The Samsung Galaxy S21 series is finally official. I’ve had an early first look, and here’s everything you need to know. And it looks like pretty much all the leaks and rumors were spot on accurate.
But now we have the official information, we can break everything down, look at the differences between the devices and hopefully, by the end of this artical, you’ll know which one to go for.
So as expected, we’ve got three new Samsung Galaxy S21s. There is the S21, the S21+, and the S21 Ultra. The S21 is the smallest with a 6.2 inch display, the S21+ has a 6.7 inch display, and the S21 Ultra, the largest, with a 6.8 inch display.
All devices have small bezels with an Infinity-O punch out. They all have Gorilla Glass Victus, they all have Dynamic AMOLED displays, and they all have a maximum refresh rate of 120 hertz.
The similarities stop there, however. The S21 on the S21+ are quite different otherwise compared to the S21 Ultra. Let’s break down all of the differences. Firstly, the brightness, the S21 and the S21+ have a peak brightness of 1,300 nits.
The S21 Ultra does have a peak brightness of 1,500 nits. 1,300 is more than good enough, but 1,500 just means that the S21 Ultra will be better to view outdoors. The S21 and the S21+ also have a Full HD+ resolution. The S21 Ultra has a Quad HD+ resolution.
Now this is the first time in many years that Samsung has gone back on the resolution on one of their S devices. So it might be disappointing for some of you; however, I think for most people it should be fine.
If you do go back to last year and take a look at the likes of the S20 series as well as the Note 20 Ultra,
As soon as you wanted to switch to that smoother 120 hertz, you would drop down to Full HD+ resolution. Personally speaking, on my Note 20 Ultra which I’ve been using since last year, it has been on Full HD and it’s been generally absolutely fine.
So this is going to come down to your personal preference. If you do want all of the bells and whistles, then the S21 Ultra is the one to go for. And for the first time on a Samsung device. the S21 Ultra also can support 120 hertz with Quad HD+ resolution.
So you can have that high resolution with that high refresh rate. Also, the S21 Ultra does have the ability to switch between 11 or 120 hertz, making it a lot more efficient. The S21 of the S21+, however, can only switch between 48 and 120 hertz.
So although you do have that adaptive refresh rate, it’s not going to be as efficient as the S21 Ultra. And the final difference between the displays is something that you might actually prefer on the S21 and the S21+ and that’s that they have a flat display, whereas the S21 Ultra does have some curves on the side.
Now this is something that Samsung has had for quite some time, but it looks like they are starting to move away from it. I think it’s going to come down to personal preference. Some people do prefer curved displays; some people do prefer flat displays.
Now let’s move on to the design and the build. So Samsung has now updated their design and we have the camera modules kind of melting in to the edges of the devices. And we do have metal frames across all the devices. However, there are some key differences in terms of the material.
The S21+ and the S21 Ultra do have glass panels on the back, where as the S21 standard has a plastic back, what Samsung like to call glastic. So it’s not going to be as premium as the S21+ and the S21 Ultra. Again, I think this is going to come down to personal preference.
Most people do tend to put their device in a case, and if that is the case for you… Case, case for you, then I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a big deal because you’re not necessarily going to be feeling that all the time, and having used the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE for the past few months.
I can tell you that personally speaking, it’s not a big deal for me; it might be for you. Now all three devices do have an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, which is always nice to have. And they all have a matte finish, which I’m a big, big fan of.
In previous years, Samsung has usually offered matte as well as glossy backs, but this time we have got matte across the board. We’ve got some different color options. There’s four color options available for the S21, three color options available for the S21+, and two color options available for the S21 Ultra.
And the flagship color for the S21 and the S21+ is the Phantom Violet, which, let’s be real, let’s just call it the Thanos Edition.
- [Thanos] Perfectly balanced.
- It looks like there are lots of Marvel fans
- in Samsung’s design team
Now let’s move over on to the cameras. So we do have more differences here. The camera module on the S21 Ultra is much larger compared to the S21 and the S21+, that is because it has more cameras. Initially, let’s look at the S21 and the S21+.
They have the same cameras, there’s a 10-megapixel selfie camera, and then we have a triple rear-facing camera setup. There’s a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, a 12-megapixel primary camera, and then a 64-megapixel telephoto zoom camera, which is going to give you 3x optical zoom.
Now the camera set up seems very similar to what we had on the S20 series last year, but the S21 Ultra is really where we have a lot more of the improvements. Firstly, there’s a 40-megapixel selfie camera, and on the rear, we’ve got quite a few cameras.
We’ve got four cameras in total as well as a laser autofocus sensor. Let’s break these cameras down. So we’ve got a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera. Now the key thing here is this camera has dual pixel auto focus, which we don’t have on the S21 and the S21+, and this is going to allow you to also use the ultrawide camera as a macro camera.
So when you do get to subjects around 10 centimeters or closer, then it’s going to switch the focus and you’ll be able to get some really nice macro shots. Now, this isn’t the gimmicky 2-megapixel macro cameras that we’re talking about. This is actually going to be using the 12-megapixel ultrawide camera sensor to focus in closer.
We’ve seen something like this on the OnePlus series as well as a few Oppo devices, and it’s something that I really, really do like. We then have the primary 108-megapixel sensor. Now this is the same size as what we had last year but it is an improved sensor, which is supposed to give you three times
more dynamic range, and it’s also capable of capturing 12-bit RAW files.
It also has optical image stabilization and it’s going to use the laser auto focus sensor to help it focus, which was a problem with the S20, so it’s nice that Samsung has improved this. And then we have two telephoto cameras. There is a 3x as well as a 10x zoom camera, both have optical image stabilization as well as dual pixel autofocus.
Now, this is a similar setup to what we’ve seen on the Huawei P40 Pro+ last year, and it just gives you a lot more scope with your zoom. You’re not just stuck to one extreme or another. Samsung has said that they’ve also improved the zoom, so we do have a Zoom Lock feature which kicks in when you are zooming in at extremes.
You can zoom all the way up to 100x, which I’m still not too keen on, but of course, guys, we are going to be doing a SuperSaf-style camera comparison as soon as we can. So firstly, we do have 8K at up to 24 frames a second, as we did have last year.
This is across all the S21 series devices. But we now have 4K at 60 frames a second across all of the cameras of the S21 Ultra. We also do have 4K up to 60 frames per second on most the S21 and the S21+’s cameras except the telephoto camera.
The telephoto camera does not have 4K 60, that only goes to 4K 30 frames a second. I’m not sure how much of a big deal that’s going to be for most people, but it’s nice to see that consistency at least on the S21 Ultra. There’s also a lot of new software features.
One of those is Director View, which will give you some more advanced features for the cameras, and also let you preview the different lenses before you do switch to them. We’ve also got Single Take 2.0, which is going to use multiple cameras to put together a piece for you.