The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is Samsung’s most premium smartphone but, with a powerful deal with cameras. Just like the Galaxy S20 Ultra (Review), this new model 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 latest first impressions article, so for this evaluate, we’ll dive straight into the cameras and system efficiency first. If you are critical about pictures or capturing video, then try to be within the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is essentially the most capable of the three Galaxy S21 fashions. However, is the worth justified? Let’s find out.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G worth and variants
Before we start, let’s rapidly go over the variants of the Galaxy S21 Ultra which can be out there in India. In different nations, Samsung has decreased the launch costs of the Galaxy S21 collection, nevertheless resulting from taxes and foreign money price fluctuations in India, the costs have gone up a bit in comparison with final year’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 collection. The base variant of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G looks as if it must be the extra common mannequin of the 2, however remember that there is no such thing as a microSD card slot for storage enlargement this time, so if you happen to suppose you may be capturing loads of 8K video, you may wish to think about the upper storage variant as an alternative.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G cameras
While the camera 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 major camera which does nona-pixel binning, combining info from 9 pixels into one, for extra detailed 12-megapixel images.
There’s a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera 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 increased 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 might get very difficult to body photographs accurately. particularly if you happen to’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 a bit preview window within the viewfinder that will help you discover your topic higher. If you maintain the body regular sufficient for one and a half seconds or faucet the preview field, the camera will lock focus in your topic and persist with it (the preview field turns yellow to substantiate this), making it much simpler to get a correctly framed shot.
The new telephoto lenses together with this zoom lock function implies that zoomed-in photographs look higher and are barely simpler to seize. The camera app presents the identical exhausting stops at 3X, 4X, 10X, 30X, and 100X, or you should utilize 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 camera, after which once more between 3X and 10X when it switches to the second telephoto camera. Image high quality is noticeably sharper at the native optical zoom ranges, in comparison with any degree in between. At 100X, picture high quality is relatively much weaker however AI processing does assist in getting usable photographs.
In low mild, most smartphones ditch their telephoto cameras and simply use the first camera with digital zoom due to their extra beneficial apertures, however the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G will nonetheless use its telephoto cameras as much as potential regardless of their slender apertures. The outcomes are predictably poorer, however if you happen to 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 camera even at that degree, because the 10X camera has a really slender f/4.9 aperture. I managed to get excellent photographs from the telephoto camera at evening.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G also can seize native 108-megapixel photos utilizing its fundamental camera, permitting you to amplify and crop round your topic later, which in idea has the identical impact as zooming in. However, I observed that the picture high quality is not one of the best, and also you’re higher off utilizing the telephoto cameras. This goes for photographs taken in daylight in addition to low mild.
Pixel-binned 12-megapixel images taken with the principle camera in good mild seemed glorious. Dynamic vary was good, there was loads of element, and colors seemed pure. Autofocus was fast and exact because of the laser AF sensor, like we noticed on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. If you go too near your topic, the camera’s ‘focus enhancer’ kicks in, switching to the ultra-wide angle camera for a super-macro shot. I discovered this annoying because it tends to activate even if you happen to aren’t too near your topic and the picture high quality is a bit weaker in comparison with what the principle camera can seize. Thankfully, a bit toggle icon within the viewfinder permits you to change it off instantly.
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 camera can also be competent when it involves capturing landscapes, with an analogous color tone as the principle camera. In low mild, the first and ultra-wide cameras proceed to impress even with out Night mode, nevertheless you possibly can anticipate higher uncovered photos when utilizing Night mode.
There’s a brand new video capturing mode known as Director’s View, which presents reside previews of what the ultra-wide, fundamental, and 3X telephoto camera can seize whilst you’re recording, so you understand what to anticipate earlier than switching. You also can allow a reside feed from the selfie camera, with a split-screen or picture-in-picture window, which Samsung calls ‘Vloggers view.’ I personally did not discover much use for this capturing mode, but it surely might be helpful for some folks. The remainder of the capturing modes are much like what we noticed final year, together with Single Take, Portrait Video, Super Slow-mo, and so forth.
Samsung has made some adjustments to the video recording capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, however they’re nonetheless not as in depth as I might have appreciated. 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’t change between cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G as soon as recording has begun, which is a bit limiting. For this, you may have to shoot at 4K 30fps.
