The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, unveiled in January 2021, represents Samsung’s pinnacle of smartphone technology for the year. As the flagship of the S21 series, it was designed to offer the best of everything Samsung could muster, especially in terms of display and camera capabilities. Here’s an in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:
The Galaxy S21 Ultra was Samsung’s answer to the growing demand for versatile camera systems, top-tier performance, and outstanding displays. With its refined design and a host of features, it aimed to set the standard for premium smartphones in 2021.
- Operating System: Shipped with One UI 3.1 based on Android 11.
- Display: 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X with a resolution of 1440 x 3200 pixels, supporting a 120Hz refresh rate (adaptive) and HDR10+.
- Processor: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (in the USA) or Samsung Exynos 2100 (in other regions).
- Memory: Options ranging from 12 GB to 16 GB RAM with 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB internal storage.
- Camera: Quad-camera setup with a 108 MP primary sensor, two telephoto lenses (10 MP periscope with 10x optical zoom and 10 MP with 3x optical zoom), and a 12 MP ultrawide sensor. The front camera is a 40 MP shooter.
- Battery: 5000 mAh non-removable battery with 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
- Other Features: In-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, IP68 dust/water resistance, 5G connectivity, stereo speakers, S Pen support (sold separately), and Bluetooth 5.2.
- Display: The 120Hz QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display was among the best in the industry, offering deep blacks, vibrant colors, and smooth animations.
- Camera Versatility: The S21 Ultra’s camera system was one of its standout features, offering significant zoom capabilities and improved low-light performance.
- Performance: Whether it’s the Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100, the device delivered top-notch performance across all tasks.
- S Pen Support: For the first time in the S series, the S21 Ultra offered support for the S Pen, a feature previously reserved for the Note series.
- Battery Life: The 5000 mAh battery ensured a full day of use for most users, even with intensive tasks.
- Price: The Galaxy S21 Ultra commanded a premium price, making it one of the more expensive mainstream smartphones at launch.
- Size and Weight: The device was quite hefty, which might not be comfortable for all users, especially for prolonged one-handed use.
- No MicroSD Card Slot: Unlike its predecessor, the S21 Ultra did away with the microSD card slot, which was a disappointment for some users.
- Charging Speed: While 25W charging is decent, it’s slower than the competition, some of which offer 65W or even faster charging speeds.
Comparisons to Other Technologies:
In its segment, the S21 Ultra faced competition from:
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: With its Super Retina XDR OLED display, Apple A14 Bionic chip, and a triple-camera system with LiDAR.
- OnePlus 9 Pro: Offering a Fluid AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 888, and a camera system developed in partnership with Hasselblad.
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra: Featuring an AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 888, and a comprehensive camera setup with a secondary rear display.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra was announced in January 2021 and became available shortly after.
- Exynos vs. Snapdragon: As with previous Samsung flagships, there was a debate about the performance and efficiency differences between the Exynos and Snapdragon variants.
- Camera Autofocus: While improved from the S20 Ultra, some users still reported occasional autofocus inconsistencies.
- Software Bugs: Some users experienced minor software glitches, though these were generally addressed in subsequent updates.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra was a testament to Samsung’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of smartphone technology. With arguably the best display in the business, a versatile camera system, and a host of other features, it was a compelling choice for those in the market for a premium smartphone. While it had its set of challenges, especially concerning its price and the omission of certain features like the microSD slot, it was hard to argue against the sheer technological prowess of the device. For those seeking the best that Samsung had to offer in early 2021, the S21 Ultra was hard to beat.