The new Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s “everything phone” with more cameras, better specs, and even S Pen support to beat the much-loved Note 20 Ultra. If you’re annoyed by rumors of the end of the Note series, try the S21 Ultra.
Here’s Samsung’s vision for 2021 plus smartphones: five cameras with a 108MP sensor, two telephoto cameras, 100x zoom and 40MP selfies, plus 5G, all-day battery life and up to 16GB of RAM, all included in an Android phone. A 6.8-inch Quad HD 120Hz display and an in-display fingerprint sensor is 1.7 times larger than last year’s phone.
It’s the first new smartphone we tested in 2021, along with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, and it reaches high standards, well above last year’s “Ultra” phone. Samsung re-equips its main camera with lasers, yes lasers, to address autofocus issues on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and has also updated the specs to keep up with the processing requirements of those great 108-megapixel photos, selfies of 40 megapixels, and 8K video smoothly.
Images are sharp, dynamic range is impressive, and Samsung’s “tripod lock” software feature stabilizes 30x and 100x zoom levels on subjects to prevent viewfinder image jumping. 100x “spatial zoom” is now much easier to do, although 100x swiping is limited to being a nifty party trick due to the grainy images, while 30x can be slid in with proper lighting.
The 10x and 3x optical zoom levels on the S21 Ultra defined the images we wanted every time, more so than any smartphone telephoto camera. Our side-by-side comparisons to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has a 2.5x optical zoom, confirm this. Apple’s main camera takes cleaner photos in some low-light situations, but Samsung’s night mode has improved enough to roughly close that gap after sunset or when taking photos indoors – its default camera app is jam-packed with functions and is easier to use than Apple.
Photography and speed are only two-thirds of the story here. This is a story of design beauty and a performance beast, with a gently curved edge-to-edge screen, a smaller bump for the rear camera, and a stunning matte black option that resembles a black hole that gets sucked into. your eyes (other colors available). It’s hard to look away. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best Samsung phone of all time.
Welcome in the midst of the economic downturn, the overall look and the increase in performance haven’t raised prices compared to last year’s S20 Ultra – Samsung has made this phone much cheaper. Of course, we felt that the first Ultra phone was overrated, and the S21 Ultra was still expensive, it’s more than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but Samsung offers you a little more for the added cost: a bigger, brighter screen and with more capacity, 10x optical camera zoom (compared to 2.5x on the iPhone) and stylus support – something Apple has yet to offer on any iPhone.