There are no surprises here: the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a $1,200 Samsung phone, so it should be good.
The S21 Ultra, among other things, offers the most up-to-date specs, a lovely design, excellent battery life, the greatest screen in the business, and 5G. However, the Galaxy S21 ($800) and S21 Plus ($1,000) are also cheaper phones in the series.
To set it apart from its less expensive siblings, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S21 Ultra with camera gear that it hopes will be worth the extra $200. The Galaxy S21 Ultra does, in fact, have a quad-lens camera system with two distinct zoom lenses for 3x and 10x magnification, as well as a 108-megapixel normal wide lens and an ultra-wide lens.
If you’re a photographer, that sounds fantastic. For everyone else who uses their standard set of apps, the Galaxy S21 Ultra lacks another compelling reason to justify its full $1,200 price tag.
However, it is arguable that no one pays full price for a Samsung phone. To keep you from paying full price, the corporation, merchants, and carriers provide a variety of discounts and trade-in options.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely specs
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely||Specs|
|Show||6.8-inch curved 1440p (3,200 x 1,440) 10-120Hz AMOLED|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|Reminiscence and storage||12GB RAM with 128GB/256GB storage; or 16GB RAM with 512GB storage|
|Rear cameras||108-megapixel commonplace huge with part detection, 12-megapixel 120-degree ultra-wide, 10-megapixel 3x optical zoom, and 10-megapixel 10x optical as much as 100x digital zoom|
|Selfie digital camera||40-megapixel|
|Battery||5,000mAh; 16 hours, 42 minutes in our test|
|Connectivity||Sub6 (5G), mmWave (5G), WiFi 6E, ultra-wide-band (UWB)|
Design and show
The Galaxy S21 Ultra from Samsung is a tastefully basic device. The front is a slab of glass with gently curved edges, which is pretty much what you’d expect on a phone.
The rear is similarly made of glass, but instead of the normal clear glass used in past generations, Samsung has chosen a frosted matte finish. It has a nicer appearance, attracts fewer fingerprints, and feels more expensive than transparent glass. The S21 Ultra, on the other hand, is only available in dull colors like black, silver, titanium, navy, and brown.
If those hues don’t appeal to you, the S21 and S21 Plus are also available in more colorful colors such as violet, pink, red, gold, gray, and black.
The enormous camera module dominates the back of the phone, taking up more space than the S21 and S21 Plus, and it also has a wrap-around effect on the top left corner. It looks nice, but when placed flat on a table, it causes the phone to shake a lot. The wobbling affects other Galaxy S21 phones as well, so it’s not just the S21 Ultra. A case, on the other hand, could be able to correct that sway.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a huge and heavy phone with a 6.8-inch screen. Reaching for on-screen things at the top of the screen with a single hand requires adjusting your grasp, which can be a nuisance and even dangerous with this large 229g device. It’s not a design problem, as most huge phones have the same issue.
While we’re on the subject of mass, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is quite large, weighing it at 229g. With a 6.7-inch screen, the Galaxy S21 Plus is slightly smaller, but it weighs 29g less, making it easier to use and manage.
When it comes to display, Samsung phones are hard to beat. The display of the Galaxy S21 Ultra can grow extremely bright, up to 1,500 nits, making sunlight a breeze to deal with. You get Samsung’s normal AMOLED experience, which includes superb contrast and deep, rich colors, in addition to the exceptional brightness.
The display of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is set to 1080p by default, with the option to upgrade to 1440p if desired – the other S21 phones are limited to 1080p. It, like the S21 and S21 Plus, can achieve an ultra-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, but only the S21 Ultra can do it at both resolutions. With that said, you’ll get greater battery life if you keep the phone set to 1080p, which is quite sharp – I’ve never desired for sharper apps, games, or videos while using the phone at 1080p.
For the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus, Samsung flattened the screens, but for the S21 Ultra, it preserved a small curve on the corners. The curve is less noticeable than in prior generations, and the S21 Ultra is a better phone as a result. The softer curves make the screen appear wider, and films, apps, and anything else on the screen don’t feel like they’re trying to get away from you.
A fingerprint sensor is built into the display, but it’s still problematic. There are still times when it simply refuses to detect my fingerprint accurately – that’s a problem I’ve had with Samsung’s in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensors in the past. I used the S21 Ultra‘s basic facial recognition, which uses a hole-punch-style selfie camera, whenever I could. However, if the ambient illumination is too dim for facial recognition, a fingerprint scanner is the next best option. The phone’s usability is harmed by the inconsistent unlocking experience – it should be a seamless and quick experience, especially for something as simple as unlocking a phone.
