Samsung Galaxy S21 Vs S21 Ultra Full Review, Specs And Price


Samsung Galaxy S21 is state of the art

All right. So this is my view of the Samsung galaxy S 21, as well as the 21 ultra. And I’ll be doing a kind of comparison between the two as well as with other phones in terms of camera performance. So I know that the design of this phone is really divisive. Some people are going to love this thing, so they were going to hate the look of it.

Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 rear view in blue color

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 S 21 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 S 21, 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 at a blast. 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 of 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 gloss phone. It’s relatively unique for Samsung and they’ve always gone for that glossy stuff, but it ain’t a special black, at least not to me. It’s a nice block, but I don’t think it’s special.

All right, let’s talk about the screen. So let’s go with the S 21 screen. First. This has a flat edge now, which is something that I’ve always appreciated. If you’ve read any of my older Samsung reviews, 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 from the phone. I’ve always thought that they looked cool and videos and looked cool and photos to have those curved edges, but the flat edges, that’s just the better choice for me.

Samsung Galaxy S 21 ultra is performance optimized

Uh, now the S 21 ultra, this still has a bit of a curve. I think it’s the exact same kind of. Curvature as the S 20 ultra from last year, I’m going to 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 as 21, we’re looking at attending P panel 120 Hertz, but 10 P 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 1440 P panel on your phones for years, and he switched to this, you will notice a drop in resolution particular 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 attending P 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 on the S 21 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 1440 P of the 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 1440 P also 120 Hertz, a little bit brighter. It really is one of the best screens have ever used on a phone. Now, both of these screens, the and the 21 ultra use LTPO panels. So you can down clock these fast, 120 Hertz screen.

Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra beautiful display

So something slower, like a lower refresh rate. When you’re trying to preserve battery life, like anytime 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 fund to do it, but other companies have used it like one plus eight pro that also used an LTPO screen.

Some technical details on Samsung Galaxy S21 + S21 Ultra

It’s super fluid and 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 S 21, 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 S 20, but it’s not the fastest. Now. The speakers are both good. The ultra gets a little bit louder and the base is a little bit stronger, but it’s not significant.

Okay. Battery life as 21 S 20 ultra. Both have good battery life. The S 21, this has a 4,000 million power battery. This thing gives like a comfortable six and a half, seven hours of screen on time. And I do think that the tiny P panel with the adaptive refresh rate plays a big part in that. Now the S 21 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 the same, 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 10 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.

What Else About Samsung Galaxy S21 + S21 Ultra

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 it. Okay. Cameras as 21 as sort of an ultra. The biggest difference between these two devices from a kind of average user perspective is going to be the camera system.

The S 21 has a standard wide, an ultra wide and the telephoto, but then the as 21 ultra gives you 108 megapixel, regular sensor, as well as a punchier zoom, you get a secondary. 10 X zoom. If you want that extra kind of range. And then you got the a hundred X space zoom. Now both of these phones, the regular wide lens shoots really nicely.

Now on the 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 ultra wide on the . 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 Promax shoots better than the pixel five. If ultra wides 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 estrone phones kind of fall behind.

So in these shots, you can tell that the computational photography or whatever’s involved in the software to make these images properly composed between like the bright area and the dark area. The S 21 cameras aren’t as good. Both the pixel five and the iPhone 12 to shoot better when it comes to identic rain 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.

And in terms of the zoom lens, Well, good. Let’s talk about this one first, the regular as 21. So you have a three X seemingly optical zoom, and then you go up to 30 X. If you want to go with a lot of digital and it’s probably cleaned 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 ultra has a secondary, 10 X 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’ve got to test that thing out now, a hundred zoom. Is like, it’s really serious. You’re not going to use a hundred 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 a hundred X photo, but. A hundred X zoom is still a hundred X zoom and it is better than the S 20 ultra from last year. And it’s easier to compose that shot with the software zoom luck, but we’re still looking at very grainy photos, but what do you expect?

It is a hundred X zoom. Okay. Let’s talk about video. So both the and as 21 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 SnapDrive and triple aid and the whole talk about the three image signal processors.

I thought it would 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 eight K. It is just something that I don’t really get into very often, but again, because of the Snapdragon, triple eight, 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 what 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. Eight K is available, but I think most people will skip it, but the one area that the S 20 ones do shoot better video than everyone else. It’s ultra wide video, even in low light. It just there’s something about the ultra wide cameras on these Samsung has 20 ones.

They’re just that good. Okay. Uh, 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 five shoot, better portrait photos. If you ask me.

Okay. Penn support. Yeah, the ultra can use. A passive S pen. It’s a little bit of a different experience than the regular note as 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.

And 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 from my personal use, these feel like 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.

Samsung Galaxy S21 ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 screen and video quality

Add on, plus the cases 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 charge on the boxes, a whole bunch of kind of tweaks to this product line that have made them more consumer friendly in terms of pricing, but less enthusiastic appealing if that’s even a term. But you know what I’m saying? Like, if you’re a tech nerd, like I am 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? Shut it 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 enthusiastic crowd, we look at this stuff in a different light. Um, but yeah, being open-minded I do think that this is the right move.

My final thoughts

I do think that Samsung pricing the 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 S 21 or the S 21 plus actually no, not even the S 21 plus the S 21. 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 review on his phone. So hope you guys enjoyed it.

Thumbs. We liked it. Subsidy. Loved it. See you guys next time.

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