our full review and impressions of the new flagship

After the test of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, here is that of the standard version, the Galaxy S21. Here, Samsung wanted to erase some of the Galaxy S20’s shortcomings, while keeping a certain distance from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to justify the price difference. A strategic balancing act allowing Samsung’s most affordable flagship to be 50 euros cheaper than its predecessor. But is it still top of the range? Answer in this comprehensive test.

With morea month in advance On its usual schedule, Samsung presented at the beginning of January its new high-end flagships, the Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra. We have presented them to you extensively, whether through our files, our video handling or our unboxing. Meeting on our youtube channel to have access to all of this content.

Read also – iPhone 12 Pro Max review: undoubtedly the best Apple camera!

Although we did not have confirmation from Samsung at the launch conference, there are certainly two reasons for the early release of the Galaxy S21. The first is the lack of a physical salon to convince journalists, influencers and distribution partners. The second is the need to replace galaxy s20. Samsung saw its sales fall by 14% in 2020. And the high-end models are (at least) partly to blame.

You have already read in our columns the test of the largest of the three, the Galaxy S21 Ultra. So it’s time to switch to the smallest model. An important model, since it is not only the easiest to use with one hand, but also … the cheapest! Especially since the Galaxy S21 has the luxury of being less expensive than its predecessor and ofoffer more for a lower amount. The Galaxy S21 therefore offers better value for money on paper. But has he erased some of the faults of his predecessor? Answer in this comprehensive test.

Price and availability

The Galaxy S21 has been available for sale since January 29, whether on the Samsung site or at specialist retailers. It got there at the same time as the Galaxy S21 + and Galaxy S21 Ultra, after a two-week pre-order period.

The Galaxy S21 is priced at 859 euros in 128 GB version. You must add 50 euros to double this space internal storage, or 40 euro cents per gigabyte additional storage. This is much cheaper than the price of iPhone storage tiers.

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Note that, for the first time in the Galaxy S, the choice of internal storage space is important: the smartphone is incompatible with microSD cards. It is therefore not possible to expand the internal memory.

Samsung therefore copies here Apple’s strategy in terms of storage. The firm is also adopting it in the field of accessories. Like the iPhone 12, the Galaxy S21 is without power adapter. The smartphone is therefore only sold with a USB type-C cable. Note that a 25 watt AC adapter is available on the Samsung store for 20 euros. A 9-watt wireless charger will cost you 40 euros.

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AKG headphones included with the Galaxy S20

Last commercial point, the Galaxy S21 is normally delivered without earphone. But French law obliges smartphone manufacturers to deliver headphones with their devices. The Galaxy S21 is no exception. It is offered in France at a slightly higher price than in other European countries (ten euros), but with a pair of wired headphones (USB type-C) from AKG, a brand of Samsung.

Technical sheet

Galaxy s21
Screen 6.2 “
Dynamic AMOLED 2X
FHD + (2400 x 1080 pixels)
421 pixels per inch
120 Hz
HDR10 +
Gorilla Glass Victus
Chipset Exynos 2100 (5nm)
BONE Android 11 + One UI 3.1
RAM 8 GB
Storage 128/256 GB
microSD No
Main sensor Main :
12 MP with Dual Pixel autofocus
pixel size: 1.8 micron
f / 1.8 aperture and optical stabilization

Ultra wide angle:
12 MP
pixel size: 1.4 micron
f / 2.2 aperture and 120 ° viewing angle

Telephoto:
64 MP with Dual Pixel autofocus
pixel size: 0.8 micron
f / 2.0 aperture and optical stabilization
1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom, 30x digital zoom

Video mode 8K @ 24 fps, 4K @ 60 fps, 1080p @ 240 fps and 720p @ 960 fps
Stereo sound recording
electronic stabilization
HDR10 + compatibility
Super Steady mode with ultra wide-angle sensor
Selfie sensor 10 MP
pixel size: 1.22 micron
aperture at f / 2.2
Dual Pixel autofocus
Drums 4000 mAh
25W fast charge
15W Qi wireless charging
Reverse charge and reverse charge wireless
5G Yes
Biometrics Ultrasonic footprint scanner under the screen
Water resistance IP68

