Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: It’s a month before usual, but Samsung’s next generation of flagship smartphones are now upon us. in any case, the customary leaks and unofficial reveals, the corporate finally unveiled a trio of latest Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra -a lineup of phones and therefore the Galaxy Buds Pro on the second virtual Unpacked event tonight. And here, I will be able to be talking about the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra during this review, which is that the best Samsung has got to offer for now—with the spec-sheet to prove it.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Specifications:
|Body:||6.50 x 2.98 x 0.35 inches, 229 gm, IP68 rated, Gorilla Glass Victus, Aluminum frame, S-pen support (separate case required)|
|Display:||6.8-inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O, 515PPI, Gorilla Glass Victus, Eye Comfort Shield, Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, LTPO|
|Resolution:||WQHD+ (3200 x 1440 pixels)|
|Chipset:||Exynos 2100 5G (5nm)|
|CPU:||Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)|
|Storage:||128/256/512GB internal storage (fixed)|
|Software & UI:||One UI 3.1 on top of Android 11|
|Front Camera:||40MP, f/2.2 lens (punch-hole)|
|Security:||Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor (Qualcomm Gen 2)|
|Audio:||Stereo speaker, Tuned by AKG|
|Connectivity:||Single/Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6E, Bluetooth 5.2, GPS / AGPS / Glonass / Galileo / BDS, USB Type-C, UWB, 4G LTE, 5G (sub-6GHz, mmWave)|
|Sensors:||Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro, Geomagnetic, Hall, Proximity, Ambient Light|
|Battery:||5000mAh with 25W fast charging (USB-C to USB-C), 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless power share|
|Colour options:||Phantom – Black, Silver, Titanium, Navy, Brown|
|Price in Nepal:||Rs. 169,999 (12/256GB)|
|Price in India:||1,05,999I NR (12/256GB)|
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review:
A big 6.82-inches quad-HD display which will finally go up to 120Hz, Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset, 12GB of base RAM, the new & improved cameras, and an enormous 5000mAh battery. So, yeah it’s got the quality high-end stuff. And you would possibly remember that the last-gen Galaxy S20 and therefore the S20 Ultra received some mixed reviews for reasons quite one. during this a part of the planet, mostly because of… you guessed it..the Exynos 990 silicon.
But not only that, the S20 Ultra had this unfixable camera autofocus issues. While Samsung largely addressed the matter multiple firmware updates, but since that was the focal distance issue of an enormous 108MP sensor, it had been beyond repair.
- Octa-core Samsung Exynos 2100 SoC (5nm) – Global
- 12/16GB LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB UFS 3.1 storage (fixed)
Anyway, I desire the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has brought some massive improvement in most the areas you’d expect, but the most important one has got to be the performance because of the new Exynos 2100 chipset. you would possibly be dying to understand its real-life benchmark scores so I’ll get right thereto. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run the AnTuTu benchmark because it continuously gave a mistake message.
Regardless, let’s pit the Exynos 2100 against last year’s Exynos 990. In Geekbench 5, as you’ll see, it’s a 23% higher single-core score, whereas the multi-core performance is around 41% faster. Moving to PCMark Work 2.0, the Exynos 2100 delivers quite 25% higher score than the 990. Similarly, in 3DMark, which benchmarks the CPU and GPU performance of a phone, the Exynos 2100 wins out with a lead of around 23%.
Optimized One UI
Besides benchmarks, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also feels more optimized and therefore the new One UI 3.1 complements the performance nicely. Everything is smoother than what we saw from Exynos 990-powered phones last year. Moreover, the heating issue is gone-for-good also.
But, the age-old question remains, does it delay against the Snapdragon 888? If you check out the CPU architecture of those silicons, they’re basically an equivalent. Still, I’m almost sure if the Mali G78 GPU on the Exynos 2100 is on an equivalent level because of the Adreno 660. For that, we’ll just need to wait a short time for a few head-on comparisons.
During my tests, I played tons of games on the phone and it definitely seems to be doing a far better job than the Exynos 990. Even after an hour or more of continuous PUBG Mobile gameplay, this thing doesn’t heat up, whereas Exynos 990 wont to throttle bad. Still, there’s no 90fps gameplay on PUBG and therefore the highest you’ll go is smooth graphics and extreme frame rates here, so this is often one area where Samsung can eventually optimize certain games to run at a better graphics setting.
