Samsung Galaxy S21 Series hands-on, first impressions

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series hands-on, first impressions

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2020 was indeed a year of change. But though these changes separated us physically, it proved that with technology, we can still be connected. And that’s what Samsung is prioritizing this 2021 — bringing the benefit of technology to more people.

We were invited by Samsung Philippines to be one of the first people to see its next-generation flagship phones here in the country. We know you’re already excited to see them so let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S21 Series!

Design

For this year, we have three members of the Galaxy S21 family. There’s the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. As always, the higher models have some upgraded features but all generally share the same internals. And as always, they come in different sizes.

The Galaxy S21 is the most compact of the three and comes with a 6.2-inch Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x display. The Galaxy S21+ comes at a larger 6.7-inch FullHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x display, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra spans widest at 6.8 inches with a sharper WQHD+ panel.

The S21 and S21+ both have dynamic displays that adjust refresh rates between 48Hz-120Hz, but the S21 Ultra goes for a wider range and can accommodate rates between 10-120Hz.

Turn the phone around and you’ll see a new design. The flush camera housing now looks more refined with its curves and flow, as compared to its predecessor and its blocky design. For the rest of its physique, Samsung is bringing new colors to the S21 Series and they all come with a matte finish.

The power button and volume rocker are on the right side. The power button is easily reachable with the thumb, but going for the volume rocker and you’ll need to crawl your grip up for about an inch higher since the placement is a little up there.

This is for the S21+ and S21 Ultra, by the way, since the S21 has just the right size to easily reach both. Additionally, all models from the series are sealed with IP68 certification for water resistance.

Holding the S21 Ultra, there’s a noticeable heft to it especially on the upper half of its body due to the internals and the camera module as well. But overall, it feels nice to the touch and the matte finish effectively repels fingerprints and smudges.

One more thing, Samsung officially says that it decided to remove wired headphones and in-box chargers for the Galaxy S21 in an attempt to promote sustainability. So there you go. No headphones and chargers which sound pretty familiar, don’t you agree?

Camera

In terms of imaging, all models can shoot 8K video with video snap to easily capture ultra-high res photos. They also have a Director’s view feature that comes with Vlogger View which uses both the front and rear cameras at the same time.

The cameras also come with enhanced Portrait Mode, an improved Space Zoom for steadier shots while using their telephoto lenses, and a Super Steady recording in 60fps so you have smooth footage even with handheld shooting.

Now, for the camera setup. Both the Galaxy S21 and S21+ carry a triple shooter system with 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 12-megapixel wide, and a 64-megapixel telephoto lens. Both also have a 10-megapixel front camera to take care of your selfie needs.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a quad-camera setup consisting of a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 108-megapixel wide, and dual 10-megapixel telephoto lenses with laser autofocus.

The dual telephoto lenses work together in a way that one is dedicated to midrange zoom and the other for long-range shooting. For selfies, a 40-megapixel front camera is present.

We’ve used them to quickly take sample shots and so far the cameras delivered sharp and detailed photos.

Here are some camera samples but do take note that this is not the final camera version just yet and more refinement will be done for the final units.

As expected, colors are vibrant and picture clarity is on point. Although I’m still not a fan of going all out on its 100x zoom since while the technology is impressive, the quality is still not something that I would use or personally post online.

Selfies look great, though, even with lighting from behind you. And for low light instances, the cameras still deliver quality that doesn’t seem like it was taken in a dimly lit room.

Features

Samsung says the new series now comes with a larger ultrasonic fingerprint sensor to make it easier for users to unlock the device. They also come with stereo speakers by AKG, Samsung DeX for desktop functions on your phone, and an Eye Comfort Shield to lessen eye strain.

The new Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Smart Tag

The S21+ and S21 Ultra one-ups the S21 with their UWB or Ultra-Wideband feature. This wireless communication technology makes it possible to use Samsung’s SmartThings Find and its new Galaxy Smart Tag to locate Galaxy devices even when offline or communicate with your vehicle to perform certain tasks in the future.

And exclusive to the S21 Ultra is the S Pen compatibility for added productivity. The top of the line variant also features Wi-Fi 6E which is said to be 4X faster than normal WiFi.

Internals

Inside, the new Galaxy S21 Series is powered by a 5nm Exynos 2100 processor that promises a 20-percent increase in CPU performance, a 35-percent increase in GPU performance, and an AI that’s twice as efficient and fast than previous versions.

Both the S21 and S21+ have 8GB RAM and a choice of 128GB or 256GB for storage. The S21 Ultra takes this a couple of notches up and offers you either 12GB or 16GB RAM and storage options of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

Battery

Of course, battery capacity also comes in different options. There’s a 4000mAh capacity for the S21, 4800mAh for the S21+ and the largest is at 5000mAh for the S21 Ultra.

All devices come with Wireless Powershare so you could top up other compatible devices, Super Fast Charging for wired connectivity, and Fast Wireless Charging.

Final thoughts

With the short time we’ve spent with Samsung’s newest flagship devices, we were able to see that the company is dead set on appealing to those who demand the latest mobile innovations.

With the lineup’s new and more elegant design, an immersive display, pro-grade cameras, and powerful internals, the new Galaxy Series of smartphones is ready to be that premium handset you’re probably looking for.

Pricing for Galaxy S21 5G is at PhP 47,990 and PhP 57,990 for the Galaxy S21+ 5G. Meanwhile, pricing for Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G starts at PhP 69,990 for the 256GB model and PhP 79,990 for the 512GB pre-order-exclusive model