This is a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
It’s an incredibly good phone, I gotta say.
Now the thing is, not only does it do a lot on paper, because we already know about the big numbers, the huge specs, the ultra story, that’s all still here.
But it does a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up on the spec sheet that a lot of subtle tweaks and changes that turn this from a really good phone to a great one.
So of course, I got to start with the finish because, well, I’ve been saying matte black everything for a solid couple of years now to the point where it’s, it’s on a shirt, my car, probably my most precious possession is wrapped in matte black, and its name is Phantom.
So I guess you could say this Phantom black Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, the matte finish kind of speaks to me.
It’s not going to be on the spec sheet.
But this is a nice finish, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a very clean, flat, smooth black finish on the glass. And then with a slightly different texture on the metal housing around the cameras, and then it turns into your typical glossy black around the edges.
But just the whole look of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra phone to me is very intentional. I’m sticking by that just the way the camera module curves into the body of the phone, the way it looks like, like an overlay of another s 21 Ultra on top of the first one.
The worst thing about Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is that it’s still uneven. So still rocks on a table.
But everything else about this design, I think is as good as it gets. I was kind of worried it would look great out the box, actually, and then just collect a ton of fingerprints, and look awful. But this matte black has been shockingly good at rejecting fingerprints. So that’s sweet.
Something you might have noticed also is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has the carbon fiber weave in the camera module for like every other color of this phone, except for Phantom black for some reason.
But luckily, for less than two bucks, channel sponsored D brands got you covered with a carbon fiber camera skin so you can still get that look easy.
Now that I’m done raving about the design, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra as a sequel to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is largely the same phone, it’s got a lot of the same big numbers, the ultra stuff is still here.
But there’s a lot of small intangibles, a lot of small adjustments that they’ve made, that I like probably more than you think. And then like, I don’t know how to say this without sounding kind of full of it.
Does that make sense? Like there’s a lot of things in here. And of course, there’s a lot of people out there who have the same tastes and will like a lot of these changes in any phone.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is exact phone feels more like an edition phone than any phone I’ve ever reviewed.
You got to start upfront with that display. This has been a strength of Samsung and their phones for years. So you can expect good stuff.
And you see that with the improvements on paper, right. In Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra huge OLED that will finally do 1440Dpi resolution and 120 hertz at the same time, it gets even brighter up to 1500 nits tops, so it’s viewable in pretty much any conditions.
The new LTP o panel tech makes it actively various refresh rate between 10 hertz and 120 hertz to save battery, but for my experience has stayed very responsive. I’ve never noticed a dip in frame rate in everyday use.
It’s managing well, which is a success. But even with all that stuff that’s on the spec sheet. There’s also all the stuff that’s not on paper, like the fact that they keep flattening the display even more than last year, this one doesn’t spill over the edges kind of at all anymore.
Obviously like that. It’s also a little bit smaller in the body of this phone. It’s still a big phone. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not like stupid big like here it is compared to iPhone 12 Pro Max, another pretty big phone, but it’s a smaller footprint here, and next to the one plus eight Pro.
It’s still huge, but doesn’t seem so overbearingly massive, right?
It’s smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra going from a 6.9 inch to a 6.8-inch display. And also the fingerprint sensor is new. I guess that would be on paper too.
But they’ve switched to a newer generation Qualcomm under-display fingerprint reader and that reader is noticeably bigger, it’s 1.77 times the size of last year. I didn’t notice it being any faster even though it claimed to be but just the larger sensor area by itself makes the experience of using a fingerprint sensor all the time, much less frustrating. I have fewer failed attempts. It feels less finicky. And maybe someday the whole bottom of the phone will be a fingerprint sensor.
But until then in this world wearing masks, the improved fingerprint reader is welcome.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a Snapdragon triple eight inside 12 or 16 GB of RAM, depending on which spec you get fast GFS 3.1 storage, not expandable, which is technically a downgrade from last year.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra something I haven’t personally used in a long time, then a high refresh rate display and a 5000 milliamp-hour battery.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Android phone is a flagship performer on paper. But off the paper, there are a lot of improvements to one UI three on this phone, that do probably make a more meaningful difference to the user experience versus just the bleeding edge specs.
Now I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest fan of Samsung’s software and their UI, honestly, I, I’ve preferred close to stock, maybe oxygen OS is my favorite non-stock option.
But you can’t sleep on Samsung software, the whole reason they do what they do is to offer as many features as possible.
They are still at it. There are tons of features packed into these phones that have a lot of potential for customization and just letting you tailor it to behave the way you want.
You never have to dive in and use any or all of the features because there’s a lot, but there’ll be waiting for you if you have the time to mess with them.
I think the stuff you’ll first notice with Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the new volume control here. Those sliders just a little cleaner looking in one UI three, the new notification grouping on top of Android, just an overall cleaner static and organization to things like that the stock apps.
And the improved dark mode that I highly recommend looks great on this OLED display and can net you a little bit of extra battery life.
But also the Google discover page to the side of the home screen and Samsung’s launcher. What, who told them to do that, I did not see that coming.
If I work at Samsung, and I kept asking for a Google Play edition, for all these years, I guess we know that’s probably never gonna happen again. But this is a little taste of that it’s as close as it’s gonna get. I do kind of wish the search box showed up over here too as it does in the Google app.
But this is solid. And I guess if they let me map Bixby to Google Assistant all over the phone, that would have been the cherry on top. But anyway, speaking of battery, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has an ultra number 5000 mAh. And that looks great on paper, right?
In practice, I’ve had a very good battery experience.
Now the thing to note, which is an ongoing conversation, is the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip experience versus in other regions, there’s an Exynos version. So this year with this phone, it would be Snapdragon triple eight versus the Exynos 2100.
