The "1-Minute" Review
- Very expensive
- No MicroSD expansion
- Ads in Samsung software
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is simply a massive phone with practically every bell and whistle out there in the known smartphone world. As expected, Samsung has put out the best in smartphone technology, but at a steep price point, is it worth the extra dough?
The trend for big phones and big screens is back with a vengeance, and Samsung seems to be leading the charge with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. This phone is big, like burgeoning-on-tablet big, and while that seems intimidating, the curved display helps improve handling such a hefty slab of glass. The new matte series of ‘Phantom’ colors offers a few different options. However, anything beyond Phantom Black or Phantom Silver is currently only available direct from Samsung.
A massive 6.8-inch AMOLED screen that’s nearly bezel-less already has its perks. Add in a 120Hz refresh rate, and things get ridiculous. Reviewers stated that the “vivid” colour setting was a bit punchy, but after tweaking the settings a little, it was the best phone screen they have ever seen.
A very small and hardly noticeable selfie cam punchout rests at the top. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint scanner, which reviewers said was the fastest in-screen option they’ve used. Silky smooth motion, minimal lag, and a vivid, sharp screen make the panel on the Ultra S21 a media and game lover’s dream screen.
As with any Samsung phone, it’s hard not to sing its praises. The last generation’s processor was no slouch and this year’s new one saw no complaints when it came to multitasking and quick scrolling.
Software & Storage
Software and storage are the only areas where reviewers could find faults. In the past, those who wanted to buy a Samsung Galaxy didn’t have to worry about purchasing the baseline model because it was easy to add storage later using a MicroSD card. The new Samsung line has done away with that card support, so now you will have to buy the phone with more storage upfront -- a great disappointment to reviewers.
On the software front, the implementation of OneUI 3.0 made the phone is even snappier, and menus are simplified and easy-to-use. It runs over the top of Android 11. But it still includes Bixby, a feature some reviewers dubbed the ‘Clippy’ of this generation of phones. Its added bloat and redundant features failed to impress most reviewers.
As with most smartphones today, the most competitive part is its cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra continues to set the bar for Android photography. Reviewers said that the S21 Ultra fixed a lot of the problems with previous Samsung releases. There are five cameras in all, offering a telephoto lens, a selfie cam, and zoom capabilities. Whether you’re a budding photographer or a seasoned professional, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can help you make the most of your shots.
Despite the size of the phone, the battery is surprisingly reliable. Reviewers stated that it would easily make it to the end of the day for serious phone users. For those who use their phones casually, you might even make it into the next day on a single charge.
If you don’t already have a fast charger -- or any charger at all -- you’ll want to budget for one. That’s because Samsung doesn’t include one with the phone to cut down on electronic waste.
Reviewers didn’t mention audio quality much. As with any smartphone, you’re going to get the best audio quality by using headphones.
Speaking of which, much like the charger, Samsung doesn’t include earbuds with the phone to cut down on waste.
Specs at a Glance
- Gorilla Victus Glass chassis
- 6.8-inch AMOLED display
- Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 processor
- 12/16GB of RAM
- Android 11
- 128/256/512GB of onboard storage
- 108MP main lens, 10MP 10x zoom, 10MP 3x zoom and 12MP ultra-wide camera
- 5000mAh battery
- compatible with S-Pen
It goes without saying that Samsung is nearly always at the top of the pack. So it should be no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is no exception. It has become exponentially closer in comparison to the new iPhone. The lack of MicroSD expansion has marred reviewers’ opinions somewhat. Having to pay extra for more storage up front is a new change for Samsung. In terms of everything else, there’s not a lot to say about the phone in terms of failings. At the end of the day, the simple question is, can you afford it and do you need a phone this powerful?
Tech Radar says, “Surprise, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is launching a month earlier than anticipated, and that’s good news if you’re eager to own the very best of what Samsung can pack into a smartphone. It wowed us with a huge screen, five cameras and the best zoom on any readily available Android phone. Caution: while it's cheaper than last year’s ‘Ultra’ phone, it remains pricey for average consumers, and it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot nor does it include a charger.”
Tom’s Guide states, “Samsung’s top-end phone beats Apple’s flagship in several ways, offering features the iPhone simply can’t match, from its dual zoom cameras to its optional S Pen support. Samsung has definitely upped its game for this year after a lackluster effort with last year's Galaxy S20 Ultra.”
Prices (Where to Buy)
The Galaxy S21 Ultra price will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. You can compare Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra user manual here.
Samsung backs up the Galaxy S21 Ultra with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Galaxy S21 Ultra has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Samsung support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Samsung's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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