But today we’ll be looking at the two smaller phones, the s21 and s21 plus, which also come with some upgrades over last year’s phones. But some disappointing downgrades too in this video we’ll, be checking out what’s new with these phones, how they’ve changed from last year’s models, but also how these two phones differ from the more expensive, s21 ultra let’s take a look Music first of all, you’ll notice, these new Slimmer boxes and just like the ultra, the phones, don’t, come with the wall, charger or earphones. You just get the charging, cable, sim, ejector tool, the paperwork and the phones themselves. I don’t think anyone, but samsung is pretending. This is only for environmental reasons. It’S going to save them a lot of money, but no matter the reason. The net result is fewer unwanted charges and earphones, a smaller contribution to e waste and therefore a benefit to the environment. I discussed the issue in full, along with a cheap alternative charger from anchor in a video back from when apple first did this so check that out, if you’re interested personally i’m a big fan of phone companies doing this. But let me know in the comment section how you feel about samsung, removing the charger and earphones from the box getting into the design. Samsung delivered exactly what i asked for last year, bringing match textures to the back of the phones, which look and especially feel much nicer than the glossy textures from last year.
The phones have redesigned camera bumps that blend into the frame which i really like and they’re much smaller and thinner than on the s21 ultra. We have the same button and speaker placement as last year, but in general i think the new design looks really good. The key difference between the new phones is the materials, because the back panel of the s21 plus, like the ultra, is made of glass, but the s21’s is made from plastic, which i’m sure many people will find a big disappointment and a key factor in deciding between These phones – this is the first big downgrade compared to last year, but in the s21’s defense. This is a premium form of plastic that feels very similar to the plus model’s glass and, like i said with the note series last year, if you’re putting the phone inside a case anyway, then does it really matter? I personally was more disappointed that the phone doesn’t get to the gorgeous phantom black color, like the plus and ultra, which for me, is the best color. By far. I think this white and silver combo looks really nice on the s21, though, and i also really like the super reflective phantom silver for the s21 plus, although it does pick up a lot more fingerprints, the phones both have the same aluminium frame and water resistance, as The ultra, as well as the tough gorilla glass victus, covering the display, so the s21’s plastic back, is the only durability difference.
I think ergonomics is one of if not the single biggest factor separating these phones and the size difference makes a big impact on how it feels to use them there’s not much separating the plus and ultra phones, but the regular s21 feels noticeably smaller in your hands. It’S easily the most comfortable to hold and use giving you an easier one handed use experience with its thinner, shorter and much lighter body. The plus model counters this, with more space between the keys, giving an easier two handed typing experience, and obviously content is more enjoyable. On this much bigger screen, but overall i find the smaller s21 generally much more comfortable and nicer to use an important aspect that often gets overlooked against more eye catching specs like the camera and the display, speaking of which the displays are just as bright and colorful. As you’d expect from a samsung flagship this year, they’re flat, which i personally prefer to the slight curvy get with the ultra and last year’s phones flat displays are easier to use and, to be honest, i don’t think the curve makes the bezels look that much thinner. The maximum brightness has increased to 300 nits for hdr content and the displays were generally brighter than last year under normal use too. The phones also gain an adaptive refresh rate, so offer super smooth scrolling at 120 hertz, but can drop down to 48 hertz to help save on battery life. This isn’t, quite as good as the super low 10 hertz on the s21 ultra, but is still a nice improvement from the s20 series.
But when you compare the specs side by side, you’ll see another downgrade compared to last year, because the resolution drops from 1440p down to 1080.. So the displays aren’t as sharp as on the previous models or the s21 ultra and with the larger screen on the plus model, especially you cannotice, the difference. The one saving grace is that on last year’s phones, you had to drop down to 1080p anyway to use the higher refresh rate, which i think was the better option than the higher resolution. So actually the downgrade isn’t as bad compared to last year’s phones, but does mean the displays are noticeably lower spec compared to the s21 ultra. This is a bit of a nitpick and the phones are still great for consuming media content with the speakers even sounding a bit louder than on last year’s. Phones. Surprisingly, there’s not much of a difference between the two phones here but, as i said before, the bigger s21 plus gives you a better experience with gaming and watching films thanks to its bigger size. The phones do get the same. Second gen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor as the ultra. I didn’t find this to be especially faster than last year’s, but i am getting fewer rejections, so this is one of the better display improvements. Another change from the ultra, though, is that these don’t support the s pen, which i personally am absolutely fine with, but anyone who is hoping to see s pen, support brought to the smaller screens will be out of luck.