What’s in the box

Before we start to take a look around the owner, let’s talk about the box for a few moments. As you can see from the photos below, the one of the S21 is much smaller than that of the S20. And for good reason, it is less provided. When you open it, you uncover the smartphone in a cardboard slot. Under the smartphone, there is a storage in which you find the USB type-C to USB type-C cable. And that’s all !

galaxy s21 test box 2

For the purposes of this test, we received from Samsung a Galaxy S21 Phantom Purple without the AKG headphones that normally come with the product. We have therefore taken those from our Galaxy S20 tested last year. If you buy the S21, these are the headphones that should accompany the product. Go to the audio section to find out more. We also took over the 25 watt charger supplied with the Galaxy S20 to test the fast charge of the Galaxy S21. Again, go to the autonomy part of this test to find out more.

Design

We took the Galaxy S21 out of its little box. And, at first glance, it looks different from its predecessor. Maybe it’s due to thicker and more conspicuous metallic outline. This outline, here golden, revolves around the smartphone and is very slightly domed. It is less thin not only physically, but also aesthetically, while that of the Galaxy S20 seems to us more worked.

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Galaxy S20 on the left and Galaxy S21 on the right

The S21 also looks different to us cause of photo module, almost integrated into the metallic outline seen just before. In reality, it is not. A piece of metal is positioned on top. And the shapes of this piece respond to the contour lines of the smartphone to give the illusion that it is one and the same piece. But you can see a slight separation between the two pieces. And that of the sensors is less bright than that of the outline.

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The lenses of photo sensors are still protected by glass, but each mineral glass part is separated from the others, placed in a circular location, giving the illusion (again) that the optics are wide. In reality they are the same size. The flash and the microphone for video capture are no longer integrated into this module. The first flanks the module to his right. And the second is deported to the upper edge.

The S21 seems different to us. Maybe it’s because of this new color Phantom Violet which will be the new iconic dress of the Galaxy S21 generation. Also let us not forget to mention among the differences this new material used by Samsung to protect the back of the Galaxy S21. This material is polycarbonate offering a velvety feel that is far from unpleasant. Warmer than the mineral glass of the Galaxy S20, the back of the Galaxy S21 is soft and does not retain fingerprints.

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However, despite these differences, we quickly find our bearings, with a chassis that takes the fundamentals of the Galaxy S20. The real changes are therefore above all aesthetic and not ergonomic. The technical elements have changed very little. Power button and volume control on the right. USB Type-C port, main speaker and main microphone at the bottom. Secondary microphone on top for active noise reduction. And some separations to isolate the antennas placed on the metal frame. Note the movement of the SIM card drawer from the top to the bottom. But that is not enough to lose us.

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From the front, the S21 and S20 look very similar. A large slab on the front. A hole for the selfie sensor positioned in the center of the top border. And a telephone earpiece still subtly hidden in the thickness between the edge of the phone and the edge of the screen. The slab loses its lateral inclinations, to take a much flatter shape. Curved screens have lost favor in Samsung’s eyes. The outlines around the screen are back. It also contributes to giving this false impression of novelty. A sort of aesthetic “neo retro“.

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Finally, the dimensions of the S21 are quite close to the S20. 151.7 mm high. 71.2 mm wide. And 7.9mm thick. The Galaxy S21 therefore measures the same size as the Galaxy S20, with one exception: it is 0.3 mm wider. He weighs 170 grams. That is 7 grams more than its predecessor. So this is not a revolution, but an evolution that Samsung offers us here. This has an advantage: the grip is good, even with one hand, and the bulk is under control.

