Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra led the rate for the most efficient Android telephones in 2021. It packs in the entire features you may be able to want in a phone, especially in the event you choose huge screens. While it lags in the back of some of different best contenders, it is still a very good tool for any Android fan out there.

For $1,199 — or $100 greater than the iPhone 13 Pro Max — you a get dynamic 6.8-inch display and twin telephoto lenses for crazy zoom energy. Plus, the S21 Ultra supports the S Pen, a primary for the Galaxy S sequence.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specifications

Display: 6.8 inches AMOLED (3200 x 1400); 10 to 120Hz
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB, 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear cameras: 108MP extensive (f/1.8), 12MP ultra huge (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, f/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, f/4.9), laser AF sensor
Front digicam: 40MP (f/2.2)
Video: 8K 30 fps/4K 60 fps
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Battery existence: Eleven hours 25 min (60Hz), 10:07 (adaptive)
Wireless: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, UWB
Size: 6.5 x 2.97 x 0.35 inches
Weight: 8.08 ounces

The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes in a sleeker design and provides sooner efficiency from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 chip. And, in contrast to the regular Galaxy S21, you shouldn't have to make just about as many trade-offs. You get a better primary 108MP digital camera, a pitcher back (as an alternative of plastic), extra RAM and a higher-res show.

As you'll be able to see in my Galaxy S21 Ultra review, there are some trade-offs. But total, this is likely one of the best phones money should buy for the ones keen to pay a top rate and one of the crucial best Android phones general. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review cheat sheet

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra unlock date and worth

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is to be had right now and you can purchase provider and unlocked versions of the telephone. 

The Ultra starts at $1,199 and includes 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You too can upgrade to 256GB of garage and to a style with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The 256GB model prices $1,249 — basically an extra $50 — while you'll pay $1,379 for a Galaxy S21 Ultra with 512GB of storage.

Over in the U.K, the Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at £1,149 for the 12GB of RAM and 128GB of garage base style. That worth rises to £1,199 for the 256GB handset and tops out at £1,329 for the model with 16GB and 512GB of inner storage.  

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Design and colours

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a monolith of a telephone. Yes, the contour reduce camera design blends the camera stumble upon the glass again, however that is nonetheless a massive instrument you’ll want to use with two palms. We've known as the most efficient designed tool in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for phones.

With its 0.35 inch profile and weight of 8.08 ounces, the S21 Ultra is thicker and heavier than the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The display is gently curved, unlike the absolutely flat common Galaxy S21, however not annoyingly so. I never by chance tapped one thing on screen as I did with final year’s Ultra.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is available in just two colors from carriers: Phantom Black and Phantom Silver. I would possibly move with black because of its slimming effect. is offering unique S21 Ultra colours, regardless that, together with Phantom Navy, Phantom Titanium and Phantom Brown. Best Buy has an unique Navy Blue colorway, also.

One of my favourite design upgrades is the 1.7x better fingerprint sensor. It makes it easier to release the telephone, and I found that the S21 Ultra didn’t question me to press the sensor again like earlier telephones. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Display

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display at the Galaxy S21 Ultra is just one of the very best displays on a phone. It's brilliant, colourful and doesn't make you choose between the absolute best solution and best refresh rate like its predecessor. 

Yes, you’ll be mesmerized when observing movies on this phablet. The colors are as rich as ever, and the viewing angles great and huge when bing observing on Netflix. 

But the Ultra surpasses the iPhone with its dynamic refresh charge. Not simplest do you get tremendous smooth scrolling and gameplay, you now get 120Hz and quad HD solution on the identical time. So you don’t have to choose between the very best solution and highest refresh charges.

The S21 Ultra is also sensible enough to robotically dial the refresh fee the entire approach all the way down to 10Hz to lend a hand save on energy.

More just right news, the S21 Ultra’s show is easy to learn outdoor, because it may succeed in a top rated brightness of one,500 nits. In our trying out, the S21 Ultra averaged 821 nits, which beats the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 654 nits.

The S21 Ultra’s display screen proved lots colorful in our lab exams, with the panel generating 81.4% of the demanding DCI-P3 color gamut, compared to 84.8% for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The colours at the iPhone have been just a little more accurate, with its display reaching a Delta-E score of 0.07, in comparison to 0.35 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

Samsung says the S21 Ultra has a 3 million:1 distinction ratio, which is 50% higher than the S20 Ultra. And there may be an Eye Comfort Shield characteristic that's designed to scale back eye fatigue via proscribing blue gentle. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Cameras

It's the cameras where the Galaxy S21 Ultra stands proud the most towards the S21 and S21 Plus. There's a major 108MP wide sensor and 12MP ultra-wide digital camera, which is complemented through a laser auto focus sensor.

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The Galaxy S21 Ultra will make you are feeling like a undercover agent as you zoom in. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max is stuck at 2.5x optical zoom, the S21 Ultra packs two telephoto lenses of 3x and 10x optical zoom.

