Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Better than its Predecessor

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra became my main smartphone since it was launched last year. Samsung’s 2020 S-series flagship encountered some issues involving the camera and battery life. There were some users who complained about having the Exynos 990 variant instead of the more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 860. In my case, I accidentally dropped my one-week old S20 Ultra and its glass back cracked. What made it worse are the camera issues I’ve encountered and the lack of software updates because my phone is locked to my network. In my years of using Samsung phones, the S20 Ultra made me really doubt for choosing it as my main phone. Last month, Samsung sent me their newest Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G for review. After a year of sticking to my S20 Ultra, will the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G make me switch over? Let’s find out.

Purchase the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G from the Official Samsung Store at Shopee – https://shp.ee/qgqn9wq

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 ULTRA REVIEW SPECS:

 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
OS:Android 11, One UI 3.1
Processor:2.9 GHz Exynos 2100 Octa-Core processor | Mali-G78 MP14
Display: 1440 x 3200 6.8" Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Wireless Connections:5G, Bluetooth 5.2, WiFi a/b/g/n/ac/6e, NFC, A-GPS, GLONASS
Memory:256GB Internal Storage, 12GB RAM
Connectors:USB 3.2 Type-C, OTG Support
Cameras:108 Megapixels with Wide lens f/1.8 24mm + 10 Megapixels periscope telephoto f/4.9 10x Optical Zoom + 10 Megapixels f/2.4 Telephoto 3x Optical Zoom + 12 Megapixels f/2.2 13mm Ultra-Wide Angle (Main Camera), 40 Megapixels f/2.2 (Front)
SIM Card Slots:2x Nano SIM Cards required
Battery:5,000 mAh (non-removable
SRP:P69,990

THE LOOKS AND FEEL

I was very disappointed with my Galaxy S20 Ultra’s design. Color choices were bland unlike the S10 which had an attractive Pearl White color. What broke my heart was the S20 Ultra’s build quality. I have used the Galaxy S-series for years and I found them to be well built. Alas, its back covered-glass broke and I shrieked in agony. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G makes up for this and now comes with reinforced Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, said to be better in drop performances compared to the S20 Ultra’s Gorilla Glass 6. I had no plans of testing the drop test but by accident, I tossed the S21 Ultra to my couch and it bounced off landing on the floor. My heartbeat went fast as I checked if there were any damages on the phone. To my surprise (and relief) the S21 Ultra was not damaged at all.

Color choices have greatly improved not only for the S21 Ultra but for the rest of the S21 series as well. What was Samsung thinking about the bland colors last they came up with last year? My Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review unit in Phantom Silver looks fantastic, and its frosted glass kinda produces different colors based on its reflections.

A lot of tech reviewers criticized the large camera modules of both the S20 and S21 Ultra, but personally, I am not bothered by it. I like the camera module of the S21 Ultra better – it is not made of glass so there isn’t a tendency that it will break easily unlike its predecessor.

Thickness almost remains the same in the S21 Ultra. The volume controls and the power button are found on the right side of the phone.

Found at the bottom are the Type-C USB port, speaker grille and SIM Card slots.

The S21 Ultra 5G is the largest in the S-series. Some users may find it too big for their hands while others feel it’s heavier. If you want something smaller, you can check out the Galaxy S21+ 5G.

THE DISPLAY

I loved my S20 Ultra’s display, so it’s a given that I would also love the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s display too. It still retains its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, and it still has the same 1440 x 3200 resolution. The 120Hz refresh rate is still present, which I am already used to with my S20 Ultra. Of course users have the option to change it to 60Hz to gain longer battery.

Like my S20 Ultra, I enjoyed binging on Netflix and YouTube shows on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Colors were vivid and pops out of the screen. Like what I always said before, watching on a Samsung phone is like watching on a pocket Samsung LED TV. The screen’s edges aren’t extremely curved so you can hold on to its edges without accidentally opening any apps.

What started out as a rumor turned out to be true. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G supports S-Pen input so you can jot notes or doodle on the phone. However, the S-Pen is not included in the package and you will need to purchase it separately.

Purchase the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G from the Official Samsung Store at Shopee – https://shp.ee/qgqn9wq

THE PERFORMANCE

Since the Galaxy S6 series were launched, the Korean giant produced two types of smartphones: one that is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon flagship processor and the other by Samsung’s own Exynos chipset. Customers in the U.S. always get the Snapdragon variant while the rest of the world gets the Exynos variant. Throughout the years, the Snapdragon processor yields better performance compared to its Exynos counterpart, resulting to more upset customers demanding that they also get the Snapdragon variant.

Personally, I don’t mind using the Exynos variant especially the newer Exynos 2100 found in my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review unit. Its benchmark scores are miles better than the previous Exynos 990. Check them out below:

As expected with a flagship phone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G does its job really well for all my daily tasks. Its 256GB of Internal Storage and 12GB of memory is sufficient for most users. However, I am bummed to discover that Samsung has removed the MicroSD card expansion (again) from their flagship phone. The S20 Ultra may only have 128GB of storage but at least you can pop a MicroSD card containing your previous files.

Gaming is definitely possible with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I was able to play Mobile Legends: Bang Bang with the maximum settings and ultra framerate, a rare combination in high-end smartphones nowadays. Call of Duty Mobile was a joy to play especially when the Graphic Quality is set to Very High and Frame Rate to Max. We also played Genshin Impact on the S21 Ultra and we are happy to report that the game played very smoothly on the phone even after hours of gameplay. Phone did get warm after long playing hours but the heat was tolerable.

THE CAMERAS

Unlike the earlier issues encountered by S20 Ultra users on their cameras, Samsung fine-tuned the cameras of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. It comes with quad-cameras composed a 108 Megapixel sensor, 10 Megapixels periscope telephoto with 10x Optical Zoom, 10 Megapixels Telephoto with 3x Optical Zoom and a 12 Megapixels 13mm Ultra-Wide Angle. I’ve been using the cameras of the S21 Ultra and I can absolutely declare that these are a lot better than my S20 Ultra. The former produced finer images even when using the Space Zoom feature. Another feature is its capability to capture 8K videos but still lacks stabilization. Personally, I would rather do videos in 4K. The front camera still has a 40 Megapixel sensor which was very reliable in taking selfies.

Here are the sample photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G:

SPACE ZOOM PHOTOS:

MOON SHOTS

Purchase the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G from the Official Samsung Store at Shopee – https://shp.ee/qgqn9wq

THE BATTERY LIFE

The Samsung S21 Ultra 5G review unit’s battery capacity is 5,000 mAh and comes with 25W fast charging. Not really complaining, but I just wished Samsung made it even faster than 25W. With 4G/5G on for the whole morning and WiFi in the afternoon till evening, the S21 Ultra 5G can last a day of usage consisting of calls, messaging, social media, video and gaming.

DR’S CONCLUSION

If I only knew that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is this good, I would have waited for this to come out and skipped the S20 Ultra. Much better design, performance, and cameras with the addition of the S-Pen support. I would definitely upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

PROS:

  • Better design. Colors are attractive.
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus is stronger than its predecessor.
  • Large gorgeous display
  • S-Pen support
  • Better cameras

CONS:

  • Very Expensive
  • Large compared to other phones
  • MicroSD Card expansion was removed

Purchase the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G from the Official Samsung Store at Shopee – https://shp.ee/qgqn9wq

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