Screen

We talked about the screen in the previous section. We will now go into detail. The Galaxy S21 is equipped with a ” Dynamic AMOLED 2X “. Technologically, this is the same generation as the screen of the S20 and Note 20. The screen measures 6.2 inch diagonal, unchanged from the S20 screen. On the other hand, the definition is much lower, since we go from Quad HD + to Full HD +. And, unlike the Galaxy S21 +, that’s not a bad idea.

galaxy s21 test screen 1

Why ? First, because the resolution of the S20 was really very high. It reached 563 pixels per inch. Here, the resolution drops sharply, falling to a more reasonable 421 pixels per inch. To the naked eye, this is not so shocking. And for almost all uses, this new resolution is more than sufficient (reading with special characters such as kanji or Arabic alphabet may become slightly less pleasant).

Second reason, the gain in terms of autonomy is very important, since the number of points to manage is reduced by 70%from 4.6 million to 2.6 million. Fewer points to light up means less energy to light them up, but also less calculation in choosing which to light. Samsung certainly made this choice to address a weak point of the S20: his autonomy. We will see in the autonomy part, precisely, the gains made.

The display is 120 Hz compatible. According to information from the One UI, the S21 is capable of ” automatically adjust the screen refresh rate up to 120 Hz “. Like the Note 20, the S21 would therefore be able to reduce the refresh rate. Note that you also have the option of blocking it at 60 Hz to save your battery even more.

The screen is also HDR10 + compatible. The opportunity to discuss the colorimetry of the S21 panel. According to readings made with our probe, the Galaxy S21’s screen reproduces colors very well. We tested both display modes, ” natural “And” lively “. Note that, by default, vivid mode is enabled.

The natural mode offers almost perfect behavior. The Average Delta E is only 1.1. The average color temperature is 6657 degrees. And the contrast ratio is infinite thanks to the nature of the panel. A few colors exceed a Delta E of 2: brown, dark green, and light blue. Yellows are practically perfect. On the other hand, the maximum manual brightness is relatively low, since it does not exceed the 430 cd / m² (which is always better than the 400 cd / m² achieved with the Galaxy S20). Note that in bright light the system is able to increase the brightness even further. But not as much as in vivid mode.

galaxy s21 test screen 3

The lively mode, precisely, is more eccentric, while keeping a beautiful homogeneity. The average Delta E is 3.9. The average color temperature is slightly above 7000 degrees. A few colors exceed a Delta E of 6, such as brown, light green, light blue, and purple. Moreover, you will have an impression of blue haze in the color display, the temperatures are so high. It’s a mode that gives pride of place to HDR and vibrant colors. In this mode, the maximum manual brightness is higher: 530 cd / m².

As always, One UI offers fine tuning of the screen colors. You have a choice between the two modes, of course, but you can also have the option of reducing or emphasizing each tone (blue, red and green) according to your preference. An option available only in vivid mode, so that the colors are more respectful, while maintaining the right brightness.

galaxy s21 test screen 2

The screen is protected by mineral glass. This is the Gorilla Victus, latest generation of glass developed by Corning. This material is supposed to be more resistant to the vagaries of life while giving the touch layer a very short response time. And that’s the case. However, above the screen, Samsung defaults to protection. This is very efficient, but itself prone to scratches and little hassles, like that of the Galaxy S20. So be careful to avoid putting the smartphone in a pocket or bag with keys, pens or coins.

Under the screen hides a ultrasonic fingerprint reader. This biometric sensor is, according to Samsung, larger than that of the Galaxy S20. We find it faster and more convenient to use. This is a good improvement.

Interface

Once the smartphone is on, you arrive at One UI, the interface from Samsung which took over from Touchwiz two years ago. The version preinstalled in the Galaxy S21 is stamped 3.1 and is based on Android 11. It is therefore more recent than the one available on previous flagships, even the Galaxy Note 20, launched with One UI 3.0. Of course, this version will be pushed on many devices in the installed fleet of Samsung. However, in the meantime, it remains exclusive to the Galaxy S21.

test galaxy s21 interface 1

If you are on One UI 3.0, however, you do not lose much. There are few new features in One UI 3.1. And even rarer are those that deserve the detour. The integration of Google Discover into the Samsung Upday display. The integration of the Google Home app into the One UI system. Google Duo integration into the Phone app. And the option to remove geotagged tags from photo metadata. For the rest, you will find the changes made by version 3.0 discovered with Note 20.

