The Galaxy S21 line is now available. Before buying one, maybe it would be good to understand what it offers, and that’s why today we bring you this review on the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Let’s start by saying that it does not have such an exaggerated price as expected (also given the competitors). Clearly, this was not done out of generosity, and Samsung has made compromises to achieve these prices: the wall charger and headphones are not included in the box, the phone does not have a micro SD card slot for extended storage, and it has 4 GB less RAM than the S20.
Samsung has also removed half of the pixels from the screen and replaced the Gorilla Glass from the back with polycarbonate, which is a more snobbish way of saying plastic. Even with those sacrifices, the Galaxy S21 and its price point remain more appealing than the S20. In fact, each phone in the S21 range has more elements to distinguish it from the other than the S20 series.
The S21 is a significant rethink from Samsung, which may have been trying to push the S20 is too premium a direction. But in the end, it found a good balance in terms of price.
Features and design for the S21
The Galaxy S21 has a striking new look. Without a doubt, the first thing you notice about the S21 is its design. This two-tone approach gives the phone an art deco sensibility. Well, more or less. Samsung made the camera bigger and more industrial looking. The plastic back has a matte finish and feels great.
We understand all those who have strong resentments or perplexities for plastic as the smartphone’s main material. But this isn’t the hollow plastic you found on phones five or six years ago. The S21 already feels well done to the touch. Around the front is Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus, which we first saw on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. As a complete package, the S21 has a striking design.
Lower resolution screen with a high refresh rate
The screen, which Samsung calls the Infinity-O display, has a flat display with a contoured frame that makes it look ultra-contemporary. It has a Full HD resolution, a step back from the S20’s Quad HD resolution. But in everyday use, it’s not as dramatic a change as it sounds. Much comes from the adaptive screen refresh rate, which fluctuates between 48 and 120Hz depending on what is displayed.
So, if you are playing a game like Call of Duty, you can see it in all its crisp graphic beauty. And when you’re not gaming, the display has a lower refresh rate to save on battery life.
Same hardware as the S20 camera, but with improvements
The camera hardware of the S21 is the same as the S20, and that’s not a bad thing. On the back, there are three cameras: one wide-angle, ultrawide, and telephoto. Especially noticeable is ultrawide on the S21; it may be the best ultrawide camera on an Android smartphone.
The photos are great. Autofocus is fast and can quickly switch between foreground and background. In the video, the autofocus switching is not that fast, but it seems to hold it back when it focuses.
Also nice in video mode to have a button on the screen at the top to switch between different resolutions and frames per second. For selfies, you now have an option for Bright or Natural, which is definitely a plus. Skin tones in selfie photos look good, especially with all “face” effects turned off. But we have to point out that there are people who like to have the face effects option but are still there, in case you were wondering.
Samsung has added a fun new video feature called Director’s View. While recording, there are thumbnail previews of live feeds from all other cameras. There is a side-by-side format for vlogs or a stacked format if you shoot vertically. This allows you to record yourself with the selfie camera and show what you see in front using one of your choice’s rear cameras. The Director’s View function was thought to be more like a test gimmick, but those who tried it were satisfied and immediately wanted to learn all the functions, so we cannot say too loudly that it was an experiment. Samsung has taken us fully.
The only drawback is that it plays an HD video. But it’s the thumbnail preview you see right on the screen. Think of the preview was also as 4K.
The S21 has the Snapdragon 888 chip.
Powering the S21 is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip along with 8GB of RAM.
The 888 chip also allows for some new features like Director’s View. The only sign that the S21 is working too hard is that the rear heats up when downloading large files like games and videos or playing a game for more than 20 minutes. In the battery settings, you can turn on enhanced performance, which targets all apps that aren’t games.
When it comes to battery life, this is a phone that lasts a day. It’s on par with last year’s S20, which had the same size battery.
The Galaxy S21 has Android 11 and OneUI 3.1
The S21 features Android 11 topped with Samsung’s OneUI 3.1 interface. There are multiple ways to set Google services as default, such as using Google Pay instead of Samsung Pay or adding the Google Discover Newsfeed to the home screen instead of the Samsung version. There are also little touches like pop-up windows to adjust audio levels that look clean and modern. There are also new widgets that you can add to your lock screen. We were impressed with how weighted the software is towards the bottom of the display, making it easy to navigate with one hand.
The Galaxy S21 supports 5G
Finally, the Galaxy S21 is a 5G smartphone. 5G shouldn’t be the only reason to buy this smartphone, but the S21 will be many people’s first 5G phone, and its speeds and connection should improve as carriers continue to improve 5G networks.