Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra: a close look | Cell phone

It’s still January, but Samsung has already announced the new Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra. The trio of premium phones from the Korean manufacturer brings news in cameras, practically leaves screens with curved sides and has 5G connection. The most complete model is the S21 Ultra: in addition to being equipped with a fourth camera with 10x optical zoom, it is compatible with the S Pen and approaches the Note line.

Samsung also followed in Apple’s footsteps and confirmed exclusive news from Tecnoblog: for the first time, the charger and headset will no longer be inside the Galaxy S21 case. I have more details of the controversy and have already played with the new Samsung smartphones. Shall we meet them?

Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra Hands-on

Galaxy S21 and S21 + are the normal renewed

The Galaxy S21 and S21 + are the most “normal” models, which bring everything that is expected of a new generation: better screens, more powerful cameras and faster processor. We continue with an AMOLED screen in the same sizes of 6.2 and 6.7 inches, but now completely flat and with a dynamic refresh rate, from 48 to 120 Hz, which shows the smoothest movements when necessary, but reduces the consumption of automatically if the application does not need as much fluidity.

Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

The design is very similar between the two, with a trio of cameras on a strip that seems to embrace the body of the device, but here we have the first controversy: the S21 + keeps the glass back, while the S21 adopts plastic, repeating the strategy Galaxy Note 20. Some even defend polycarbonate, saying that the material does not break in drops and, in any case, most people should use a case that hides the design of the product – but it is a fact that this is not the finish that consumers expect on such an expensive phone.

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

The cameras are very similar in hardware, but there is news in the software. In numbers, we continue with a main sensor and a 12-megapixel ultrawide, while the telephoto lens remains at 64 megapixels and supports up to 3x hybrid zoom. Samsung promises an improvement in portrait mode, which now makes a more natural background blur effect, with a bokeh similar to that of DSLR cameras.

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

For those who shoot, the novelty is the Director’s Vision mode. You can switch between the rear and front cameras while recording, just like on the Galaxy S20 line, but now you can shoot with both cameras at the same time: you can leave your face in one corner of the video while the other lens records what is in front of you. In addition, it is possible to switch between the main lens, ultrawide and telephoto during recording. The feature works well, but was limited to Full HD in my tests.

And, as usual, some countries, such as the United States, will receive the S21 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor, while the Brazilian version will be equipped with Samsung’s own chip, the Exynos 2100. This was a point of criticism in the latest Galaxy releases, because the Exynos warmed up more and offered slightly lower performance, but we still need to run the tests on the new chip before drawing any conclusions.

Galaxy S21 Ultra brings the real changes

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

The model with the real changes is the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which features a 6.8 inch screen and a wider dynamic refresh rate, from 10 to 120 Hz, which can be used with the highest possible resolution, 3200 × 1440 pixels (or WQHD +, for the intimate). The S21 Ultra is the only one that still has a curvature on the sides of the screen, but the detail was almost imperceptible.

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

On the screen, there are at least three important points. First, it is interesting to see how Samsung started the trend for curved screens in premium smartphones at the time of the Galaxy S6 and now it is retiring this style itself. Another detail is the very rare movement of screen reduction between generations: the S20 Ultra had a 6.9 inch panel, while the S21 Ultra comes with 6.8 inches. And the most important thing is that this is the first Galaxy S screen with support for the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image: Press Release / Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image: Press Release / Samsung)

AS Pen is almost a registered trademark of the Note line, but it is now compatible with the more expensive version of the S line. Samsung itself claims that this is a trend in the company’s product line and that it plans to expand pen support to “categories of additional devices in the future ”(I hope the Galaxy Z Fold 3 foldable pen will finally come true).

I was unable to test the S Pen on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but there are already two issues to consider. The first is that the pen is not included with the smartphone: you can buy it separately, or else use an S Pen of a Galaxy Note. In addition, the smartphone does not have an internal compartment to store the pen; instead, Samsung will sell a case adapted for the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

The cameras remain superior in the Ultra model. The main sensor is 108 megapixels and adopts the same ninth binning scheme, which combines nine pixels into one to take a sharper 12 megapixel photo. It is accompanied by a 12 megapixel ultrawide camera and two 10 megapixel telephoto lenses: one with 3x optical zoom and f / 2.4 aperture, the other with 10x optical zoom and f / 4.9 aperture.

