The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is the corporate’s most premium smartphone but, with a robust concentrate on cameras. Identical to the Galaxy S20 Ultra (Review), this new mannequin boasts of 100X “house zoom” and 8K video recording, however with an improved capturing expertise and even higher picture high quality.
We have already talked in regards to the design and essential specs of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G in our latest first impressions article, so for this assessment, we’ll dive straight into the cameras and system efficiency first. In the event you’re critical about images or capturing video, then you ought to be within the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is probably the most able to the three Galaxy S21 fashions. Nonetheless, is the value justified? Let’s discover out.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G worth and variants
Earlier than we start, let’s shortly go over the variants of the Galaxy S21 Ultra which are accessible in India. In different nations, Samsung has decreased the launch costs of the Galaxy S21 collection, nonetheless as a consequence of taxes and foreign money fee fluctuations in India, the costs have gone up a bit in comparison with final yr’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 possibility priced at Rs. 1,16,999 which has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
It is dear for certain, however nonetheless prices lower than what Apple is charging for its iPhone 12 Professional collection. The bottom variant of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G looks like it ought to be the extra standard mannequin of the 2, however take into account that there is no such thing as a microSD card slot for storage growth this time, so if you happen to suppose you will be capturing quite a lot of 8K video, you would possibly need to take into account the upper storage variant as a substitute.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G cameras
Whereas the digital camera capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G stay largely just like these of its predecessor, Samsung has reworked the implementation, particularly of the telephoto cameras. There is a new-generation 108-megapixel major digital camera which does nona-pixel binning, combining info from 9 pixels into one, for extra detailed 12-megapixel pictures.
There is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle digital camera and two telephoto cameras. The latter each have 10-megapixel sensors, however with several types of optical zoom lenses. One has a 3X optical zoom, whereas the opposite is able to 10X, with a periscope-style lens. There is no point out of hybrid zoom this time, nonetheless there’s nonetheless some AI processing being utilized at increased magnification ranges.
Samsung continues to market Area Zoom, which on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, goes all the way in which to 100X. At such a excessive magnification, it could get very tough to border photographs appropriately. particularly if you happen to’re capturing handheld, which we skilled with the Galaxy S20 Ultra. That is the place the brand new Zoom Lock function is available in. While you transcend 20X magnification, you get slightly preview window within the viewfinder that can assist you discover your topic higher. In the event you maintain the body regular sufficient for one and a half seconds or faucet the preview field, the digital camera will lock focus in your topic and follow it (the preview field turns yellow to verify this), making it a lot simpler to get a correctly framed shot.
The brand new telephoto lenses together with this zoom lock function signifies that zoomed-in photographs look higher and are barely simpler to seize. The digital camera app presents the identical laborious stops at 3X, 4X, 10X, 30X, and 100X, or you need to use 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 digital camera, after which once more between 3X and 10X when it switches to the second telephoto digital camera. Picture high quality is noticeably sharper on the native optical zoom ranges, in comparison with any degree in between. At 100X, picture high quality is relatively a lot weaker however AI processing does assist in getting usable photographs.
In low mild, most smartphones ditch their telephoto cameras and simply use the first digital camera with digital zoom due to their extra beneficial apertures, however the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G will nonetheless use its telephoto cameras as a lot as attainable regardless of their slim apertures. The outcomes are predictably poorer, however if you happen to use them with Night time mode, the outcomes are surprisingly good. In such circumstances, the zoom vary is restricted to 10X and the cellphone sticks to the 3X telephoto digital camera even at that degree, for the reason that 10X digital camera has a really slim f/4.9 aperture. I managed to get superb photographs from the telephoto digital camera at evening.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G can even seize native 108-megapixel pictures utilizing its essential digital camera, permitting you to enlarge and crop round your topic later, which in principle has the identical impact as zooming in. Nonetheless, I seen that the picture high quality is not the perfect, 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 pictures taken with the principle digital camera in good mild regarded glorious. Dynamic vary was good, there was loads of element, and colors regarded pure. Autofocus was fast and exact because of the laser AF sensor, like we noticed on the Galaxy Notice 20 Ultra. In the event you go too near your topic, the digital camera’s ‘focus enhancer’ kicks in, switching to the ultra-wide angle digital 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 digital camera can seize. Fortunately, slightly toggle icon within the viewfinder permits you to swap it off instantly.
