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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Review

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is the corporate’s most premium smartphone but, with a robust deal with cameras. Just just like the Galaxy S20 Ultra (Review), this new mannequin boasts of 100X “space zoom” and 8K video recording, however with an improved capturing expertise and even higher picture high quality.

We’ve already talked concerning the design and fundamental specs of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G in our current first impressions article, so for this overview, we’ll dive straight into the cameras and system efficiency first. If you are severe about images or capturing video, then you have to be within the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is probably the most able to the three Galaxy S21 fashions. However, is the value justified? Let’s discover out.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G worth and variants

Before we start, let’s shortly go over the variants of the Galaxy S21 Ultra which can be out there in India. In different nations, Samsung has diminished the launch costs of the Galaxy S21 sequence, nevertheless as a consequence of taxes and foreign money price fluctuations in India, the costs have gone up a bit in comparison with final 12 months’s fashions. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G begins at Rs. 1,05,999 for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and there is a second choice priced at Rs. 1,16,999 which has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

It’s dear for positive, however nonetheless prices lower than what Apple is charging for its iPhone 12 Pro sequence. The base variant of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G looks as if it needs to be the extra in style mannequin of the 2, however remember the fact that there isn’t any microSD card slot for storage enlargement this time, so in case you suppose you may be capturing a whole lot of 8K video, you may need to contemplate the upper storage variant as an alternative.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G cameras

While the digicam capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G stay largely much like these of its predecessor, Samsung has reworked the implementation, particularly of the telephoto cameras. There’s a new-generation 108-megapixel main digicam which does nona-pixel binning, combining info from 9 pixels into one, for extra detailed 12-megapixel images.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is all concerning the cameras

 

There’s a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle digicam and two telephoto cameras. The latter each have 10-megapixel sensors, however with various kinds of optical zoom lenses. One has a 3X optical zoom, whereas the opposite is able to 10X, with a periscope-style lens. There’s no point out of hybrid zoom this time, nevertheless there’s nonetheless some AI processing being utilized at larger magnification ranges.

Samsung continues to market Space Zoom, which on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, goes all the best way to 100X. At such a excessive magnification, it may get very tough to border pictures accurately. particularly in case you’re capturing handheld, which we skilled with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. This is the place the brand new Zoom Lock function is available in. When you transcend 20X magnification, you get somewhat preview window within the viewfinder that can assist you discover your topic higher. If you maintain the body regular sufficient for one and a half seconds or faucet the preview field, the digicam will lock focus in your topic and stick with it (the preview field turns yellow to verify this), making it a lot simpler to get a correctly framed shot.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G telephoto digicam samples (Tap to see bigger picture)

 

The new telephoto lenses together with this zoom lock function implies that zoomed-in pictures look higher and are barely simpler to seize. The digicam app presents the identical laborious stops at 3X, 4X, 10X, 30X, and 100X, or you need to use the slider to select the precise zoom degree you want. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G will use digital zoom between 1X and 3X, earlier than it switches to the primary telephoto digicam, after which once more between 3X and 10X when it switches to the second telephoto digicam. Image high quality is noticeably sharper on the native optical zoom ranges, in comparison with any degree in between. At 100X, picture high quality is relatively a lot weaker however AI processing does assist in getting usable pictures.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G 3X telephoto digicam pattern with Night mode (faucet to see bigger picture)

 

In low gentle, most smartphones ditch their telephoto cameras and simply use the first digicam with digital zoom due to their extra beneficial apertures, however the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G will nonetheless use its telephoto cameras as a lot as doable regardless of their slender apertures. The outcomes are predictably poorer, however in case you use them with Night mode, the outcomes are surprisingly good. In such instances, the zoom vary is restricted to 10X and the telephone sticks to the 3X telephoto digicam even at that degree, for the reason that 10X digicam has a really slender f/4.9 aperture. I managed to get excellent pictures from the telephoto digicam at night time.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G digicam samples

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G digicam samples

 

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G may seize native 108-megapixel photographs utilizing its fundamental digicam, permitting you to enlarge and crop round your topic later, which in concept has the identical impact as zooming in. However, I seen that the picture high quality is not the most effective, and also you’re higher off utilizing the telephoto cameras. This goes for pictures taken in daylight in addition to low gentle.

Pixel-binned 12-megapixel images taken with the principle digicam in good gentle regarded wonderful. Dynamic vary was good, there was loads of element, and colors regarded pure. Autofocus was fast and exact due to the laser AF sensor, like we noticed on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. If you go too near your topic, the digicam’s ‘focus enhancer’ kicks in, switching to the ultra-wide angle digicam for a super-macro shot. I discovered this annoying because it tends to activate even in case you aren’t too near your topic and the picture high quality is a bit weaker in comparison with what the principle digicam can seize. Thankfully, somewhat toggle icon within the viewfinder permits you to change it off instantly.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G daylight digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ultra-wide digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G close-up digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

 

Close-ups look nice, with wealthy particulars and colors. Samsung’s Live Focus mode is now merely known as Portrait and presents the identical bokeh patterns to select from as earlier than. The ultra-wide digicam can be competent in terms of capturing landscapes, with the same color tone as the principle digicam. In low gentle, the first and ultra-wide cameras proceed to impress even with out Night mode, nevertheless you possibly can anticipate higher uncovered photographs when utilizing Night mode.

