Update Galaxy S21 Ultra Price In Dollars Review – The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the biggest, most expensive Android phone to hit in 2021. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s new superphone for 2021 – and it’s undoubtedly the best of its kind, at a price to match.
Update Galaxy S21 Ultra Price In Dollars Review
It has a powerful new camera system – with not one but two optical zoom lenses on the back for a massive 10x zoom – costs from £1,149 and leads the 2021 Samsung phone line, including a smaller and cheaper £769. S21 and £949 S21+.
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The Galaxy S21 Ultra looks broadly the same as its predecessor – all screen on the front, aluminum sides and glass on the back. The most noticeable change is the large side-mounted camera handle.
The frosted glass back hides fingerprints but feels smooth to the touch. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The 6.8-inch screen is slightly smaller than last year’s Note 20 Ultra and S20 Ultra, but it’s clean, colorful and very bright. If you want big screen entertainment in your pocket, it offers a refresh rate of 120Hz (double that of the iPhone), which makes movement very smooth.
The S21 Ultra is a very large and heavy phone, putting it in competition with the Note 20 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. I’d prefer to use it with one hand, but most will need two hands to use it safely without using some sort of phone grip.
Review: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The phone only comes with a USB-C cable but supports super-fast charging, hitting 80% in 47 minutes and a full charge in over 70 minutes using a 25W or larger USB PD 3.0 (PPS) power adapter. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The S21 Ultra ships with Samsung’s recently released Exynos 2100 processor in Europe (as tested) or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 in the US. Both models come with 12GB or 16GB of RAM depending on the model.
The performance was always good. The S21 Ultra feels lighter than last year’s Note 20 Ultra; from unlocking the phone to apps, every action happens a little faster.
Battery life is also strong. The phone performs easily during a day of heavy use. I get over 35 hours between charges – 7am on day 1 to 6pm on day 2 – with my overall usage which includes over 5.5 hours of split screen time between apps Chat apps, Chrome, Gmail, Evernote, Guardian, Spotify and many others, shoot about 15 photos and spend about three hours on 5G, the rest on wifi.
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That’s longer than the Note 20 Ultra’s 30-hour battery, but slightly shorter than last year’s S20 Ultra and behind the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 48-hour battery. Changing the display from the 120Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution to the higher QHD+ reduced the battery life by several hours.
Samsung does not give an estimate of the number of full cycles the battery should last. Batteries with similar materials can last 500 cycles retaining at least 80% of their original capacity.
The phone is usually repairable and comes with a 24-month warranty. A screen repair for its predecessor the S20 Ultra costs £269. The battery can be replaced by authorized service centers for a minimum cost of £59.
Samsung offers trade-in and recycling plans for old devices, but the smartphone doesn’t include recycled materials. The company publishes annual performance reports but does not provide reviews of individual products.
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The S21 Ultra doesn’t come with headphones or a power adapter in the box, just a USB-C charging cable that reduces its carbon footprint.
Users now have a choice between Samsung’s Free or Google’s Discover for their news collection on the S21’s home screen. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The S21 Ultra is one of the first smartphones to use Samsung’s latest version of Android 11 called One UI 3.1.
It inherits most of the new features of Android 11 including: chat segmentation, media and other notifications in the notification shade; chat bubbles; and other online privacy controls and other permissions.
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A new partnership between Samsung and Google brings the messaging app Discover and Messages to the S21 series. Various Microsoft tools and applications to synchronize data and applications in Windows 10 are also available, which also work well.
There are minor app updates, including two separate SMS apps called “Messages” — one from Samsung and one from Google — but overall One UI 3.1 is still one of the most updated and well-designed versions of Android.
Samsung has promised to support at least three major Android version updates and four years of monthly security, which is good for Android devices, but pales in comparison to Apple’s five years and five support for its phones.
Samsung’s camera app is one of the best available, and now it’s more automatic, switching to landscape or night mode depending on the situation. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
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The S21 Ultra is Samsung’s first smartphone to feature a new quad-camera setup with a 12MP ultra-wide, a 108MP standard wide and not one but two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with 3x and one with 10x optical zoom.
It’s one of the most versatile camera systems available, surpassing all but Huawei’s P40 Pro Plus from last year. The main camera takes great photos, with improved low-light performance and better performance than last year’s S20 Ultra. An ultra-wide camera is great in bright light, but it can start to look dark and too sharp compared to a wide-angle camera in low light.
Both the 3x and 10x cameras produce excellent, clear images even in the dim light of a stormy sky. The 3x camera is perfect for zooming in on people and objects from a few meters away, while the 10x magnification helps you get closer to distant subjects.
The camera system can also zoom from 1x to 10x zoom with hybrid zoom and optical zoom of the camera combination with impressive results.
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In addition to 10x magnification, Samsung’s “Space Zoom” system applies digital zoom to the 10x telephoto camera. Photos shot up to 30x are really good. Continuing up to 100x zoom, images are noticeably enlarged, but it’s still a clear improvement over the 100x zoom on Samsung’s best smartphones. A new “zoom lock” system helps stabilize the zoom at 30x or more. Tap the tiny preview window and the phone locks onto that bit of image, often turning a dull mess into a stunningly sharp image.
The rear modules are as follows: 12MP ultrawide top left, 108MP ultrawide middle left, 10MP 10x telephoto bottom left, laser autofocus top right and 10MP 3x telephoto bottom right and right. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Night modes and Samsung graphics have also been improved. The new macro mode, which Samsung calls “focus enhancement,” uses the ultra-wide camera to produce sharper, more beautiful images. One-touch capture that captures videos, photos and displays images at the same time is great fun and now it’s faster and smarter. The 40-megapixel selfie camera is also one of the best available.
The cameras also shoot good video up to 8K with many useful features such as “director’s view”, which shows you the view of the three rear and front cameras for an instant selfie. Samsung continues to lead Android gamers in video.
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The 40-megapixel selfie camera pokes a small hole above the screen, below the hidden speaker. Photo: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra costs £1,149 with 128GB of storage, £1,199 with 256GB or £1,329 with 512GB and 16GB of RAM, shipping on January 28.
In comparison, Galaxy S21 costs £769, Galaxy S21+ costs £949, Galaxy Note 20 Ultra costs £1,179, Galaxy Z Flip costs £1,300, Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs £1,799; The OnePlus 8 Pro costs £799 and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max costs £1,099.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s latest big, heavy and expensive superphone, which makes significant improvements to the camera and overall usability.
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All the usual premium stuff is there. The screen is amazing, the performance is great, the battery life is great and the software is the latest available. But it’s the vastly improved fingerprint scanner that makes the biggest difference in everyday use – it’s fast, accurate and responsive in a way that Samsung’s previous efforts weren’t.
The new dual telephoto camera system is also a definite improvement, offering a level of flexibility and field of view that you won’t find on other major rivals.
Samsung offers at least three years of major software updates, matching the best of its Android rivals but lagging behind Apple’s five years of iOS updates.
If you are looking for the best Android superphone Galaxy S21 Ultra, this is it and it will be a hit this year.
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