Shut-ups look nice, with wealthy particulars and colors. Samsung’s Stay Focus mode is now merely referred to as Portrait and presents the identical bokeh patterns to select from as earlier than. The ultra-wide digital camera can also be competent on the subject of capturing landscapes, with an identical color tone as the principle digital camera. In low mild, the first and ultra-wide cameras proceed to impress even with out Night time mode, nonetheless you’ll be able to anticipate higher uncovered pictures when utilizing Night time mode.
There is a new video capturing mode referred to as Director’s View, which presents dwell previews of what the ultra-wide, essential, and 3X telephoto digital camera can seize when you’re recording, so you recognize what to anticipate earlier than switching. You can too allow a dwell feed from the selfie digital camera, with a split-screen or picture-in-picture window, which Samsung calls ‘Vloggers view.’ I personally did not discover a lot use for this capturing mode, but it surely may very well be helpful for some folks. The remainder of the capturing modes are just like what we noticed final yr, together with Single Take, Portrait Video, Tremendous Gradual-mo, and many others.
Samsung has made some adjustments to the video recording capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, however they’re nonetheless not as intensive as I’d have preferred. Now you can shoot 4K 60fps video with any of the cameras, one thing that Apple launched with the iPhone 11 Professional. Nonetheless, you can not swap between cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G as soon as recording has begun, which is slightly limiting. For this, you will have to shoot at 4K 30fps.
Samsung remains to be hyping 8K video recording, which is now stabilised, but it surely additionally closely crops the body. Video high quality is sweet in daylight, however may be very grainy in low mild. There is no restrict on the recording size. The large disappointment for me although is that 8K video remains to be restricted to 24fps, like on the Galaxy S20 collection. Video high quality total is excellent, with sharp element, good stabilisation, and pure colors in footage shot within the daylight. Movies shot in poor lighting, even with the 3X telephoto digital camera, had been additionally spectacular.
General, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has a mighty spectacular set of rear cameras, and all of them have vital roles to play, in contrast to telephones with devoted depth or macro cameras. The selfie digital camera can also be equally competent right here. It has a 40-megapixel sensor and captures binned 10-megapixel pictures by default. It has autofocus, and may shoot 4K 60fps stabilised movies. Picture high quality in daylight and low mild, particularly with Night time mode, is excellent.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G efficiency and battery life
Aside from glorious digital camera efficiency, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can also be a true-blue flagship with cutting-edge parts. The Indian model is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 2100 5G SoC, which is analogous to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC when it comes to fabrication course of and the categories and variety of ARM CPU cores used. The 12GB RAM variant that I had for assessment posted sturdy 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 assessments. These numbers are nonetheless behind what Apple’s A14 Bionic within the iPhone 12 collection can produce, however truthfully, you would be laborious pressed to inform any distinction between these telephones with common use.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G simply ran graphically intensive video games similar to Name of Obligation: Cell and Asphalt 9: Legends on the QHD+ decision. Gameplay was clean with strong framerates. The higher half of the metallic body did warmth up in a short time when gaming, which you’ll really feel if you happen to use this cellphone with out a case. In actual fact, this heating was noticeable even when utilizing the digital camera app. The cellphone by no means bought uncomfortably scorching for me, and neither did this appear to throttle efficiency, however your mileage might fluctuate.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally absolutely helps Samsung’s S Pen, which is offered as an adjunct. I could not check this since Samsung did not ship it together with the cellphone, however I think about that the expertise ought to be just like utilizing the most recent Galaxy Notice collection telephones. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally helps Wi-Fi 6E and has an Ultra Huge Band (UWB) chip, which ought to permit the cellphone for use as a digital key to unlock your automotive (when appropriate fashions are launched).
