Samsung has launched a new version of their flagship mobile phones, the next version on top of their previous year’s S20 series. We have taken the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for a test ride.
- Exynos 2100, Octa-core CPU
- 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED Display with 3200 X 1440 (QHD+) Resolution up to 120Hz refresh rate
- 12/16 GB RAM, 256/512 GB Storage
- 108 MP + 10 MP (periscope telephoto) + 10 MP (telephoto) + 12 MP (ultrawide) rear camera with LED Flash
- 40 MP Front camera
- 3 Mics for Audio Recording
- 2G/3G/4G-VoLTE/5G dual nano-SIM
- 5000 mAh battery, Wireless charging, Reverse charging
- In-display fingerprint sensor
- IP68 rating for water and dust resistance
The measurements stand at 165.1 X 75.6 X 8.9 (in mm). The phone is quite big and the entire screen would not be reachable in one hand for people who don’t have large hands. The aspect ratio is 20:9, which makes the phone quite long. Since it has a Dynamic AMOLED display, the visibility is excellent even in direct sunlight, with ample brightness. The 120Hz screen makes everything much smoother.
The device is slim and the camera module on the backside of the device sits on top of the back panel and does protrude quite a bit since there are 4 cameras and flash. The backside has a Samsung logo in the center towards the bottom part. The back panel carries a premium finish, although it may slip from your hands. On the front side, there is a punch hole on the top at the center, for the front camera.
On the bottom side of the phone, we have a mic and the sim tray to the left, the USB C-type connector in the center, and a speaker grill to the right. Power and the volume buttons are on the right side towards the top from midway. Above the volume buttons. The top side has 2 mics which would be used while recording audio for the videos.
It comes with Android 11, with Samsung One UI on top. One UI is one of the better Android skins out there. It isn’t too flashy or cheesy and at the same time, not much bloatware to worry about either. It gives an overall good experience for the user. There is a specific gaming mode, where the device detects games and automatically disables the alerts, frees up memory, etc., to have an interruption-free gaming session.
Watching videos on this phone is a great experience, owing to the wide aspect ratio of the phone. The display is crisp and makes it a great watch. It is capable of playing 4K videos without any hassles due to the processor used. Audio quality is stellar and you would enjoy listening to your music. There are some audio settings that you can tweak around too, like an equalizer, Dolby Atmos. Another nice feature is the ability to play sounds from particular apps on to particular devices. Would help if you have connected different devices.
S21 Ultra supports the usual EDGE, 3G or 4G (with VoLTE), and 5G also. Wi-Fi (dual band) support is also there, and so is Bluetooth 5.0 for data transfer, it can also act as your personal Wi-Fi hotspot with the internet sharing feature, allowing you to tether other devices. Wi-Fi is also useful for sharing via DLNA. It also comes with dual VoLTE support. Bluetooth protocols like LE, A2DP. For location services, the device supports GPS, GLONASS, etc. Also, for data transfers, the device has a USB C-type connector. NFC is also there.
S21 Ultra comes with a 108 MP main camera and a 12 MP secondary wide-angle lens, 10 MP telephoto with 3X optical zoom, and another 10 MP with 10X optical zoom using a periscope mechanism. The camera setup snaps great pictures, right up there with flagship camera quality. There are few modes like Portrait, Auto, Night, and HDR which is self-explanatory. It has a Pro mode wherein you can control all the settings manually, like shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure. It also gives you an option to manually control the focus of the main camera. The camera does have OIS and stabilizes a bit. It takes great photos in daylight and low/night light.
The portrait mode works well and you get good-looking photos here. The 40MP front camera also takes good photos. Overall, it takes great photos and offers very good camera performance. The Space zoom (basically digital zoom or cropping) as Samsung likes to call it, is good and works well up to 30X. While it allows up to 100X, but you would find the image getting a bit pixelated as you zoom further beyond 30X. this 100X zoom allows you to get some stunning shots of the moon on a phone (For a phone camera, that is).
Video recording allows for capturing in 8K (at 30 fps), 4K, and 1080p (60 and 30 fps) resolutions, and stabilization is good. The device has a total of 3 mics for recording, which shows in its video recording abilities and does a good job at capturing the surrounding sounds properly. It also allows slow-motion video capture. You can find some of the sample photos and videos shot with Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra below.
S21 Ultra has a 5000 mAh capacity battery, which lasts easily around 1.5 to 2 days on moderate usage, which is great. With heavy usage, it will still make it through a day and a half. It packs a punch in terms of battery performance. There is a power-saving mode that will limit the background app activities, disables email auto-sync, and reduces visual effects. Reverse charging is also provided in the device which allows you to charge another device.
Price & Verdict
S21 Ultra is available at ₹ 1,05,999 (12GB RAM, 256 GB Storage). It is also available in 16GB/512GB configuration. We had the 12GB/256GB variant as our review device. At this price, it definitely gives good value in terms of design, performance. It is not without its shortfalls, lack of dedicated storage expansion, a 3.5 mm audio port, not to mention the exclusion of a charger or a USB-C to 3.5 mm converter. Be ready to spend extra if you would want all these. When charging this much for a device, the least Samsung could have done is to give a fast charger and a USB-C to 3.5 mm converter, if not a proper high-quality earphone. Sad to see Samsung blindly follow Apple in this regard. But with great performance, big battery, and IP rating, you cannot go wrong with this device.
Pros of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Design, build quality
- Great camera.
- 5000 mAh battery and battery performance.
- Smooth performance
- UI is bloatware free and looks closer to stock Android
- IP rating for dust and water-proofing
Cons of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- No dedicated micro-SD expansion
- No 3.5 mm audio port
- No charger included
- No USB-C to 3.5 mm converter
- No bundled earphone for the price