Arms on: Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely overview
The Galaxy S21 Extremely is Samsung’s imaginative and prescient of smartphone extra, with 5 cameras, a 108MP sensor, two telephotos cameras, 100x zoom, 5G, as much as 16GB of RAM and S Pen stylus assist – all packed right into a single Android telephone with a 6.9-inch 120Hz Quad HD show.
That is the primary new Android telephone we’ve examined in 2021, together with the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus, and it units the bar excessive. Samsung has retooled the autofocus of its digital camera system to treatment the issues we had with final 12 months’s Galaxy S20 Extremely, tweaked the specs and options for sooner efficiency, and is available in at a considerably cheaper launch worth.
It’s nonetheless mighty costly to purchase the S21 Extremely for many customers – greater than the iPhone 12 Professional Max even – however Samsung is providing a bigger, brighter and extra succesful curved display screen, 10x optical digital camera zoom (vs 3x), and stylus assist, one thing Apple has but to do on any iPhone. Relying on what’s necessary to you, Samsung could also be providing extra worth on your cash.
What’s the catch? We began out saying that the S21 Extremely is Samsung’s imaginative and prescient of extra. You’ll must let go of what doesn’t match into the corporate’s new roadmap. Gone is the microSD card slot for expandable storage, and also you received’t discover a charger contained in the field. Like Apple earlier than it, Samsung is citing e-waste as the rationale this energy brick is not included.
When you simply received over the dearth of a 3.5mm headphone jack in smartphones, brace your self for extra change. However all the positives of the Samsung S21 Extremely provides outweigh any minor discomfort for a telephone that ought to land on our greatest telephone web page after additional testing.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely launch date and worth
Samsung has set the Galaxy S21 Extremely launch date for Friday, January 29 2021 after the telephone was unveiled on January 14. Pre-orders for the handset are set to go dwell within the US, UK and Australia all through launch day.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely worth is excessive, particularly when in comparison with the cheaper-than-expected Samsung Galaxy S21, however it’s notably cheaper than the Galaxy S20 Extremely was at launch.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely worth begins at $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1849 for a model with 128GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. There are additionally 256GB and 512GB of storage variants with that largest mannequin sporting 16GB of RAM, however we’ve but to listen to actual pricing for these.
Final 12 months’s Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely was a superb deal costlier than this handset is at launch, notably within the US, with the identical 128GB / 12GB variant costing $1,399 / £1,199 / AU$1,999 when it went on sale.
Whereas it’s notably cheaper, that is nonetheless a really costly smartphone – and for a lot of it can merely be too costly. When you’re in search of a less expensive various, the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus are each strong choices, however the specs aren’t as excessive as this machine.
Design and show
The S21 Extremely contains a boring matte end in two colours: Phantom Black and Phantom White. Whichever you select, the end is a major enchancment over final 12 months’s S20 collection, which had a reflective sheen that seemed a bit of plasticy and low-cost.
The Extremely lives as much as its title as a smartphone that’s large the place it must be, but it minimizes all the things you don’t need to see. For instance, whereas the 6.8-inch show stretches your hand, the curved edge-to-edge display screen just about eliminates bezel, and the aperture for the 40MP entrance digital camera is a tiny punch gap that’s simple to disregard when watching a video.
Samsung’s new, redesigned in-screen fingerprint sensor is making its debut on the Galaxy S21 collection, and Samsung touts that it’s each sooner to unlock your telephone and in addition bigger than earlier than, so simpler to hit. We have to do extra testing to see simply how briskly it’s, and the way forgiving it’s of our typically wayward thumb placement.
The S21 Extremely show will get extremely brilliant – as much as 1,500 nits brilliant – and that’s going to be necessary when your telephone is in direct daylight (once we get to go exterior once more). Loads of flagship telephones, together with the iPhone 12 and even the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus, high out at 1,200 nits.
You’ll need a Galaxy S21 Extremely case for greater than safety. There’s a folio case that holds a particular S Pen – which is bigger and extra snug to carry than the one which tucks within the physique of Galaxy Word telephones – and it’s offered individually. Precisely what you do with the stylus with out shopping for this folio case is at present unclear, however it neatly slots into the inside backbone of the folio case and feels safe there.
We had been in a position to jot down fast notes and convey up all the Air Command choices that embrace a wide range of options you should utilize with out touching the telephone’s display screen. We appreciated the actual fact the the S Pen in bigger and never like gasping a toothpick-sized Word S Pen.
