I would definitely go for the s21 ultra, although i do have a couple of issues with it, but if we start off looking at the price and on samsung’s website, the new s21 ultra is actually cheaper than the note 20 ultra. Although to be fair on amazon, you can find some deals, knocking 100 or so off and you might be able to find a cheaper used model. So the notes may end up being a tad cheaper, but there’s not going to be that much in it. But i think realistically, even if the note is a little bit cheaper, there’s a lot of upgrades on the s21 ultra. That makes it worth it. For example, we’re getting this new look and, while i think they’re both seriously classy looking phones, i do prefer this new matte glass look and it doesn’t pick up smudges or fingerprints anywhere near as easily, although i did discover that pop sockets actually don’t work well with This matte coating, so i’ll probably need a case, although more importantly, i do much prefer the more comfortable, rounded corners on the s21, compared to the more squared off edges that you get on the note but it’s what’s on the inside. That makes a much bigger difference and with the s21 ultra we’re, getting either the snapdragon 888 or the exynos 2100 chips, we’re also getting better cameras, including a new 10x periscope zoom, a macro mode, new sensor on the main camera, and also a much higher megapixel selfie Camera the battery is also a fair bit bigger we’re, getting a 5 000 million power cell on here up from 4 500 on the note so about 20, bigger another upgrade is that we can now have the higher quad hd resolution and 120 hertz refresh rate at The same time, whereas on a note, you can only have one or the other we’re, also getting the latest wi fi 6e, a brand new fingerprint reader and finally, one of the big usps.
For the note, the s pen now also works with the s21 ultra. You do have to carry it separately or use a case to store it plus right now. The bluetooth features don’t work. Although a new pro s pen will be coming soon, but it will cost you 40 dollars extra. So i think the s21 ultra is better in almost every way. Almost now either you won’t care about this at all, or it may actually be a deal breaker for you, but one of the drawbacks of the new s21 range. Is it no longer supports microsd card? So, unlike on the note 20 ultra, where you could uh go for one of the 128 256 or 512 gig storage options and then pop in a i don’t – know: 512 gig or even a terabyte microsd card. So, potentially with this, you could have up to 1.5 terabytes of storage, so absolutely tons of room for all your 4k port movies or your music backups. Whatever it is, you have on your phone, and that was a real selling point for a lot of people, whereas, unfortunately, on the s21, you are limited to the internal storage maxing out at 512 gigs, which is still plenty and far more than most of us, would Ever use uh, but we are basically losing some functionality there, oh and also there’s no charger or headphones in the box, but overall i still don’t think that outweighs the improvements that we’re getting on the s21.
However it’s, not just about which phone should you buy i’m? Also kind of curious to see how much of an improvement the s21 is when it comes to the processor, the camera, the battery life. Is there really that much of a difference between them? Well, i can tell you the exynos 2100 model of the s21 ultra. I have here is a big upgrade from the note 20’s xnos 990., and if i bring in the snapdragon 888 results as well, you can see it’s basically within the margin of error, it’s, neck and neck in terms of cpu performance, although the exynos generally does perform Better in the opencl graphics test now make sure you have subscribed, because in the next few days i will be getting the snapdragon version of the s21 ultrasound. Do a full side by side. Comparison i’m always excited to see how they compare, because they should in theory, be pretty similar. I mean it’s the same phone, but historically we know that is not the case, so make sure you have subscribed and stay tuned for that big versus video coming in the next few days. Now, as for battery life, as i say, we’re getting a 20 bigger sell on the s21, but the results are not quite what you’d expect. I tested both versions of the note 20 ultra and the exynos s21, with all three set to full hd and 120 hertz, and while the battery life is noticeably better coming from the exynos version of the note it’s near enough, the same as the snapdragon note.
