Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra evaluation: All of Android for considerably much less

You’re also getting a remarkable better cloak, Wi-Fi 6E, S Pen toughen, and attain more RAM.

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The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a brand novel more or much less price proposition from Samsung. It’s now not factual bigger than the decrease-cease devices with an even bigger camera, love final year’s Ultra. You’re also getting a remarkable better cloak, Wi-Fi 6E, S Pen toughen, and attain more RAM. Whether or now not you wish this stuff is aloof up for debate, nonetheless if it’s essential get them, the S21 Ultra is correctly price the upgrade from the S20 Ultra or the $200 step-up from the S21+.

s21 ultra screen Michael Simon/IDG

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has Samsung’s easiest repeat ever.

That’s mainly for the reason that Ultra’s top rate stamp comes at much less of a top rate this year. The build final year’s stamp mark set the S20 Ultra firmly in the greater cease of the stratosphere, the S21 Ultra starts at $1,199. You might want to max it out with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for $1,380, $20 now not up to each and every final year’s entry-level S20 Ultra and a fully loaded iPhone 12 Legitimate Max.

Update 3: 15 PM: The Galaxy S21 Ultra is $200 off at Amazon this day.

Despite the incontrovertible fact that it price the the same as the S20 Ultra, the S21 Ultra would aloof be one in all the finest phones ever made, maybe one price spending upward of $1,700 on. However Samsung’s aggressive pricing makes the S21 Ultra’s spec sheet far more comely and proves which that you just would possibly maybe possibly get it all with out in actuality spending it all.

Upgraded class

The S21 Ultra has the the same compose as the S21, which I reviewed final month, and it’s factual as impressive. The camera array is now not any longer a bulbous bump floating in the discontinuance left corner, nonetheless a miles more subtle one which seamlessly extends from the perimeters of the cell phone. It’s aloof quite gargantuan, nonetheless the novel placement feels more balanced than in the old generation’s S20, and it doesn’t come across my fingers as typically. The matte encourage is trim and elegant and does a fascinating job at repelling fingerprints.

The S21 Ultra is a gargantuan cell phone, even it’s technically smaller than final year’s S20 (165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm vs 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm). It’s typically not doubtless to use with one hand, and at 6.8 inches aloof feels very remarkable on the greater cease of how gargantuan of a cell phone folks are willing to address. The fact that it’s a tenth of an scuttle smaller than the S20 Ultra and the the same dimension as the Display cloak 20 Ultra appears to be to counsel we received’t look a 7-scuttle Galaxy cell phone anytime soon, unless it folds.

s21 ultra side camera Michael Simon/IDG

The S21 Ultra’s camera array properly blends into the perimeters of the cell phone.

Love the more cost effective S21 phones, Samsung has eradicated about a beneficial properties from the S21 Ultra, namely MST for the use of Samsung Pay at terminals that don’t toughen NFC, and the microSD card slot. The inability of expandable storage hits particularly exhausting, for the reason that S21 Ultra is meant to be the absolute most sensible of the excessive cease. I bewitch its target viewers would be inclined to use a microSD card. However alas, it’s long gone.

Highest on the eyes

Within the event you would possibly maybe possibly maybe address the scale and static storage, nonetheless, the S21 Ultra has the finest cloak Samsung has ever made, which is now not any minute feat. It debuts a quantity of most trendy beneficial properties for a Samsung repeat and devices the bar incredibly excessive for the remainder of its 2021 opponents, collectively with the next-generation iPhone Legitimate.

  • It uses Samsung’s novel low-powered OLED repeat, which reduces energy consumption up to 16 p.c.
  • It’s the main Samsung cell phone to toughen 120Hz at paunchy WQHD+ decision.
  • It’s the brightest repeat Samsung has ever made, topping 1,500 nits.
  • It’s Samsung’s most ambiance pleasant adaptive refresh repeat, with a differ of 10Hz to 120Hz.
s21 ultra lock sreen Michael Simon/IDG

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a gargantuan cloak—nonetheless it’s a chunk of smaller than final year’s S20 Ultra.

So it’s now not a stretch to divulge the Galaxy S21 Ultra has the finest repeat ever made. Have in mind the very fact that, that modified into also moral of the S20 Ultra on the time, nonetheless the S21 Ultra feels love a moral fulfillment in repeat technology. The scale will likely be an subject for a selection of users, nonetheless Samsung has nonetheless delivered a ridiculously moral repeat.

Efficiency you ask

Along with the finest repeat you’re ever seen, you’re also getting the finest predicament of specs ever assembled in an Android cell phone:

  • Processor: Snapdragon 888
  • RAM: 12GB/16GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: UFS 3.1 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Wireless: sub6 + mmWave 5G, Wi-Fi 6E
  • Ultrawide band: Yes

That’s now not quite across-the-board better than the S21 and S21+, nonetheless it’s a marked development. You’re getting a chunk of faster speeds thanks to the additional RAM, nonetheless the S21 is already crazy-snappily, so it’s now not something you’ll stumble on in day-to-day use. Within the event it’s essential get numbers, I’ve purchased numbers:

Galaxy S21

Geekbench 5 (Single/Multi)

S21: 1076/3223

S21 Ultra: 1118/3541

PCMark Work 2.0

S21: 13070

S21 Ultra: 13525

3D Value Flowers and fauna

S21: 5209

S21 Ultra: 5686

The marquee characteristic is the UWB chip, which operates in a devoted fragment of the radio spectrum to enable exact space tracking. That’ll can be found in in to hand when Samsung starts selling its SmartTag+ UWB-powered tracker later this year.

s21 ultra camera lenses Michael Simon/IDG

The S21 Ultra’s camera array is a ask to ogle.