Lacking from the S21 Extremely S Pen are Bluetooth shortcuts for the digital camera and off-screen notes, like on the Galaxy Word 20 Extremely. However they might include an much more particular S Pen Professional mannequin launching later this 12 months and first introduced throughout the Galaxy Unpacked occasion.
Even with all the hype round an S Pen on an S telephone, we absolutely anticipate the Word 21 Extremely within the subsequent six to seven months (six it comes early and 7 months if Samsung sticks to its standard August time-frame). There’s nonetheless an viewers for that telephone and having the ability to embed the stylus contained in the handset.
Digicam and battery
The cameras and battery life are two areas particularly the place we have to do further long-term testing of the S21 Extremely, as there’s extra to unpack than standard. Samsung’s 108MP digital camera returns, together with two 10MP telephotos cameras that change between to supply an improved 100x zoom, and a 12MP ultra-wide digital camera.
The 108MP digital camera and each telephoto cameras seize bigger particular person pixels than their counterparts on the S20 Extremely did (the ultra-wide appears to be unchanged), however we’re extra desirous to see how the brand new laser-assisted phase-detection autofocus (LAPDAF) performs.
We ran right into a bunch of issues final 12 months when Samsung used PDAF (minus the laser-assisted perk launched later within the Word 20 Extremely), as a substitute of discovering a method to make use of the superior twin pixel autofocus that’s potential on smaller 12MP fundamental cameras. It made the 108MP and 100x ‘House Zoom’ choices virtually not value utilizing, with lots of our photographs popping out blurry and out of focus.
The 100x ‘House Zoom’ returns right here, and this time Samsung needs it to be greater than a gimmick and ‘gee-whiz’ tech demo. We’re actually prepared to present it one other probability to be greater than a celebration trick, and see how nicely it zooms into the Statue of Liberty, for instance, in comparison with the Word 20 Extremely’s 50x zoom.
The addition of a ‘tripod lock’ setting steadies the 100x digital camera on a topic and prevents the viewfinder from shifting round, one thing that might be jarring when zooming in that tightly on the S20 Extremely. After a second, the S21 Extremely digital camera fixes onto a topic that it outlines in yellow on the small zoomed-out nook reticle, and the shakiness is magically dialed down.
The 40MP entrance digital camera additionally returns, enabling you to take extremely detailed selfies, and Single Take mode as soon as once more lets you seize movies and photographs concurrently utilizing all the varied cameras – and this 12 months, Samsung has integrated sluggish movement into what it’s referred to as Single Take 2.0. Model new is a mode referred to as Director’s View, which helps you to seize video with each the back and front cameras concurrently, a neat concept that you simply don’t get on most telephones (the iPhone 12 collection requires a third-party app to tug this off).
Efficiency and software program
The S21 Extremely specs are greater than what most individuals want – generally. The choice of 12GB or a ridiculous 16GB of RAM is greater than most of the finest laptops on sale, whereas 128GB appears form of restricted when there’s no microSD card slot on this telephone – Samsung is prepared to promote you on the 256GB or the 512GB mannequin, however for lots more cash.
The S21 Extremely marks the debut of two new smartphone chipsets, and which one you get comes right down to the place you reside on the planet. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is in US-bound telephones, whereas Samsung’s personal Exynos 2100 chipset might be within the telephone in most different international locations. We haven’t examined a telephone working on both processor earlier than, and it’ll be fascinating to see if Android telephones will be capable to shut the hole with Apple’s typically sooner A collection of chipsets.
The S21 Extremely runs One UI 3.1 and Android 11, that means you’re getting the most recent software program from Samsung and Google; nonetheless, don’t anticipate Android 12 to return to this telephone till early subsequent 12 months, even when Google releases its replace in August.
One factor we discovered fascinating, in addition to testing out all the Word-like Air Instructions, was the left-most menu. As an alternative of the standard Bixby menu, it was devoted to Google Assistant (previously Google Now). We’re intrigued to see if that’s out there within the ultimate model of the telephone.
The Galaxy S21 Extremely is well Samsung’s best-looking telephone in two generations, particularly within the matte Phantom Black shade. Nevertheless it’s extra than simply appears to be like – truthfully. We’re digging this smartphone for its 5 cameras, which embrace a 108MP fundamental sensor with improved autofocus, and two telephoto cameras along with the ultra-wide digital camera.
The one catch is that you need to surrender the microSD card slot and charger that’s not included.
We hope zooming in 100x with the tripod lock makes a world of distinction. One other game-changer is the truth that within the US this telephone is a full $200 cheaper than the S20 Extremely – it’s cheaper within the UK and Australia too.