Design That Screams Flagship

When I first got here throughout the leaked renders of Samsung’s 2021 flagship smartphones again in 2020, I wasn’t fairly satisfied about the appear and feel of the ultimate product. It seemed very industrial and extra like these rugged telephones that concentrate on perform over design and appears. Now once I lastly have the S21 Ultra, I have to say that Samsung has managed to design probably the greatest trying Galaxy units. The new smartphone appears to be like completely premium and screams flagship from each nook. It positive has the weather of an industrial design however Samsung engineers have superbly streamlined the general appear and feel to make the cellphone really feel stealthily beautiful in your palms.

Huge Camera Bump, No microSD Card Expansion Support

Huge Camera Bump, No microSD Card Expansion Support

There’s no method you possibly can ignore the large digital camera bump on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It can look out of the place to many at first look, however I believe it offers the S21 a novel design attribute, one thing we have not seen up to now. I consider the upcoming Note may even carry this hefty digital camera bump and it would even keep for no less than two generations of the Galaxy S and Note sequence units.

I discovered it to be an excellent design alternative. The larger dimension offers ample house so as to add succesful digital camera {hardware}, and from the design perspective; the brushed metallic plate creates a stark distinction by sitting on a minimally designed frosted glass again panel. The cellphone’s aluminum body has a shiny end although.

The Type-C port sits on the backside together with the second stereo speaker unit, microphone, and the dual-SIM card tray which doesn’t provide any house for an exterior reminiscence card. The quantity rockers and the ability button sits on the precise aspect. Last however not the least, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack and also you additionally do not get the connector (Type-C to three.5mm) within the field. These are some main compromises that we weren’t used to going through whereas utilizing the Samsung Galaxy units.

Durability Standards

Durability Standards

The Galaxy S21 Ultra feels extremely dense and stable, most likely as a result of it is ever so barely smaller than its predecessor however 5 grams heavier. The back and front of the S21 Ultra have the most recent Corning Gorilla Glass Victus layer and the body is made up of aluminum. The again panel’s Corning’s Glass Victus has been given a frosted matte end which feels very satisfying to the touch and attracts only a few or nearly no smudges and fingerprints. It appears to be like much better than the shiny again panels of the Galaxy S20-series units.

The phablet is IP68 licensed for mud/water resistance (as much as 1.5m for half-hour). We are testing the Phantom Black shade variant which appears to be like dope however you may also purchase the phablet within the Phantom White shade possibility which appears to be like very elegant and makes up for an important shade variant.

Handle With Case

Handle With Case

No, you did not learn the subhead mistaken. Weighing 227g and measuring 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm, the S21 Ultra’s matte end again is extraordinarily slippery. The huge physique, weight, and slippery materials make it very uncomfortable to make use of the S21 Ultra with one hand. While a case will add extra bulk to the already heavy and ponderous system, it’ll ease up the dealing with course of and also will stop the system from undesirable damages.

Best-in-Business Quad HD AMOLED Display

Best-in-Business Quad HD AMOLED Display

The Galaxy S21 Ultra beats each smartphone out there on the subject of displaying efficiency. The phablet contains a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 1,440 x 3,200 pixels decision translating to 515ppi. It’s a mindboggling panel for media consumption and primary utilization, due to the HDR10+ help and 120Hz refresh charge respectively. The shade copy is top-notch and makes for an immersive video playback expertise. The display additionally retains wonderful visibility even underneath direct daylight. If you like Samsung-styled vibrant colours, set the display mode to ‘Vivid’ else the ‘Natural’ mode offers sRGB profile effectively and displays natural tones.

Run Display At 120Hz With Quad HD Resolution

Run Display At 120Hz With Quad HD Resolution

Samsung has also addressed the resolution and the refresh rate limitation. You can now set the screen’s refresh rate to run at 120Hz without lowering the resolution to Full HD; however, I would not wholly recommend doing it as the combination takes a toll on the battery life. Also, the difference in the 1080p and Quad HD resolution at 120Hz is not that visible to naked eyes.

The display feels extremely fluid when it is set to run in the adaptive mode. However, the phone applies the 120Hz settings only when you are navigating throughout the UI, scrolling on apps, watching HDR content on OTT apps/YouTube and playing games that support a higher refresh rate. Otherwise, it lowers the refresh rate to 60Hz for most tasks including the camera viewfinder and even maps.