There’s a brand new video capturing mode known as Director’s View, which presents stay previews of what the ultra-wide, fundamental, and 3X telephoto digicam can seize when you’re recording, so you recognize what to anticipate earlier than switching. You may allow a stay feed from the selfie digicam, with a split-screen or picture-in-picture window, which Samsung calls ‘Vloggers view.’ I personally did not discover a lot use for this capturing mode, nevertheless it might be helpful for some individuals. The remainder of the capturing modes are much like what we noticed final 12 months, together with Single Take, Portrait Video, Super Slow-mo, and so forth.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Night mode close-up digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ultra-wide Night mode digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

 

Samsung has made some adjustments to the video recording capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, however they’re nonetheless not as intensive as I’d have favored. You can now shoot 4K 60fps video with any of the cameras, one thing that Apple launched with the iPhone 11 Pro. However, you can not change between cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G as soon as recording has begun, which is somewhat limiting. For this, you may must shoot at 4K 30fps.

Samsung continues to be hyping 8K video recording, which is now stabilised, nevertheless it additionally closely crops the body. Video high quality is sweet in daylight, however may be very grainy in low gentle. There’s no restrict on the recording size. The large disappointment for me although is that 8K video continues to be restricted to 24fps, like on the Galaxy S20 sequence. Video high quality total is superb, with sharp element, good stabilisation, and pure colors in footage shot within the daylight. Videos shot in poor lighting, even with the 3X telephoto digicam, had been additionally spectacular.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G selfie digicam pattern (faucet to see bigger picture)

 

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has a mighty spectacular set of rear cameras, and all of them have vital roles to play, not like telephones with devoted depth or macro cameras. The selfie digicam can be equally competent right here. It has a 40-megapixel sensor and captures binned 10-megapixel images by default. It has autofocus, and might shoot 4K 60fps stabilised movies. Image high quality in daylight and low gentle, particularly with Night mode, is superb.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G efficiency and battery life

Other than wonderful digicam efficiency, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can be a true-blue flagship with cutting-edge parts. The Indian model is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 2100 5G SoC, which has similarities to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC when it comes to fabrication course of and the kinds and variety of ARM CPU cores used. The 12GB RAM variant that I had for overview posted robust benchmark numbers. It scored 5,70,453 factors in AnTuTu, and 960 and a pair of,995 factors respectively in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core exams. These numbers are nonetheless behind what Apple’s A14 Bionic within the iPhone 12 sequence can produce, however actually, you would be laborious pressed to inform any distinction between these telephones with common use.

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has a stunning show which curves barely across the edges

 

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G simply ran graphically intensive video games akin to Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends on the QHD+ decision. Gameplay was clean with stable framerates. The higher half of the steel body did warmth up in a short time when gaming, which you’ll really feel in case you use this telephone and not using a case. In reality, this heating was noticeable even when utilizing the digicam app. The telephone by no means received uncomfortably scorching for me, and neither did this appear to throttle efficiency, however your mileage may fluctuate.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally absolutely helps Samsung’s S Pen, which is bought as an adjunct. I could not check this since Samsung did not ship it together with the telephone, however I think about that the expertise needs to be much like utilizing the newest Galaxy Note sequence telephones. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally helps Wi-Fi 6E and has an Ultra Wide Band (UWB) chip, which ought to enable the telephone for use as a digital key to unlock your automobile (when suitable fashions are launched).

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G doubles up as a superb gadget for media consumption. The 6.8-inch AMOLED show will get extremely vivid, and colors look wealthy and punchy. The QHD+ decision presents excellent sharpness, which is beneficial when studying textual content. The greatest new function, as I discussed in my first impressions piece, is that you need to use the 120Hz refresh price on the native decision. It’s additionally adaptive, which implies when no contact enter is detected, or in case you’re watching a video, the refresh price mechanically scales right down to 60Hz. Samsung says it may go down all the best way to 10Hz to save lots of energy, however I wasn’t in a position to check this declare.

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You can select from quite a lot of always-on show types on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

 

Videos generally look nice on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s show. Watching darkish scenes in films is not an issue because the AMOLED panel can obtain spectacular black ranges. Audio from the stereo audio system can be excellent due to the Dolby Atmos enhancement. You get high-fidelity audio playback with help for the DSD 64/128 and 32-bit PCM codecs over a wired headset.

