- Contents of delivery
- TECH SPECS
- Design, dimensions, controls
- Communication capabilities
- Memory, chipset, performance
- S Pen features and difference from Note20 Ultra
Contents of delivery
- USB Type C cable
- Clip for SIM tray
|Dimensions and weight||165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm, 228 grams|
|Body materials||Stainless steel, Corning Gorilla Glass 7|
|Display||6.8 inches, 1440×3200 pixels (20: 9), Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 511 ppi, automatic brightness control, AlwaysOn Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 7, HDR10 +, refresh rate 120 Hz|
|Operating system||Google Android 11.0, OneUI 3.1|
|Platform||Exynos 2100 Chipset, 5nm
Snapdragon 888 for US market
|Memory||12/16 GB of RAM
128/256/512 GB built-in
No memory cards (some markets have models that support memory cards)
|Wireless Interfaces||Wi-Fi a / b / g / n / ac / ax,
WiFi 6E, dual band, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, ANT +
LTE: Enhanced 4×4 MIMO,
|Сеть||Dual SIM, nanoSIM
|Navigation||GPS / Beidou / Galileo – Dual Band GPS|
|Sensors and connectors||USB Type C (USB 3.2), USB OTG
Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor
In-screen fingerprint sensor (ultrasonic)
|Main camera||Main: camera with 4 modules
– Primary: 108 MP, 0.8 μm, F1.8, PDAF, OIS
– Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, F2.2, 1.4 μm
– Telephoto: 10 MP, OIS, F2.4, 1.22 μm, optical zoom x3,
– Telephoto 10 MP, OIS, F4.9, 1.22 μm, optical zoom x10
8K video recording
bokeh effect, various additional effects, autofocus
|Battery||Li-Ion 5000 mAh
Fast wireless charging (15W), reversible wireless charging (up to 9W)
|Degree of protection||IP68|
|Colours||Phantom Black, Phantom Silver|
|Sound||Dolby Atmos, two speakers|
|Payment System||Google Pay, Samsung Pay|
S Pen (optional)
The S21 Ultra is the third in the Galaxy lineup to achieve this status. The Ultra name refers to the fact that all technologies in this device are turned to the maximum, but the price is appropriate, there are no discounts. The first Ultra was the S20 Ultra, which was released almost a year ago, then the Note20 Ultra appeared at the end of summer, and here is the third model.
To some extent, it can be argued that Ultra is turning into an independent phenomenon, the positioning of such models is simple – all the best that you can buy at the maximum price. At the same time, people often want to get a link to similar models of competitors, but they simply do not exist, since no one can afford to squeeze so many expensive technologies into one device. At a cost, Ultra is even slightly more affordable than the same iPhone 12 Pro Max, which forces many to compare them directly. But in terms of filling, these are models of fundamentally different levels, comparison is impossible here. So, Pro Max is an almost unchanged copy of the regular iPhone 12 Pro, while Ultra has a different type of screen, support for S Pen, which brings the device into a completely different category of devices. Another thing is what exactly you need from the model, how you assess your needs.
Choosing the S21 Ultra or considering it as a potential purchase, you need to decide what you need from a smartphone. Here is the maximum screen size, if you do not take into account devices with flexible matrices. The maximum number of modules in the camera, which allows you to take pictures with different scenes and makes them very interesting. A versatile harvester that can tackle any task you can imagine.
Unlike the S20 Ultra and all devices in the Galaxy S line, this is the first time the S-series has support for the S Pen, more recently it was the prerogative of only Galaxy Note models. But there is no S Pen connector on the case, you need to buy it separately, and not everyone will like it. The fact that the Ultra incorporates all the available technologies is nice, but it gives rise to rumors that Note smartphones will no longer be available. It’s hard to believe in them, especially since the presence of the S Pen in the case, the ability not to use a carrying case – all this speaks in favor of preserving these devices.
For a loyal audience of Samsung flagships, the choice of the S21 Ultra is obvious, especially if people are used to large devices. In some ways, the model is male because of its size, but more and more often such smartphones are seen by girls – the large screen size determines preferences, this is the main motive.
In a short video, we will traditionally compare the models of the 21st line, so that you can understand which device is more suitable for you.
And we will begin to discuss how the design of the S21 Ultra has become, in which direction these changes are.