Overall, the Galaxy S21 Ultra brings the best-in-class display user-experience on a smartphone. Even the latest generation iPhones are no match to its Quad HD (120Hz) HDR10+ enabled AMOLED panel.

S-Pen Support But Only For Limited Functions

S-Pen Support But Only For Limited Functions

Another important update to the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s display is the stylus support. You can either purchase the newly designed S-Pen (with the unique case) for the new phablet or can now use any old S-Pen on the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s gorgeous 6.8-inch AMOLED panel. The Galaxy S21 Ultra does not support all fancy S-Pen features (like the Air-gesture) but it supports the most useful functions like Screen Write, Screen-Off Memo, Notes app, Screen translate, GIFs, and Doodling. We have heard that Samsung will launch an intelligent ‘Pro’ version of the S-Pen for the Galaxy S21 Ultra with Bluetooth support to extend all unique features to the new phablet.

Camera Hardware

Camera Hardware

Samsung has equipped the S21 Ultra with its most versatile camera hardware ever. In fact, I would say it is a complete camera system because you can perform almost every camera trick without the need for any additional lenses or mobile camera accessories. The camera system features a 108MP 1/1.33″ wide-angle sensor which uses Samsung’s latest ISOCELL HM3 sensor of f/1.8 aperture size. The 108MP sensor has a lens of 24mm equivalent focal length and applies 9-in-1 pixel binning on 0.8µm individual photosites to yield an effective pixel size of 2.4µmm. This creates a pixel-binned image of 12MP effective resolution. Also, the primary lens of the quad-camera system has some impressive focusing capabilities. It supports PDAF, OIS and has the all-new Laser AF system which was not present in the S20 Ultra.

The primary sensor is accompanied by a 12MP ultra wide-angle lens (f/2.2, 13mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm) which has dual pixel PDAF to offer Super Steady video recording. Next in line is a 10MP telephoto lens (f/2.4, 70mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm) which also gets dual pixel PDAF and even OIS. This lens allows for 3x optical zoom on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Things get even interesting when you realize that Samsung has added a secondary telephoto lens to offer 10x optical zoom. This is essentially a 10 MP, 240mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm lens with a darker f/4.9 aperture. This is also an optically stabilized sensor with dual pixel PDAF. For selfies, the Galaxy S21 Ultra boasts a 40 MP, f/2.2 sensor with PDAF (26mm wide, 1/2.8″, 0.7µm)

This complex yet beautiful optical system gives the Galaxy S21 Ultra some serious video recording capabilities. The rear camera is capable of recording [email protected] videos. You can also record [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, and [email protected] videos. The camera also records HDR10+ videos with stereo sound recording. As far as the front camera is concerned, it records [email protected]/60fps and [email protected] videos.

Camera Performance

Camera Performance

So what does this incredible camera setup means? It means some much-awaited improvements in the overall picture/video quality, improved autofocus mechanism, and better overall color reproduction. We are going to summarize the camera performance in easy-to-understand points to make it easy for you.

What’s Good?

What’s Good?

• The 12MP pixel-binned shots show excellent details, wide dynamic range, and have almost no visible noise in daylight.
• The distortion correction works wonders while clicking wide-angle shots.
• The 12MP ultra-wide sensor also captures impressive macro shots with automatic focus enhancer enabled. The images look sharp but some details are lost in the process.
• The 3x optically zoomed images, which are essentially 12MP shots, show good details, controlled noise, and accurate colors.
• Even the 10x optically zoomed shots have decent details and pictures show good contrast and impressive dynamic range. Colors also look vivid yet accurate.
• The Portrait mode can give DSLR grade shots when the camera is fed to ample lighting. The default 2x bokeh shots (cropped from 108MP sensor) look downright impressive as they give you a good perspective between the subject and the background. You can any time zoom out to 1x to add more elements in the frame to cover a wider area in the frame but the edge detection takes a slight hit.
• The 2x and 1x portrait perspectives make the Galaxy S21 Ultra a very impressive camera device for street photography. Enable the full-screen aspect ratio and focus on far-field subjects with the default 2x bokeh and see the magical outcomes on the gorgeous AMOLED display.
• The newly added portrait studio lighting effects (Low-key mono, High-key mono, Color point, Studio, and Backdrop) create wonderful results.
• The major improvements seem to be in the autofocus mechanism. The new sensor’s focusing capabilities are very impressive and the best on a Galaxy device to date. You can even experience better autofocus across the sensors on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, even while taking extreme zoomed images via telephoto sensors.
• The Galaxy S21’s 40MP selfie camera even beats some dedicated selfie smartphones. The images show excellent dynamic range, plenty of details, and are mostly free of unnatural skin softening, which is surprising for a Samsung camera and we are more than happy about it.
• The fact that you can record 4K 60fps videos from all five cameras is no less than a feat in itself. And the results are super crisp with video footage showing plenty of details and an excellent dynamic range.
• The autofocus works wonders even while shooting videos from all sensors.
• There’s a Pro Video mode that offers a range of aspect ratios and fps combinations along with video stabilization, audio customizations, and basic camera settings such as ISO, autofocus, exposure, color temperature, etc. If you know your away to shoot a cinematic video, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can prove to be a mind-blowing video recording device. In short, it’s a wonderful video recorder for content creators and travel bloggers.
• Last but not the least, the Pro mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports HDR and 12-bit RAW files which is another step up for users who have a knack for photography.

