Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely evaluation: the brand new king of Android telephones | Samsung

The Galaxy S21 Extremely is Samsung’s new superphone for 2021 – and comes out firmly as one of the best of its kind, with a value to match.

Outfitted with a brand new extra highly effective digicam system – with not one however two optical zoom lenses on the again for an enormous 10x optical zoom – it prices from £1,149 and leads Samsung’s 2021 cell line, which additionally contains the smaller and cheaper £769 S21 and £949 S21+.

The Galaxy S21 Extremely appears to be like broadly the identical as its predecessors – all-screen on the entrance, aluminium sides and a glass again. Essentially the most distinctive change is a big digicam lump mixing into the aspect.

The frosted glass on the again hides fingerprints however feels silky clean to the contact. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The 6.8in display screen is marginally smaller than the Be aware 20 Extremely and S20 Extremely from final yr, however is crisp, color wealthy and tremendous shiny. If you need big-screen leisure in your pocket it delivers whereas its 120Hz refresh charge (double that on an iPhone) makes scrolling via feeds tremendous clean.

The S21 Extremely is a really giant and comparatively heavy outsized cellphone placing it in competitors with the Be aware 20 Extremely and iPhone 12 Professional Max. I might nearly use it with one hand, however most will want two palms to make use of it safely with out utilizing some type of cellphone grip.

samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
Qualcomm’s second-generation ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor is a dramatic enchancment. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Fundamental display screen: 6.8in QHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X (515ppi) 120Hz

  • Processor: Samsung Exynos 2100 (EU) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (US)

  • RAM: 12 or 16GB of RAM

  • Storage: 128, 256 or 512GB

  • Working system: One UI 3.1 primarily based on Android 11

  • Digicam: Quad rear digicam: 108MP vast, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP 3x and 10MP 10x telephoto, laser autofocus; 40MP front-facing digicam

  • Connectivity: 5G, twin nano sim, USB-C, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5, UWB and site

  • Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm

  • Weight: 227g

35 hours of battery life

samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
The cellphone ships with only a USB-C cable but it surely helps super-fast charging, hitting 80% in 47 minutes and a full cost in simply over 70 minutes utilizing a 25W or better USB PD 3.0 (PPS) energy adaptor. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S21 Extremely ships with Samsung’s just-released Exynos 2100 processor in Europe (as examined) or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 within the US. Each variants include 12GB or 16GB of RAM relying on mannequin.

Efficiency was glorious all-round. The S21 Extremely feels noticeably snappier than the Be aware 20 Extremely from final yr; from unlocking the cellphone to launching apps, each motion occurs just a bit bit faster.

Battery life can also be sturdy. The cellphone simply outlasts a full day of heavy utilization. I get in extra of 35 hours between fees – 7am on day 1 till 6pm on day 2 – with my normal utilization, which incorporates greater than 5.5 hours of screen-on time break up between chat apps, Chrome, Gmail, Evernote, the Guardian, Spotify and lots of others, capturing about 15 images and spending about three hours on 5G, the remainder on wifi.

That’s longer than the 30-hour battery of the Be aware 20 Extremely, however barely wanting the S20 Extremely from final yr and much behind the 48-hour battery of the iPhone 12 Professional Max. Altering the display screen from the default dynamic 120Hz refresh charge and FHD+ decision to the upper QHD+ decision decreased the battery life by a few hours.


Samsung doesn’t present an estimate of the variety of full-charge cycles the battery ought to final. Batteries in comparable gadgets can usually final for 500 cycles whereas sustaining a minimum of 80% of their unique capability.

The cellphone is typically repairable and comes with a 24-month guarantee. Display screen repairs for its predecessor the S20 Extremely price £269. The battery is replaceable by authorised service centres at a value of not more than £59.

Samsung affords trade-in and recycling schemes for outdated gadgets, however the smartphone doesn’t embrace any recycled supplies. The corporate publishes annual sustainability studies however not influence assessments for particular person merchandise.

The S21 Extremely doesn’t ship with headphones or an influence adaptor within the field, only a USB-C charging cable, decreasing its carbon footprint.

One UI 3.1

samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
Customers now have a selection between Samsung’s Free or Google’s Uncover for his or her information aggregator on the house display screen on the S21. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S21 Extremely is without doubt one of the first smartphones to run Samsung’s newest model of Android 11 known as One UI 3.1.

It inherits a lot of the new options from Android 11 together with: separation of dialog, media and different alerts within the notifications shade; dialog bubbles; and extra privateness controls over location and different permissions.

A brand new partnership between Samsung and Google brings the search agency’s Uncover feed and Messages texting app to the S21 sequence. Numerous Microsoft apps and programs for linking information and apps into Home windows 10 are additionally current, which work effectively too.

There’s a little bit of app duplication, together with two totally different SMS apps each known as “Messages” – one made by Samsung and the opposite Google – however total One UI 3.1 continues to be one of the refined and greatest closely customised variations of Android.