test galaxy s21 interface 2

For those who are new to One UI, this is an interface that offers an experience relatively close to that of stock Android, but with some small aesthetic touches. You will of course find two main screens when you start the phone, as well as a secondary screen for the news feed and personalized information (“Samsung Upday”). On the first home screen are the Search widget and the Google folder, Play Store, Galaxy Store, and Samsung Gallery. On the secondary screen, you will find a Microsoft folder, Samsung Free, Game Launcher and Clock.

galaxy s21 interface 5 test
Samsung Free, Galaxy Store and Device Maintenance

Some additional applications are accessible from the drawer. Including a few business partners. Spotify. Netflix. Facebook. If you don’t need them, you can of course delete them to save space. Especially since the storage space is not expandable. You will also find the most important Samsung applications from the start of the mobile: Samsung Health (health monitoring), SmartThings (Automation), Galaxy wearable (connection to connected Samsung accessories), SmartSwitch (data transfer from a smartphone to the S21) and Bixby.

And speaking of Bixby, the virtual assistant is still built into One UI, although Google Assistant is also preinstalled. You can call it by making a long press on the power button (voice commands) or open the dedicated application with two quick presses on the same button. Bixby is compatible with objects connected to Samsung Wearable and SmartThings. You can therefore turn on a light with your smartphone, activate your headphones, or pay with Samsung Pay, etc. Like Siri at Apple, Bixby incorporates ” capsules “And routines. The former are used to connect Bixby to other applications. The seconds allow you to automate several actions. Bixby is not well known. And that’s a shame. This is why we wanted to focus on it.

test galaxy s21 interface 4

In the Settings menu, some important actions not to be missed. First, the ” Screen », To reduce or lengthen the standby time, block the refresh rate and modify the color profile. Then ” Position Which allows you to specifically set the permissions for your location. Finally ” Battery and Device Maintenance »Where you will find an application to optimize the use of the phone, monitor the applications in the background, activate or deactivate the energy saving mode, the fast charge (and super fast), the wireless charge or the reverse charge wireless.

test galaxy s21 interface 3

Let’s finish this tour of One UI with the few practical components. You will of course find the classic shutter which mix of quick settings and notifications by sliding down from the middle of the screen. Samsung has added two shortcuts to connected objects and accessories in this section. Of course, the layout of the shutter is customizable. You will also find, as on the Galaxy S20, the side flap very practical for opening several applications at the same time (multi-window mode).

Performances

Now let’s move on to performance. The smartphone is equipped with a Exynos 2100, a new high-end component developed by Samsung and the firm’s first SoC engraved in 5 nm. Its structure is quite close to that of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragons: eight cores, one high performance core, three high performance cores (but a little less), four low-power cores for daily tasks. It is clocked up to 2.9 GHz. It incorporates a Mali-G78 MP14, a more ambitious GPU than that of the Exynos 990. It is 5G compatible, of course. And he is accompanied by 8 GB RAM, which is 4 GB less than the 5G version of the S20.

galaxy s21 performance test 1

On a daily basis, this platform turns out to be fluid. It supports all common applications. And energy-efficient hearts seem to be enough for this. But what about when you need the nervousness? We obviously performed some tests not only with the usual benchmarks, but we also installed some fun applications.

galaxy s21 performance 2 test

On the benchmark side, we get very consistent scores compared to the Galaxy S21 +. We obtain 626,000 points on AnTuTu. 1056 and 3341 points on Geebench (single-core and multi-core, respectively). We obtain 7713 points on Slingshot, 6717 points on Slingshot Extreme and 5792 points on Wild Life. Also find the results of GFX Bench opposite.

galaxy s21 performance 3 test

3DMark’s Wild Life stress test, which lasts 20 minutes, teaches us more about how the smartphone works. First, performance is strong initially, but it does not last. Quickly, the SoC curbs its performance to stabilize at about two-thirds. From there, the Galaxy S21 delivers stable performance until the end. Second lesson, autonomy is severely compromised when a greedy application is launched. The S21 lost 10 battery points in 20 minutes. That is to say an autonomy in game of 3 hours and 20 minutes. And this despite limited performance from the first minutes.

