Update S21 Price List Review – Instead of offering a single top-tier phone in a variety of sizes, Samsung chose to be aggressive on pricing this year. The Galaxy S21 starts at $799.99 for the smaller version with a 6.2-inch screen and $999.99 for the Plus version with a 6.7-inch display. In either case, spending the extra $50 for models with 256GB of storage is a smart move.
This helps make the S21 a very good midrange phone. However, Samsung’s options this year mean you’ll have to buy a lot if you want the best phone Samsung has to offer right now.
Update S21 Price List Review
If the Ultra is too big or too expensive for your needs, there’s nothing wrong with the regular Galaxy S21. Samsung has managed to keep the price low without making any major sacrifices in the experience or features of this phone. However, avoiding great failure is not the same as achieving great success.
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Phones that aim to give you the best of everything can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Below that, there are more noticeable tradeoffs as each phone chooses its preference. For the Galaxy S21, Samsung placed its biggest bet behind just one component: the processor, Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 888.
In some markets outside of the US, Samsung is using its own Exynos processor, and although I’ve heard that Samsung has made significant improvements over last year, I haven’t been able to test it myself.
At a basic level, the emphasis on the processor means the S21 is a very fast phone with good battery life. I’m able to get a full day out of the 4,000mAh battery with moderate to heavy use, but with a little effort, I can lower that. The larger Galaxy S21 Plus — which I didn’t test — has a 4,800mAh battery and will probably last longer, despite the slightly larger screen. Both share the same resolution and features.
Just as importantly, choosing to go with the latest and greatest Qualcomm processor means there’s a good chance the Galaxy S21 will last you three years or more before it’s gone. The inevitable march of Android software will slow it down or leave it behind. I’ve asked Samsung how many years of software updates it guarantees S21 users and will update this review if I hear back.
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The Snapdragon 888 means these phones will support both types of 5G in the US. In my testing in the Bay Area, I still found that 5G is often not faster than LTE, and the mmWave version of 5G is still hard to find.
However, I can also see some improvement over last year. My take on 5G has changed a bit. I still think you shouldn’t upgrade your phone to get 5G. However, if you need to upgrade.
And you have the option of getting a 5G phone, which you probably should. Networks aren’t there yet, but if you keep your phone for a while, you might regret not having it for years to come. (However, if you’re spending more than $500 this year, it’s hard to afford a phone without 5G.)
To go along with this emphasis on what you can’t see, Samsung’s other big change is what you can: design. Like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the regular Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus have metal rails that fit into the rear camera bump. It’s just as good here as it is in Ultra.
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However, Samsung took it a step further on the smaller S21 by replacing the usual rear glass panel with plastic (the Plus model still uses glass). It’s not a problem for me at all – in fact, in some ways, I prefer it because it’s one less thing to break out in the fall. It’s a way to cut costs, but it makes me wonder if I really need glass on the back of my phone. It comes with a matte finish and none of the cheap or flimsy accessories that come with plastic.
While we’re on the subject, here are some other ways Samsung has cut costs on the S21 compared to last year’s Galaxy S20. Credit card terminals that cannot read NFC do not have MST, Samsung’s technology for payments. There’s no microSD card slot for expanding storage, which stings a bit since Samsung has been a little reluctant to put microSD cards in its flagships lately. Samsung also saved on cost by sticking with the cameras — which are virtually unchanged from last year. (More on cameras below.)
The S21 has dropped the screen resolution on both the regular and Plus versions from last year’s 1440p panel to 1080p. They are also flat, most people prefer curved edges. I don’t mind curved screens as long as they fit with the phone’s ergonomics, but here, I think Samsung made the right call to go flat.
The screen has an adaptive refresh rate that can run up to 120Hz, so scrolling and animations are very smooth. Unlike the Ultra’s more advanced screen technology, this screen’s refresh rate drops below 48Hz, and it uses more traditional OLED technology rather than the newer LTPO version on the Ultra.
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To those screen-speak downgrades, I say: whatever. Samsung is consistently great at making screens, and while the S21 isn’t the company’s best, it’s still a great show.
But more than any other upgrade or downgrade this year, the one that made the most tangible impact on my experience with the S21 was the supposedly new under-screen fingerprint sensor. It can read from a larger area and to me it feels faster than last year’s sensor. Every time we unlock our phone, even milliseconds make a difference in how responsive the phone is. Also: It works with masks.
The only significant difference between last year’s Galaxy S20 and this year’s Galaxy S21 camera systems isn’t in the hardware, but in the software. Samsung has done some work to update its processing to improve images in some situations. For example, I noticed a small jump in low-light quality.
But outside of a minor sensor swap to ultrawide, the camera hardware hasn’t changed. The main sensor is 12 megapixels with OIS, the ultrawide is also 12 megapixels and has a 120-degree field of view, and the telephoto has 3x optical zoom and its 30 megapixels to offer up to 30x digital zoom. Does crop tricks with the sensor. . The selfie camera is 10 megapixels.
Samsung Android Smartphone Without Contract, Triple Camera, Infinity O Display.
In the US, I think the most direct camera competitor in this price range is probably the $699 Google Pixel 5. To my surprise, the consensus among reviewers
The Galaxy S21 takes good photos overall. I am agree. The Pixel’s long-term camera advantage has been completely destroyed.
Samsung Galaxy S21 on the left, Pixel 5 on the right; Galaxy Dark Mode does better with noise and detail in shadows.
Now, I still prefer the aesthetics of the Pixel to the Samsung. The Pixel retains its contrast-y, blue hue, in contrast to Samsung’s tendency to over-brighten and overextend everything. However, on a technical level, the Galaxy S21 does a better job. Less noise in shadows and low light, more detail in good light, and better zoom performance.
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Don’t expect the regular Galaxy S21 to stand up to the superior telephoto images you can get from the Ultra, which has a 10X optical lens. But at zoom levels from 3X to a pixel maximum of 7X, the S21 only outperforms the Google algorithm. Samsung also won in video.
There is a general array of new camera features that I think most users may overlook. Shooting 8K video on a camera of this caliber doesn’t make much sense, but you can do it. I appreciate the Samsung Pro modes for both video and photos. In cases where you can spend some time composing your shot and adjusting camera settings, you can achieve something more interesting.
Samsung has also made it possible to turn off Face Smooth completely. It makes for better photos, but more importantly, it can also help some people create a better self-image.
As I noted in my Galaxy S21 Ultra review, Samsung is going in the wrong direction with its software. It’s a shame because the basics of Samsung’s Android version One UI are still excellent. It makes Android feel a little cleaner and brighter, and provides key features to help handle larger screens.
Galaxy S21 Ultra 5g
But Samsung has reduced this power instead of increasing it. The Quick Settings panel has a lot of hidden settings and a lot of pointless icons. In the US, S21 users should be smart enough to download and use Android Messages instead of Samsung Messages if they want unlimited, uninterrupted access to RCS Messaging (most of the world).
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