Samsung has pledged to help a minimum of three main Android model updates and 4 years of month-to-month safety patches, which is sweet for Android gadgets, however pales as compared with Apple’s five-plus years of help for its telephones.


samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
Samsung’s digicam app is without doubt one of the higher ones out there and now does extra routinely, switching to macro or evening modes relying on the scene. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S21 Extremely is the primary Samsung smartphone to characteristic a brand new quad-camera with a 12MP ultrawide, 108MP commonplace vast and never one however two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with 3x and one with 10x optical zoom.

It is without doubt one of the most adaptable digicam programs out there, out zooming all however Huawei’s P40 Professional Plus from final yr. The primary digicam shoots superb images, with improved low mild efficiency and higher processing than final yr’s S20 Extremely. The ultrawide digicam is nice in shiny mild, however can begin to look a bit darkish and overly sharpened in contrast with the principle digicam in decrease mild ranges.

Each the 3x and 10x cameras produce actually good, crisp photos even within the comparatively dim mild of stormy climate. The 3x digicam is good for zooming in on individuals and different objects a couple of metres away, whereas the 10x magnification allows you to meaningfully shut the space to topics considerably additional away.

The digicam system may also easily zoom from 1x to 10x magnification utilizing hybrid and optical zoom from a mixture of the cameras with spectacular outcomes.

Above 10x magnification, Samsung’s “House Zoom” system applies a digital zoom to the 10x telephoto digicam. Images shot as much as 30x are superb certainly. Carrying on as much as the 100x most zoom the photographs are clearly artificially enlarged, however are nonetheless a marked enchancment from the 100x zoom on Samsung’s earlier high smartphones. A brand new “zoom lock” system helps stabilise your shaking palms at 30x or above. Faucet a small preview window and the cellphone locks in on that patch of the picture typically turning a blurry mess right into a surprisingly sharp picture.

samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
The modules on the again are as follows: 12MP ultrawide within the high left, 108MP foremost left center, 10MP 10x telephoto backside left, laser autofocus high proper and 10MP 3x telephoto backside proper. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Samsung’s evening and portrait modes are additionally improved. A brand new macro mode Samsung calls “focus enhancer” makes use of the ultrawide digicam to provide some actually sharp and good photos too. The one take characteristic, which captures movies, images and produces animations unexpectedly is nice enjoyable and is now sooner and smarter. The 40-megapixel selfie digicam is without doubt one of the greatest out there too.

The cameras additionally shoot glorious video as much as 8K with a variety of helpful instruments comparable to a “director view”, which exhibits you the view from three of the rear and the selfie digicam directly. Samsung continues to guide Android rivals on video.


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The 40-megapixel selfie digicam pokes via a small gap within the high of the display screen, slightly below the hidden earpiece speaker. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • Name high quality was actually good each usually and on speaker.

  • Focus enhancer often triggered when simply making an attempt to shoot utilizing the principle digicam, leading to overly sharpened photos.

  • The three preview thumbnails in administrators view are simulated from the ultrawide digicam, however the principle view switches to the suitable digicam when chosen.

  • The S21 Extremely helps Samsung’s S Pen stylus much like the Be aware 20 Extremely which will be purchased as an non-compulsory additional.


The Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely prices £1,149 with 128GB of storage, £1,199 with 256GB or £1,329 with 512GB and 16GB of RAM, transport on the 28 January.

For comparability, the Galaxy S21 prices £769, the Galaxy S21+ prices £949, the Galaxy Be aware 20 Extremely prices £1,179, the Galaxy Z Flip prices £1,300, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 prices £1,799; the OnePlus 8 Professional prices £799 and the Apple iPhone 12 Professional Max prices £1,099.


The Galaxy S21 Extremely is Samsung’s newest large, heavy and costly superphone that makes significant enhancements to each the digicam and normal usability.

All the same old top-quality components are there. The display screen is gorgeous, efficiency is sweet, battery life is great and the software program is the newest out there. However it’s the a lot improved fingerprint scanner that makes the most important distinction to day-to-day utilization – it’s quick, correct and responsive in a manner Samsung’s earlier efforts simply weren’t.

The brand new dual-telephoto digicam system can also be a marked enchancment, offering a stage of flexibility and optical zoom that you just simply can’t get with different mainstream rivals.

Samsung supplies a minimum of three years of main software program updates, which matches one of the best of Android rivals however lags behind Apple’s 5 years of iOS updates.

If you need one of the best Android superphone the Galaxy S21 Extremely is it and can take some beating this yr.

Professionals: large 120Hz display screen, 5G, nice and versatile digicam, 3x and 10x optical zoom, twin sim, One UI, wi-fi charging and powershare, good efficiency, lengthy battery, quick fingerprint scanner.

Cons: big, heavy, very costly, no headphone socket, solely three-plus years of software program updates.

samsung galaxy s21 ultra review
The digicam lump is now built-in into the aspect of the system, which is able to make becoming a protecting case barely tougher or bulkier. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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2 thoughts on “Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely evaluation: the brand new king of Android telephones | Samsung

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