Design, dimensions, controls
Let’s start to deal with the S21 Ultra from color solutions, this year all colors have a Phantom prefix, which should mean matte glass coating. Black and silver are standard colors and can be found in most retail stores.
I like both colors, but the more successful of them turned out to be black, it is beautiful and plays well in the light, while the body remains matte, there are no fingerprints.
The Samsung brand store also has exclusive colors, there are exactly three of them – titanium, blue and bronze. Each of them looks very nice, but you need to understand how you will carry your device, with or without a case. Please also note that the space around the cameras has a separate design, so you can recognize the exclusive models. On the other hand, some Samsung cases have the same insert, which makes them unusual too.
One of the key design elements in Ultra is the camera unit, it floats from the side surface and looks unusual. And this is a fundamental difference from the S20 Ultra or Note20 Ultra, where the camera unit protruded strongly from the body, constantly touched the edges of the pocket if you carried the device without a case. In fact, the same bronze Note20 Ultra has always been gorgeous, and does not need a case. But the protruding block forced me to use the case, otherwise the device would touch my pockets, which caused trouble.
And this is what the new design looks like.
Please note that now only two sides protrude, which are inside, and this removes the question of the device can catch on the pocket. The next moment, which has already become a classic for Samsung, but the company does not see this as a problem.
We are all different people, someone shakes over his device, someone thinks that it can be worn as you like, since it’s just a thing. I belong to the second type of people, at the same time I do not throw my phone somewhere with all the foolishness, but I can carry it with other phones, keys, put something else in the glove compartment of a car. And all potential shortcomings with such treatment are revealed almost instantly, it takes other people a year, or they do not see them at all.
Samsung cameras have always been made of metal, and this metal has always been painted in the body color. In black devices, this edging quickly worn out, turned white. Someone has never experienced this. In the S21 Ultra, this is exactly the situation, the sag on the body is not part of the chassis, there is a connecting seam. That is, the camera is covered with an overlay, the impression that it is made of plastic. But the impression is deceiving, since it is metal and it differs from the side edge. At the edges of the lining, the metal can wear out, since the fit is not maximum, I saw this on the S21. Nothing makes you think the S21 Ultra will be any different.
There were a few complaints on the S20 Ultra that the glass covering the camera module is cracking at the back (this is possible when the device hits, the glass remains glass, no matter how strong it is). Replacing with a metal insert solves this issue.
Another point in the design that has changed: Samsung wanted to visually beat the camera modules, to give them significance in the eyes of the buyer. Therefore, for each camera they made their own edging, increased the surface of the lens (which could not have been done, in reality the lenses are much smaller, with the exception of the periscope zoom for x10). But here it was necessary to select each lens, and they were sunk into the body. In theory, this avoids contamination from touching oily surfaces such as fingers. In practice, when you carry the unit in your pocket, all of these surfaces collect dust.
I have never had such a collection of dust on the lenses, the exception is the same iPhone 12 Pro, in which a similar design, but there the lenses, on the contrary, protrude from the case and collect grease. This is the opposite problem, there is no perfection in the world. Using a cover does not solve this problem, but only exacerbates it.
You probably know that I am an opponent of cases, but all Ultras need them, wearing them because of the protruding camera unit without a case is bad. In the S21 Ultra, you can refuse the case, but then there will be nowhere to carry the S Pen, a vicious circle.
Let’s talk about body materials. The back panel uses Corning Gorilla Glass 7 (aka Victus), matte glass due to satin finish. The device is very durable, it can withstand falls on hard surfaces, here you can praise it in every possible way. It was the S21 Ultra that did not fall for me, but the Note20 Ultra flew with the same glass. Everything worked out, but this became an incentive to purchase a cover (since the camera block protrudes there, all falls from it, you take it out on the go, and clings to the edge of the pocket).
The chassis of the device is made of stainless steel (in some places they write about aluminum, but the metal differs from the younger models, where aluminum is of the 7000 series). I don’t see any, absolutely no difference in what material is in Ultra or lower models, since the metal is painted in the color of the case, glossy. From the experience of previous models, the coating is reliable, does not fly around in any way, scratches on it are practically invisible. You can use a hacksaw to cut through the body, but why – the material is good and practical.
