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Samsung Galaxy S21 series first impressions: Cheaper and better?

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Final yr’s Samsung Galaxy S20 series was a little bit of a shock to the system. With the smallest, most cost-effective Galaxy S20 beginning at $999, it was clear Samsung had cemented the S sequence as a purely premium line. And with the introduction of the Galaxy S20 Ultra beginning at $1,399, the corporate wasn’t backing down on its premium play. That is in distinction to Samsung’s 2019 lineup, which provided a extra reasonably priced mannequin as an entryway into the Galaxy S sequence.

This yr, Samsung is splitting the distinction. The Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence is simply as highly effective as you’d count on, solely with a handful of minor trade-offs to make the sequence a bit extra reasonably priced. And don’t fear: for those who nonetheless need the most effective of the most effective and don’t care how a lot it prices, there’s nonetheless an Extremely Galaxy S telephone for you.

Be a part of us for our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Extremely.

Don’t miss: Samsung Galaxy S21 series buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 1 1

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is essentially the most reasonably priced Galaxy S21 system, however there’s a caveat. Whereas the S21 Plus and S21 Extremely are housed in glass, the smallest S21 system is “glasstic” (plastic made to really feel like glass) just like the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 FE. Contemplating that is successfully the one change between it and the bigger Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (apart from the smaller dimension and battery capability), this looks like a change many individuals can be superb with. Some individuals will really want a plastic chassis, for good motive. Whereas glass shatters pretty simply it doesn’t matter what Gorilla Glass technology you’re on, a glasstic again ought to be rather more shock resistant.

All three Galaxy S21 fashions have a daring design.

The design of your complete Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence is daring. They maintain the rounded method that the S sequence has all the time had compared to the sharp edges of the Samsung Galaxy Notice line, however this yr, Samsung has determined to make the digicam bump pop.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 2 1

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Within the prime again nook within the rear of the gadgets, you’ll discover a way more intentional bump than we’ve seen in earlier years. It’s doubtless you’ll see comparisons to DC Comics’ Cyborg. That stated, I feel it seems to be good, particularly with the number of colorways. On the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus, there’s a Phantom Violet colour that has a gold accent and digicam bump. It’s fairly gorgeous.

The digicam bump discovered on the 2 gadgets homes three totally different shooters: a 12MP ultra-wide sensor, a 12MP fundamental sensor, and a 64MP 3x hybrid telephoto sensor. The principle and telephoto cameras each have optical picture stabilization (OIS). Samsung has omitted that characteristic from the ultra-wide digicam, doubtless as a result of software program stabilization will work simply superb for this digicam.

See additionally: The best Samsung Galaxy deals

The entrance digicam is a 10MP shooter with Twin-Pixel Auto Focus. You may discover these cameras are fairly much like the sensors we noticed on the Galaxy S20 sequence. Due to this, it’s evident Samsung is pushing the S21 Extremely to be the actually new system — and we’ll get to that shortly.

The show on the Samsung Galaxy S21 is a 6.2-inch FHD+ panel with a decision of two,400 x 1,080, whereas the Galaxy S21 Plus sports activities a 6.7-inch FHD+ panel with the identical decision. It is a notably decrease decision than final yr’s Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21, which every had QHD+ panels. It’s doubtless one other area Samsung lower down on as a way to decrease the worth of the non-Extremely variants this yr. Plus, lower-res screens normally translate to raised battery life. All this stated, Samsung maintained the adaptive refresh price in these gadgets, which might span between 48 to 120Hz.

You additionally might have seen the flat show on the 2 smartphones. Whereas Samsung’s flagship S sequence telephones have had curved edges almost exclusively since the Galaxy S8, Samsung determined to roll it again and put flat panels on the S21 and S21 Plus. I personally actually like flat shows. The telephones nonetheless really feel completely premium with out curves on the perimeters. Contemplating the ghost-touch subject many curved shows suffered from final yr, I feel a flat show was a great name.

Additionally learn: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s most durable ANC earbuds yet

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back on table

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Whereas lots of the options talked about to date are notably much like the Galaxy S20 sequence, it’s the within of the telephones which might be doing the heavy lifting. The Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence would be the first smartphones within the US to launch with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor, although the worldwide variant of the gadgets can be getting Samsung’s personal Exynos 2100 chips. Try the article linked under for extra on the variations between the 2 chipsets and the way the 2 might stack up based mostly on what we all know to date.  Different inner specs embrace 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage.

2021 SoC showdown: Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100 vs Kirin 9000 vs Apple A14

The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 4,000mAh cell, whereas the S21 Plus includes a bigger 4,800mAh cell. Each gadgets assist Quick Wi-fi Charging 2.0 and USB PD 3.0 as much as 25W. Unsurprisingly, Samsung isn’t together with an influence brick within the field. You’ll have to make use of an present energy brick when you have one. In any other case, you’ll need to purchase one separately.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra wide view of back

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

Whereas there have been clearly some corners lower to make the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus extra reasonably priced, the S21 Extremely pulls out all of the stops to be essentially the most highly effective of the road.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely nonetheless has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, but it surely’s aided by extra RAM and storage choices. The baseline mannequin comes with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, however you can too improve that to 256GB of storage. If you wish to go all out, Samsung can be providing a Galaxy S21 Extremely with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Sadly, not one of the Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence gadgets provide expandable storage, however Samsung thinks the accessible storage choices ought to be superb for most individuals.

