Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review
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Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

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At the beginning of the year, Samsung introduced the Exynos 2100 processor for mobile devices, shortly after which it announced and released a line of flagships Samsung Galaxy S21, the heart of which was this chip.

In this review, we will talk about the model Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G. At the start, this device was sold in the market at 89,990 prices for the 8 + 128GB version, while the version with 8 + 256GB memory was offered at 5 thousand prices more expensive.

But now it’s the end of the year, and before the New Year holidays, various retail chains make large discounts on representatives of the Samsung Galaxy S21 line, so if you wish, you can get a flagship device at much more attractive prices.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review
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Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

EQUIPMENT AND APPEARANCE

We received a test sample of the device without packaging for review. In addition to the phone itself, in the set for the press, we found a proprietary wire with USB Type-C on both ends, as well as a compact charging unit for 25 watts. The latter, by the way, is not included in the retail setting and is sold separately for 1590 price.

In the official configuration, there is also a paperclip for opening the SIM tray and documentation, but you can forget about the headphones from AKG.

If we talk about the design of S21 +, then in comparison with its predecessors, the main differences affected directly the body of the device, while from the side of the screen it is difficult to visually see the changes.

Dimensions of the smartphone are 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm, which makes it a couple of millimeters wider than its predecessor. It’s also heavier. Its weight is 200 grams, which is 14 grams more than the weight of S20+.

The main external difference is the new shape of the main camera module, which now encircles the upper left corner behind the device and neatly connects to the frame. All sensors of the main camera are hidden under the same size protective glasses, which give symmetry, but at the same time easily get dirty when touched. The LED flash was placed slightly in the right direction on the back cover itself.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ is distributed mainly in three colors: purple, silver, and black. Although there are options in red and gold cases, which can only be bought in the official store of the manufacturer. A version came to us for the test in the classic black color.

Immediately I want to praise the back cover of matte and pleasant to the touch glass Gorilla Glass Victus with rounded edges on the sides – it is very resistant to touch. On the other hand, the metal frame of the smartphone with a glossy texture quickly collects fingerprint marks. The case is protected by the IP68 standard, thanks to which the internal components are protected from dust ingress, as well as water (if you immerse the smartphone to a depth of one and a half meters for 30 minutes).

Externally, the front of the device looks the same as the S20+. The screen is flat and will appeal to those who are tired of rounding the display. The glass on the front, as well as on the back, is Gorilla Glass Victus. Above the screen, the earpiece speaker is barely noticeable, which is also used to receive stereo during the playback of multimedia content. Just below in the middle is a neatly embedded front-facing camera module. Well, at the bottom under the screen as usual is a fingerprint scanner for fingerprint unlocking.

The screen of our test sample from the box was covered with a protective film, which, judging by the scratches and worn-out oleophobic coating, had already seen a lot. As for the matrix, Samsung uses its proprietary development Dynamic AMOLED 2X with Full HD + resolution (1080×2400), a refresh rate of 120 Hz, and support for HDR10 +.

The power button and volume rocker are traditionally located on the right side of the frame, and the main connectors and holes are placed in the lower part. The compartment for two nano-SIM can be found next to the hole of the main microphone – be careful and see where you put the paper clip so as not to accidentally damage the microphone.

The compartment for “SIM cards”, by the way, was lost in the entire line of S21 support for expanding memory using microSD cards. The reason for this is not entirely clear. Perhaps users in most cases used it for the second SIM card or they had enough internal memory, or maybe Samsung just wanted to earn more on those who need more memory.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

BATTERY, IRON, AND COMMUNICATION

The internal components of the smartphone are powered by a non-removable lithium-ion battery of 4800 mAh. You can charge it either by cable using Samsung’s 25W fast charging, which is not included in the new lineup or by wireless charging up to 15W. Since we had a 25W charging unit for the test, we were able to charge the smartphone by 50% in 27 minutes, by 75% in 40 minutes, and by 100% in 1 hour and 7 minutes. Like most flagships on the market, the S21+ has support for 4.5W reverse charging.

Galaxy S21 + 5G out of the box runs on the operating system Android 11 with a proprietary shell One UI version 3.1 from Samsung. Its heart, like the entire new series, is the latest 8-core Exynos 2100 processor manufactured on 5 nm process technology (1 Cortex-X1 core operates at a frequency of 2.9 GHz, 3 Cortex-A78 cores at 2.8 GHz, and 4 Cortex-A55 cores at 2.2 GHz). It works in conjunction with the graphics accelerator Mali-G78 MP14 and 8 GB of RAM LPDDR5. Internal memory in the device 128 GB standard UFS 3.1. As we have already said, it is impossible to expand the internal memory, so you will have to choose – save 5 thousand prices or take the 256 GB version.