I was amazed how shut I were given to this signal smartly throughout a freeway. At 100x the zoom does get shaky however the new Zoom Lock characteristic let you get a steadier shot with just a tap. 

The 108MP primary digicam can seize 12-bit HDR footage with Sixty four times richer colour data and more than 3 times the dynamic vary of the S20 Ultra. Plus, there is a 12-bit RAW document choice in Pro mode.

I examined the digital camera out at a close-by retailer to capture a shot of produce, and the golf green peppers in the foreground look shiny and delicious. And you'll be able to make out a beautiful amazing quantity of element while you zoom in. However, through comparability, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s shot appears even more vibrant.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra could also be an excellent spouse to have when you're outside. Take this photograph of towering bushes I took at a nearby park. You could make out high-quality detail within the bark, and the telephone does a really perfect process capturing the clouds against the blue sky even whilst coping with all of the shadows within the foreground. I quite prefer the S21 Ultra’s photo on this case to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, nevertheless it’s truly close. 

Samsung says it has additionally advanced the Portrait mode at the S21 through leveraging AI to higher separate the topic from the background. The S21 Ultra delivers an ideal bokeh impact here. My pores and skin tone is warmer at the iPhone 12 pro Max, however general the S21 shot appears to be like nice.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra additionally plays slightly neatly in low gentle, thanks to a faster Bright Night sensor and 12MP nona-binning generation for lowering noise reduction. In this comparability you can make out more of the stones and trees within the foreground within the S21 Ultra’s photograph compared to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, even supposing the iPhone’s colors glance extra herbal. 

The iPhone 12 Pro Max pulls forward in this photo of a golden retriever. The S21 Ultra’s p.c is overly brilliant and slightly washed out, whilst his fur his extra golden and natural looking with the iPhone. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Video 

On the video front, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can record 8K video up to 30 fps and all of its cameras can seize 4K video at as much as 60 fps. But the good video improve is Director's View.

There's a new vlogger mode that allows you to use the back and front cameras as the similar time for recording video. And you can see live thumbnails of each and every digicam while you are recording video, so you'll make a quick call if you want to transfer. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra's pictures appears stunning. As I swept around a river with the S21 Ultra, it delivered near movie-quality effects. The darkish blue water, dock and puffy clouds all came thru crystal transparent.

And, yes, you can be at liberty to transport around so much while shooting. With Super Steady mode at the S21 Ultra engaged, I captured easy photos at the same time as I walked speedy up a hill. 

If you wish to have to take pictures and stills directly, the Single Take 2.0 function on the S21 Ultra is pretty amusing. It managed to seize my strive at a reverse layup in sluggish mo and pick a beautiful good photograph at the top of the leap. However, the song Samsung chooses occasionally for its auto-generated video clips sounds tacky. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Performance

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is likely one of the first telephones powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip, which is complemented by way of 12GB or 16GB of RAM.

And that is one speedy Android phone. The S21 Ultra didn’t flinch as I sliced thru a couple of enemies in Grimvalor whilst handing over console-quality visuals. 

This flagship backs up my experience with spectacular benchmark scores. On Geekbench 5, the S21 Ultra notched 3,440 at the multi-core take a look at and 1,123 on single-core. That’s in the back of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which cleared 4,100 and 1,600, but it surely’s nonetheless the best scores we’ve observed from an Android telephone. 

The S21 Ultra also fared neatly on the 3DMark Wild Life graphics benchmark, hitting 34 fps. The iPhone 12 Pro Max averaged 54 fps.

On our video enhancing check the usage of the Adobe Premiere Rush app, the Galaxy S21 Ultra took 1 minute and a couple of seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. That’s sooner than the Note 20 Ultra’s 1:sixteen but nonetheless neatly at the back of the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 28 seconds. 

Unfortunately, while you have a range of garage choices to choose between for the S21 Ultra — 128, 256 or 512GB — Samsung ditched the microSD card slot. So you'll't expand. 

Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Battery existence and charging

If you’re looking for a telephone that may final all day, that is it. On our internet browsing battery check over 5G, the S21 Ultra’s 5,000 mAh continued for 11 hours and 25 mins. That beats the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 10:Fifty three and lands the Ultra on our best phone battery life list. 

Note that this time is with the standard 60Hz show mode became on and that you just’ll see much less battery lifestyles with adaptive mode (up to 120Hz) engaged. In this mode we noticed a runtime of 10 hours and seven mins. 

The largest bummer is that you don’t get a charger within the box. Yes, it’s the golf green factor to do, but if you happen to haven’t bought a telephone within the closing couple of years and don’t have USB-C, it will imply extra money coming out of your pocket. 

Using a 25-watt charger, the S21 Ultra reached 56% in 30 minutes and 31% in quarter-hour. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: S Pen

For the primary time ever, a Galaxy S tool supports the S Pen, the S21 Ultra makes that occur with a Wacom digitizer constructed into the display. The S Pen, which is not obligatory, means that you can draw, caricature and take notes, just as you can at the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. It also is useful for quickly signing paperwork.