Efficiency and battery life
Battery life and performance
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone, and it performs admirably. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 CPU, which means it can handle whatever you throw at it. With memory (RAM) ranging from 12GB to 16GB, power users that use a lot of programs on a daily basis will have no trouble switching between them fast and seamlessly.
However, for the great majority of users, the 8GB of RAM included in the regular S21 and S21 Plus, along with the same Snapdragon 888 chipset, is more than enough.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra lasted an incredible 16 hours and 42 minutes in our battery life test, where we constantly played a YouTube movie featuring dynamic drone footage at 1080p resolution (the same resolution as the S21 Ultra’s screen) until the battery died.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a top charging speed of 25W, however Samsung is following Apple’s lead by not adding a charger. Samsung allows you to buy your own charger if you don’t have one that can sustain up to 25W of charging, which is a poor move for a $1,200 phone. To fully charge the S21 Ultra, you can purchase Samsung’s own 25W charger or RavPower’s 61W PD 3.0 Wall Charger.
They’re all of them. The Galaxy S21 Ultra does indeed have a 108-megapixel regular wide lens, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field-of-view, a 10-megapixel 3x zoom lens, and a 10-megapixel 10x zoom lens that can digitally zoom up to 100x.
To cut to the chase, the Galaxy S21 Ultra‘s 100x zoom isn’t a selling point. Anything more than 20x zoom isn’t really worth it. At that time, photos become fuzzy and generally unappealing.
With those two zoom lenses, you can take crisp and sharp images from mid (3x) and long (10x) distances without resorting to digital zoom, which degrades image quality. And for that, the S21 Ultra‘s photographic versatility is unrivaled.
By default, the 108-megapixel standard wide lens takes 12-megapixel photographs, but you can convert to 108-megapixel mode to get photos with greater information than ordinary 12-megapixel lenses. When gazing at a photo ordinarily, those extra features from the 108 megapixel lens aren’t visible, but you’ll see them when you zoom into the photos you’ve taken.
When the ambient light is low, the 108-megapixel lens allows for good shots. The camera reduces the megapixels from 108 to 12 in Night mode so that they can absorb more light.
Nonetheless, the Galaxy S21 Ultra succumbs to Samsung’s compulsive desire to over-process photographs by increasing brightness and color saturation. Although this might be a desirable aesthetic, Samsung frequently overdoes it, resulting in photographs that appear to have been sloppy edited.
Here’s a photo taken using the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has more natural colors and hasn’t been overly enhanced.
Here’s the identical shot captured with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which appears to be overly enhanced and artificial.
The majority of the Galaxy S21 Ultra‘s flaws are minor annoyances that should be taken into account, such as its heavy weight, bad unlocking experience, and overzealous cameras.
The adverts you’ll see on the phone’s built-in weather app are one thing that’s completely unacceptable on a $1,200 phone. It doesn’t affect the phone’s usage and isn’t a huge concern, but Samsung should be chastised for it because it devalues the brand and its products as a whole.
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra?
If money isn’t an issue and you want the most of the Android ecosystem, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the phone for you.
However, don’t go overboard with your spending to reach the Galaxy S21 Ultra‘s $1,200 price tag. The Galaxy S21 Plus costs $1,000 and provides 95% of the experience of the Galaxy S21 Ultra for $200 less.
The increased RAM and camera hardware in the Galaxy S21 Ultra make up the final 5%, but I can’t see myself telling you “yes, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is worth the extra $200” unless I know for sure you’d benefit from the extra RAM, 108-megapixel camera, and 10x zoom lens.
Last but not least
In terms of overall performance, the Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t significantly different from the Galaxy S21 Plus. The two phones have nearly identical performance and only a 0.1-inch variation in screen size. Keep in mind that the Galaxy S21 Plus is a lighter and more comfortable phone to handle, even if you get a deal or trade in your phone for a big discount on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The normal Galaxy S21 is essentially a smaller version of the Galaxy S21 Plus if you like smaller phones.
Pros: Premium build and design, outstanding AMOLED 120Hz screen, long battery life, and a camera that can do it all.
Cons: Heavy, zooms beyond 20x look bad, cameras can over-boost photos, charger not included, in-display fingerprint reader is inconsistent, adverts in built-in weather app
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