This year the Galaxy S21 series arrived earlier than expected and made a lot of changes. The Galaxy S21 and S21 + now have lower resolution OLEDs, no microSD expansion, and no charger in the box. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is what the original Ultra should have been – stuffed with high-end features, no asterisks, no fine print. Still no charger, however.
The original S20 Ultra was supposed to be the largest Galaxy to date, but it failed. You can enjoy 120Hz refresh rate, but only at lower resolution of 1080p. Telephoto was advertised as 5x, but it was actually 4x, and let’s not even start with space zoom. The ultra-wide camera had a great sensor, but it couldn’t do macro shots due to the lack of autofocus. The battery was large, but its lifespan was poor. You get the point.
Well, the Galaxy S21 Ultra makes up for it all. It has a large 1440p display with native 120Hz support, adaptive to that. It also brings two dedicated telephoto lenses – one for 3x optical zoom and another for 10x optical zoom. Its ultra-wide camera has autofocus, which works for macro shots. The new Ultra also offers ultra-wideband support, as well as surprise, surprise, S-Pen support. It has to be the first non-Note Galaxy phone to offer this – one for the history books.
There is no S-Pen socket on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and there is also no supplied stylus. But you can use any S-Pen in circulation, as well as the newly announced S-Pen for S21 Ultra and the upcoming S-Pen Pro. Samsung has also opened up the S-Pen to third-party companies that make Wacom-based styli, so you can expect even more options in the months to come. Finally, you can store the stylus in your pocket or opt for S21 Ultra cases with dedicated pen holders.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only S21 model to be equipped with a 1440p OLED display, unlike the previous generation. And even better, it now supports 120Hz at this high resolution, so you don’t have to choose between high resolution and high refresh rate. This new Ultra display also supports the adaptive refresh rate which can vary between 10Hz and 120Hz, just like the Note20 Ultra.
The latest Galaxy of course carries the latest chipset. All international models use Samsung’s new Exynos 2100 SoC, while the US and China will run devices on the Snapdragon 888 instead. RAM has been increased to 12 GB, and there is also a model limited to 16 GB.
The camera saw a welcome update. The big snappers remain relatively the same – a 108 MP shooter with a 26mm f / 1.8 lens and a 12 MP camera with 13mm f / 2.2 optics, but it now has autofocus. The zoom system has, however, been completely redesigned – it now includes two 10MP imagers, one for 3x optical zoom and another for 10x optical zoom via a 240mm periscopic lens.
Other flagship information worth mentioning – a 40MP selfie eye with AF, stereo speakers, 6th Wi-Fi, 5G connectivity, support for ultra-wideband short-range communication, fast charging with and without wire for the large 5000mAh battery.
This year, however, is not a good start for fans of the rich bundles. Like Apple and Xiaomi, Samsung has removed chargers and headphones from retail boxes and ships each Galaxy S21 only with a cable.
Now let’s take a look at the specs.
Features of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G at a glance:
- Body: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm, 227g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass), aluminum frame; IP68 dust / water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 minutes), stylus holder.
- Pin up: 6.80 “2X dynamic AMOLED, 120 Hz, HDR10 +, 1500 nits (peak), 1440 x 3200 px resolution, 20: 9 aspect ratio, 515 dpi; always-on display.
- Chipset: Exynos 2100 (5 nm) – International, Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) – United States / China: Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex- A55) – International, Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680 – USA / China; Mali-G78 MP14 – International, Adreno 660 – USA / China.
- Memory: 128GB RAM 12GB, 256GB RAM 12GB, 512GB RAM 16GB; UFS 3.1.
- OS / software: Android 11, a 3.1 user interface.
- Rear camera: Large (main): 108 MP, f / 1.8, 24mm, 1 / 1.33 “, 0.8 µm, PDAF, laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f / 2.2, 13 mm, 1 / 2.55 “, 1.4 µm, dual pixel PDAF, Super Steady video; Telephoto: 10 MP, f / 2.4, 70mm, 1 / 3.24 “, 1.22 µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Telephoto: 10 MP, f / 4.9, 240mm, 1 / 3.24 “, 1.22 µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom.
- Front camera: 40 MP, f / 2.2, 26mm (wide), 1 / 2.8 “, 0.7 µm, PDAF.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 8K @ 24fps, 4K @ 30 / 60fps, 1080p @ 30/60 / 240fps, 720p @ 960fps, HDR10 +, stereo sound recording, gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K at 30 / 60fps, 1080p at 30fps.
- Drums: 5000mAh; 25W fast charge, USB Power Delivery 3.0, 15W Qi / PMA wireless fast charge, 4.5W reverse wireless charge.
- Various: Fingerprint reader (under screen, ultrasound); Stereo speakers; NFC; FM radio (Snapdragon model only; depending on market / operator); Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), ANT +, Bixby natural language commands and dictation, Samsung Pay (Visa certified, MasterCard), Ultra Wideband (UWB) support.
The Note10 was the one that removed the 3.5mm jack, and now the Galaxy S21 is removing the microSD slot. Samsung makes up for this with a slight price difference between the 128GB and 256GB models – just € 50. It is up to you to decide if this compensation is sufficient, however.
There are also a few omissions this time around – inside the retail box.
Unboxing the Galaxy S21 Ultra
Well, how have the tables changed ?! It wasn’t until last October that Samsung mocked Apple for not including chargers with the latest iPhones. And just two months later, Samsung was caught rubbing those jabs on the internet in preparation for launching its own charger-less flagship.
This isn’t the first time Samsung has done this, is it? We still remember how the audio jack mockery disappeared overnight, foreshadowing the Galaxy Note 10 without a jack.
Thus, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the first Samsung phone to come without a charger and headset. The manufacturer is joining Apple and Xiaomi in a quest to make the planet cleaner, and that should have a positive impact over time. It only requires a small sacrifice on your part, the user – you have to buy a USB-C charger if you don’t have one and keep it for the long haul.
The slim Galaxy S21 Ultra box contains a USB-C-to-C cable and the phone. That’s it.
Galaxy S21 pre-orders include various freebies like a 25W charger, Galaxy Buds, and even a SmartTag, so you’re not without options. Samsung has moved on to USB-C chargers since the Note10 and S20 generations, so the chances of you having one aren’t that great, and it’s a good thing you can now get it for free.
Our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also came with a very thin, almost invisible, factory applied protector. It’s plastic and will only be good against scratches, but it’s still better than nothing.