Other flagship options embody an IP68 ranking for mud and water resistance, Samsung Pay through NFC and MST, and an entire lot of sensors together with a new-generation ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Samsung claims that is about 1.7X bigger than the earlier mannequin, and in my expertise, it labored very nicely. All that is wanted is a fast faucet for profitable authentication. Face recognition is supported too, and can be dependable.

I discovered battery life to be fairly stable. The 5,000mAh battery capability is similar as what the Galaxy S20 Ultra had, and simply lasts for greater than a full day of heavy to medium utilization. With lighter use, I used to be in a position to delay the battery life to somewhat greater than a day and a half. This was with the show set to QHD+ and the 120Hz adaptive refresh price enabled. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G lasted for 15 hours and 37 minutes in our HD video loop check, with the display on the default decision (full-HD+).

The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G helps quick charging however solely at as much as 25W, with a suitable USB PowerDelivery (PD) Type-C adapter. This is one thing you may have to purchase individually, both from Samsung or a 3rd occasion vendor, since you do not get an influence adapter within the field anymore. In reality, you get solely a USB Type-C cable and the SIM eject software.

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The giant battery within the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G permits you to power-through a full day of heavy utilization

 

I attempted charging the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with a 27W Motorola adapter and OnePlus’ 65W adapter which ships with the 8T, and in each instances, I used to be in a position to get a few 70 p.c cost in a single hour. You can inform that the telephone is charging quickly as a “super fast charging” message seems on the lockscreen. This telephone may wirelessly quick cost with a suitable charger, and reverse wi-fi charging can be doable.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G software program

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G runs OneUI 3.1, and it labored easily with no actual trace of lag or slow-downs within the week that I needed to overview this telephone. This is the newest model of Samsung’s customized pores and skin, and is predicated on Android 11. It appears to be like and feels slick. Familiar Samsung gestures and shortcuts such because the Edge Panel are all current, which ought to make current Samsung customers really feel proper at dwelling. Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro Max, you can also make higher use of the massive show by opening two apps in split-screen. Samsung DeX is current, which I discovered tremendous helpful for transferring recordsdata from my laptop computer to the telephone and vice versa, wirelessly.

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Ads should not one thing we anticipate from Samsung, particularly in a telephone this costly

 

I did get some spam notifications from the Samsung Shop app once I first started utilizing the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, regardless of unchecking all of the bins to not obtain advertising info, however this stopped after a day or two. However, what I did not anticipate to see had been third-party adverts in a few of Samsung’s personal apps akin to Weather and Game Launcher. These are static adverts and are not actually intrusive, however you actually should not must see them on such an costly smartphone. If you open the climate app or Game Launcher, they’re proper there on the high.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ergonomics

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G packs in a whole lot of options, however all of this comes on the slight value of ergonomics. It’s a large telephone by any definition, and in reality, it is even a bit thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It’s additionally fairly top-heavy, and you may really feel this imbalance, even with two-handed utilization. I’m not complaining an excessive amount of, although, since coming from the iPhone 12 Pro Max, I discover it a bit extra comfy for one handed use due to the rounded sides.

The new design makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G look approach higher than earlier fashions. Samsung’s new contour-cut design for the digicam module is exclusive, and manages to masks the digicam bulge fairly nicely. You additionally get premium supplies throughout, with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for the back and front, and a steel body.

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G a chunky telephone, however the brand new design helps cover this nicely whereas trying very fancy

 

Verdict

For a very long time, Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships in any given technology had been primarily differentiated by show and battery dimension, with the ‘plus’ fashions benefiting extra. This modified final 12 months when Samsung launched a 3rd ‘Ultra’ mannequin with a deal with cameras. This 12 months, Samsung is attempting to create an excellent bigger hole between its fashions. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G continues to be the hero product, however the Galaxy S21+ 5G and Galaxy S21 5G now have lower-resolution (full-HD+) shows, and the latter even ditches the glass again for plastic. Samsung did one thing related with the Galaxy Note 20 sequence final 12 months, with the Ultra mannequin getting a premium therapy, whereas the usual mannequin needed to stay with large compromises.

We’re but to overview the Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G, so I’ll reserve my judgement for them until we do, nevertheless it’s clear that Samsung needs to push customers who need probably the most premium expertise in direction of the Ultra mannequin, even when they do not care that a lot about cameras.

Samsung has bumped up the costs of all its Galaxy S telephones this 12 months, however the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, particularly, continues to be definitely worth the premium in my view. It presents higher worth than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (Review), is equally highly effective, and has the most effective telephoto digicam implementations out there. Add to that the superb construct high quality, nice show, robust battery life, and productiveness options akin to S Pen help, and that is simply the most effective Samsung flagship thus far.


Is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra probably the most full Android telephone but? We mentioned this on Orbital, our weekly expertise podcast, which you’ll subscribe to through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, obtain the episode, or simply hit the play button beneath.

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