What’s Not So Good?

What’s Not So Good?

• The white balance has improved a lot if we compare the overall results with the previous Galaxy devices but the end-results still have a slightly warmer tone. The skies and skin tones show excessive reds and yellows sometimes.
• Daylight images also show some excessive and unnatural sharpness. It seems the new sensor and the camera processing is trying very hard to maintain the crispness but goes overboard with the entire process. Samsung might resolve it with some software updates.
• The 10x low-light shots aren’t good at all as the camera uses the narrow f/4.9 aperture and has to work around with just a 10MP sensor.
• Beyond 30x, the images are barely usable as the watercolor effect kicks in, and details are lost to over-processing.
• The edge detection is mostly accurate but it did give us some very unnatural and artificial results, even in the daytime when the lighting was abundant.
• I am not very impressed with the night-time results. The images look pretty average and not something we expect from a phone which has such incredible camera hardware. Nighttime images show average details, clipped highlights and excessive sharpness and noise. The camera sensor poorly handles light sources. Overall, Samsung needs to step up the nigh-time photography game to match up to Google, Apple and in fact some devices from Vivo, for instance, the Vivo X50 Pro can deliver better nigh-time results than the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
• Yes, you can capture the moon if you have a clear view. The 100x space zoom now offers better stability without the tripod but the results are not dramatically different from the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Hardware And Software Performance

Hardware And Software Performance

Like every year, Samsung is selling the S21 line-up in India with its in-house Exynos chipset. But this time around, the stakes are even higher as there’s very little room for mistakes. The Galaxy S21 Ultra makes use of Samsung’s most powerful SoC to date- the Exynos 2100. The 5G-integrated CPU is built on the 5-nanometer (nm) process node which claims to allow up to 20-percent lower power consumption or 10-percent higher overall performance than the 7nm predecessor SoCs.

Samsung’s new processor has a lot on its shoulders and it turned out to be a surprisingly good performer in our tests. We have been testing the 12GB RAM + 256GB ROM variant of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and this thing flies. The phone is extremely fluid and is mostly free of heating issues unless you are using gaming for an hour or using Google Maps for an extended duration. The 120Hz display and the OneUI 3.1 are two important contributors to the buttery smooth performance of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The software feels more refined, welcoming, and is full of useful features translating to a joyful user-experience.

Lag-Free Multitasking

Lag-Free Multitasking

The 12GB RAM ensured a smooth multitasking experience throughout our testing duration. Not even once the phone lagged or showed any signs of performance drops. The only place where you can feel a slight delay is when the camera processes bokeh shots. And that’s pretty much about it. Otherwise, the S21 Ultra is as smooth as a phone can get in 2021. Even the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is very snappy and accurate. It unlocks the device in a jiffy and has much lower recognition errors.

Smooth And Immersive Gameplay

Smooth And Immersive Gameplay

Even with extended gaming sessions of COD Mobile, Asphalt 9, and Injustice, the phone never felt underpowered nor did the chipset throttle. And playing higher refresh rates games on the QHD 120Hz display is pure bliss. If you are looking for some game titles, try Shadowgun Legends, Dead Trigger 2, and Alto’s Odyssey.

Now you must note that we are talking from our experience of testing the Exynos version and not the SD888 variant. We cannot comment on the performance of the SD888 variant and the performance differences between the two versions as we didn’t have the other variant handy. So your experience (if you test both the variants side-by-side) may vary. But overall, the Exynos 2100 SoC seems like a major step up for Samsung’s in-house chip manufacturing.

