We bought the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for our reviewer’s test.
The annual Galaxy S has long represented the pinnacle of advanced smartphone design and technology, but Samsung has changed that this year. The new Galaxy S21 base model has received a number of discounts to bring the price down, but these improvements have resulted in a phone that, while still very powerful and stylish, is less exciting this time around.
It’s the cheapest Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra that clings to that cloak. At $ 1,200, it’s a big, rugged phone that’s packed with perks, like a huge QHD + display that reaches smooth 120Hz and two separate telephoto lenses that allow for impressive zoom up to 10x. Sure, not everyone needs such a big phone or wants to pay 50 percent more than the stock Galaxy S21, but if you’re looking for the best high-end Android phone on the market right now, regardless of price, then this is it. it.
Design: Premium and Plus Size
With a 6.8-inch screen, it’s no surprise that the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a large device. Surprisingly, it is thicker and heavier than its predecessor, the S20 Ultra, going against the ongoing trend towards lighter and thinner phones. I personally like a huge phone and I usually use Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max as my everyday phone. Their footprint is quite similar and both heavy, weighing just over half a kilo. Samsung’s phone is slightly narrower, just under 3 inches wide, but it’s also 1.5mm thicker than the iPhone. It takes a big hand to hold it either way.
Like the smaller Galaxy S21 models, the S21 Ultra adds a touch of design with its new camera module, which now appears to emerge from the aluminum body with an attractive beveled edge. It’s an update to the huge floating module of the previous S20 Ultra, but it still looks huge here. The thinner module on the S21 and S21 + works best because it’s a design highlight, not a dominant element. However, there is glass behind here, unlike the plastic-backed Galaxy S21. Combined with the slightly curved screen and glossy bezel, the Galaxy S21 Ultra looks and feels like a premium phone.
Image quality: the best of the best
There are a lot of great smartphone screens out there today, and many of them are made by Samsung, even on phones from other companies. But that’s the best of the best right now, and it goes further by combining razor-sharp precision with exceptional softness, clarity, and Samsung’s bold and vibrant AMOLED color and contrast. It is slightly curved left and right and is huge at 6.8 inches.
While the other S21 models drop to Full HD + resolution, the Galaxy S21 Ultra stays with the incredibly sharp QHD + (3200×1440) at 515 pixels per inch (ppi). You can still resort to Full HD + if you want to save battery and, to be honest, the difference in brightness isn’t that big. But spotting individual pixels on such a large screen is a little easier, the graphics don’t always look smooth, and the QHD + setting lacks an overall smoothness. If you’re buying a $ 1,200 phone, you might as well make the most of it.
Unlike last year’s S20 Ultra, which only supported QHD + resolution with a native refresh rate of 60Hz, the S21 Ultra has an adaptive refresh rate that can automatically boost up to 120Hz, visibly improving smoothness. When necessary. This means menu animations, transitions, and web browsing will all benefit from the silky smooth refresh rate, but stick to lower, more battery-friendly settings where you won’t notice the difference. As with the regular Galaxy S21, the in-display fingerprint sensor responds solidly here and definitely an improvement over previous models.
Installation process: standard only
Performance: The fastest Android out there
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is equipped with the most powerful Android processor on the market today, the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. It comes with 12 GB RAM in the base model and the one with 256 GB storage or 16 GB RAM in the edition. 512 GB storage space.
Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is super responsive to your actions, with the normal refresh rate only amplifying the fast feel of android browsing, loading apps and games, and more.
Connectivity: Super-fast 5G speeds
Samsung’s latest flagships support both 5G sub-6Ghz and mmWave connectivity types. The former is more popular but offers only modest gains compared to 4G LTE, while the latter is currently underdeveloped but offers incredibly fast speeds in limited areas. I tested the Galaxy S21 Ultra on Verizon’s 5G network, which includes both technologies.
On Verizon’s widespread 5G Nationwide (sub-5 Ghazi) network, I recorded a maximum download speed of 103 Mbps, which is about double the typical LTE speed in my test area just north of Chicago. Meanwhile, on 5G Ultra-Wideband (mm Wave) coverage, which is limited outdoors in high-foot traffic areas, I registered a top speed of 2.22 Gbps, which is over 21 times faster than the national result.
Sound quality: loud and clear
Between the bottom speaker and the very thin earpiece above the screen, the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers powerful, balanced stereo sound for all needs. Whether you’re playing music when you don’t have speakers to pair with or watching videos, the S21 Ultra delivers clear, loud playback. It’s also great for using the speaker.
Camera/Video Quality – A great set of tricks
Samsung is aiming for the crown of the smartphone camera with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which offers the most versatile setup you’ll find in the US market today. A 108-megapixel wide-angle camera is your primary lens and is complemented by three other cameras: a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera ideal for landscapes and other zoomed-in images, a 10-megapixel telephoto lens for 3x optical zoom shooting, and another telephoto lens next to it for shooting with 10x optical zoom.
Essentially it’s the same type of basic three-camera setup that we’ve seen on other Samsung flagships and Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro models, but then Samsung takes things to another level by putting together another ultra-zoom camera. The camera module may look absurdly large, but the added 10x zoom option is incredibly cool.
Battery: hard and tough
Fortunately, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a beast battery to deal with a phone beast. The 5,000mAh pack has the capacity of any other major phone on the market today and thankfully offers more robust power than the standard S21 with its 4,000mAh pack. In my tests, an average day of use usually left me with about 30-40 percent of my battery life before bedtime, meaning you have a solid buffer for longer days and/or more heavy use. The S21 core, on the other hand, left me 20 percent or less days.
Software: smooth sailing
The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with Android 11 and the latest and greatest version of Google’s mobile operating system runs smoothly as you would expect on this hardware. Samsung’s skin is attractive and sophisticated, with silky transitions taking advantage of the 120Hz display and easy access to all the features and functions you need. The wallpapers from Samsung on the S21 line are also particularly beautiful, including versions with an animated lock screen.
The Ultra option is a powerhouse.
$1,000+ smartphone these days is a tough one, and I’d say the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has more than most people need from a modern phone. But for heavy users who want the best of the best and don’t mind paying extra for it, there’s no better Android option than Samsung’s rugged Galaxy S21 Ultra. It lives up to the Ultra brand with its dazzling display, great cameras, long battery life and great performance. And while it loses some features over last year’s model, it also loses $200 off the price in the process.