Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Extremely: The Engadget Very first Glimpse

Impression Credit: Chris Velazco/Engadget

The Ultra experience 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is, as normal, the biggest, finest, and most bombastic of what Samsung has to present. The broad strokes come to feel extremely acquainted: It however has a huge curved screen, a 5,000mAh battery, and an monumental array of cameras all around back, but this new style Samsung cooked up seriously does shine on greater telephones. The S21 Ultra is technically a minor heavier than the S20 Extremely, but it feels a very little much easier to manage and more polished. 

And the monitor, perfectly: there is certainly a rather very good likelihood it’ll be 1 of the ideal-wanting displays in your home. Samsung went with a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X exhibit jogging at 3200 x 1400, and — look, it is Samsung — screens are their factor. Even superior, it shares the similar Adaptive Refresh price as the Take note 20 Extremely, which means you continue to get super-smooth 120Hz when points are in motion, but it dials points down to as very low as 10Hz when you’re just hunting at images. 

That mentioned, you can find at minimum one particular transform below I’m truly not a supporter of: Samsung ditched aid for microSD playing cards in this article. I’ll grant you that probably won’t be a dealbreaker for most men and women, even though. Following all, the S21 Ultra comes in two variants: A single with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and yet another with 16GB of RAM and 50 % a terabyte of storage. Samsung dropped the Ultra’s price tag down to $1,200 — which is $200 significantly less than the foundation Ultra charge last 12 months — but is not this intended to be the company’s very best of the very best, no-retains-barred cellular phone? 

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely initial look | 14 Images

In any case, a single of the Ultra’s biggest selling details is its camera method: all around again you will find a 108MP large digicam with an f/1.8 that makes use of pixel binning to develop 12MP stills, a 12MP extremely-extensive, and two 10MP telephoto cameras — one particular has a 3x optical zoom assortment and the other has a 10x optical variety. I only bought to test the cameras indoors, which was considerably less than great, but I’m cautiously optimistic about what they’re able of. 

At the quite minimum, the dreadful concentrating issues we observed early on with past year’s S20 Ultra are long gone, many thanks to the new laser autofocus it had no difficulty locking onto my topics, even when I wandered about to darker corners of the testing place. If you actually want to, you can continue to press in for these 100x House Zoom photographs and just like very last time, they do not look specifically superior. (At least, they didn’t in the shut room I could shoot some take a look at photos.) That explained, they’re a minimal easier to shoot this time — you can faucet the display screen to lock target, but I am not offered yet. The pure movement of your arms is considerably decreased, indeed, but it nevertheless usually takes a great deal of hard work to snap just the appropriate photograph, and the benefits have not impressed me significantly so considerably.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Chris Velazco/Engadget

And of program, there’s the new S Pen, which for the 1st time functions on a non-Observe smartphone. Now, you can use present S Pens with the S21 Ultra, but it won’t be able to do any of the neat gesture controls or digital camera distant things since all those S Pens can’t connect to the Ultra more than Bluetooth. (For that, you’ll have to wait until Samsung releases an enhanced, standalone S Pen Pro later on this year.) With that said, you continue to get the significant components of the Note encounter right here: the S Pen’s latency, or the hold off in between placing pen to screen and viewing your stroke, seems about on par with the Take note 20. And far more importantly, the S21 Ultra’s Wacom digitizer even now acknowledges when you push the S Pen’s barrel-mounted button, so you can accessibility your application and observe-having shortcuts just as speedy as you could on a Galaxy Note. 

If you really want to publish on the S21, you ought to almost certainly splurge on Samsung’s $40 standalone S Pen. Positive, you could use a spare S Pen from an old Galaxy Take note with no difficulty, but the gain of having an S Pen that isn’t going to go inside the mobile phone is that the S Pen can be a great deal greater. The one I tried out feels a ton like a somewhat shortened pencil, and producing with it feels so considerably much better than utilizing the little stick that comes with a Galaxy Notice. If you do not want to fret about shedding that massive stylus, Samsung’s $70 scenario/S Pen combo is almost certainly the way to go — just know that the circumstance would make the S21 Extremely experience completely massive.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ in use

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Shared options

Even though Samsung went with a bit diverse methods for every single S21 model, the experiences constructed into all of them are largely the exact same. Whichever version strikes your extravagant, you will be equipped to use new digital camera functions like the skill to pull stills from an 8K online video recording — a thing I have undoubtedly occur to appreciate now that I often address situations on your own. Director’s View is valuable way too, in that it allows you see by means of just about every of the cameras even though you’re taking pictures movie and swap between them as required. Following taking part in with it for a although, I wouldn’t just phone it a video game-changer, but it’s certainly nice to be able to know just what sort of shot you are going to get prior to toggling cameras. 

Also new to the combine this calendar year: Google’s Discovery feed, which lives to the remaining of your dwelling display screen where by all of Bixby’s junk made use of to be. I have often desired Google’s customized information picks and reminders above, effectively, everything corporations consider to swap it with, so it truly is wonderful to be ready to accessibility it without the need of acquiring to swap to a 3rd-party launcher. But like so a lot of other decisions Samsung manufactured this year, this 1 raises some weighty concerns. Samsung as soon as insisted Bixby could “essentially change” how people today use their technology — are those people days in excess of?

However, my limited time with the S21s intended I could not exam out every aspect I’ve been hunting forward to. Because I really don’t have a auto to check out unlocking with the S21+ and S21 Ultra’s extremely-wideband sorcery, the top rated of my “things to try” checklist is Samsung’s new PrivateShare software. Consider of it as a type of Snapchat for file sharing: not only can you make sure your paperwork or images are noticed by the ideal people today, you can rescind accessibility to delicate info, manage how lengthy it’s accessible, and even strip metadata. If the litany of security breaches about the past couple decades isn’t sufficient to make you at the very least a small paranoid, well — enjoy, I guess?


Barring some early difficulties, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 collection ended up wonderful smartphones. Immediately after tests their successors, it last but not least would make perception why Samsung didn’t give these issues extra remarkable names like Galaxy S30-whatever. As I explained, we are mainly wanting at iterative improvements, albeit rather pleasant kinds. 

The sole exception right here is potentially the Galaxy S21 Extremely, which just isn’t just less costly than its predecessor — it can be a lot more polished and feature-packed, far too. But should you actually get this thing? Or any of the other S21 versions? Nicely, you’ll have to keep tuned for our full critique to come across out.