The existence of two telephoto lenses can improve the zoom, since the powers of the 3x lens and the 10x lens can be combined to capture sharper images at varying distances, but I am in doubt as to the actual capacity of the 10x camera with a such a small aperture, especially when the scene is darker. I had limited access to the product before launch in a controlled environment, but I will certainly test the telephoto lens under these conditions in the full review.

And the charger?

But a controversy of all Galaxy S21 is that, for the first time at Samsung, the phones will not be sold with charger or headset in the box, confirming the exclusive information published by Tecnoblog in December. Samsung’s main argument is that of Apple, which removed the accessories on the iPhone 12: protecting the environment and making products more sustainable.

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Officially, Samsung says that many Galaxy users are reusing accessories they already had and making sustainable choices in their daily lives. For Samsung, “the gradual removal of plug adapters and headphones from the device’s packaging can help resolve sustainable consumption issues and take away any pressure consumers may feel from continually receiving unnecessary charging accessories with new cell phones.”

We still do not know how this issue will be treated in the national market. The product manager of Samsung Brazil, Renato Citrini, says that the company is studying what will be the alternatives that will be made available to users who want the charger. I do not doubt that, at least at launch, the manufacturer adopts a strategy of offering the charger for free, not least because, in previous releases, whoever bought a Galaxy S or Note used to receive a wireless charger, a headset or even a gift smartwatch.

The fact is that the removal of chargers, at least on the most expensive smartphones, is a trend – it was just some company taking the first step so that all the others were free to follow the same path.

When and how much?

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image: Paulo Higa / Tecnoblog)

The Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra have already been approved by Anatel, but still have no price or release date revealed for the Brazilian market. The only certainty is that they will not be cheap: the Galaxy S20 Ultra was launched for up to R $ 8,499 in March 2020 and, almost a year later, it is still sold in the range of R $ 6,000 by major retailers. With the higher dollar and 5G support, cell phones are likely to become more expensive in Brazil.

The full review of the devices will be published soon. What do you want to know about them?

Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra – specifications (Brazil)

Model Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 + Galaxy S21 Ultra
Screen 6.2 inches, Full HD + (2400 × 1080 pixels), Dynamic AMOLED 2X (48 to 120 Hz) 6.7 inches, Full HD + (2400 × 1080 pixels), Dynamic AMOLED 2X (48 to 120 Hz) 6.8 inches, WQHD + (3200 × 1440 pixels), Dynamic AMOLED 2X (10 to 120 Hz)
Processor Samsung Exynos 2100 octa-core up to 2.9 GHz Samsung Exynos 2100 octa-core up to 2.9 GHz Samsung Exynos 2100 octa-core up to 2.9 GHz
RAM 8 GB 8 GB 12 or 16 GB
Storage 128 or 256 GB 128 or 256 GB 128, 256 or 512 GB
Frontal camera 10 MP f / 2.2 10 MP f / 2.2 40 MP f / 2.2
Main rear camera 12 MP f / 1.8 12 MP f / 1.8 108 MP f / 1.8
Ultrawide rear camera 12 MP f / 2.2 12 MP f / 2.2 12 MP f / 2.2
Telephoto rear camera 64 MP f / 2.0 (3x hybrid zoom) 64 MP f / 2.0 (3x hybrid zoom) 10 MP f / 2.4 (3x optical zoom)
Telephoto rear camera (2) 10 MP f / 4.9 (10x optical zoom)
Drums 4,000 mAh 4,800 mAh 5,000 mAh
Connectivity 5G, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ac) 5G, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ac), UWB 5G, Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), UWB, S Pen
Dimensions 71.2 × 151.7 × 7.9 mm 75.6 × 161.5 × 7.8 mm 75.6 × 165.1 × 8.9 mm
Weight 172 grams 202 grams 228 grams
Colors white, gray, pink and violet silver, black and violet silver and black

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