Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra: what are the differences?

Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 + and Galaxy S21 Ultra: which one to buy? A question to which we provide some answers in this comparison by noting all the differences that exist between the three models. And there are no points to discuss about this new generation.

From left to right: Galaxy S21 Ultra, S21 + and S21

Samsung is getting a little ahead of its schedule this year. While the Galaxy S series smartphones are historically launched in February, the S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra arrive on the market in January 2021. Three models each with their own specificities and which are marked by differences, both in terms of design and technical sheet. To help you choose the one that suits you best according to your needs, we therefore offer you a comparison of the three new smartphones from Samsung.

Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra: technical sheets

Screen, battery, photo… the technical specifications differ from one model to another. Our table below will help you navigate it easily, as we go into more detail on each aspect in the rest of this comparison.

Galaxy s21 Galaxy s21 + Galaxy S21 Ultra
Screen 6.2 “
FHD +
120hz
2400 x 1080 pixels
Gorilla Glass 7
6.7 “
FHD +
120hz
2400 x 1080 pixels
Gorilla Glass 7
6.8 “
WQHD +
120hz
3200 x 1440 pixels
Gorilla Glass 7
Chipset Exynos 2100 / Snapdragon 888 Exynos 2100 / Snapdragon 888 Exynos 2100 / Snapdragon 888
BONE Android 11 + One UI 3.1 Android 11 + One UI 3.1 Android 11 + One UI 3.1
RAM 8 GB 8 GB 12/16 GB
Storage 128/256 GB 128/256 GB 128/256/512 GB
microSD No No No
Main sensor 12 MP wide angle f / 1.8
12 MP ultra wide angle f / 2.2
64 MP telephoto f / 2.0
12 MP wide angle f / 1.8
12 MP ultra wide angle f / 2.2
64 MP telephoto f / 2.0
108 MP wide angle f / 1.8
12 MP ultra wide angle f / 2.2
10 MP Telephoto Optical Zoom X10 f / 2.4
10 MP Optical zoom X2 f / 1.8
Laser autofocus
Selfie sensor 10 MP (f / 2.2) 10 MP (f / 2.2) 40 MP (f / 2.2)
Drums 4000 mAh
25W recharge
4,800 mAh
25W recharge
5000 mAh
25W recharge
5G Yes Yes Yes
Biometrics Ultrasonic footprint scanner under the screen Ultrasonic footprint scanner under the screen Ultrasonic footprint scanner under the screen
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68

Design

With its dimensions of 71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9 mm, the Galaxy S21 is logically the most compact of the series, but also the lightest (127 grams). As for the S21 +, it is longer and wider but slightly less thick than its little brother (75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8 mm), for a weight that drops to 202 grams. The S21 Ultra has the same measurements as the S21 +, except for the thickness, which is significantly greater with its 8.9 mm. With 228 grams, the S21 Ultra is far from light.

Galaxy S21 Ultra design
The Galaxy S21 Ultra

It has become a habit at Samsung, the front camera is positioned in a punch in the center of the screen, at the top. The S21 and S21 + are equipped with a standard 2D flat panel. The S21 Ultra is more curved cheek, but we are far from what we have seen on some models in the past. Samsung seems to be drawing a line on truly curved displays. Suddenly, it is an edge to edge 2.5D panel that we find on the Ultra version.

On the back too, the S21 Ultra is set apart. Its photo block, still arranged at the top left, is much more prominent and imposing, the fault of the size of the sensors and their number. The photo setup is less visually impressive on the S21 and S21 + with three modules simply aligned vertically.

Galaxy S21 + design
The Galaxy S21 +

All three smartphones are IP68 certified, water and dust resistant. They carry a fingerprint reader under the screen as a biometric sensor. The S21 are entitled to a new, more practical and efficient fingerprint sensor: the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor Gen 2, with an area 77% greater and a speed 50% faster than for the scanner we know on the S20 series .

