With Samsung eager to start a new year on the right foot, the Korean brand has taken the initiative to launch its Galaxy S21 series phones earlier than their usual Feb-Mar cycle. Together, the three models (Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra) bring a combination of new flagship processors, pro-grade cameras, and incremental improvements alongside 5G-readiness.
New features and significant improvements were made to photography and videography despite having camera hardware similar to last year’s Galaxy S20 series phones. There’s Director’s View with two more sub-features for more videography options, and then there’s Cinematic 8K Snap for lifting still images out of 8k24fps videos. Single Take, Portrait Mode, and even Space Zoom got some upgrades. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra receives a special mention here because it has S Pen support. It also has two telephoto rear lenses, making its 100x Space Zoom more powerful.
Samsung kept most of its original Galaxy S design language without changing too much. The Korean brand took great care in showcasing its Contour Cut Camera housing design, adding a dimension of premium finish.
The S21 has Phantom Grey and Phantom White if you want a muted look, while the S21+ has Phantom Black and Phantom Silver, the two plainerlooking colourways that are also on the S21 Ultra. Phantom Violet, the flagship colour for the S21 series, is only available on the regular S21 and S21+. We think it’s a lost opportunity for the S21 Ultra since you’re limited to its monochrome palette there.
When in hand, the phones feel comfortable to hold and control. The S21 Ultra has an ideal grip and body even though it’s 0.1mm thicker and 7g heavier than the S20 Ultra. If we had any handling issues, it’s the positioning of the volume and power buttons on all three models. The phones don’t have identical bodies, yet the buttons are identical in size and spacing across all three phones. The S21+ controls are most awkward of the lot, with the S21 Ultra being the most natural.
The Galaxy S21 and S21+ have the same display sizes and panel quality as its predecessors. They sit at 6.2 inches and 6.7 inches respectively, with Dynamic AMOLED 2X display and an Infinity-O camera cut-out at the top. The displays are HDR10+ certified, have 120Hz maximum refresh rate, and Dynamic Refresh Rate that adjusts between 48 to 120Hz, depending on the content viewed. What did change was the pixel fidelity from 1440p (QHD+ resolution) to the current FHD resolution at 2,400 x 1,080 pixels for both models.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 6.8inch, curved Dynamic AMOLED 2X rated at 3,200 x 1,440 pixels resolution (WQHD+). It has all the panel perks from the S21 and S21+, although its Dynamic Refresh Rate can be as low as 10Hz for better battery efficiency. Also unique to the S21 Ultra is a new maximum peak brightness of 1,500-nits, up from the predecessor’s 1,200nits.
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