Other than that, games like COD and Genshin Impact are quite optimized and run at the very best of settings, which is great.
WiFi 6E compatibility
If you’ve been following the continued virtual CES 2021, multiple router manufacturers like TP-Link, Netgear, and Linksys announced their WiFi 6E capable routers. And if you manage to urge your hands on one in due time, the whole Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra series is going to be ready to take its full advantage as these devices support the newer, faster WiFi 6E standard.
- Glass front/back, aluminium frame
- Gorilla Glass Victus protection
- IP68 dust/water resistant
Moving on, another aspect I actually like about the S21 Ultra is its design. It’s lighter than the S20 Ultra and is more ergonomic to carry and definitely not as heavy because of the iPhone 12 Pro Max that I’d been using as my primary phone. The Phantom Black variant that I even have with me comes off elegant and is mesmerizing to seem at. It’s a matte back, not coal-black, and thus radiates a Batmobile vibe. However, if this doesn’t float your boat, there are other colour options to settle on from like silver, grey, navy, and brown.
The optical lens setup gets a redesign and that I find the new approach to be more modern, unique, and soluble. Its camera bump isn’t that big either. So yeah, it’s unquestionably a far better implementation than what we saw on the S20 and Note 20 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra too brags Gorilla Glass Victus protection on the front and therefore the back for greater durability. However, the Phantom Black colour variant and its close-to-matte finish feels unlike nothing like glass on the hand. it’s smooth with an excellent tactile feel and doesn’t easily attract smudges either.
The frames are metal needless to say and Samsung is among the few companies that also lets users expand the phone’s storage using an external microSD card in its high-end smartphones.
- 6.8-inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, curved
- Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (10 – 120Hz)
- Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection
Let’s get to the display now, As I discussed earlier, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra greets you with a 6.82-inch 1440p 120Hz screen, and as far as I can tell, this is often probably the simplest display on a smartphone yet. It can get plenty bright, up to 1500 nits and therefore the contrast, the colours thereon is extremely good. as compared, it brags 25% brighter and 50% enhanced contrast ratio compared to previous Galaxy S devices.
Moreover, Samsung is finally letting you crank up the resolution to QHD while retaining the 120Hz smoothness. And a bit like the Note 20 Ultra and therefore the Z Fold 2 before it, this screen boasts LTPO technology which will dynamically switch the refresh rate between 10Hz to 120Hz depending upon the content on the screen. Samsung has something future for the flat-display enthusiasts this point around because the regular S21 and S21 Plus skips the curves while only the Ultra goes for a curved screen.
Similar to the Note 20 Ultra, its screen is additionally guarded by the Gorilla Glass Victus. We’ve already seen its scratch, drop protection in action so I’ll keep it brief. Essentially, it’s about twice more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass 6. Furthermore, it can survive drops from up to 2 meters while its predecessor had a maximum drop rate of 1.6 meters.
Anyway, one of the most important leaks surrounding the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra series was how it might replace the company’s Note lineup of premium flagship phones by including an S-pen. However, Samsung doesn’t seem to be through with the Note series just yet because the S21 Ultra will instead bring S-pen functionality by embedding the stylus inside a case.
So, if you would like S-pen on your Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, you’re gonna need to buy a further folio case. Still, having the ability to use a stylus on an S-series phone seems like a luxury considering how you merely couldn’t on the S20 lineup.
Likewise, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor also sees an improvement. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra series embed Qualcomm’s second-gen ultrasonic fingerprint reader. Compared to the last-gen sensor on the Note 20 Ultra, this one is about 30% faster with a 77% larger area.
- Quad-camera setup at the back, Laser AutoFocus system
- (108MP primary, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto: 3x, 10x)
- 40MP selfie camera inside the Infinity-O cutout
Finally, let’s talk about cameras. Equipped with four sensors, including an upgraded 108MP ISOCELL HM3 sensor with OIS. Unlike the S20 Ultra’s 108MP lens with 3D ToF, the new sensor uses Laser AF. Then there’s the 12 MP ultra-wide camera and two telephoto cameras – a 10x folded periscope lens like 240 mm, and a standard 3x telephoto lens. Both use 10 MP sensors (1/3.24″, 1.22 µm pixels). This hybrid zoom will ensure a smooth transition between focal lengths.