The dimensions of the device are 165.1 × 75.6 × 8.9 mm, the weight is 228 grams. Large, masculine, but the entire front surface is occupied by the screen, which means that the device justifies its size.
I took a case under this smartphone S View, the set included an S Pen. Of course, in the case the device becomes quite massive, this is clearly visible.
And here everyone has to choose which option he prefers, whether he needs a cover or not. Traditionally, there is full protection of the IP68 standard, you can drop the device into water and nothing will happen to it. The control elements are distributed as follows. On the right side there is an on / off button and a volume rocker. The bottom end is a USB Type C connector, a microphone and a slot for two nanoSIM cards.
At the top there are two microphones, on the back panel there is no microphone, a new arrangement of microphones, but in practice noise reduction, video recording – everything works perfectly.
A well-built, well-built device, everything here is standard for Samsung. Separately, I would like to note that the fingerprint sensor built into the screen has changed, its area has increased 1.7 times, and it also reacts noticeably faster. Check out the video on how it works, I think it will describe the operation of the sensor better than hundreds of words.
The second speaker is hidden under the screen, it works in speakerphone mode when watching movies, and if initially there was a feeling that it was inferior to conventional speakers, then after a couple of months I can say that it is not. The device plays video and music perfectly, both speakers reproduce sounds perfectly. The smartphone is loud and there is nothing to complain about, you will get a great experience with how it reproduces sound.
Compared to Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Compared to Galaxy S20 Ultra
Compared to iPhone 12 Pro
Compared to Galaxy S21 +
Let’s look at the technical characteristics of the screen: 6.8 inches, 1440×3200 pixels (20: 9), Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 511 ppi, automatic brightness control, AlwaysOn Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 7, HDR10 +, 120 Hz refresh rate.
The first change was that now the 120 Hz frequency can be used not only for FullHD + resolution, which is the default, you can activate this feature for full resolution. The adaptive mode has become more accurate, it adapts to the content on the screen (the frequency varies from 10 to 120 Hz). I did not change the settings, I used 120 Hz always, it’s more pleasant this way.
Spoiled by good screens, but the S21 Ultra display looks like something new against the background of all previous models from Samsung: a bright and very clear picture, visible in all conditions, excellent viewing angles. In direct comparison with the younger models, this is even more noticeable. For those who pay attention to the display and want the very best for themselves, the choice is obvious – you need to look at the S21 Ultra.
Also, for the first time in the S-series for Ultra, they added support for the touch layer from Wacom, the device works with the S Pen, but it is not included in the package, as well as the connector on the case (as in the Note series). The software is exactly what we see in the Galaxy Note.
By default, the screen is set to color gamut “Saturated colors” (there is also “Natural colors”). In this mode, the brightness and contrast of the picture are maximized, and the colors hit the eyes. If the sky is not just blue, but blue. It upset me at some point, because it is impossible to navigate what you are photographing, the screen distorts the picture too much, but everything is fine on the computer. As a result, I turned on “Natural colors”, although they are muted on the menu.
Traditionally, there is a blue filter, a dark theme, including the ability to set work on a schedule. Adaptive screen brightness adjusts to your preferences. In manual mode, you can set the brightness to 550 nits, in automatic mode it reaches 1500 nits. This allows you to read your phone screen even under the brightest sun.
As always, there is the AlwaysOn Display mode, it allows you to display the clock, calendar, picture in standby mode. At the same time, the screen does not consume much power, and this makes the look of the phone diversified.
The new type of OLED screen in the S21 Ultra is new materials, it is claimed that without losing picture quality, it was possible to reduce power consumption by 16% compared to the S20. I think that this is the case, I see it by the operating time in different modes, although here we need to talk about the system as a whole, and not just about the screen. The display in the S21 Ultra is gorgeous in every aspect, but those who like backlighting below 50% and suffer from PWM will not like this screen. There are very few such people, but this is worth remembering (however, all screens in products of this level use PWM).
No change in capacity from the S20 Ultra. The built-in Li-Ion battery has a capacity of 5000mAh and supports USB Power Delivery 3.0. This allows you to get rid of a simple problem – a long charging of the smartphone. So, in the S20 Ultra in 65 minutes you can charge the battery up to 100% (charging time depends on the ambient temperature). In half an hour, you get about 55% of the charge. The kit does not include a charger, it is worth buying a 25W charger, it is enough for most use scenarios behind the eyes. There is no point in buying a 45 W charger, since the charge speed increases by the first 50%, but the total time remains plus or minus the same.
