Samsung Galaxy S21 is the lowest model in Samsung's latest flagship Galaxy S21 smartphone series. We were trying our hands on Samsung Galaxy S21 for last few weeks and in this article, we are going to share a detailed hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 with all readers of Geeky Stuffs.
This review is divided into various section to cover each aspect of the device separately and talk about the pros and cons of each section.
Samsung Galaxy S21 : Hands-on Review
Retail Box Content
Samsung Galaxy S21 comes in an unusually small box because it comes with very few accessories inside. Inside the retail box you will find the device, a USB Type-C to Type-C cable, and user manual.
There is no charger and earphones provided in the retail box of the Samsung Galaxy S21 and even though Samsung, like Apple, claims the reason to be the environment safety - it does not feel like one.
Samsung Galaxy S21 sports a nice and unique design compared to previously launched Samsung Galaxy smartphones, thanks to the new camera module design.
On the front side, there is a 6.2-inch flat screen with 87.2% screen-to-body ratio. There is the punch hole in the middle of the screen for the front camera module with 10MP front camera. An in-display fingerprint sensor and a set of sensors provided as well on the front side. The screen is protected by the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and the back of the device is made of plastic.
At the bottom, there is the USB Type-C port, SIM card slot, microphone and a speaker grills along with the antenna line. The SIM 2 slot cannot be used as a microSD card slot. On the right, there are volume rockers with the power key and on the back, there is the triple-camera setup at the top left corner of the device along with the flash. There is a camera module bump on the back of the device and the whole camera setup is part of the aluminum frame.
The matte finished back panel of the Samsung Galaxy S21 gives premium look to the device even though it is made of plastic. The bezel on the sides are nearly negligible and due to nice screen-to-body ratio, it is very easy to use the device with one hand. And the device is IP68 waterproof as well.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is really beautiful and shows the effort Samsung is finally putting and the improvements made over the previous generation Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S21 in the Middle East is powered by Exynos 2100 processor that is the most powerful Samsung Exynos processor. It consists of a 1.9 GHz Cortex-X1, three 2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 and four 2.2 GHz Cortex-A55 units. The GPU used is Mali-G78 MP14.
The amount of RAM in Samsung Galaxy S21 is 8 GB and internal storage is 256 GB. As mentioned earlier, SIM 2 slot cannot be used to expand the storage. There is an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor provided that works perfectly and accurately but still not as fast as the optical fingerprint sensor provided by other brands.
When it comes to performance, Samsung Galaxy S21 performs brilliantly. We performed various benchmarking tests on our Samsung Galaxy S21 and the performance of the device was impressive considering the hardware and its segment. You can watch our Samsung Galaxy S21 benchmarking test video and its comparison with the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra below.
Camera and Imaging
Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with triple rear camera setup borrowed from the last year's Samsung Galaxy S20. It consists of 12 MP primary camera, 64 MP telephoto lens, and 12 MP ultra-wide-angle lens. Other specifications of the rear camera are Optical Image Stabilization, 3x hybrid zoom and phase detection autofocus. There is a dual-LED flash provided too.
The UI is easy to use and comes with lots of options. On the viewfinder, user can access to important camera modes, switch between rear and front camera, image and video mode. There are options provided to switch to wide-angle mode, turn on/off flash, change aspect ray, apply filter and to go to settings.
Portrait mode is basically the combination of wide aperture mode and special six filters. You can change the depth of field to create the needed bokeh effect. The output images are great in quality with lots of details and well-defined edges in Portrait mode.
The Night Mode performance is also nice and works great in low-light situations. Also, the Super Steady mode doesn't work well and provides lots of wobbling in the stabilized videos. Even though Samsung Galaxy S21 supports 30x digital zoom, the picture quality is not usable at the higher zoom level. So it is better to stick with the upto 3X hybrid zoom only.
For video recording, Samsung Galaxy S21 can record 4K videos up to 60FPS and you can also record 8K videos at 24FPS. It also provides the Zoom-in Mic that focus on the audio source while zooming on it. This feature was first introduced by HTC U11 and it is nice to see other brands utilizing it after all these years. It can also record HDR10+ videos. The video quality is nice but in a low light situation, it gets very noisy, blurry and struggles to focus a lot.
Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a 10MP front camera. It provides video recording with adjustabale beautification and bokeh effect. There is timelapse mode provided as well. The HDR mode is available for the images and videos, both. as obvious, so is the front cam panorama mode. In the Portrait mode, user can adjust both the beautification and bokeh effect. But the edge detection is not so good and artifacts appear here and there all the time.
Software and OS
Samsung Galaxy S21 runs on the Android 11 OS with OneUI 3.1 on top of it. OneUI 3.1 is a feature-rich, productive, and user-friendly UI.
The speed of OneUI 3.1 is very nice and you will rarely feel any lag on it. You can select the UI with or without App Drawer depending on your choice. There is standard virtual keys and gestures-based navigation provided.
On the left of the Home screen, there is Google Assistant screen provided that shows various useful info and news based on your usage and interest. There are also many options and features provided for further customization based on user preference.
It comes with a built-in screen recorder, voice call recorder, and many options in various sections of settings that allow the user to customize the device to great extent and improves productivity.
Screen and Display
Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a huge 6.2-inch AMOLED screen with 87.2% screen-to-body ratio, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+. The viewing angles are nice as well. Response to touches are quick and accurate all the time.
With 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution, you will get 421 PPI. So you will not notice any pixels on the screen and will enjoy the super sharp and crisp display. It comes with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection and will protect the screen from minor impacts and damage.
Samsung claims that maximum brightness goes as high as 1300 NITS in outdoors, and so in the bright sunlight of Saudi Arabia I felt no difficulty in seeing content clearly on the screen of Samsung Galaxy S21. If you find the screen of the Samsung Galaxy S21 too big and difficult to operate with one hand then there is One-Handed Mode provided as well.
Overall the screen and display quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is nice and pleasing. The screen is big, bright, sharp and comes with nice viewing angles.
Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with 4000 mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery. The battery is big enough but so is the screen size, resolution, and processor’s requirements. Still, the battery of Samsung Galaxy S21 performs pretty well, thanks to the AMOLED screen, optimized OneUI 3.1, and 5nm processor structure.
With moderate usage, the battery survives for one day easily and can be managed by tweaking the options to make it last longer as well like prohibiting the apps to run in the background. In any case, you will get at least 6 hours of screen on time for sure. There is a power-saving mode provided as well that reduces the device performance and restricts many hardware functionalities to increase the battery life.
It comes with 25W fast charging that is pretty low compared to the current standard of charging speed among other flagship smartphones. It also comes with the 15W Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging AND 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy S21 is one of the most beautiful and powerful smartphone currently available in the market in its price range and segment. It comes with an eye-catching design, beautiful screen, nice camera features and performance, overall nice performance, fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, feature-rich and productive OneUI 3.1 along with moderate battery life.
Overall, Samsung Galaxy S21 is a nice phone and scores good points in every aspect. If you are planning to buy a mid-range smartphone with a beautiful design, nice performance, camera, and features, Samsung Galaxy S21 will serve you well but the market is filled with many other options as well and you must consider them before purchasing the Samsung Galaxy S21.