The S21 Extremely has a big 6.8-inch curved WQHD+ show with a decision of three,200 x 1,440. It additionally helps adaptive refresh price as much as 120Hz, however the display screen on the Extremely can go as little as 10Hz for maximal battery financial savings. And talking of battery, the S21 Extremely is powered by a 5,000mAh cell, which is identical capability utilized in final yr’s Galaxy S20 Extremely.

However after all, the largest change between the S21 sequence and the S21 Extremely is the digicam system. Final yr’s Galaxy S20 Extremely launched a 108MP fundamental sensor, a 5x optical telephoto digicam, and as much as 100x zoom. This yr, Samsung is upping the ante.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra macro of back cameras

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

You’ll discover 4 totally different cameras on the again of the S21 Extremely, alongside a laser autofocus system. There’s a 12MP wide-angle digicam, a 108MP fundamental sensor with OIS, a 10MP 3x optical telephoto sensor with OIS, and a 10MP 10x optical telephoto sensor — additionally sporting OIS.

Associated: The best camera phones you can get

In my view, including a 3x optical telephoto digicam alongside a 10x optical telephoto digicam was a terrific transfer. The 10x optical telephoto lens places Samsung in keeping with the Huawei P40 Pro Plus, however permits for extra versatility for those who don’t wish to zoom in fairly as a lot.

Samsung says it considerably improved the stabilization of the telephoto cameras this yr, and after testing the system, I consider it. When zoomed in as much as 100x, the Galaxy S21 Extremely felt very steady and shook a lot lower than the Galaxy S20 Extremely. It is a large enchancment as 100x on final yr’s Galaxy S20 Extremely was barely usable as a consequence of shaking. This yr, it’s each rather more steady and extra clear.

Most surprisingly, Samsung is introducing S Pen assist for the Galaxy S21 Extremely. The Galaxy S21 Extremely may have two case equipment that maintain the pen, which can be utilized to scribble notes, alongside different issues. That stated, the S-Pen suitable with the S21 sequence has much less performance than the S Pen included within the Galaxy Notice 20 sequence, and may’t be used as a distant because it’s not Bluetooth-enabled. And no, you may’t purchase an S21 Extremely S Pen in your S21 or S21 Plus; the cheaper telephones don’t work with the stylus.

Whether or not this is a sign that Samsung is actually killing the Galaxy Notice line may be debated, however giving a core Galaxy Notice characteristic to the Galaxy S line does make it seem to be Samsung is normalizing pen assist as a core characteristic, not one distinctive to the Notice.

Don’t assume the S21 Extremely’s excessive price ticket will robotically get you an S Pen, both. You should buy one individually for $39.99. The silicone case with the S Pen included prices $69.99, and the official flip cowl case with the S-Pen is $89.99.

New options

Samsung Galaxy S21 Directors view

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

All three new Galaxy S sequence gadgets will launch with Samsung’s One UI 3.1 based mostly on Android 11, which is sweet to see contemplating loads of producers are nonetheless launching telephones on Android 10. Samsung hasn’t detailed precisely what’s modified since One UI 3.0, however we don’t count on any main new additions. If you would like an in-depth take a look at One UI 3.0, try our article under.

Android 11 on Galaxy telephones: Hands-on with all the new One UI 3.0 features

An enormous new characteristic Samsung is highlighting on the Galaxy S21 sequence gadgets is Director’s Mode. This characteristic takes benefit of the three picture sign processors within the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 to indicate the person three totally different digicam angles directly. The person can dynamically swap between lenses even when recording and may take stills from movies whereas capturing. This lets you put together for a lens swap by seeing what’s coming into the body. Alongside Director’s Mode additionally comes Single Take 2.0, which provides new options like spotlight video and dynamic slo-mo.

Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence specs

  Samsung Galaxy S21 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely
Show 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 421ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM 8GB 8GB 12 or 16GB
Storage 128 or 256GB 128 or 256GB 128, 256, or 512GB
MicroSD No No No
Battery 4,000mAh
Quick wired and wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
4,800mAh
Quick wired and wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
5,000mAh
Quick wired and wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
Cameras Rear:
– Huge-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Extremely-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “House Zoom”

Entrance:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Rear:
– Huge-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Extremely-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “House Zoom”

Entrance:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Rear:
– Huge-angle: 108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
– Extremely-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
– Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x “House Zoom”

Entrance:
– 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Connectivity 4G LTE assist
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E assist
4G LTE assist
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E assist
4G LTE assist
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E assist
S Pen assist No No Sure
Working System One UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68
Safety Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Colour 128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Grey, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White

256GB solely in Phantom Grey

Future colours: Phantom Gold and Phantom Purple

128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB solely in Phantom Black

Future colours: Phantom Gold and Phantom Purple

128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colours: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown

Dimensions and weight 71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g

Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence worth and availability

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra taking a photo

Credit score: David Imel / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 sequence can be accessible for pre-order beginning right now, January 14. The gadgets formally go on sale Friday, January 29. The Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely will begin at $799.99, $999.99, and $1,199, respectively. Within the UK and Europe, the sequence will retail for £769/€849, £949/€1,049, and £1,149/€1,249, respectively.

Those that pre-order a Galaxy S21 between January 14 and January 29 will obtain $100 in Samsung retailer credit score, with the Galaxy S21 Plus netting a $150 credit score, and the Galaxy S21 Extremely netting a $200 credit score. All pre-orders may even obtain a free Galaxy SmartTag.

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Huynh Nguyen

My name is Huynh and I am a full-time online marketer.

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