Why choose the Samsung Galaxy S21?
Samsung launched its latest flagship handset, the Galaxy S21, in January 2021. Overall it’s a stylish reincarnation of the S20 with a few notable changes both inside and out. Launched along with the S21+ and the S21 Ultra, it also has a lower starting price point than the S20 which will broaden its appeal. So what’s new with the S21?
- 5G speed and Galaxy S21 compatibility
- size, colours and weight
- Exynos 2100 chip
- Memory capacity
- Triple-camera system
- Infinity OLED display
- Improved battery life
5G speed and Samsung Galaxy S21 compatibility
As with the S20, the S21 is fully compatible with 5G and in areas without 5G it will still connect to 4G and 3G. If you sign up for a contract, then check that you order a 5G-compatible SIM with it to ensure it will work in 5G areas, or simply choose an eSIM instead.
Size, colours and weight
The S21 weighs in just a few grammes more than its predecessor at 169g, and, as with the S20, has a 6.2 inch display. Measuring 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, the phone is a comfortable size and offers optimal screen size without being overly large. If you like the idea of a larger screen, then the S21+ and the S20 Ultra offer a few extra millimetres.
The strong Gorilla Glass front screen ensures maximum protection against cracks and the IP68 waterproofing offers peace of mind for those heart-stopping moments where your handset slips out of your back pocket.
The swish glass back of the S20, however, has been replaced by a cheaper, but also more durable, polycarbonate casing. This does little to deter from the attractiveness of the design however, and has been stylishly cut to fit around the colour-coordinated metal camera housing. For those keen to still have a glass-backed device, it has been retained for the S21+ and the S21 Ultra.
The styling of the whole handset is chic and fresh, with elegant curves and a choice of new, modern colours. The shiny covers have gone and been replaced with more sophisticated, matte tones, including Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Violet, and Phantom Pink, all of which are far less likely to attract grubby fingerprint marks than their shiny metallic counterparts of old.
Exynos 2100 processor
Upgraded from the Exynos 990 chip in the S20, the Galaxy S21 features the Exynos 2100 processor that marks a big leap forward in power, comfortably handles 5G and offers faster and slicker performance all round.
Perfectly accompanied by the Android 11 operating system, Exynos 2100 also supports pin sharp resolution up to 200 megapixels and up to six sensors, meaning the zoom function on the camera is smoother and greater quality can be expected from ultrawide images. With the Exynos 990 in the S20 only supporting up to 108 megapixels, the difference in quality is clear.
Although the 2100 chip offers the same quality when it comes to recording images and video as the S20, the playback is superior; the 2100 can play back video up to 8K with 60 frames per second, compared to the 990 which could only play up to 30 frames per minute in 8K, bringing improved quality and detail to your video.
When it comes to scrolling through social media or other data-intensive pages, the adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz means you won’t experience any blurring or pausing, leading to a more enjoyable experience.
All three members of the S21 family come with 8GB RAM to keep all your activity ticking along nicely and 128GB storage as standard. One big change with the S21 is that Samsung has removed the Micro SD slot for its latest generation of flagship handsets.
If you are likely to want more storage capacity than 128GB, then it’s worth considering the S21+ or S21 Ultra, both of which offer 256GB. Plus the S21 Ultra comes with a choice of 12GB or 16GB of RAM, offering an astonishing amount of power in a handset that is comparable to that of a gaming PC.
Although the lack of Micro SD slot may come as a disappointment, the increasingly popular option for using OneDrive cloud storage has decreased demand for additional storage space for photos, videos and music.
As with the S20, the S21 comes with the same triple-camera system for creating superb photography and video, including a few new features. The impressive quality on offer is ideal for big social media users, and anyone wanting to take professional-standard photographs.
The main rear-facing 12-megapixel camera is complemented by a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera for wide-angle shots and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens capable of 3x optical zoom as well as 30x digital zoom, enabling fantastic close-ups. Plus, the new Zoom Lock function ensures that those detailed close-ups won’t be ruined at the last minute by a shaky hand.
On the front of the camera, the 10 megapixel selfie camera benefits from the inbuilt artificial intelligence which analyses features, lighting and angles to create the perfect social media-ready self-portrait.
The Night Mode feature means that you can take superb shots in any lighting. Even in darkness the camera picks up light and colour with breathtaking accuracy.
When it comes to taking video, the S21 offers 8K resolution at 60fps with dynamic frame rate, which, along with Super Smooth technology, enables you to capture any action in sharp detail without blurring – even in low light.
In addition, during the 8K video playback, you can use the new Video Snap function to save super-sharp 33 megapixel images. Vloggers will love the new option to use both cameras at once, known as Vlogger View, which offers the ability to capture video using both the front and rear cameras at the same time. There is also the newly introduced Director’s View, whereby users can film from different cameras at once, and switch between camera views without pausing the video.
Infinity OLED display
Samsung’s Infinity OLED screen produces impressive clarity even in bright sunlight and comes with the newly introduced Eye Comfort Shield which ensures you can stream your favourite shows and movies for hours without causing eye strain.
Although the screen resolution has been taken back a step to Full HD at 1090p from the Quad HD of the S20, the difference is infinitesimal and is in no way noticeable. The 2400 x 1080 pixel screen produces 424ppi, meaning everything is still in crystal sharp detail.
Another advancement in the S21 display is the improved in-screen fingerprint sensor; the area is now larger and more responsive, requiring just a quick tap of the finger rather than press and hold.
Improved battery life
The S21 battery comes with 4000mAh storage power which offers impressive battery life even when connected to 5G, thanks to the new power-efficient display and processor. Samsung states that it should last over 24 hours for the average user.
A charger is no longer included in the box – Samsung declares that this is to reduce waste – so you will need to buy one separately if you don’t already have one. Note that charging with a 45W charger is no longer supported by the S21, but the charging capability of 25W chargers has been improved.
A USB-C cable is still included with the handset, and is compatible with a wireless 25W charger to provide Super Fast charging. The S21 also supports reverse wireless charging so you can use your phone’s battery power to charge Galaxy ear buds or a Galaxy Watch.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Samsung Galaxy S21 phone any good?
If you want the latest handset in the Galaxy family, then the S21 is for you. The improved affordability is a big draw, but Samsung has taken a few retro steps to cut costs. If you are likely to find yourself disappointed by the lack of Micro SD card slot you might want to consider paying more and plumping for the S21 Ultra, which comes with 512GB of storage.
Is the Galaxy S21 5G capable?
Yes, the S21 is 5G capable, just like its previous incarnation, the S20. You should check that your area offers 5G however or you may be disappointed at only receiving 3G or 4G. Also check that your SIM card is 5G compatible when you sign up.
Does the Galaxy S21 come with a charger?
No. One of the ways Samsung has managed to reduce the price of its latest handset is by not including a charger. It has, however, reduced the price of buying a charger separately.
Can I connect Samsung Galaxy S21 to my TV?
Yes. You can use the Samsung Screen Mirroring feature. Note that you will need a Smart TV,a Samsung AllShare Cast, Chromecast or an Amazon Firestick to use this feature.
Can I get the Galaxy S21 SIM-free?
Yes, the new S21 family are all available to buy SIM-free. Prices for the handsets start at £769.
Can I get an eSIM for the Galaxy S21?
Yes, the S21 is compatible with an eSIM. You can sign up for an eSIM with O2, Vodafone, EE or Three. You will be sent a QR code by your provider that will activate your eSIM and you can then choose your data plan.
Can I buy a refurbished S21 phone?
No. At the time of writing, the handset is still brand new and not yet available in a refurbished form. You may however be able to find a refurbished S20.
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