Finally, none of the S21 offers a 3.5mm audio jack port to connect headphones or headphones. However, they are each equipped with AKG stereo speakers. Samsung no longer provides headphones in the box, except in France which requires the sale of phones with hands-free kit included.

Galaxy S21 Ultra design
The Galaxy S21 Ultra

Screen

The three references benefit from a Samsung technology panel Dynamic AMOLED 2X. Enough to take advantage of deep blacks, excellent contrast and the Always-on Display feature for constant display of essential information on the screen.

The S21 adopts a compact format with its 6.2-inch screen, while the S21 + and S21 Ultra adopt a much larger diagonal: 6.7 inches for the first quoted and 6.8 inches for the most premium model.

Galaxy S21 + screen
The Galaxy S21 +

We are also seeing disparities in display quality. The S21 and S21 + are content with a Full HD + 1080p definition, while the S21 Ultra enjoys the WQHD + 1440p.

We find a refresh rate up to 120 Hz on all three models. Samsung offers on this subject a variable refresh rate which adapts to the use made of the smartphone in order to preserve the battery. It is in fact unnecessary for the screen to remain stuck at 120 Hz constantly. The S21 Ultra was given preferential treatment since the panel can vary from 11 to 120 Hz, against 48 to 120 Hz for the other two. With its larger screen and especially its higher definition, it needed it for reasons of autonomy.

Galaxy S21 Ultra screen
The Galaxy S21 Ultra

Performances

In Europe, still no Snapdragon, Samsung favors its home SoC. It is therefore the Exynos 2100, the manufacturer’s first chip made from an EUV 5nm engraving process, which runs the Galaxy S21.

The South Korean brand promises overall performance 30% higher than that of the Exynos 990, the old high-end SoC that equipped the Galaxy S20. On the graphics part, the Mali-G79 GPU would allow a 40% performance boost compared to its predecessor.

Galaxy s21 series
From left to right: Galaxy S21 Ultra, S21 + and S21

The Exynos 2100 obviously supports 5G support, and is able to manage 200 MP photo sensors (Samsung is working on just such a module, which would be launched in the second half of 2021).

In short, the S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra are very powerful smartphones. Since they have the same chip, their performance should be roughly similar, although the S21 Ultra should perform better on running background applications thanks to its extra RAM (see next paragraph).

RAM and storage

The Galaxy S21 and S21 + are in the same boat when it comes to memory. They are both available in two configurations: 128 GB and 256 GB storage space, with 8 GB of RAM in both cases.

The S21 Ultra is much better equipped with RAM since you have the choice between 12 and 16 GB. For the internal memory, three options: 128, 256 and 512 GB. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is also the only device of the series on which there is a microSD card slot in order to expand the storage space. The S21 and S21 + are deprived of it.

Connectivity

Samsung announces compatibility with the new standard WiFi 6E for the S21 Ultra, while the S21 and S21 + would be content with WiFi 6. The main innovation brought by WiFi 6E is the support of a third frequency band, the 6 GHz, which should help relieve the traditional 2.4 and 5 GHz. For the moment, 6 GHz is available in the United States but has yet to be authorized in Europe and France. But there is no doubt that if you plan to keep your smartphone for several years, WiFi 6E and 6 GHz could prove useful in the long term, the WiFi Alliance providing for a rapid deployment of this standard.

Galaxy s21 +
The Galaxy S21 +

Another functionality related to connectivity, the S21 + and S21 Ultra supportUltra Wideband (UWB), ultra-wide band in the language of Voltaire. A technology that made a lot of talk when it was integrated into the iPhone 11, and absent from the standard Galaxy S21. In particular, it allows you to locate the smartphone with great precision, take advantage of additional services via the Internet of Things (IoT) and transfer files quickly from one device to another as was done in the past with Bluetooth, but in much more practical and fast of course. Uses are still few in practice, but should become much richer over the next few years.

Battery, autonomy and recharging

The Galaxy S21 has a battery with a capacity of 4000 mAh. Its two big brothers are much better off in this area since the S21 + and S21 Ultra have a 4800 mAh and 5000 mAh battery respectively. Larger (and thicker in the case of the S21 Ultra), they have more space to accommodate a generous battery.