For this review, I compared the zoom capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra against the iPhone 12 Pro Max that has 2.5x optical zoom.
As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra completely thrashes the iPhone during this department. From 3x to 10x zoom, the S21 Ultra is best in every way. Even 3x zoomed night mode images are quite good.
According to Samsung, the periscope lens that’s wont to achieve a 10x zoom must refract light only twice. as compared, periscope lens solutions for telephoto cameras on other smartphones require up to 5 refractions.
Fewer refractions mean relatively higher image quality, and with the new and improved Image Signal Processor, we are watching one among the simplest smartphone telephoto cameras within the industry.
Normal, Wideangle Images
Other than that, the opposite two lenses, wide and ultra-wide are just about on par with my current primary phone, i.e the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
And one thing I’ve noticed on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is that its images aren’t as punchy and vibrant as we’re wont to on previous Samsung flagships.
As a result, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra shoots more natural-looking photos.
When it involves already dark shots, both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra do a commendable job.
But in instances with scarce ambient light, night mode images from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra looks better.
Portrait photos are equally good from both phones. But the iPhone is in a position to churn out slightly more details with mildly better skin tone on most occasions. However, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t that far behind and in certain scenarios, shoots better portrait shots.
Similarly, its laser autofocus system works fine—slightly better than on the Note 20 Ultra. But I still desire it’s nowhere near the twin Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) we wont to see on Samsung flagship phones of the past.
When trying to require close-up macro shots, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra hesitates to lock focus easily. Still, a feature called “Focus Enhancer” activates automatically when taking macro photos.
In the end, the pictures retain good subject focus, although there’s no natural background bokeh.
As for selfies, the centred punch-hole cutout on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra houses a replacement 40MP sensor. I compared it against the iPhone 12 Pro Max also.
Both phones do a commendable job. While the shots from the iPhone feature a rather darker skin tone, the S21 brightens up the topic with a touch. None the less, both devices offer top-tier selfie camera.
Getting to the videos, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultras rear camera tops out at 8K/24fps with the 4K/60fps option also. We all skills good Apple is when it involves videos and its superiority in terms of stabilization and colour science. Still and everyone, videos from Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra competent enough for shooting great videos.
There’s not much of an improvement in terms of 8K videos and can disappoint with moving subjects. But, if you would like to shoot still footage in 8K resolution, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can deliver decent videos.
Overall, I’m really impressed with its cameras. And since I’m using preliminary software, I expect it to be even better once I get the retail unit and Samsung rolls out a couple of more updates to further optimize the cameras. So stay tuned for my full long-term review and therefore the detailed camera comparison against the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
- 5000mAh battery with 25W fast charging
- 15W Qi Wireless Charging, Wireless PowerShare
On to the battery side of things, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is powered by a 5000mAh cell which is just about the quality lately. Throughout the review, I got about 1 day of endurance on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. So I even have to mention the battery life is pretty good. Having said that, Samsung could’ve further optimized it—since I recorded around 5-6% battery drain overnight. This has never been a drag with iPhones.
Charging up the phone is pretty fast, but the corporate has downgraded the 45W charging on the S20 Ultra with a 25W charging instead. I used the 25W PD charger of last year’s Note 20 Ultra and it can fully charge the phone in under an hour. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra audio quality is pretty impressive also. it’s loud and detailed enough to immerse yourself within the content you’re watching.
Okay, let’s bring this review to a conclusion. After the frustration that was the Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung has made a robust comeback with the S21 Ultra. It packs within the better of everything—from the display, cameras, processor, and more. So, Samsung is off to an excellent start this year with the new S21 series. But… everything comes at a price and therefore the S21 Ultra remains cost a reasonable penny.
Yet, the bright side here is that the corporate offers lucrative pre-booking offers and free insurance in many markets like South Asia. And while the regular S21+ might suffice for several, if you would like absolutely the best Samsung has got to offer, for now, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is it.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Pros & Cons
- Premium Android experience
- Excellent performance
- Top-notch AMOLED display
- Ultra-premium design
- S-pen support (with a case)
- A-grade camera performance
- No SD card support
- Uncompetitive fast charging
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