galaxy s21 performance 4 test

Finally, the Galaxy S21 is up in temperature. Internal sensor measures over 40 °. You can feel it clearly by touching the metal parts around the phone and on the photo module. Note that all of these scores were obtained with the variable 120Hz refresh rate. This means that you might get slightly higher results with a refresh rate set at 60Hz.

galaxy s21 performance 5 test
galaxy s21 performance 6 test

In use, the Galaxy S21 offers some comfort for gamers. Our stallion games, Dead Trigger 2 and Dead Cells work fine on the smartphone. In particular, we had a lot of fun with Dead Cells, a nervous game that requires the screen to be responsive and precise. And it was the case. However, we have tried to install emulators. Although relatively old consoles are well supported, like last year, we had the bad surprise to see Citra and Dolphin, 3DS and Wii emulators respectively, deliver a degraded experience. Is it a lack of RAM? Or poor optimization? We cannot explain it with confidence.

Autonomy and recharging

With such power, what about autonomy? This is a thorny subject. Indeed, battery life was certainly the Galaxy S20’s biggest flaw. And we expected Samsung to make a real effort in this area. There is good news and bad news in this area. Let’s start with the bad one. The battery has not changed between the S20 and the S21: it is still a model offering a capacity of 4000 mAh. Perhaps there are hidden improvements at the cell, substrate, or controller level. But we hardly believe it.

galaxy s21 design test 1

So what’s the good news? Samsung has taken a step back from the Galaxy S20 and made some consistent choices regarding format and usage. Because, like the iPhone 12 with which the Galaxy S21 shares some characteristics, buyers of a Galaxy S21 will certainly prefer more autonomy and maybe a little less power. Or even less extravagance. Lower screen definition. More efficient chipset. Flanged backlighting. Adaptive display frequency. Etc.

Result, the autonomy of the Galaxy S21 is better than that of the Galaxy S20 5G (we are not comparing with the 4G version of the Galaxy S20, as we have not had the opportunity to test it). She is even on average 15% higher. This allows the smartphone to last a full day in mixed use (a bit of surfing, a bit of messaging, a bit of gaming, a bit of music, a bit of video streaming). Be careful, if you like to play on your smartphone, the battery life will quickly melt away. If the Exynos chipset is able to considerably reduce its consumption, it quickly becomes greedy when it is called upon.

galaxy s21 battery test 2

This half-good news in battery life does not come with a fast charge that will reduce the downtime of the smartphone. Indeed, the Galaxy S21, like the S21 + and the S21 Ultra is compatible with fast charging, but the maximum compatible power is 25 watts. The S21 therefore benefits from an identical charge to that of its predecessor. We are relatively far from the competition. Only the iPhone 12 does less well today with 20-watt wired fast charging.

We tested the charging speed from 0%. And here are our statements. We hit 15% charge in 7 minutes. Then the 35% charge in 15 minutes. We reached 50% charge in 25 minutes, the 58% charge in 30 minutes, the 70% in 38 minutes and 80% in 45 minutes. You can see that the charge slows down from 50%, which is normal. And she is doing it more and more.

galaxy s21 battery test 1

It took us 55 minutes to exceed 90%. We arrived at the full charge in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 30 seconds precisely. Please note, these figures are obtained with the phone switched off. This means that it does not consume any energy during this period. If you turn it on while charging, the complete cycle will be longer.

Like the other Galaxy S21s and like its predecessor, the Galaxy S21 is compatible with wireless charging and reverse charging (even wireless). The first accepts a power of 15 watts, which is relatively common. The iPhone 12 benefits from similar power. The Qi chargers sold on the official Samsung store offer just this power. We did not have the opportunity to test the charging speed. But we think it takes about a good two hours to fully charge the battery with this technology.