In the settings, you can turn off fast charging if it seems to you that it is wearing out the battery (in practice it is not).
Wireless charging supports up to 15W of power, which allows you to charge your smartphone in 100 minutes. It’s also very fast and extremely comfortable. For several years I have forgotten what charging at night is, I always charge my devices on the go, in between. And I never have problems with the fact that they were discharged at some inopportune moment. It takes 10 minutes to get a charge for several hours of non-stop operation. And this convenience, which is difficult to overestimate.
Reverse reverse charging allows you to recharge accessories or another smartphone, power up to 9W.
Now let’s talk about the running time in practice. Last year’s S20 Ultra at 60 Hz ran a full day with 6-7 hours of screen, at 120 Hz I had 4-5 hours of work. Always a confident day of work, there were no restrictions.
I am absolutely delighted with the S21 Ultra, as it works for me on average for two days with an average load. At 120Hz, screen brightness around 60% (adaptive mode also enabled) I get two days of battery life and 5.5-7 hours of screen time.
Our reader, who likes to customize the devices for himself, gets an average of 7-8 hours of work, but there are no special tweaks.
This device is one of the longest-lived devices on a single charge, the progress is clearly visible year by year. It doesn’t work as long as its predecessor, it works at least 20% more. And here everything, of course, depends on what you do and what you use.
There is support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), as well as maximum aggregation of LTE frequencies. Wi-Fi6E is also present, but for Russian users this standard is not very interesting at the moment (it is disabled by default for Russia).
Support for payment systems Samsung Pay, Google Pay, the work does not raise any questions. There is, of course, full NFC for everything imaginable.
Bluetooth version 5.0, there is support for sending an audio stream to multiple devices. There is a proprietary QuickShare feature that allows you to quickly send large files to other devices from Samsung (a sort of combed Wi-Fi Direct).
The UWB standard for accessories has not yet been certified in Russia, as a result, it exists, but it is also soft-closed. It remains to be noted that the GPS is dual-band and works great in urban conditions, there are no complaints about it.
Memory, chipset, performance
The volume of internal memory can be 128, 256 or 512 GB, there is no support for memory cards, which is sad. On the other hand, choosing even a 256 GB device, you most likely will not experience problems with memory. In the basic version, the amount of RAM is 12 GB, in the maximum – 16 GB, and it is not very clear what you can spend this memory on.
Inside there is an Exynos 2100, the performance of this chipset is maximum for today’s market, it will last with a margin for several years, you will get the maximum possible for software and system performance. I wrote about how the Exynos 2100 works in a separate article.
For those who did not open the link, here are the results of a number of synthetic tests.
Let me remind you the main parameters of the camera modules:
- Main: camera with 4 modules
- Primary: 108 MP, 0.8 μm, F1.8, PDAF, OIS
- Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, F2.2, 1.4 μm
- Telephoto: 10 MP, OIS, F2.4, 1.22 μm, optical zoom x3,
- Telephoto 10 MP, OIS, F4.9, 1.22 μm, optical zoom x10
- Space Zoom
- Hybrid Optic Zoom 30X
- Super Resolution Zoom up to 100X
Ideologically, this is the successor to the first S20 Ultra, which took into account the developments of the Note20 Ultra, for example, there is also fast focusing due to the laser. By and large, the main 108 megapixel camera module has exactly the same pros and cons as in previous devices. I like its capabilities, as they are quite wide and you can get very high quality images. Unlike in previous years, Samsung decided to move away from embellishing the surrounding reality, to reduce the contrast of images, color (you can do it yourself at any time). But for many buyers, this is exactly what they love. Although there is a double-edged sword, since on the smartphone screen the pictures just look like before, but the original itself was left natural, as close to reality as possible. In some ways, I like this approach more, since it takes into account the desires of completely different groups of people. Those who favor naturalness benefit, because the pictures are like that. Those who want more color see them exactly on the screen of their smartphone. Both are the winners.