Just keep in mind that the S Pen is bought one at a time, and you'll be able to need to spring for a appropriate case if you want to retailer the stylus on the cross when it's not in use. Samsung sells a Silicone Cover with S Pen included for $69.99.

I tried out this situation, and it provides bulk to already bulky phone. The S Pen functionality worked lovely smartly, and you can experience options like Screen Off memo for quickly jotting down notes. However, as a result of Bluetooth is not built in, you'll't use the pen as a far flung regulate as you can with the Note 20 Ultra. So you'll't skip tracks with a button press or keep an eye on slideshows. 

Samsung is creating a 2d stylus. The S Pen Pro ships later this year for an undisclosed worth, which can come with Bluetooth connectivity. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and UWB

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supports all of the latest wireless requirements, starting with 5G. The Qualcomm X60 modem inside this tool is able to provider aggregation, which will have to result in larger height speeds while delivering better power efficiency.

The performance was lovely forged in my neck of the woods on T-Mobile. I noticed obtain speeds exceed 160 Mbps. It’s not improbable, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max mustered simplest 100 Mbps in the same location when I popped the same SIM card in that telephone. 

In addition, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the first phones to reinforce Wi-Fi 6E, a brand new same old that delivers quicker speeds and more overall bandwidth if in case you have a compatible Wi-Fi 6E router. 

Lastly, the S21 Ultra has UWB (ultra-wideband), which makes it more straightforward to percentage files with other UWB gadgets, just like the Galaxy S21 Plus. And you are able to use this telephone as a digital key for select 2022 vehicles. 

If you're constantly shedding stuff — like me — you'll be able to want to take a look at Samsung's new Galaxy SmartTags. You can use this tag in combination with the SmartThings Find app to trace down everything out of your keys in your bag. You too can use the SmartThings Find app to find different Samsung gadgets, together with telephones, smartwatches, tablets and earbuds. 

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S21 Plus

We have an entire article devoted to Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S21 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Ultra, as there are lots of variations. But listed here are the key things to grasp. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the highest answer major digicam (108MP vs 64MP for S21 and Plus), essentially the most tough zooms (100x vs 30x) and the sharpest display (QHD vs 1080p).

In addition, the screen on the Ultra is more dynamic, as it may well scale from 120Hz all the approach all the way down to 10Hz, while the panels on the common S21 and S21 Plus move right down to 48Hz. This is helping save on battery life. And the S21 Ultra has the largest battery at 5,000 mAh, in comparison to the S21 (4,000 mAh) and S21 Plus (4,800 mAh).

Lastly, the S21 Ultra has probably the most RAM at 12GB to 16GB, whilst the S21 and S21 Plus make due with 8GB. And simplest the S21 Ultra has a 512GB storage option. See our full Samsung Galaxy S21 review for more. 

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

The biggest competitor for the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple's phone delivers faster efficiency from its A15 Bionic chip, and you get a powerful Ceramic Shield front display that is designed to be more durable. 

Apple really closed the gap this yr through offering hugely advanced battery life, a dynamic 120Hz show, and blistering performance. It additionally begins at $One hundred less than Samsung while providing better cameras as well. If you might be platform-agnostic, there are few reasons to pick out the Galaxy S21 Ultra over the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

For extra, see our in-depth iPhone 13 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra face-off. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung's latest foldable, showcasing the company's prowess in the case of display technology and hardware design. The Fold 3 is a large, tough telephone that Samsung has intended to succeed the venerable Galaxy Note line (RIP).

The Z Fold Three also has S Pen beef up like the S21 Ultra, though it has fewer cameras. Photography aficionados who prefer Samsung phones will wish to stick with the S21 Ultra this year. 

Our Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra face-off breaks down the variations. But if you're uninterested in the previous smartphone design, then the Galaxy Z Fold 3 (and even Galaxy Z Flip 3) is value looking at — taking into account that it is moderately pricey.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Android 12 replace

Samsung released One UI 4 for the Galaxy S21 Ultra in mid-November 2021. This replace brings Android 12, which provides a number of key enhancements to the UI and privacy components. You can now make a choice your device accessory color with the Color Palette, or get entry to the privacy dashboard to peer which apps are using your mic, camera, and location.

While Samsung has modified one thing from what you'll be able to in finding on a Pixel telephone, you can read our Android 12 review to be informed more about what you'll be able to be expecting with the replace.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Verdict 

Samsung has just about perfected the big-screen telephone with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The show is best-in-class, the cameras are much progressed and you'll even use this thing as a Galaxy Note if you wish to.

Personally, I see the S Pen strengthen as extra of a bonus as a result of the added cost. 

There are some things I don’t like about this flagship. It’s a bit of large and heavy, and the loss of a charger and microSD card slot each sting. And whilst the S21 Ultra is rapid, it’s still a step in the back of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Then once more, Samsung’s phone lasts longer on charge and lets you do more with its cameras. 

Overall, if you happen to’re looking for the pinnacle of Android phones, the S21 Ultra is it. It does, then again, face stiff festival from the superb OnePlus 9 Pro for the name of final Android phone.

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