Audio

Now let’s move on to the audio part. As explained at the start of the test, the Galaxy S21 has been stripped of many accessories, including the power adapter. Fortunately, French law requires manufacturers to provide a pair of headphones. Samsung did not ship the headphones that will accompany the commercial versions of the Galaxy S21 with your test unit. However, we assume that these are the AKG wired headphones that were available in the Galaxy S20 box.

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So we took the ones we had and plugged them into our Galaxy S21. They are good wired headphones, with an in-ear design for passive isolation. They offer a qualitative, rich audio experience on all ranges, even bass. A remote control with microphone is present in the middle of the cable to deport certain controls. They are among the best hands-free kits offered with smartphones. And we find it a shame that they were withdrawn.

The headset supplied with the S21 should be USB Type-C compatible, since Samsung has removed the 3.5mm jack ports for reasons of space. The absence of this port is less and less of a problem thanks to the huge influx of TWS headsets. In this area, the Galaxy S21 does not do better than the others (but not worse either): it is compatible Bluetooth 5.0. Which means that it also supports competitive wireless headphones.

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The Galaxy S21 also comes with a dual speaker. The first speaker is located on the lower edge and the second is hidden in the telephone receiver (itself hidden in the border of the smartphone). These two elements obviously benefit from AKG’s audio expertise. The proposed sound is clear and powerful, especially in the midrange and treble. On the bass side, only the first speaker delivers. We would have liked a little more. And we would have liked some in the second speaker too. But the audio experience is as good as on the S20. Maybe even a little better.

We can’t finish this audio part without talking about the phone experience. Here, nothing to report during our tests: the Galaxy S21 isolates your voice well so that your correspondent does not miss any important words. And vice versa. This is also true for LTE and WiFi, if you are used to exchanging voice messages on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Photo and video

Finally, let’s tackle the last part of the test: the photo. Before we begin, let’s recall the elements present in the block at the back and the punch at the front. First we have a 10 megapixel selfie sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus and lens opening at f / 2.2. At the rear, the main sensor is a model 12 megapixels. This is the default sensor. It incorporates a Dual Pixel autofocus. Each pixel is 1.8 microns. Its lens is stabilized and it opens at f / 1.8.

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We then have a sensor 64 megapixels stabilized with Dual Pixel autofocus as well. Each pixel is 0.8 microns. It comes with a stabilized telephoto lens opening at f / 2.0. The optical zoom ratio is 1.1x. The hybrid zoom is 3x. And the digital zoom can reach 30x. And we finally have a sensor 12 megapixels accompagné d’un objectif grand-angle 120°. L’objectif ouvre à f/2.2. Et chaque pixel mesure 1,4 micron.

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Grosso modo, Samsung a repris l’équipement du Galaxy S20 pour fournir le Galaxy S21. Tout simplement. Chaque élément cité plus haut est identique entre les deux modèles. Ce qui change en revanche, c’est le composant qui transforme les signaux lumineux capturés par les capteurs en photo. Samsung a amélioré les algorithmes pour créer des images plus vives et plus contrastées. Voilà une bonne nouvelle. L’autre bonne nouvelle est la nouvelle interface photo. Elle s’enrichit d’un mode nuit très populaire en 2020. Et elle offre la possibilité d’ajouter, ou d’enlever, des modes photo à la volée, selon vos besoins. C’est une excellente idée.

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Capteur principal. Mode automatique

Passons aux résultats en commençant avec le capteur principal. Premier élément important : les photos nous semblent plus lumineuses cette année qu’en 2020, notamment avec le capteur principal. Les couleurs sont naturelles, sans exagérations du HDR, et les photos sont bien détaillées. Il y a du contraste. Il n’y a pas de surexposition ni de perte de détails dans les ombres. Grâce aux modes scènes automatiques, vous obtenez un réglage à propos dans quasiment toutes les situations. Et, miracle absolu, l’autofocus fonctionne enfin convenablement !

