a and the whole talk about the three image signal processors. I thought it’d be able to just do better it’s still just okay, the colors are kind of flat and even in properly lit conditions, it can get kind of grainy. So if image quality for your videos is really important, i think you’ll be disappointed on both of these camera systems. The video stabilization is good, though now they do record in 8k.
This is something that i don’t really get into very often, but again because of the snapdragon 8. I thought that somehow the processor would just handle it differently than previous it’s. Still i mean it’s high resolution, but poor. Looking video footage do with that. What you mean? I mean if you want to crop in and that’s something you have to do, for your workflow or whatever your hobbies. Sure 8k is available, but i think most people will skip it, but the one area that the s21s do shoot better video than everyone else, it’s ultra wide video, even in low light. It just there’s something about the ultrawide cameras on these samsung s21s they’re. Just that good, okay, a portrait so for whatever reason, samsung’s phones, don’t, use the zoom lens for portrait photography. They just use the regular wide and i mean it’s good, but i do think that other phones do it better, like the iphone 12 and the pixel 5 shoot better portrait photos. If you ask me, okay, pen support yeah. The s21 ultra can use a passive s. Pen it’s a little bit of a different experience than the regular note s pen, because those are active and have bluetooth connectivity. I really like this pen, this iteration of s pen on a device i’ve, never loved the pen on notes and i’ve mentioned it before, but it’s the thicker grip of this thing, it’s, like the texture of it. This feels like a way better pen tool than anything that we’ve seen on a galaxy note in the past, at least for my personal use, these feel like a legitimate writing utensil.
It is only for writing and sketching, though you can’t, do all the cool features that the regular active s pens can do, but this is a 40 add on plus the case is a 70 add on it’s a bit of an ask for the consumer to get The stuff separately, so i like it, but i have a feeling it’s, not for everyone. Okay, uh, so let’s talk pricing. Both of these phones are cheaper than the 2020 iteration. There are some features that have been removed: right, there’s, no sd card slot; there’s no charger on the box; there’s a whole bunch of kind of tweaks to this product line that have made them more consumer friendly in terms of pricing. But less enthusiast appealing, if that’s even a term, but you know what i’m saying like if you’re a tech nerd like i am and probably you are you’re looking at these things, like hmm, these things aren’t as good as a previous iteration, but they’re a little bit Cheaper now my take on it is this: you and i we’re, not the average consumer right shout out to your average consumer we’re, not the average person buying these things. They have a huge market of people out there that are interested in these phones that don’t get sweaty over the technical stuff like we do, and i do think that for them these are a better overall product, they’re, more appealing, the more affordable and they’re.
Just better phones for that market, and but i think for the enthusiast crowd, we look at the stuff in a different light, um, but being open minded. I do think that this is the right move. I do think that samsung pricing this stuff a little bit cheaper, but removing you know stripping out the the superfluous features that not everyone was using like sd cards and stuff like that and, like you know, 12 gigs of ram let’s be real here, not everyone’s. Using 12 gigs of ram removing that stuff and dropping the price it’s the move, i think it’s the right move. Okay, so, if you’re interested in either of these phones, particularly this one like the s21 or the s21 plus, actually, no, not even the s21 plus the s21. I think that this, as this has good value, not amazing value, it’s, still an 800 phone, but it delivers an experience that i think a lot of people will like this one. I mean you got to really be into zooms. You got to be into like zooming into things constantly to really get the value of this, or, if you like battery life, if you’re someone who really wants you know two day battery life, this can do it. This can legitimately do it. Okay that’s, my video on these phones hope you guys enjoyed it thumbs if you liked it subs.