Samsung has decided to take a slightly different approach with the Galaxy S21. We still get the latest chipset as well asa few minor upgrades, but the rest of the phone is either very similar, or has beentoned down a little to keep it at a lower price point. So let’s take a closer look at the phone,and see if it’s any good.
Design is probably one of the biggest upgradeson the S21, and it’s mostly just down to this camera bump. It is now a lot better integrated into thedesign of the phone rather than looking like an afterthought. It also has pretty nice colour options, itstill has an IP68 rating, and the size feels great in my hand. That said, it’s a bit of a bummer that theback is now plastic, because it does feel cheaper and will scratch a lot easier. Anyway, it’s not a big deal if you use askin or case with it.
Which reminds me, we no longer get a casein the box. In fact, we don’t really get anything inthe box anymore. The resolution of the screen has been downgradedto just FHD+ unlike the QHD+ screen on the S20, but at this screen size, I don’t thinkthere’s a huge difference. It still has a 120Hz refresh rate, and looksgreat in basically every aspect. Most importantly, the display is now completelyflat, which I personally prefer.
Combine that gorgeous display with a competentset of stereo speakers, it’s a really nice device to use for media consumption. I do have to mention as well that it no longerhas a microSD card slot. But since we’re getting the 256GB versionhere in Singapore, and the performance for built-in storage is typically better thanmicroSD cards, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on the S21is supposed to be bigger and better, and I’m happy to report that it really is.
It seems a lot less finicky compared to itspredecessor. Anyway, the thing that I’m most curiousabout here is the new Exynos 2100 chipset. As most of you already know, recent Exynoschipsets have been a little underwhelming. After spending some time with the S21, itdoes seem decent. I wouldn’t say it’s a night and day differencesince it still warms up fairly quickly during heavy use.
But it never gets too warm to touch, and performanceseems decent. The only exception is perhaps Genshin Impactat higher framerates, but that’s the same with every other phone I’ve tested so far. In terms of battery life, I can get a fullday of regular use out of the phone pretty easily, but with heavier usage, I’ll needto top up the battery a little to make sure it will last till the end of the day. Battery consumption on mobile data seems prettyreasonable too. I recorded the amount of battery drain whileusing the phone,
Overall, for such a compact phone, I thinkbattery life is pretty decent. The S21 is running OneUI 3.1 based on Android11, and for the most part, it’s very similar to what we got on the Note20 Ultra. So it’s still a pretty enjoyable softwareexperience, with useful features built-in, nice customisation options, and decent lookingUI design. We are now able to use Google Discover insteadof Samsung’s own service on the home screen, and there is actually a double tap to sleepfeature now.
I don’t really have an issue with bloatwareas well, since the small handful of preloaded apps can be uninstalled or disabled, and duringsetup we’re given the choice to select what Samsung apps we want. Anyway, in terms of camera hardware, it seemsidentical to what we got on the S20. I’m not sure if it performs the same aswell since I’ve not tried the S20, but I do think that the camera performance on theS21 is pretty good. Even though I can tell that the main camerahardware isn’t as good as the Note20 Ultra, I think the image processing actually lookspretty decent, and it is able to take nice looking shots in most lighting conditions.
The telephoto camera isn’t really that usefulto me since the range is so limited, but the ultra wide angle camera looks really good,even at night. Anyway, I won’t spend too much time talkingabout camera performance since it can be a little subjective. So if you want to see whether the camera isgood enough for your needs,
I’ve uploaded everything I took with thephone at original resolution. As a whole, I actually think that the S21is a pretty nice phone. It’s really well rounded, it does everythingI need, and I really like the size of the phone. I think it’s the right move for Samsungto make as well, toning down a few features, and reducing the cost of the phone.
I know that here in Singapore, we didn’tget the same amount of price reduction compared to other regions. But knowing the market here in Singapore,we’ll see better deals for it soon enough. And once the price drops to a more reasonablelevel, the S21 will be a great option for anyone looking for a great compact Android device.
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