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Capteur principal. Mode automatique

Le capteur grand-angle offre lui aussi des clichés avec du détail et des couleurs bien respectées. L’angle de vision est très large (120°) et permet de prendre de beaux paysages. Pour les photos de proximité, nous lui préférons le capteur principal. Pour deux raisons : d’abord parce que les déformations dues à l’optique ne sont pas toujours bien redressées (voir la photo ci-dessous). Ensuite parce qu’il est moins lumineux. Les couleurs sont parfois un peu plus ternes.

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Capteur grand-angle. Mode automatique

Côté zoom optique, nous attendions mieux de la part de Samsung. D’autant plus que la concurrence directe est plus énergique dans ce domaine. Certes, l’iPhone 12 ne propose pas de zoom optique, réservant cette apanage aux modèles Pro, mais le zoom est ici assez frustrant. Pourquoi ? Parce que le rapport de zoom optique n’est seulement que de 1,1x. Nous en voulons pour preuve la longueur focale du « téléobjectif » : 29 mm. Et celle du capteur principal : 26 mm. Le rapport est de 1,1. Pour preuve, le zoom optique affiché du Galaxy S21 Ultra est de 10x. Les longueurs focales affichées sont de 24 mm pour le capteur principal et 240 mm pour le téléobjectif. Le compte est bon, Maitre Capello !

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Capteur téléobjectif. Zoom hybride 3x. Mode automatique

De fait, le zoom « hybride 3x » présenté par Samsung est, en grande partie, un zoom numérique. Heureusement, donc, que vous avez une définition de 64 mégapixels pour zoomer dans la photo. Sinon, le résultat serait terrible. Avec le zoom 3x, ce capteur offre donc des clichés très intéressants, avec de la couleur, de la lumière et du piqué (celui proposé par le raccourci sur l’interface).

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Gauche à droite, haut en bas : capteur principal (sans zoom), capteur avec zoom hybride 3x, zoom numérique 10x et zoom numérique 30x

Avec le zoom 10x, nous perdons beaucoup en finesse, mais cela reste acceptable. Au-delà, vous aurez un vague ensemble de pixels grossiers, de jour comme de nuit (et surtout de nuit). D’autant plus que le stabilisateur n’est pas calibré pour compenser des mouvements avec un tel rapport de zoom. Sachez que le Galaxy S21 propose de monter en 30x. Il aurait été préférable de faire comme Apple : bloquer le zoom numérique à un rapport acceptable. Comme quoi, Samsung ne copie pas toujours Apple…

Notez que le capteur 64 mégapixels enregistre les clichés en 12 mégapixels par défaut, pour apporter une certaine homogénéité avec les autres capteurs. Bien sûr, vous pouvez choisir d’enregistrer les photos en 64 mégapixels en permanence : c’est la troisième option en partant de la droite, en haut de l’écran. Et en mode Pro, vous pouvez enregistrer les images au format RAW (option disponible avec tous les capteurs), afin d’avoir plus d’options de retouche avec un logiciel comme Photoshop.

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Capteur Principal. Mode automatique

De nuit, les résultats des trois capteurs auraient pu être bons, mais sans plus. Grâce à l’arrivée du mode nuit (dont le temps de pause est de 2 secondes par défaut, mais qui peut être allongé), de la lumière apparaît enfin, pour le plus grand bonheur des noctambules. Plus de lumière, plus de détails. Plus de couleurs aussi. Mais pas forcément autant de maitrise : impossible de lire par exemple les lettres de l’enseigne sur la photo ci-dessus (que ce soit avec le capteur principal ou celui avec le zoom hybride).

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Capteur téléobjectif. Zoom hybride 3x. Mode nuit

Nous sommes globalement satisfaits des résultats offerts par ce mode nuit. Même s’il a mis du temps à venir, ne boudons pas notre plaisir. Vous pouvez voir ci-contre quelques exemples de clichés réalisés avec et sans mode nuit, avec tous les capteurs. Notez que le mode nuit est compatible avec tous les capteurs, mais le zoom numérique est ici bridé à 10x. Permettre de monter à 20x ou 30x aurait été totalement inutile. Ce n’est donc pas une grande perte.