The smartphone supports all modern networks up to 5G, which has not yet become widespread in our country. It also supports modern wireless standards such as Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and it is equipped with a navigation system with support for A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, and Galileo. Of course, there are S21 and NFC for contactless payment.

The USB connector supports OTG for connecting external USB devices, Power Delivery 3.0 technology, and the ability to connect via HDMI or DisplayPort to external screens to work in Samsung DeX desktop mode, which also works over Wi-Fi with corresponding displays.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

USE AND CONVENIENCE

Galaxy S21+ 5G lies in the hand quite confidently and does not slip. This is facilitated by a slightly chopped transition between the rear window and the frame, and the matte surface is very pleasant to the touch and not marked, so putting it under the protective case will be just blasphemy, unless, of course, you are a fan of dropping phones. Although Gorilla Glass Victus should withstand drops from 180 cm, we, perhaps, will not conduct a crash test.

Samsung chose the screen for its flagship in the already established among frameless smartphones almost cinematic format 20: 9. Holding the phone in one hand, it turns out to reach the thumb to about 75% of the screen.

The brightness of the screen with a manually set on a 100% slider is about 450 nits, and under direct sunlight can reach 900 nits in automatic mode. The declared peak brightness of 1300 nits is achieved pointwise at certain moments when watching HDR video, but the entire screen at such brightness cannot shine.

PWM, like all phones with AMOLED, is present, and the DC Dimming function, which solves this problem, did not appear, so this screen is not for people with sensitive eyes. However, there is also a function of comfort for the eyes, which reduces the blue spectrum and makes the picture warmer.

By default, the screen works in saturated color mode, where you can adjust the color temperature and white balance. You can also simply put the display in natural color mode, which changes the palette to a more neutral one.

An adaptive model of the screen up to 120 Hz increases the smoothness of work when navigating the menu, as well as in games with support for this refresh rate, but it is natural that in this mode the battery life will be lower.

Watching S21+ videos through various popular services is nice. For example, YouTube is optimized for screens with embedded cameras – the module is outside the content and does not interfere.

Surfing and reading on the Internet are also very convenient, not only because the screen is bright and large, but also because the adaptive mode up to 120 Hz is supported, providing a very smooth scrolling.

The “always-on screen” function, which displays the time, date, and notifications on the off-screen, has not gone anywhere. The function has a wide range of settings that allow you to change the design, including adding GIF animations and your images from the gallery.

The standard on-screen keyboard is comfortable enough for typing with your thumbs, either with one or two hands. The auto-rotation is triggered in about a second and a half when you change the position of the phone.

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As for the security system, not everything is so unambiguous. Traditionally, there are lock settings for password, pattern, and pin code, as well as using a fingerprint scanner and a front camera. If there are no complaints about the fingerprint scanner (it works quickly and accurately), then the front camera often cannot recognize the face. Especially in conditions of poor lighting or if you slightly cover your forehead with your hand.

Well, if you wear a medical mask on the street, then the frontal a recognizes you only if the tissue is lowered below the lips, which is generally normal.

Also, there are some complaints about the touch control of the screen, or rather to the fact that it does not respond to special gloves for working with such displays. In winter, this can be annoying, as to unlock the phone, you will have to either pull off the mask for the front camera to work, remove the glove to use the scanner under the screen, or unlock with a password/pin/pattern.

Of the useful functions of the operating system and shell, we can note the presence of a side menu for quick access to applications, multitasking with the ability to use up to three applications simultaneously (two share the screen and one in the window on top of them), as well as a proprietary desktop function Samsung DeX for wireless or wired connection to monitors / TVs / projectors.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

SOUND

As we said above, in addition to the speaker on the bottom edge of the device, the earpiece speaker on top of the screen is also responsible for playing the sound of multimedia content. Setup is carried out by specialists from AKG.

The device supports Hi-Res Audio with a discrediting frequency of 384kHz with a bit depth of 32 bits. In general, we did not notice any changes in sound quality compared to the same Note 20 Ultra 5G. The sound is loud and clear with a pronounced bass.

Support for Dolby Atmos technology, which is designed to create an imitation of spatial surround sound when playing multimedia content – from music to games – has not gone anywhere. In the settings, you’ll also find a nine-band equalizer and assets for different popular genres of music. In addition, the sound adaptation function has not gone away, which amplifies different frequencies depending on the selected age of the user.