For those who look only at the smartphone screen, nothing has changed. This explains why the Ultra shots on the computer screen often lost to the same S21 or iPhone 12 Pro in blind testing (they were obviously dimmer).
The new telephoto module has a novelty (there are two of them here – x3 and x10, we are talking about the second). Not very high aperture, which, in theory, should not give the best result. But in practice, the fears were in vain. Look at the picture of the Moon (x30, i.e. hybrid zoom).
Shot hand-held, at first the picture trembles, the moon is constantly floating away, but you can get such a picture, as for me, it is excellent in every sense. It was impossible to imagine that the device would be able to honestly take off the Moon and give such a quality.
Discussions appeared on the network that, like Huawei, it uses an AI algorithm that substitutes the Moon from the image database. But these are fictions, which in practice have already been debunked by many bloggers, the picture is real, without embellishment. Few will definitely take pictures of the moon, but the AI algorithm itself has been trained to change the contrast, work on details to make the picture interesting.
The x100 digital zoom is slightly better than in the S20 Ultra, but it cannot be said that it has artistic value. This is a kind of binoculars, look at the moon this close.
Let’s take a look at the pictures from the x10 module, I think they will all speak for themselves.
As for me, the pictures are quite good, the lack of high aperture is not always harmful, many scenes look interesting.
I’ve written so much about the 108 megapixel module about previous devices that I don’t know what to add. Let’s take a look at the pictures.
Good shots in various conditions, but it’s worth staying with the Portrait mode, which we used to call Live Focus. The background can be changed at any time, you use different effects. The pictures are of very decent quality, they look great.
Just like in its predecessors, there is a system of several microphones, there is a Zoom-In for sound, when you point the camera at the subject and the sound is amplified. But for the first time in my memory, it becomes possible to choose when recording a video on which microphones the sound will be recorded! That is, you can select pairs of microphones located on the device itself. Not only that, you can plug in an external microphone (including wireless headphones) and record sound from it. This option looks very interesting and dramatically expands the capabilities of the smartphone. In the Note20 Ultra review you can see how it works.
Sample video (MP4, 65 MB) >>>
At the end, I want to show the camera interface and different modes.
The bottom line, despite my finickyness to the smartphone camera, I note that the shooting capabilities of the S21 Ultra are universal due to several modules. These are excellent shots both up close (there is an automatic macro mode), and far away due to the zoom. Video recording in 8K, as well as simultaneous recording of 4K video on all camera modules (which is not available in other models and from other companies). In short, there is something to talk about, in the spring I will return to this camera, as soon as the weather permits, to show a bright world and different scenes. Still, winter is not the best time for a variety of photography.
S Pen features and difference from Note20 Ultra
Formally, there is an ordinary S Pen, but Bluetooth is not supported, that is, all functions are related only to the screen, there is no remote control. In a short video – all the differences between the S Pen on the S21 Ultra.
For those who want to know why the S Pen is cool and what such a “pen” can do, I send it to the review, where all this is painted in detail.
You can read about the new features of Samsung Notes here.
Everything here without any discoveries, the device works on Android 11, inside OneUI 3.1. To understand all the capabilities of the system, I am sending you to the relevant reviews.
In a market where most models are similar to each other, in the case of Ultra, we see a move beyond the usual boundaries. This device is full of possibilities as much as possible, there are simply no analogues. The S21 Ultra now has an S Pen, making it a bridge between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note, and it will be interesting to see what percentage of owners buy the S Pen. My guess is that this percentage will range from 5 to 10, depending on the country and the marketing campaign of the company.
A large, convenient and at the same time unusual smartphone, but the cost starts at 110 thousand rubles, which is much higher than the psychological mark for many. Nevertheless, already preliminary orders have shown that the model has taken place and is in strong demand.
But the main problem for the S21 Ultra is the presence of the same S20 Ultra, which can be bought much cheaper, or the Note20 Ultra (there is a difference of 25-30 thousand rubles, if you look at the official deliveries). Watch the video in which we discuss what is more interesting to buy.
For several weeks with the S21 Ultra, I can say that the device is excellent, I don’t see any drawbacks that might push it away. But in any case, the choice of a smartphone must be approached rationally, accurately weigh the pros and cons, and understand what you need. If you need the maximum possible in one device, then, probably, this particular model will do, nothing else of this class or level simply does not exist.
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