In any case, between the Exynos 2100 chip engraved in 5nm which promises to be very efficient in terms of consumption and the variable refreshing frequency functionality to regulate the energy consumption of the panel should help to offer the three devices good autonomy. .

Galaxy s21
The Galaxy S21

Despite the difference in battery size, the three mobiles benefit from the same charging technologies. We have the 25W Super Fast Charging wired, as on the S20 series. But beware, this time Samsung does not provide a charger in the box. If you are not equipped, be sure to buy a 25W charger at least to take advantage of it. We would have liked the South Korean manufacturer to be inspired by Apple in other areas.

Wireless charging is provided by the Fast Wireless Charging feature, which delivers a power of 15W. In the good news, the three smartphones in the series offer the Wireless PowerShare, which allows you to charge other devices and accessories with the S21’s battery. This reverse wireless charging improves on the S21 and goes to 9W, against at best 4.5W previously on Samsung devices.

Camera

The Galaxy S21 and S21 + share the same photo setup. Three sensors are arranged on the back: a 12 MP main module, a 12 MP ultra wide-angle and a 64 MP telephoto lens. The front camera consists of a 12 MP lens.

Galaxy S21 + photo

The S21 Ultra is much better endowed in terms of photography. His 108 MP main sensor comes with an ultra wide-angle and two telephoto lenses of 10 MP each to offer even better quality and zoom capacity (optical zoom up to 10x). And at the front, it’s a 40 MP module that is in charge of selfies and facial recognition. Note that for video, all the sensors are capable of filming in 4K at 60 images per second.

For photo and video enthusiasts, the S21 Ultra is clearly above its peers.

S-Pen support for the Galaxy S21 Ultra

Until now reserved for smartphones in the Note range, the S-Pen stylus arrives for the first time on a Galaxy S smartphone. But only the S21 Ultra is entitled to it, and it is only compatible with the S-Pen, this one is not supplied with the mobile. It must be purchased as an option for the sum of 40 euros. And unlike the Note, the S21 Ultra doesn’t have a dedicated slot to store and charge the stylus. For reasons of practicality, this almost requires investing in a Samsung protective shell or case offering this type of location.

Galaxy S21 Ultra S-Pen
The Galaxy S21 Ultra

The S-Pen is packed with features. It allows you to write on the screen of the S21 Ultra in handwritten form, with the possibility then to generate a typed text from your writings and to share it easily. Budding artists can also use it to draw. For professionals, it is also a great productivity tool, allowing alone to pass slides and manage a presentation for example.

You can also control and navigate your smartphone remotely with the stylus, for example to take a photo, take a screenshot or manage the playback of multimedia content. A real remote control that it is possible to customize to produce the desired actions.

Software

The three smartphones are released under One UI 3.1, Samsung’s home interface based on Android 11. They will all benefit from three years of feature updates, ie they will move to Android 12, 13 and 14. The DeX mode exclusive to high-end Samsung is present on each of them and makes it possible to transform the mobile into a central unit once connected to an external screen. There isn’t much software difference between these devices. The S21 Ultra’s photo processing still stands out, with Samsung having to make adjustments and optimizations to handle the dual telephoto lens and 108 MP sensor and deliver improved noise reduction. And obviously, the Ultra model benefits as detailed above from the support of the S-Pen stylus and all the software features related to it.

Price and availability

Galaxy S21 colors

All three smartphones in the S21 series can be pre-ordered on the official Samsung website or through a partner reseller from January 14, 2021. They will be released and officially available on the market from January 29. The prices are as follows:

  • Galaxy S21: from 849 euros
  • Galaxy S21 +: from 1049 euros
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra: from 1249 euros

Note that there may be several storage configurations available for each model. The prices indicated are those of the cheapest variants.

The S21 Ultra comes in black and gray, the S21 + in black, gray, and mauve, and the S21 in black, white, mauve, and pink.

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