There is no standard 3.5 mm audio jack in the phone, and there are no more headphones in the kit, and the USB Type-C adapter too. If you are not a fan of wires, then you should get headphones with support for HD-codec LDAC, and support for aptX and aptX HD was not brought.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

CAMERA & PHOTO

The vertical block of cameras on the back of the smartphone is equipped with three modules. It is worth noting that the main difference between the model in question and the previous generation is the absence of a depth sensor of 0.3 megapixels. The rest of the sensors, both in the main camera and in the front, are used the same as on the S20+.

The main wide-angle camera module is located in the middle of the unit and has a resolution of 12 megapixels. The lens has an equivalent focal length of 26 mm with an aperture of f/1.8. It is equipped with optical image stabilization.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

The top lens is an ultra-wide module without autofocus with a resolution of 12 megapixels. The angle of coverage of the image is 120 degrees, the aperture is f/2.2 and the focal length is 13 mm.

The last lens at the bottom of the unit is a 64-megapixel telephoto lens with f/2.0 aperture, which is used for hybrid 3-fold image magnification without loss of quality. The lens is slightly larger than the main module and is equivalent to a focal length of 29 mm, and there is also stabilization and phase autofocus. The front camera has a resolution of 10 megapixels with a focal length of 26 mm and an aperture of f/ 2.2.

The quality of photos in the main module at 12 megapixels is quite good, both in daytime shooting conditions and at night in the appropriate mode, which reduces the noise level in the picture. In good lighting, the telephoto lens also shows itself perfectly, which allows you to get more detailed pictures. Sometimes the camera’s artificial intelligence gives you a hint that it’s worth going into high-resolution mode if you’re hovering over a large and detailed scene. With a 3-fold magnification of the image of a telephoto, the lens copes perfectly, and the detail has only a slight loss in quality.

There is also a 30x digital zoom, which is rather not for shooting, but just to see something in the distance or look into the neighbors’ windows. For shooting, this mode is practically useless due to the low quality of the pictures.

The ultra-wide module has an image correction function, which is designed to remove the effect of image distortion around the edges. This feature is activated by default, but you can disable it.

The shooting quality of the ultra-wide module is the same as that of the main one, but the colors are slightly less saturated. The front camera in normal shooting mode shoots a little worse than the main module. Portrait shots are great with a nice and even background blur effect. Also, the software of the standard One UI camera on this phone allows you to cut out the background, and it turns out quite well.

Video shooting in the maximum resolution of 8K is available only with a cinematic 24 frames on the main module of the camera unit. The 4K60 mode only works on the main camera and ultra-wide module, and the telephoto lens can shoot with 3x hybrid zoom in 4K only at 30 frames.

Stabilization is in all modes, which will especially please those who have shaking hands. In professional video mode, you’ll also find a few modes that aren’t available in normal modes, such as recording FULL HD video at 120 frames. Also in the smartphone, there is a special “Cinema Mode”, which allows you to instantly switch between all the modules of the smartphone, including the front, during recording.

The front-facing camera can also shoot in a maximum 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with stabilization.

SYNTHETIC TESTS AND GAMES

In basic anTuTu and 3D Mark tests, the phone was identified as the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G (Exynos 2100) and SM-G996B. In AnTuTu, the smartphone scores 631101 points:

CPU 171 738
GPU 266 671
MEM 109 878
UX 82814
As for CPU throttling, in the benchmark CPU Throttling Test with a standard 15-minute test, CPU performance fell to a maximum of 89%.

We will test this device in projects such as Genshin Impact, P.U.B.G. Mobile, Dead Trigger 2, and Asphalt 9. In general, no performance issues were noticed in the games, although the FPS in Genshin Impact saged slightly on the average default settings.

In the phone menu, the average temperature of the processor and battery was 45-50 and 30-35 degrees. In heavy games, after an hour of gameplay, these values already rise to 69 and 40 degrees, respectively. Because of this, the body of the smartphone heats up and it becomes not very comfortable to play with.

RESULTS

In addition to the new processor and Gorilla Glass Victus, the Galaxy S21 + 5G does not bring a radically new thing compared to the previous S20 +, and somewhere even takes a step back (a display with a lower resolution and the absence of a MicroSD slot). Plus there are problems with unlocking on the face and lack of reaction when working with special gloves in the winter.

At the beginning of the year, we would say that if you are looking for a flagship from Samsung with a large screen, minimal frames, and a good set of cameras, then it is better to pay attention to the S20+, which at that time could be found much cheaper.

But before the New Year holidays, the Galaxy S21 line has significantly fallen in price in different stores. It boasts a new processor, a more capacious battery, and will take longer to get updates, so it makes sense to take a closer look, especially if your phone is outdated.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review

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Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone review
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