Now, the initial testing results show pretty promisingly, basically, for those who haven’t known or haven’t been filled in, usually, the Exynos version is much worse with battery life and performance in those regions.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra initial testing is pretty promising for the Exynos 2100, I’m gonna leave that actual conclusion getting to people who can get their hands on both phones. But for now, with my experience on the Qualcomm phone, very good battery life. On one day, I got four hours of screen on time and ended around 50%.
The next day, I had around five hours had a little less at the end of the day, I never once killed it in a single day, it’s pretty clear that the combination of the Triple H chip and the LTP o display tech is working well here, I’d say it has what I’d call a worry-free battery, don’t even really have to think about it too much.
With some super heavy use and navigation and bright screen outdoors all the time and gaming taking lots of photos and videos, then maybe, they’ll get to the end of the battery.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera
But hey, while we’re here, let’s talk on Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras. They are a big part of the ultra phone experience, both figuratively and speaking.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra hit all the checkboxes of big ultra numbers again, 108 megapixels, 100 times zoom, 8k video, all that stuff is still here, I would say the experience has changed more than the photo quality, photo quality is still roughly what we’d expect from a high-end Samsung phone and I’ll get to that in a second.
But there are more changes to how you get to that photo and video that are better. There are countless examples of this.
So right when you first open the camera app, Samsung asks you if you want to take natural or bright selfies instead of just defaulting to bright all the time.
I’m glad they added that option they didn’t have to. But that results in much more natural selfies from that 40-megapixel camera for someone like me with my skin tone right off the bat instead of having to mess with the exposure slider than the 100 x space zoom.
Which yes is extreme and probably still a gimmick to most people. It got a lot more stable and easier to use thanks to the subject locking in the viewfinder. So now when you’re zoomed all the way in on something, the camera tries to identify the subject of the photo you’re taking and locks the viewfinder to track that instead of shaking around so much.
It is slightly annoying when you’re like locked onto something that’s not quite what you’re trying to shoot and then you have to try to adjust it probably zoom out and zoom back in. But when it correctly picks your subject. It’s great the results are still insane and not super usable. But hey if you were using 100 x
Before you’ll be happier with how much easier it is to use in this new version, you of course have the laser autofocus added to fix the autofocus issues we saw with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
And I’d say in 75% of cases, it works, it’s sometimes still humped a little bit with the close-up subjects, but for the most part, it’s solved. And then the camera app also now auto-detects when you’re trying to take an extreme close up, and switches to macro.
But it’s not a separate macro camera. As you may have noticed, this phone doesn’t have one, because it doesn’t need one.
It uses an ultra-wide camera, which has autofocus and a super close minimum focus distance.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra takes really solid quality macros. And it does 4k 60 FPS video from all the cameras now, including the selfie camera, and it’ll shoot 12-bit raw photos in Pro mode, which is an awesome capability that I’ll probably rarely actually use personally kinda like the 108-megapixel mode.
But it’s nice to have, they’ve added things like the director’s view, which lets you record video from multiple cameras simultaneously, which is enabled by the Snapdragon triple eight, potentially really useful for vlog-style shooting.
And the use of two telephoto cameras, a three x and the 10. x seemed peculiar at first, but I found it makes a lot of sense. So like I could live without the 10 X and most people also could and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra ones don’t have it and that’s fine.
But Samsung’s committed to offering that quality super far zoom on this phone.
So if they did the 10 X by itself and not the three x, well, then everything from one x to 10 x would be digital zoom on the main sensor, and that’s not ideal.
So if they only did the three x and not the 10 x, well, then everything from three x in that super far range wouldn’t be quite up to the ultra standard. So they have a three x and a 10 x.
Now everything from one to three x is a zoom on the primary camera, everything from 3X to 10. x is either on the primary or the second camera just depending on what the lighting situation is.
Then everything from 10 X and beyond is of course on that little periscope camera. And that’s delivering some of the best 10 x 230 x zoom photos that I’m seeing on any smartphone. So that’s accomplishing what Samsung set out to do. Now is it perfect?
No, no cameras perfect. It still misses shots, it still does 8k at only 24 FPS, the wrong frame rate.
And most notably, it still fringes on the edges with close up subjects. Absolutely. But overall, they’ve controlled it a lot more with color, and HDR, and focus. And so overall, the look is what you’d expect, just easier to get.
So at the end of the day, when you go down the list with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
They did it like this, this is the phone that would have come out of the lab if you handed me a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and said Alright, go ahead and make any improvements you want.
This is what I would have made, I would have updated the design, I would have flattened out the display, I would have added a little Google flair to the software, the improved camera experience.
I would have spent way too much time on a matte black finish and named it Phantom black. It’s kind of the best they’ve ever done.
Now you guessed it, icons are back and it’s not just limited this time it’s back permanently.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Icons
So for all 150 plus devices in their category icons will live on forever in red and black and triple black. But then also this is more than just a rerelease because we’re adding a few things.
We’re adding that red and black mask, you saw the red code mask. And we’re also adding a new limited edition colorway called silicon.
So it’s the matte black finish with a matte metallic paint for the icons that looks pretty hot if you ask me now if you’re somehow watching this in the future sometime where silicon is over that limited drop happened and you missed the train.
So sorry, but there’s also some more limited edition colorways planned in the future. So definitely let me know in the comments.
What are the sorts of colorways you want to see for icons? Either way, that’s been it. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra very impressive phone.
What do you think of this phone?
And also what do you want to see in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review as that will now be in the works? Either way.
That’s been it. Thanks for coming. Catch you guys in the next one.