Samsung has launched its flagship for 2021 with Galaxy S21 ultra sitting on the top. After creating the ultra-tier in 2020, the new S21 Ultra feels like an opportunity to address the things that didn’t work well with the old phone and once again trying to create the super smartphone that Samsung wants.
Samsung had put a lot of time into talking about the black finish on its phone at the launch. Saying that less is more will raise an eyebrow among those looking at the new S21 Ultra, into which Samsung clearly has put everything. There’s no questioning that the Phantom Black S21 Ultra is something to behold. Once you get past the size of the camera housing, with those large lenses looking at you, you’ll appreciate what Samsung was talking about.
The essentials are still in place, like the IP68 waterproofing that you’d demand of a premium flagship, but there’s no escaping from a big phone, and weighty too.
Fliping the phone to the front, the curves to the edge of the display continue Samsung’s trick of hiding the edge bezels for a more seamless look – and that’s something that the regular S20 and S21+ no longer offer. There’s a touch of the bezel to the top and bottom of the screen and the front punch hole camera is kept small. But it’s all very similar to other recent Samsung phones.
Samsung phones are all about the display. S21 Ultra is packed with a 6.8-inch AMOLED, this is a typical Samsung experience, with our first impressions being of a punchy and vibrant display. Samsung says that this is its brightest at 1500 nits. But there are some important changes that have taken place under the surface.
The S21 Ultra adopts the Note 20 Ultra’s adaptive motion smoothness to solve one of the big criticisms of the previous S20 Ultra. That old device only offered 120Hz at 1080p resolution, which hardly seemed premium. Now this phone can select refresh rates from 10-120Hz to suit the content. That will save battery because it means you’re not pushing 120Hz when you’re reading a static page. But you have the 120Hz fluidity when you’re scrolling or gaming or where faster refresh rates are supported. Some will notice the refresh rate more than others, so it’s not the be-all and end-all, but it’s good that Samsung has addressed this.
Samsung sticks to offering a top resolution at 3200 x 1440 pixels, but that’s not turned on by default. The default is still 2400 x 1080 pixels and you have to look hard to notice the difference. That’s also the top resolution of the new S21+, with Samsung seemingly accepting that some people just don’t need those pixel popping resolutions.
The S21 Ultra comes with four cameras on the back. The main and ultra-wide-angle are the same as last year—108MP (brand new HM3 sensor though) + 12MP. Rounding off the package there are two 10MP cameras (3x, 10x zoom capable) periscope-style. All the cameras have OIS and can record in 4K at 60fps while the main camera can additionally also shoot in 8K vides at 60fps. The front camera is 40MP capable of recording 4K videos at 60fps.
While Samsung has thrown in a lot of ‘compelling’ hardware inside the S21 Ultra, this time, a bigger ‘focus’ seems to be on software especially around areas like focusing and demosaicing. Samsung says the S21 Ultra will also not smoothen faces as much as its last phones. At the same time, features like “director’s view” lets you explore new ways to create content.
Under the hood, the S21 Ultra packs an Exynos 2100 which is Samsung’s equivalent to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in India. This is paired with either 12GB or 16GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB storage. There is no micro-SD card slot for storage expansion though. So that is the end of a micro SD slot era. Rounding off the package it comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery with 25W fast wired charging, 15W fast wireless charging, wireless power share, 5G connectivity, dual-SIM, IP68 dust and water resistance, stereo speakers, support for Wi-Fi 6E and ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking for seamless integration with Samsung’s SmartTag trackers. Software inside the phone is Android 11-based One UI 3.1.
A final verdict on Samsung S21 Ultra: –
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G appears to be Samsung’s most ‘extra’ phone to date. Sure, that’s partly because the gap between its less expensive siblings has seemingly widened. But the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G also has a 10x optical zoom that we can’t quite ignore. How do you fit a 10x lens into a phone? Samsung has done it, apparently. And it has done so with a lower entry price than the previousSamsung S20 ultra. However, we will have more information once we have a proper look at the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s camera quality and battery life.