People often want to have a super large display on their phone and given the small size difference between the plus and ultra. This may now make the more expensive ultra less compelling, especially for the average consumer. But actually the flagship, specs and features are quite a big step up for the ultra and how important these are to you is something to really consider before buying moving on to the cameras. This is the area that really separates these phones from the ultra and fans. May be disappointed to see that the specs are exactly the same as last year for all four cameras. I personally don’t think phones need to have new cameras every single year, not when the s20s were already really good and remember there’s, a new isp that comes with the new chipset, so image processing is still different. This year i’m, pleased to see these cameras are identical between the regular and plus models. This year too, which means there’s, no more depth, vision, camera and neither phone gets the new laser autofocus sensor from the ultra. But remember this was brought in to fix the focusing issues that the s20 ultra had problems, that didn’t affect the s20 or s20 plus. So it wasn’t really needed in these new phones. However, this does mean the phones, don’t focus as quickly in low light and don’t have the ultra’s macro mode either, just like with the ultra. The main camera changes from last year are more saturated images that aren’t as overly brightened, so photos tend to be a bit more striking as we’ve had in previous years, though these aren’t, perhaps as color accurate as the s20s again, i didn’t see a big improvement in Dynamic range like samsung have claimed, and actually the highlights were often quite muted, on the newer phones compared to last year.
The ultrawide performance is very similar and exactly the same as on the higher spec’d ultra, since this is the one lens they have in common here. You can see the slightly boosted saturation with the s21s, but actually image quality is often close enough to show that an upgrade from one of last year’s phones isn’t necessary. If we switch over now to show this against the s21 ultra, you can see that the ultra’s larger sensor gives a shallower depth of field. But this means that you get more of your close up subjects in focus on the s21 and s21 plus. If we switch to the ultra’s 108 megapixel mode, there’s again very little difference and you have to crop in super close to see that higher resolution so for most situations, these phones aren’t, really any worse than the ultra switching to night mode. First of all, you can see that this is very good on the s21 series, but side by side with last year’s phones, there’s, really very little difference at all and often last year’s photos looked better because the image processing isn’t trying as hard to over sharpen the S21 ultra performed a little bit better thanks to its larger sensor, but the main benefit i found is the faster focusing in low light. As for the telephoto lens again, this is essentially indistinguishable from last year, where shots up to around 5 or 10x look pretty good, but anything above this suffers heavily from quality loss because the phones are using hybrid optical zoom, and this is where you’ll see the biggest Step up in quality when switching to the s21 ultra, not only does the ultra have greater range able to zoom up to 100x rather than 30, but its dual telephoto setup gives it a much greater optical zoom range, so even in the lower 2 to 10x range.
The quality isn’t lost like it is on the other s21s, and the ultra’s quality here is significantly better. So if zoom photography is your thing, the ultra is definitely the one to get the s21 and plus do have a higher 64 megapixel count on the tele lens. But just like last year you really can’t tell the difference without cropping. In very close, it sounds good on paper, but it’s not really an advantage over the ultra. At all, the front. Camera saw a much bigger improvement over last year’s phones, which goes to show how important image processing is. Since the camera specs are the same as last year. Photos are now much sharper and have more accurate colors, especially with skin tones. This carries over to the portrait mode too, which, for the most part, looked a lot better but like with the ultra. There were times when the portrait effect failed to separate the background from the subject. Portrait mode on the rear cameras was excellent, though, and even in tricky lighting conditions on this cloudy and rainy day, the phones did an excellent job of creating the portrait effect. The selfie image quality is very similar to the s21 ultra, but the ultra does have that. High res 40 megapixel mode as an option, though we’ve seen previously, that this doesn’t add much again it’s strange to see that the selfie video is actually better on last year’s phones with a much more saturated image, that’s even a bit sharper too so i’m, not sure What’S happening with the processing of front facing video on these new phones.
You can now record in 4k60 on all lenses, though, which is nice. The phones get the new director’s view mode and the rear. Video still looks really good. 8K, video still has the same issues as last year, though, with unstable footage, that’s not nearly as high quality as 4k, despite the higher resolution it’s an interesting feature, just not very useful, there’s, no question that the s21 ultra has a better camera overall, but i think The average consumer won’t need the added benefits like better zoom performance, macro mode or faster low light focus in most situations. The s21 and s21 plus perform just as well and will be plenty good enough for most people, it’s nice – that you can choose between these two phones and not have to worry about the camera being a factor this year. But i must say that the cameras really aren’t a reason to upgrade. If you already own one of last year’s phones. The s21 series is rocking the new five nanometer snapdragon 888 or exynos 2100 processors, which bring a nice performance boost over last year’s phones. But i was more pleased to see that they addressed the large performance gap between the snapdragon and dexanos variants. Last year, those who lived outside the us got a worse version of the phone and an unfair deal, but, as we saw in the ultra review, the two chipsets are now extremely similar in terms of performance, which is much fairer for consumers.
