Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: finally living up to its name
We did see a handful of really good phones hit the market, but the pandemic forced a lot of people to reevaluate what was truly important to them, and a flagship smartphone simply didn’t make the cut for most people, especially devices like the 1400 galaxy s20 ultra moving Into 2021, things really haven’t changed for most people, forcing manufacturers to reevaluate their strategies, especially for devices like this, the galaxy s21 ultra, but before we get to our review of this device, let me tell you about skillshare our sponsor for this. Video skillshare is an online platform designed specifically to help you learn new skills, with unlimited access to thousands of different classes with hands on projects and community feedback. It honestly doesn’t matter, if you’re looking to become a better cook, learn photoshop for the very first time or become a master coder skillshare has a class for you personally, i’ve been using skillshare to improve my photo editing skills since taking pictures with my dslr and smartphones. Like this is something that i do on a daily basis, with the knowledge that i’ve gained through the fundamentals of photo editing, class i’ve been able to fine tune my work and truly deliver images that are a lot more compelling than they were before. The course has been extremely engaging with a lot of extra materials that have really guided me through the photo editing process and also allowed me to learn at my own pace as a sponsor for this.
Video skillshare is offering a free trial of its premium membership to the first 1000 of my subscribers, who join by clicking on the link in the video description below if you’re looking for an excuse to explore your creativity. This is definitely it and with that i want to thank skillshare for sponsoring this video and now back to the review of the galaxy s21 ultra, which we’re going to kick off by talking about the phone’s design for a quick minute. Samsung has been the king of design iterations since the galaxy s6, with minor tweaks each and every year changing things up significantly with the galaxy s10 and the s20, and not in a good way. But the new look of the galaxy s21 lineup is a return to form for samsung and, in my opinion, the best looking galaxy s, smartphones that we’ve seen since the galaxy s8 made its debut. I think samsung deserves a lot of credit here for making the camera module on the back of the phone. Look like it’s part of the phone’s design, rather than something that’s just been tacked on to the back of the phone. The way that it melds into the metal frame of the body in the top left hand corner is purely a stroke of genius. You’Re still left with an off balance device if you’re tapping away at the screen when it’s lying flat on a surface. But if you slap a case onto it, you’ll never notice.
Of course a case will definitely hide the phone’s phantom black finish, which i think is just as compelling as the design itself when paying this much for a smartphone it’s, pretty much a given. That you’ll have a great display as well. The 6.2 inch amoled panel sports a resolution of 1440 by 3200 pixels, which isn’t unusual for a samsung device, but this year it’s the only one in the lineup since the regular s21 devices have been downgraded to a full hd plus display. On top of that it’s. The only s21 device with a curved screen as well since the displays on the other models are now completely flat. The ultra’s curve is a little less subtle and less pronounced than it was last year, but that only means that you get less glare and fewer mistaps. When you’re tapping away on the screen now, samsung’s screens have always been among the best, if you’re looking for a smartphone that can be used in direct sunlight, but the galaxy s21 ultra takes things to a whole new level, reaching a maximum peak brightness of 1500 nits. Now the fact that it’s winter right now and not a whole lot of us are spending a whole lot of time. Outdoors it’s really hard to truly appreciate how bright the screen can actually get, but once you do take it outside you’ll definitely enjoy how bright and clear the screen is, even in direct sunlight. Of course. The display also supports a 120 hertz, refresh rate, which can come in handy if you’re serious about mobile gaming, but it also improves the overall user experience with added smoothness in the launcher, but it’s most visible when scrolling, through your social feeds or while reading an article On the web, you can always switch back to 60 hertz if you want to save a little bit on battery life, but it’s nice that samsung doesn’t make you choose this time around between the higher resolution and the higher refresh rate, as it did last year on The galaxy s20 ultra with every new galaxy s, smartphone we’re, always treated to the latest and greatest chipset that offers improved performance and increased power efficiency this time around it’s the snapdragon 888 chipset for the galaxy s 21 ultra in the us and a couple other markets.
As well, if you thought smartphones from last year were extremely fast, the snapdragon 888 chipset inside of here is going to blow your socks off well, at least on paper or, if you’re running benchmarks on a regular basis, but the performance improvements in the real world. Aren’T really that noticeable, if you’re, comparing it to snapdragon 865 chipsets inside of last year’s flagship smartphones. As for gaming, i really didn’t notice any significant improvements. Besides games loading just a fraction of a second faster that’s, not to say that qualcomm’s newest chipset is a bust, but rather that we don’t really have any games that can take full advantage of all this power. What we’re left with is a lot of headroom for developers to take advantage of in the future, but for now, there’s really no real benefit in upgrading to the galaxy s21 ultra. If you’re simply looking for a small competitive advantage with games like pubg mobile, the 12 gigabytes of ram inside the galaxy s21 ultra is the same as what we got on last year’s model and you still have the option of upgrading to 16 gigabytes. If you have more disposable cash than you know what to do with personally, i found that 12 gigabytes was more than enough for extreme heavy multitasking, allowing you to keep up to 20 apps in memory at a single time, switching from memory to storage. This is the one disappointment that many have found with this device and that’s the omission of a micro sd card slot for expandable storage on the galaxy s20 devices this year, including the ultra that limits you to 128 gigabytes of internal storage.
