The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a mid-range phone with a prestigious name. Instead of offering essentially similar premium phones in different sizes, Samsung has aggressively adjusted its pricing this year. The price of the Galaxy S21 starts at $799.99 for the smaller version with a 6.2-inch screen, while the Plus version with a 6.7-inch screen has a price tag of $999.99. However, it is recommended to spend $50 more for models with 256 GB storage.

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From the front, the Galaxy S21 looks a lot like the Galaxy S20, with its full 6.2-inch display and a slim selfie camera with a hole in the top center of the screen. If you look closer, you will see that the S21 has the curved screen of its predecessor with flat edges. The flat edges transition into metal bezels that seamlessly blend into the new Contour Cut camera design, with the rear camera module appearing to fit into the S21’s left and rear bezels.

In addition, the metal has been replaced by what is perhaps the most significant change to the Galaxy S21: a plastic back. Samsung calls it polycarbonate, but it’s more like plastic, the S20 used glass. The choice of a plastic back is probably the most compelling reason for Samsung to offer the Galaxy S21 at a lower price. It is available in a variety of colors: Pink Phantom, White Phantom, Grey Phantom and Purple Phantom.

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It measures 6 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches and weighs 6.07 ounces. The Galaxy S21 is slightly smaller but also slightly heavier than the Galaxy S20 : It measures 5.9 x 3 x .31 and weighs 5.7 ounces. But it’s the right size and weight to use with one hand; small enough for your thumb to take up two-thirds of the screen, but big enough to watch videos comfortably. The Galaxy S21’s on-screen ultrasonic fingerprint reader is highly responsive thanks to Qualcomm’s new scanner, which is 1.7 times larger and 50 percent faster than previous-generation scanners.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has an incredible new design. Samsung has certainly paid attention to details and build quality. It’s a precision-built smartphone. It features Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and back, providing reliable protection against water drops and cracks. But the glass can be a little slippery. It differs from the regular Galaxy S21 by its glass back. The device also has an IP68 water and dust protection rating, which has been the standard for Samsung flagships for years.

In terms of security, the phone has a built-in fingerprint reader that works quickly. Facial recognition is also supported by the front camera, and works a fraction of a second faster than the fingerprint scanner. Still, both security measures are so fast and perfect that you won’t even have trouble unlocking your phone. It’s important to note that facial unlocking is software-based and not as secure as hardware options.

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The Galaxy S21 Plus is a precisely rounded piece of hardware that continues to set the standard in the industry.

For audio enthusiasts, there is no return of the headphone jack love here. However, it supports LDAC, AAC, aptX, SBC and Samsung Scalable Bluetooth audio codecs for wireless headsets, among others. The phone’s stereo speaker configuration provides good stereo separation. However, don’t expect exceptional bass from these small, tuned speakers. FM radio is also available if you still listen to music the old-fashioned way.

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In terms of hardware, the Galaxy S21’s cameras are identical to those of the Galaxy S20. The three cameras consist of a 64-megapixel telephoto lens with 3x hybrid optical zoom and 30x spatial zoom, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel primary wide-angle lens.

But Samsung is using Google and relying heavily on software updates and computer-aided photography to improve its three rear cameras. Well, the Galaxy S21 does. Photos from the Galaxy S21 are colorful and detailed, although like previous Galaxy phones, the colors are a little more saturated than some rivals like the Google Pixel 5.

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The S21 also recognizes finer details, which is probably due to the telephoto camera. It’s important to note that when Scene Optimization is turned off, the camera uses AI to learn what’s in the frame and adjusts accordingly to get a great shot.

When you’re working outside in natural light, the S21’s main camera does a great job. While the Galaxy S21 is a great device for taking photos, it is more detailed than the Pixel 5. Although the Pixel 5 offers greater dynamic range and more realistic colors.

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Plus, it can be a bit tricky in low-light or artificial lighting environments. The Pixel 5 was relatively better at rendering edges and resolving details in low-light areas, while the S21 sometimes shows blurry and overly smooth results.

The Galaxy S21 may have increased the ISO, adding extra noise to the darkest part of the photo. But I think it could be initial problems with using AI treatments in poorly lit areas. However, this is an issue that Samsung can fix with a software update.

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In low light, the portrait mode does not work well either. The S21’s non-portrait photos are better, which could be because the portrait mode algorithm tries to detect what’s in the foreground and what might be blurry. In good lighting, portrait mode is great for the rear camera and the 10-megapixel front camera.