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Capteur principal. Avec mode nuit (gauche) et sans mode nuit (droite)

Côté portrait, le Galaxy S21 réalise de beaux clichés. Que ce soit avec le capteur principal, le capteur 64 mégapixels ou le capteur selfie. Le détourage du modèle est souvent précis, même si quelques mèches rebelles de cheveux échappent à la vigilance de l’algorithme. Et l’effet de flou est bien prononcé, peut-être même plus qu’auparavant. Notez que le mode portrait n’est pas nouveau : il s’agit du nouveau nom du mode Live Focus.

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Capteur téléobjectif. Zoom hybride 3x. Mode portrait

Sachez que ce mode portrait active par défaut le capteur 64 mégapixels et le zoom hybride 3x (pour simuler une longueur focale 70 mm idéale pour les portraits, justement).

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Capteur téléobjectif. Zoom hybride 3x. Mode portrait

Le capteur selfie de 10 mégapixels réalise des clichés très satisfaisants, avec beaucoup de lumière, du contraste et des détails. Il est compatible avec le mode nuit et le mode portrait (mais pas les deux en même temps). C’est la troisième année consécutive que Samsung utilise un capteur 10 mégapixels en façade avec un autofocus Dual Pixel. Et c’est une très bonne nouvelle, car les capteurs selfies avec un bon autofocus sont encore assez rares.

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Capteur selfie. Mode portrait

Notez enfin que le Galaxy S21, comme son prédécesseur, filme en 8K, mais à 24 images par seconde seulement. C’est la limite basse pour les films (si vous baissez nombre d’images par seconde, vous percevrez un manque de fluidité). Nous vous conseillons plutôt de de filmer en 1080p (ou en 4K si vous avez la télé qui va avec). C’est avec le capteur grand-angle que vous aurez la meilleure expérience, puisqu’il est le seul compatible avec le mode « Super Steady » qui corrige mieux les tremblements et les mouvements parasites. Le son est capturé en stéréo. Ce n’est pas nouveau, mais c’est toujours appréciable.

Conclusion

Le Galaxy S21 est un bon smartphone. En plus, il est beau. Cette robe Phantom Violet, mariée à un contour doré, est élégante. Il a également de nombreuses qualités, aussi bien en termes d’interface que d’ergonomie ou d’écran. Les écrans des Galaxy S21 sont tous les trois bons. Celui du plus petit de la fratrie ne fait pas exception, avec une excellente reproduction des couleurs et un contraste impeccable. C’est un très bel écran, même si la luminosité maximale est un peu faible.

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Nous sommes également ravis de voir que Samsung à corriger ou estomper quelques défauts du Galaxy S20. Notamment l’autonomie du smartphone : elle est bien meilleure pour des usages classiques. Et l’autofocus de l’appareil photo est enfin capable de fixer un objet, même quand il est prêt. Sans oublier le mode nuit pour améliorer les clichés quand la lumière est faible.

Le Galaxy S21 offre-t-il une expérience haut de gamme ? Plus vraiment ET pas encore. Plus vraiment, parce que Samsung a concédé sur certains points : moins de RAM, un espace de stockage non extensible, pas de chargeur inclus, une résolution plus faible (même si cela a des avantages), un dos en plastique (même si ce n’est pas moche). Et pas encore parce que l’équipement photo n’a pas évolué (avec un zoom hybride qui veut faire croire que c’est un zoom optique), parce que la charge rapide est encore trop lente et parce que la plate-forme n’est pas capable de faire tourner convenablement les applications les plus gourmandes du Play Store.

Nous aimons bien le Galaxy S21. C’est un smartphone qui n’a pas de gros défaut. Et il a de vraies qualités. Mais est-ce bien suffisant aujourd’hui, face à la concurrence ? Car, malgré son prix en léger recul, le Galaxy S21 doit se mesurer à des téléphones irréprochables, lesquels sont parfois vendus moins chers. Comme en 2020, Samsung n’arrive pas à équilibrer le prix et les prestations.

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