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G doubles up as a wonderful machine for media consumption. The 6.8-inch AMOLED show will get extremely shiny, and colors look wealthy and punchy. The QHD+ decision presents superb sharpness, which is helpful when studying textual content. The largest new function, as I discussed in my first impressions piece, is that you need to use the 120Hz refresh fee on the native decision. It is also adaptive, which implies when no contact enter is detected, or if you happen to’re watching a video, the refresh fee routinely scales right down to 60Hz. Samsung says it could go down all the way in which to 10Hz to avoid wasting energy, however I wasn’t capable of check this declare.
Movies on the whole look nice on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s show. Watching darkish scenes in films is not an issue because the AMOLED panel can obtain spectacular black ranges. Audio from the stereo audio system can also be superb because of the Dolby Atmos enhancement. You get high-fidelity audio playback with help for the DSD 64/128 and 32-bit PCM codecs over a wired headset.
Different flagship options embrace an IP68 score 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 capable of lengthen the battery life to slightly greater than a day and a half. This was with the show set to QHD+ and the 120Hz adaptive refresh fee enabled. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G lasted for 15 hours and 37 minutes in our HD video loop check, with the display on 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) Kind-C adapter. That is one thing you will have to purchase individually, both from Samsung or a 3rd social gathering vendor, since you do not get an influence adapter within the field anymore. In actual fact, you get solely a USB Kind-C cable and the SIM eject device.
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 circumstances, I used to be capable of get a couple of 70 p.c cost in a single hour. You’ll be able to inform that the cellphone is charging quickly as a “tremendous quick charging” message seems on the lockscreen. This cellphone can even wirelessly quick cost with a appropriate charger, and reverse wi-fi charging can also be attainable.
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 assessment this cellphone. That is the most recent model of Samsung’s customized pores and skin, and relies on Android 11. It appears and feels slick. Acquainted Samsung gestures and shortcuts such because the Edge Panel are all current, which ought to make present Samsung customers really feel proper at residence. Not like the iPhone 12 Professional Max, you can also 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 cellphone and vice versa, wirelessly.
I did get some spam notifications from the Samsung Store app after I first started utilizing the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, regardless of unchecking all of the containers to not obtain advertising and marketing info, however this stopped after a day or two. Nonetheless, what I did not anticipate to see had been third-party advertisements in a few of Samsung’s personal apps similar to Climate and Sport Launcher. These are static advertisements and are not actually intrusive, however you actually should not should see them on such an costly smartphone. In the event you open the climate app or Sport Launcher, they’re proper there on the prime.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G ergonomics
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G packs in quite a lot of options, however all of this comes on the slight value of ergonomics. It is a huge cellphone by any definition, and actually, it is even a bit thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It is also fairly top-heavy, and you’ll really feel this imbalance, even with two-handed utilization. I am not complaining an excessive amount of, although, since coming from the iPhone 12 Professional Max, I discover it a bit extra comfy for one handed use because of the rounded sides.
The brand new design makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G look manner higher than earlier fashions. Samsung’s new contour-cut design for the digital camera module is exclusive, and manages to masks the digital camera bulge fairly effectively. You additionally get premium supplies throughout, with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for the back and front, and a metallic 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 yr when Samsung launched a 3rd ‘Ultra’ mannequin with a concentrate on cameras. This yr, Samsung is making an attempt to create an excellent 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 related with the Galaxy Notice 20 collection final yr, with the Ultra mannequin getting a premium remedy, whereas the usual mannequin needed to dwell with massive compromises.
We’re but to assessment the Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G, so I am going to reserve my judgement for them until we do, but it surely’s clear that Samsung desires to push customers who need probably the most premium expertise in the direction of the Ultra mannequin, even when they do not care that a lot about cameras.
Samsung has bumped up the costs of all its Galaxy S telephones this yr, however the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, particularly, remains to be well worth the premium in my view. It presents higher worth than the iPhone 12 Professional Max (Review), is equally highly effective, and has top-of-the-line telephoto digital camera implementations available in the market. Add to that the wonderful construct high quality, nice show, sturdy battery life, and productiveness options similar to S Pen help, and that is simply the perfect Samsung flagship up to now.
Is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra probably the most full Android cellphone but? We mentioned this on Orbital, our weekly know-how podcast, which you’ll subscribe to by way of Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, obtain the episode, or simply hit the play button under.