Samsung continues to be hyping 8K video recording, which is now stabilised, but it surely additionally closely crops the body. Video high quality is nice in daylight, however may be very grainy in low mild. 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 collection. 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 camera, had been additionally spectacular.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has a mighty spectacular set of rear cameras, and all of them have essential roles to play, in contrast to telephones with devoted depth or macro cameras. The selfie camera can also be equally competent right here. It has a 40-megapixel sensor and captures binned 10-megapixel images by default. It has autofocus, and may shoot 4K 60fps stabilised movies. Image high quality in daylight and low mild, particularly with Night mode, is superb.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G efficiency and battery life
Other than glorious camera efficiency, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can also be a true-blue flagship with cutting-edge elements. The Indian model is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 2100 5G SoC, which has similarities to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC by way of fabrication course of and the categories and variety of ARM CPU cores used. The 12GB RAM variant that I had for evaluate 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 checks. These numbers are nonetheless behind what Apple’s A14 Bionic within the iPhone 12 collection can produce, however actually, you would be exhausting pressed to inform any distinction between these telephones with common use.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G simply ran graphically intensive games reminiscent of Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends at the QHD+ decision. Gameplay was easy with strong framerates. The higher half of the steel body did warmth up in a short time when gaming, which you’ll really feel if you happen to use this telephone with no case. In truth, this heating was noticeable even when utilizing the camera app. The telephone by no means acquired uncomfortably sizzling for me, and neither did this appear to throttle efficiency, however your mileage may differ.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally totally helps Samsung’s S Pen, which is bought as an adjunct. I could not take a look at this since Samsung did not ship it together with the telephone, however I think about that the expertise must be much like utilizing the newest Galaxy Note collection 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 appropriate fashions are launched).
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G doubles up as a wonderful system for media consumption. The 6.8-inch AMOLED show will get extremely vibrant, and colors look wealthy and punchy. The QHD+ decision presents excellent sharpness, which is helpful when studying textual content. The largest new function, as I discussed in my first impressions piece, is that you should utilize the 120Hz refresh price at the native decision. It’s additionally adaptive, which suggests when no contact enter is detected, or if you happen to’re watching a video, the refresh price routinely scales right down to 60Hz. Samsung says it might go down all the best way to 10Hz to avoid wasting energy, however I wasn’t in a position to take a look at this declare.
Videos typically look nice on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s show. Watching darkish scenes in motion pictures is not an issue because the AMOLED panel can obtain spectacular black ranges. Audio from the stereo audio system can also be excellent because of the Dolby Atmos enhancement. You get high-fidelity audio playback with assist 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 by way of NFC and MST, and a complete 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 effectively. All that is wanted is a fast faucet for profitable authentication. Face recognition is supported too, and can also be dependable.
I discovered battery life to be fairly strong. 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 extend the battery life to a bit 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 take a look at, with the display screen at the default decision (full-HD+).
The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G helps quick charging however solely at as much as 25W, with a appropriate USB PowerDelivery (PD) Type-C adapter. This is one thing you may have to purchase individually, both from Samsung or a 3rd celebration vendor, since you do not get an influence adapter within the field anymore. In truth, you get solely a USB Type-C cable and the SIM eject software.
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 also can wirelessly quick cost with a appropriate charger, and reverse wi-fi charging can also be potential.
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 evaluate this telephone. This is the newest model of Samsung’s customized pores and skin, and is predicated on Android 11. It appears 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 residence. Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro Max, you may make higher use of the big 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.
I did get some spam notifications from the Samsung Shop app after I first started utilizing the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, regardless of unchecking all of the packing containers to not obtain advertising and marketing 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 reminiscent of Weather and Game Launcher. These are static adverts and are not actually intrusive, however you actually should not need to see them on such an costly smartphone. If you open the climate app or Game Launcher, they’re proper there at the highest.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ergonomics
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G packs in loads of options, however all of this comes at the slight price of ergonomics. It’s an enormous 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’ll 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 snug for one handed use because of the rounded sides.
The new design makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G look means higher than earlier fashions. Samsung’s new contour-cut design for the camera module is exclusive, and manages to masks the camera bulge fairly effectively. You additionally get premium supplies throughout, with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for the back and front, and a steel body.
For a very long time, Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships in any given era had been primarily differentiated by show and battery dimension, with the ‘plus’ fashions benefiting extra. This modified final year when Samsung launched a 3rd ‘Ultra’ mannequin with a give attention to cameras. This year, Samsung is attempting to create a good 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 comparable with the Galaxy Note 20 collection final year, with the Ultra mannequin getting a premium therapy, whereas the usual mannequin needed to reside with large compromises.
We’re but to evaluate the Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G, so I’ll reserve my judgement for them until we do, but it surely’s clear that Samsung desires to push customers who need essentially the most premium expertise in the direction of the Ultra mannequin, even when they do not care that much about cameras.
Samsung has bumped up the costs of all its Galaxy S telephones this year, however the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, particularly, continues to be definitely worth the premium for my part. It presents higher worth than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (Review), is equally highly effective, and has among the finest telephoto camera implementations available in the market. Add to that the wonderful construct high quality, nice show, robust battery life, and productiveness options reminiscent of S Pen assist, and that is simply one of the best Samsung flagship so far.
Is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra essentially the most full Android telephone but? We mentioned this on Orbital, our weekly expertise podcast, which you’ll subscribe to by way of Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or simply hit the play button beneath.