The S21 Ultra’s 5,000mAh battery is a powerhouse as properly, with fully no inconvenience making it through a day of heavy use. Benchmarks delivered virtually 11 hours, attain longer than the S20 Ultra and typically any other Android cell phone I’ve ever former. Even with the 120Hz repeat modified into on, I had no direct getting through a day after which some. It’s in iPhone 12 territory—you received’t get to effort in regards to the battery unless you’re downloading enormous files over 5G for hours on cease.

Furthermore novel is the addition of the S Pen, which is an additional accent—and it doesn’t get a slot love the Display cloak. I’m now not clear how gargantuan the marketplace for it is, nonetheless if you’ve ever lamented in regards to the incapacity to jot down for your S cell phone, this would maybe also merely scratch that itch. It could well’t enact any of the love Bluetooth air gestures but—you’ll need the S Pen Legitimate for that, which is launching later this year—nonetheless the amateur S Pen works perfectly properly for taps and notes.

Up conclude even from far-off

Whereas the Ultra surname can apply to all beneficial properties of the cell phone, nowhere is it more evident than with the camera. Not easiest is the S21 Ultra’s camera a broad development over the S21 and S21+, nonetheless it’s also a gargantuan leap over final year’s already-capable rig:

S20 Ultra

Digicam 1: 12MP Ultra Broad, f/2.2

Digicam 2: 108MP Broad-perspective, f/1.8

Digicam 3: 48MP Telephoto (5X), f/3.5

Digicam 4: DepthVision (time-of-flight)

S21 Ultra

Digicam 1: 12MP Ultra Broad, f/2.2

Digicam 2: 108MP Broad, f/1.8

Digicam 3: Telephoto (3X) 10MP, f/2.4

Digicam 4: Telephoto (10X) 10MP, f/4.9

The supreme enhancements over the S20 Ultra are with the telephoto lens and autofocus. The laser autofocus presented with the Display cloak 20 is right here so the S20’s focusing disorders are long gone, which makes it remarkable more straightforward to rapid point and shoot. Samsung improved the S20 after a pair of updates, nonetheless it never felt as snappily because it could maybe also merely aloof. The S21 does.

s21 ultra zoom Michael Simon/IDG

The zooming capabilities on the S21 Ultra are merely amazing. When when compared with the true at prime left, we glance conclude to-excellent readability at 10X (prime upright), very decent quality at 30X (backside left), and useable shots at 100X (backside upright).

Equally noticeable are the enhancements Samsung has made to zooming. Samsung made telephoto pictures a gargantuan address the S20, and it continues right here with the addition of a 2d telephoto lens. That permits very clear photos at 10X zoom, twice as prolonged as the iPhone 12 can shoot with digital zoom. Evaluating the outcomes to any other cell phone isn’t even unbiased. If telephoto pictures is your thing, there’s no unbiased to get in thoughts any other cell phone.

Samsung aloof enables you to “Build of living Zoom” up to 100X, and while it’s a chunk of more real and much less noisy than the S20, it’s aloof more of a social gathering trick than a crucial characteristic. It’s quite amazing that a cell phone can zoom the general attain to 100X and aloof help some semblance of describe quality, nonetheless you received’t be the use of it very typically, if ever.

s21 ultra portrait Michael Simon/IDG

The S21 Ultra (left) handles my son’s hairline towards a tough background noticeably better than the S21 (center) and iPhone 12 (upright). It’s the finest one in all the three to help minute particulars and now not lose the discontinuance towards the busy encourage wall.

The build the additional telephoto lens finally shines is with portraits. Have in mind the very fact that, Samsung phones get had a portrait mode since Selective Level of curiosity arrived on the Galaxy S5, nonetheless it’s never been better than on the S21 Ultra, with extremely crisp edges, trim traces towards any background, and a gratifying background blur.

In a selection of areas, the S21 Ultra takes appealing photos which are on a par with the finest in the field. My greatest criticism is that photos are inclined to be a chunk of overexposed. No subject which of the four cameras you opt to use, nonetheless, you’ll be snapping a extremely moral pic. Going forward, Samsung desires to flip its attention to a deeper level of processing, nonetheless it’s exhausting to get too remarkable fault with a telephoto camera that’s this noteworthy.

Must you rob the Galaxy S21 Ultra?

For most traders, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will likely be too remarkable cell phone for too remarkable money. Love the iPhone 12 Legitimate Max, it’s very gargantuan and heavy, and this would maybe predicament you encourage a bundle of dough. Within the event you’re the least bit cautious about what your employ, this isn’t the cell phone for you, and the $800 S21 is the attain to pass.

However if you can get an even bigger funds, the S21 Ultra represents the finest—the finest of Samsung, the most extremely efficient telephoto camera, and the finest of all the pieces Android has to provide at any stamp. It’s also $200 more cost effective than the S20 Ultra, and the corners Samsung slice encourage to fetch there didn’t sacrifice too remarkable of what makes it an ultra-top rate cell phone. Whereas the microSD slot and MST could also seem love meaningful losses, the things you’re gaining bigger than compose up for it.

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  • The Galaxy S21 Ultra is for certain the finest Android cell phone you would possibly maybe possibly maybe rob upright now. However it completely’s aloof too gargantuan and too costly for all nonetheless a minute viewers of enthusiasts.


    • Ultimate-searching cloak and overall compose
    • Very excellent camera with killer telephoto abilities
    • Huge battery and performance


    • Huge and heavy
    • No MicroSD card slot

Michael Simon covers all things cell for PCWorld and Macworld. You might want to typically get him alongside with his nostril buried in a cloak. The finest attain to yowl at him is on Twitter.

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