The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has undoubtedly wowed a lot of Samsung fans and from our first impressions we can see why.
First of all, when you take it out of the box, it certainly looks different from its predecessor. So from behind. The S20 Ultra was more of a glossy finish, while the S21 Ultra opted for a matte metallic finish instead.
This gives the phone a higher quality look straight away, especially how the Phantom Silver (which we received) can turn pink in certain lighting conditions.
The silver takes on a pretty pink hue in certain lighting conditions
If you keep your eyes on the quad camera setup, you'll find that something looks different too. The camera hump (which some don't like and others just don't care) is still very present and adds another 2mm to the overall thickness. However, Samsung has tried to make the design a little more seamless.
Still pretty prominent but with a less harsh edge where you would touch it
To do this, they've built the edge of the camera into that of the phone, rather than highlighting it in a rectangular box that protrudes from the back. However, it doesn't really affect how it feels in the hand.
Hefty for that premium feel
That being said, the phone itself has some weight physically (we'll cover the internal specs shortly). If we weigh it up ourselves and check with other sources, we can come to the consensus that it weighs between 228 and 229 g.
It's a solid, strong phone!
In comparison, the S21 weighs only 171g, while the S20 Ultra weighs 220g.
It's not bad to hold on for a while, but if you use it for lengthy rounds of conversations and messaging, you will likely feel some strain after a while.
The large cameras also ensure that the weight shifts slightly to the top right of the phone, which can unbalance your grip if you're not careful.
The camera bump is still clearly visible. However, notice how its edge joins that of the phone.
However, all of this weight contributes to the premium feel of the phone as it is not as light and "plastic".
A snapshot from his cameras
We only had the S20 and Note20 on hand as our other Samsung comparison phones, so the S21 Ultra's selfie camera felt like a huge upgrade.
From left to right, we have the Galaxy Note20, S20 and the new S21 Ultra for size comparisons
The difference between the 40-megapixel camera and the 10-megapixel selfie camera on the S20 and Note20 was so obvious that the images were clearer and of better quality overall. However, if you come from the S20 Ultra they have the exact same specs, so you may be less impressed.
Instead of trying to impress with extremes like the S20 Ultra, Samsung also decided to tone it down and further refine the experience. Accordingly, they opted for a 108MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide and two 10MP telephoto lenses, one with 3x zoom and the other with 10x zoom.
The 100x room zoom is still there, but Samsung promises it will be a lot better this time thanks to a new laser autofocus system. We can see it helps stabilize your subject, but don't expect crisp images, which still begs the question of why we should ever need this feature.
A display that knows what you're doing
Samsung has introduced a new adaptive display (10-120 Hz on the S21 Ultra) so users no longer have to choose between a high-resolution or high refresh rate display.
You can now enjoy the best of both worlds as the displays automatically adapt to your activities. For example, if you simply read an article online, the update rate will decrease. When you turn on a game, it will resume.
This is said to help extend battery life. However, with the 5,000 mAh battery that the S21 Ultra packs, quickly draining the battery is not that much of an issue.
Thanks to this new adaptive display, we were able to see how good the screen quality looked. At 6.8 inches, the Quad HD + Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is impressive.
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The S21 Ultra is also the first cell phone in the Samsung series that works with an S-pen. We didn't have our own S-pen to test, but we tried the Note20's S-pen and it worked fine. It was smooth and responsive, and made jotting down a breeze.
We haven't tested any of the tabs pens, but we can confirm that they work with the Note20!
We can't confirm if the S Pen on the S21 Ultra has the same 9ms latency as the S Pen on the Note20 Ultra, but it would make sense to do so.
The only thing to complain about is that the S21 Ultra doesn't come with an S-pen itself, nor can it be stored in the case of the phone like the Note20 and Note20 Ultra. Instead, you'd have to buy a bulky case to get the S Pen.
But hey, maybe that's a bigger incentive to protect the pretty back and prominent cameras on the S21 Ultra.
We'll be spending more time with the S21 Ultra in order to write a more detailed review soon. So stay tuned!
- You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for RM5,299 here.
- You can find more information about Samsung here.