As far as benchmarks tests are concerned, the Exynos 2100 with its tri-cluster structure scored 14705 in PC Mark’s Work 2.0 test, 1,024 in Geekbench’s single-core test, and 3230 in the multi-core test. The Galaxy S21 Ultra scored 7293 in 3D Mark’s Sling Shot Extreme- OpenGL ES 3.1 test and a staggering 618145 points in Antutu test.

No microSD Card, No 3.5mm Headphone Jack, And No Earphones In The Box

No microSD Card, No 3.5mm Headphone Jack, And No Earphones In The Box

There’s no doubt that the Galaxy S21 Ultra is every bit of a Samsung device but there are some compromises that can be very annoying if you are accustomed to Samsung’s mobile ecosystem. The 3.5mm headphone jack is long gone but Samsung decided to remove the AKG-tuned earphones from the box, which comes as a big surprise. Now you have to spend some extra thousands to purchase wireless or Type-C port compatible earphones and the ones Samsung sells cost no less than ten thousand.

Further, the microSD card slot is excluded which means you have to choose between the three available variants, i.e. 128GB/ 256GB and 512GB. Whatever variant you will purchase, the internal storage has to be a major deciding factor, just like Apple iPhones. In short, gone are the days when you could have flaunted these extra freebies from Samsung to Apple fanboys. And if you were wondering that how can Apple take away the charger from the box, you must know that even the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s retail box lacks one. You will only get a Type-C to Type-C charging cable in the box.

What surprised me, even more, is the lack of a bundled silicone case in the box. While the cases that Samsung, and in fact every other brand offer are among the worst ones in the business, they still give some sense of assurance to offer some degree of protection from scratches in case you cannot find a good case in the first one or two weeks of buying a new device.

Now even after spending a fortune, you have to purchase all necessary accessories separately for your new Galaxy S21 Ultra and that’s a bummer.

Battery Life, Audio Performance And Connectivity

Battery Life, Audio Performance And Connectivity

I am not thrilled by the battery life on the Galaxy S21 Ultra but am not disappointed either. The big phablet draws power from a 5,000mAh battery unit which lasted a little less than a full day with heavy usage with the screen resolution set to full HD (1080p) and refreshes rate to ‘Adaptive’. The battery can last for up to 16-17 hours with moderate to heavy usage at QHD+ resolution, which is pretty good for a device with such a big screen. Video playback, gaming and extended camera usage take a certain toll on the battery life of the Galaxy S21 Ultra which is pretty understandable. The phablet takes its sweet time to recharge as the fast-charging speed maxes at 25W. There’s no 45W fast-charging support this year which is a bummer.

As far as audio performance is concerned, the Galaxy S21 Ultra packs an incredible pair of speakers that produce loud and clear audio. The sound output is free of any unwanted distortion and the audio produced is very engaging. You can easily enjoy a movie or your favourite series on the Galaxy S21 Ultra even if you don’t have earphones handy. The loud and clear audio also works wonders while playing games and makes for an immersive gameplay experience.

I tested the phablet on the Airtel 4G network in the Delhi NCR region and faced multiple call drops. And this is largely Airtel’s fault which hasn’t managed to resolve the connectivity issues, especially in my locality. When the calls went through and 4G was running at its best, I did not experience any connectivity issues on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Verdict

Verdict

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is my current favorite Android flagship despite some of its shortcomings such as the lack of a microSD card and bundled accessories in the box. True to its Ultra moniker, the phone comes jam-packed with the best-in-class hardware, display, and a surprisingly versatile camera setup. Samsung’s new in-house Exynos 2100 SoC has left us impressed this time with its raw performance.

The quad-camera setup with dual telephoto sensors and better autofocus lets you capture stunning pictures and videos. The night-time photography could use some improvements though. Moving on, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 6.8-inch QHD+ 120Hz display is pure bliss and offers an unmatched multimedia playback experience. It’s no less than a mini pocket TV to enjoy your favorite movies, series, and 3D games. The battery life is good but not exceptional. Overall, the Galaxy S21 Ultra still shines out among the competition in most of the performance parameters and is worth its high price.

The 12GB + 256GB variant of the smartphone is going on sale today at Rs. 1,05,999 and will be available across Samsung.com, Samsung Exclusive Stores, leading online portals, and leading retail outlets. You can avail a cashback offer worth Rs. 10,000 on HDFC debit and credit cards.

By R

A fulltime blogger, web designer, and artist