But essentially we’re not seeing at least i’m not seeing that sort of 20 boost that you might expect, given that bigger battery capacity and then, if you do decide to have the quality res and 120 hertz at the same time, that’s also going to drain a little Bit faster as well, but moving on and let’s talk about this camera, because this is where things get really interesting. If i put the specs side by side, you can see the main edition of the s21. Is this 10 times periscope lens so now we’re getting a three times and a 10 times optical zoom and crucially, i think by far the biggest upgrade they’ve changed, the name of live focus to portrait there. It is portrait mode it’s, the little things you know anyway. Here’S a few shots i took on both side by side and if we start to zoom in all the way up to 100 times space zoom. Although the note limits you to 50 but i’ve cropped it into match, you can see there is a subtle but noticeable improvement on the s21 here’s another example at 100 times and while neither are exactly usable, there is a marked improvement now, on the opposite. End of the spectrum, the s21 also now has this macro mode built in with the focus automatically adjusting when close up on your subject, but, crucially in terms of photo quality, i think in good light it can be hard to tell them apart.
Samsung say: they’ve increased. The contrast and also improved the dynamic range on the s21 ultra. If we get a little bit closer on sarah and while subtle you can see, the s21 has more contrast, but also her face is a little bit more evenly exposed. However, it’s, when we switch to portrait mode that things get a little strange, i have the latest software as of the 23rd of january and i’ll put the exact software number in the description uh, but the s21 looks far too soft it’s also too contrasty, and to My eyes at least nowhere near as nice as the note it’s, not a one off either it just doesn’t, look right to me unless this is the look samsung’s going for with the 50 more contrast, but i think it’s an issue with portrait mode for now, as Regular photos seem to be much more natural. Hopefully this is something a software update will fix, but slightly dodgy portrait mode aside, you can see the s21 handles highlights much better. The improved dynamic range means we can see a lot more detail in the cloud, whereas on a note, it’s completely blown out back at home now and at first glance they do look very similar. But again, if you look at the window blinds in the background you can see, the s21 is doing a much better job dealing with the exposure and it’s a similar story with this one. If you look at the light strip behind my desk, another upgrade i’ve noticed with the s21’s camera is with the white balance, particularly in low light, it’s much more natural and is able to handle the different color tones in the scene without turning the whole thing, yellow.
As for video, quality is very similar between the two and they both still max out to 8k, 24 or 4k60. However, the s21 can now shoot 4k 60 with all four lenses, whereas the note 20 can only shoot that with the main lens. The only thing that concerns me, a little bit is right at the end here when i’m crossing the road, the s21 ultra gets weirdly dark and fuzzy for a lack of a better word. So, like the portrait mode i’m hoping this will improve with an update on release now, switching things around to the selfie camera and the s21 has a 40 megapixel sensor up from the notes: 10 megapixel, although it’s using pixel binning. So we end up with 10 megapixel shots on both all filters and beauty modes were turned off on both for this, but the note does look soft in comparison, although i do kind of prefer the color tones on the note. But what about front facing video? This is being shot at 4k30 with the selfie cameras and if i have a little spin around change the lighting up, hopefully you can get an idea of how they compare i’m, also switching the microphones. So you can hear the difference uh in the audio, but you guys are gon na, have to judge and tell me which one you think, looks and sounds better in the comments below so overall. I think the camera on the s21 is quite a step up.
Even over the note uh in terms of the zoom, the macro, the dynamic range, also the white balance, particularly in low light, but there are a couple of weird anomalies around those portrait mode shots and also that video, but, as i say, hopefully, i’ll share this with Samsung, but that can be fixed in an update. So then, after all that which one would you go for, i think for me it’s a fairly easy decision. I would go with the s20 on ultra unless you really really really want that micro sd card support and also having a built in s pen is a big deal. I think for the vast majority of people, the s21 ultra makes more sense and actually it’s a pretty big upgrade, considering they’re only five months apart. But i am curious if we’ll see some camera updates for this, and also, as i say, how the xnos version will compare to the snapdragon so make sure you have hit that subscribe button and stay tuned for that.