With the base model. Forcing you to shell out 50 or 170 more if you’re, looking for 256 or 512 gigabytes of storage personally it’s been a few years since i’ve used a storage card inside of a smartphone, but those who do will definitely feel the pain. On the flip side, though, this phone is 200 cheaper than its predecessor allowing you to spend some of that extra cash that you saved on buying the phone on storage if that’s something that’s truly important to you. Besides, the display, which we’ve already touched on the main draw for most buyers, is likely going to be the camera module on the back of the phone and it’s quad camera system. If you simply want the best that samsung has to offer. This is where it’s at the highlight, of course, is the 108 megapixel sensor for its main camera with 8k video capture. But there are also three additional cameras on the back with a 12 megapixel ultra wide and two 10 megapixel sensors for its 3x and 10x magnification. If you’re, simply looking at the specs you’ll notice that the hardware really hasn’t been upgraded when compared to last year’s s20 ultra, that being said, samsung has improved the focus issues that plagued last year’s model by adding a laser autofocus module. That does an incredible job of assisting the main sensor of focusing in on its subject, but the main improvement is in the softwares, where samsung’s image processing has been tweaked to deliver more natural.
Looking images that still deliver a lot of detail and improved dynamic range as well personally i’ve, never been a huge fan of samsung’s choices when it comes to image processing, but the s21 ultra may have finally pulled me into the samsung camp. It shouldn’t be surprising that samsung’s premium hardware can deliver good shots, but i was surprised with the consistency and how it managed to deliver even better shots than the pixel 5. In quite a few situations. The 10x zoom is especially impressive, delivering a massive improvement in detail over last year’s images, even when digitally zooming to 20x or even 30x magnification. The best part is that samsung’s digital stabilization has gotten so much better locking in on the subject. If you’re managed to hold the camera still for up to a second removing the jitter that you typically get with handheld zoom shots, video capture is really good, as well. With all four cameras on the back of the device capable of recording 4k video at 60 frames per second, as does the front facing camera here, which is a first for samsung. But if you really want to take full advantage of the capabilities here, you want to actually bump things down to 4k 30fps since you’ll be able to record a single video clip and dynamically switch between the different lenses while recording without having to stop each video clip And then start again when switching if you’re recording in 4k 60fps. One thing to note, while recording video at 60 frames per second at 4k from the rear cameras, is that you can’t switch on the fly between the different sensors while recording video.
If you want to do that, you’re going to have to stop the video switch sensors and then start recording again. But if you record at 4k 30fps, you are able to switch on the fly between the ultra wide, the main sensor, 3x zoom and then finally, the 10x periscope camera okay. So i kind of feel like a broken record here, but my main complaint with pretty much any samsung smartphone really comes down to the software. What you get on this device is a one ui 3.0 on top of android 11., now it’s, nowhere near as bloated or as heavy as touchwiz was before samsung completely scratched it. But the company’s come back with its heavy handed approach in customizing android, adding a lot of things that really don’t need to be there. There are a lot of options that are built in and a lot of different ways that you can tweak the functionality of the device, but they’re going out of their way to give everything that unique, samsung, look and feel which makes things a lot harder anytime. That you’re, trying to roll out android updates on top of that samsung, is still guilty of slapping ads inside most of its first party apps, something you definitely shouldn’t have to deal with when paying twelve hundred dollars for a flagship smartphone. And if you purchase the phone from a service provider in the us there’s, definitely a lot of bloatware to contend with as well as you can see on this at t version of the s21 ultra, the only positive change in the software that i was able to Find this year is that there’s now s pen, support and also that the bixby screen to the left of the main home screen can now be replaced with the google discover feed something i never really thought would happen.
The s pen support means that the s21 ultra can do everything that a galaxy note can do. Samsung does sell an exclusive case that comes with an s pen that’s a little bit larger than what you typically get on other note smartphones, but it also works with any other s, pen that you might already have lying around this phone, certainly isn’t lacking in the Battery department, with its 5 000 milliamp hour cell, that can get you through a day and then some the only thing really missing is the charging brick itself, as samsung has stolen a page out of apple’s playbook and removed the charger from the box. While i do understand the frustrations that a lot of people have already voiced on this topic, i personally don’t see it as a big issue, not whatsoever, mainly because this is a good move for the environment, since we simply don’t need more charting bricks, filling up our Drawers every time we buy a new smartphone which eventually make their way into landfills, and then secondly, samsung dropped the price of the phone by 200 compared to the previous year. So if you really do need a charger for this device, you can simply go out and buy one with the 200 that you saved. The issue that i do have is that samsung’s limited the phone’s charging speed to 25 watts, which is downright pathetic when compared to other manufacturers who are offering smartphone charging speeds at 55 watts or even faster.
As i mentioned at the beginning, there is so much to like about the samsung galaxy s21 ultra. The main reason most people are going to be staying away is due to the price. Paying 1200 for a smartphone is simply way too much for the average consumer.