Samsung is back at it again, releasing 3 new top tier smartphones that outdo the previous Galaxy phones that launched less than a year ago. Better processors, better cameras, better screens and better batteries. So – should you upgrade? I took the top of the line Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for a test.
This thing is a beast
The first thing I thought when I picked up the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra was, “wow, this thing is a bit of a beast!” It’s thick, has some weight to it and feels like a tank. This is a good thing but it may not be for everyone. If you carry your phone in your pocket don’t be surprised if this feels heavier than previous phones. I’d argue that the S21 Ultra feels more in line with the Samsung Note series when it comes to size. Again, not a horrible thing but definitely something that won’t be for everyone. Which is exactly what Samsung offers 3 models and 3 sizes of the S21. Looking for something smaller and willing to give up a few features? The standard S21 may be a better option for you.
On the back the camera bump is impressive. You’ll find 4 cameras that represent the best that Samsung has ever offered. A 12 Megapixel ultra wide-angle camera, a 108MP wide angle camera and 2 10MP telephone lenses. Using a combination of these cameras along with digital zoom you can zoom as much as 100X using the Samsung S21 Ultra. It’s an impressive level of zoom and with Samsung’s stabilizing technology it actually works pretty well. Problem is, most of us will NEVER use this feature. Zooming aside, these are the best cameras I have ever seen on a phone. The photos, the 8k video, the wide angle perspective… it’s all amazing. You will NOT be disappointed by Samsung’s cameras.
The S21 Ultra also packs in a huge battery capable of keeping the phone running all day and in many cases, even longer. The screen is amazing. It’s crystal clear and runs at 120hz. This may sound like techno mumble jumble to you but it means that using this phone is a silky smooth experience. It’s hard to explain but when swiping and scrolling on the S21 it just feels really smooth.
Inside the S21 is the newest, more powerful Snapdragon 888 processor. It keeps this phone humming along but also increase battery efficiency. In other words… more POWER (argh argh argh) while using less battery. It’s the best of the best when it comes to mobile processors and it shows on the S21 Ultra.
What would I change?
Not much. Honestly. Samsung packed in some amazing tech into the S21 Ultra making it the best Android smartphone available in January of 2021. Samsung did remove MST technology which allowed you to use Samsung pay at locations that didn’t support NFC. Let me guess, that doesn’t mean anything to you? Yeah, that’s why they removed it. People probably weren’t using it. So… I get it. Thing is, I used it and my grocery store doesn’t support NFC yet.
My other issue with the S21 Ultra is the size. I’m not a giant bulky phone user. I love the Note series but would never carry one as my daily driver, it’s just too big for me. Luckily, Samsung offers the S21 and S21+ for those of us looking for something with a little less bulk.
Should you upgrade?
If you CRAVE the latest and greatest technology and take pride in having the fastest phone on the market, this is it! Yes, you should upgrade. This is the best Android phone that your money can buy right now. The cameras are insane, the screen is a thing of beauty and the battery life won’t leave you hanging.
If you just got an S20 when it was released 11 months ago and you’re not a total tech head, I’d wait. Sure, the S21 line would be an upgrade and the trade-in options that Samsung is offering makes the upgrade pretty inexpensive, but overall it’s not a huge jump. Phone technology is so good right now that gone are the days when the next generation of a phone blows the previous generation out of the water.
With that said, if you’re using a 2 year old phone like the Galaxy S10 or an iPhone 10 then the S21 is a great upgrade. The Ultra model may be a little expensive but even the standard S21 specs would be a huge improvement for you.
The new Samsung Galaxy S21 line of phones are now available at most stores, through your phone carrier and online at Samsung.com.