The phones have a fixed 8 gigs of ram, as opposed to the ultra’s 12 or 16 in the higher spec model, but i honestly couldn’t tell the difference even with intense multitasking. So essentially, these s21s are just as powerful as the ultra. The benchmarks show that, but more importantly, real world use gives you that experience too, as you’d expect. The phones feel incredibly fast and capable thanks to the speed of the processors, but also the high refresh rate and the regular s21 has actually been my favorite to use. Because of its smaller size, we saw already in the ultra review that the new one ui 3.1 only brings some minor changes from one ui 3, and these updates are coming to last year’s phones very soon, so there’s, no big difference in software samsung’s, one ui is Still one of the most feature packed skins on android, offering deep customization and some nice aesthetic tweaks this year. Not everything is an upgrade, though the s20 got rid of the headphone jack and this year it’s the expandable storage, which is perhaps the most disappointing downgrade the phones either have 128 or 256 gigs of storage and there’s. No high storage option, like with the ultra, which makes having no expandable storage even more of a problem. Hopefully the sort of person who needs huge amounts of storage is also the person likely to spend more on the ultra anyway, but still it’s. Sad to see such a useful feature be removed.
Other key differences include no wi fi 6e support for the s21 and s21 plus, which is a real shame and, to a lesser extent, bluetooth 5 support, rather than 5.2 5g also makes a return, and this year you can get millimeter wave on all models of the Phone strangely, the s21 doesn’t get ultra wideband support like the plus and ultra. This means devices like samsung. Smart tags will only be trackable by bluetooth and not the more precise ultra wideband and the phone will also miss out on any upcoming features, like unlocking your car. The popular mst support has also been removed from the s21 series for most devices, but confusingly this does seem to vary by country where some still have it and others don’t. I personally don’t really care about this in the uk because you can always use nfc, but certainly a lot of my us viewers have told me how important mst still is over there and the us is one of the countries that no longer has this so that’s. Another downgrade from last year, one clear improvement from the s20s, though, is the battery life, which has been really good with these new phones. The s21 has the same four thousand million power battery as last year, but the plus model gets a bigger 4 800 milliamp hours, and i could push my screen on time a bit further with it as a result. There’S a clear improvement from last year with the s21 even outperforming last year’s, plus and ultra models, but both phones, can’t quite match up to the new s21 ultra battery life is normally a good reason to go for the bigger of two otherwise very similar phones.
But, interestingly, even though the s21 plus battery is closer in size to the ultra, the battery performance was actually closer to the smaller s21. So the ultra lasts a lot longer than both of the smaller phones and, if you’re thinking about the plus or the ultra purely for the better battery, i think you’ll see a bigger difference in going for the ultra charging is a little bit slower than last year, But still clearly very fast and of course, charging is very versatile, with these phones with options like wireless and reverse wireless charging. Just remember that the phones don’t have a charger included in the box, so you may need to buy one, especially if you want the fastest charging speeds. As i said in the last review, the s21 ultra is clearly the best of these new phones, and it seems like the s21 and s21 plus have been stripped back to really highlight that point, but is the ultra the one i think you should buy? No and that’s because the others still offer better value for money. All of these phones came with a price drop this year, which is really good to see, and i think makes them more much more compelling than last year’s phones, though, of course these will be discounted. Now the price drop does factor in the removal of the charger and earphones, and especially in the case of these two phones, some of those disappointing downgrades too, which makes the option of buying a discounted, s20 or s20 plus much more compelling.
If you want to save some money or need extra storage last year’s phones are definitely the way to go. This list here shows the differences from the s20 series, which should also demonstrate that you wouldn’t need to upgrade if you own one of last year’s phones – and this list here shows how the s21 and s21 plus differ from the ultra, which i think highlights how the Ultra is in the next category up in terms of a flagship smartphone, but i also think that the majority of people won’t care too much about these spec differences or, at the very least, would rather have the much lower cost. Big screens are all the rage and the ultra is certainly the phone i’d rather have, but i still think the better value for money lies in the other phones and, more specifically, in the s21. The regular s21 does have some notable downgrades compared to both last year’s phones and the s21 plus, but i think it strikes the best balance between price and specs. Remember that it’s, just as fast as the ultra has most of the same camera benefits and its smaller form factor, makes it much more comfortable to use. So my perhaps unpopular opinion is that this is the best value samsung phone this year, but which of the new s21 phones. Do you think, offers the best value for money. Let me know in the comment section what you’re upgrading to and stay tuned to, the channel for the s21 ultra vs iphone 12 pro max comparison, which is coming very soon.