Night mode can also be used by any of the Galaxy S21’s three cameras. The Galaxy S21’s ultra-wide-angle shots are quite expensive, but everything falls apart as soon as you zoom in. When shooting at a wider angle than the Pixel 5, the image has blurred details when zooming in, while Google’s phone makes the image brighter.

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The cameras on the back of the S21 are equipped with a 20x and 30x telephoto zoom lens. The amazing new Zoom Lock feature uses artificial intelligence to detect your subject, ensuring perfect, stable shots.

It works efficiently and you can get incredibly sharp photos for extreme zooms, even if your hands are shaking. The processing then smooths the image and gives a magnified image that is not dirty.

In terms of video, the Galaxy S21 can handle a lot. Like the Galaxy S20, it offers recording at a resolution of around 8K at 24fps, which is excessive for most, but allows you to capture high-quality footage while recording high definition video. Other advanced features include 1080p video recording at 120 frames per second for superior image quality. In terms of fluidity, Super Steady mode, which uses AI to compensate for camera shake during recording, works well when shooting 1080p video at 60 frames per second.

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Another important feature is the new director’s view when you record a video. You can take photos with both the front and rear camera simultaneously and view thumbnails from different cameras in real time. This makes it easier and simpler to switch to the best recording for your video.

Portrait videos, also known as live focus videos, also have a soft look and offer shots where objects are in focus while the background is blurred. As you move around, you’ll notice that S21 works with its algorithms, sometimes blurring details of faces excessively. Other improvements to the camera include an enhanced single-shot feature that lets you take multiple photos and snapshots at once. Single Take Now features video highlights and dynamic slow motion clips.

Overall, the Galaxy S21 has improved camera features over the Galaxy S20. But the S21 can keep up with the Pixel 5 and outperforms Google’s phone in some areas. The ability to improve AI and computer-aided photography on Samsung’s side leaves a lot of room for the S21’s camera to improve over time.

The Galaxy S21 is equipped with a 4000 mAh battery. This is reasonable for a smartphone of this size, although it is a shame that Samsung did not increase the capacity a bit more. In any case, the adaptive refresh rate and the increased efficiency of the chip should guarantee good autonomy. With a refresh rate of 60Hz, the Galaxy S21 lasted 9 hours and 53 minutes during battery tests, including uninterrupted web browsing at 150 nits screen brightness for 5G.

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However, it beats the 8 hours and 25 minutes of the iPhone 12 and the 9 hours and 31 minutes of the Galaxy S20, so the new silicon seems to be doing its job well.

In the preset adaptive mode, where the frame rate is tightly tuned, the Galaxy S21 lasted for 6 hours and 31 minutes. It’s not cool, but it’s much worse when you have a vibrant, energetic screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.

Loading is where it gets a little tricky. Fast charging is offered via USB-C PD, which charges the battery to 55% in 30 minutes in the test. Just make sure you have a charging cable on hand, as Samsung only included one USB-C cable in the box. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to buy a Samsung 25-watt charger.

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Frankly, the Galaxy S21 is very interesting for people who want a high-end compact smartphone with a superior design and excellent performance. The S21’s matte finish is very comfortable, and the high-end flagship design definitely catches the eye. You also get an excellent screen, IP68 certification, stereo speakers tuned by AKG, Android 11, excellent cameras and much more.

Buy the Galaxy S21 if you want a compact flagship device that performs great in almost every area and you can live with average battery life.

frequently asked questions

Is the Samsung S21 worth it?

While the extra features of the Galaxy S21 Ultra may be worth the extra $200 for some users, they are not necessary for most. For Android users looking for a great phone, the Galaxy S21 Plus offers a 95% experience for $200 less. Check out our picks for the best phones of 2021.

Is the Samsung S21 water resistant?

We’ll see about that! The Samsung Galaxy S21 is waterproof! … Thanks to its IP68 rating, you’re pretty much covered if you immerse the new S21 series in 1.5 meters of water for at least 30 minutes, Samsung says.

Does the S21 Ultra have an S Pen?

The Galaxy S21 Ultra also features an on-screen Wacom layer and supports Wacom compatible pens, including all S-Pens. Samsung has launched a new S Pen for the Ultra, which is larger and more pencil-like than any other, and a Bluetooth-compatible S Pen Pro is also in the works.

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