Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, analysis and opinion

In 2021 Samsung continues to bet on the strategy it already used last year by presenting three smartphones, Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra, to lead its top range in the first half of the year until the arrival of the upcoming Galaxy Notes of 2021.

This time we focus on the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, the medium of the saga that shares some points in common with the rest of Galaxy S21, but with a more measured size than the Galaxy S21 Ultra and some improvements concerning the more basic Galaxy S21.

The model we have in hand is the largest storage capacity with 256 GB that can be found for a price of 1,109 euros and looks a differential design compared to its rivals. In this analysis, we show you the good and the bad of the Samsung Galaxy S21+ and give you our opinion.

Samsung demarcates from clone mobiles with a different design

2020 has been a fairly flat year in terms of design, and we have seen that many brands opted for a fairly similar design for their smartphones. The Galaxy S21 brings some fresh air to this panorama by betting on a differential design that makes them perfectly recognizable from the rest.

The main differentiating factor is found in the rear with a camera module that stands out from the rest for its originality. Samsung has decided to dispense with the rectangles in black to group its cameras and has chosen to integrate them with the chassis by "shielding" them with a metal frame with the same metallic finish as the edges.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Phantom Silver, 12GB, 256GB Storage) with No Cost EMI/Additional Exchange Offers Electronics

The Samsung Galaxy S21+ we are analyzing has the Phantom Silver finish and, as the name suggests, the predominant color is silver, but it is not homogeneous throughout the smartphone in which the metallic silver gloss of the edges is combined, with the matte matte matte of the camera module and the matte glass finish of the back.

The Galaxy S21+ is also available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Black, Phantom Pink finishes, and exclusive Phantom Red and Phantom Gold finish on its website.

Beyond the set of vertically arranged cameras in the upper left corner of the rear, this one sports a curious design in what Samsung has called "Glastic" which is nothing but polycarbonate treated to perfectly mimic the touch and appearance of matte glass.

It's a finish that helps keep your smartphone clean longer as it doesn't catch footprints so easily while providing a better grip because it's not so slippery.

The bet on plastic for the rear of the Galaxy S21+ 5G has also caused the weight of the smartphone to remain at a tight 200 grams for mobile with dimensions of 161.5 x 75.6 mm and 7.8 mm thick.

The new Galaxy S21+ baking comes with a soft, slightly curved silhouette on the sides of the back to improve grip, making it an easy-to-hold smartphone that fits well in the palm of your hand.

If we go to the edges we find a fairly clean design in which it is practically limited to the two power and volume buttons on the right side. The touch of these buttons is firm, but their location is somewhat high for our taste and to adjust the volume you will need to make contortionism with one hand to reach the volume button.

On the left side, only the presence of the antennas stands out, as well as at the top, where the noise-canceling microphones are also integrated for calls.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Phantom White, 8GB, 128GB Storage) with No Cost EMI/Additional Exchange Offers Electronics

The busiest part is the bottom edge where the bottom speaker, the USB Type-C connector, and the two-card nanoSIM tray are grouped, which in this model does not have expansion options with microSD cards.

As the protective rubbers reveal in the SIM tray and surrounding the USB port, the Galaxy S21+ 5G features IP68 protection against water and dust.

Already on the front, we find a completely flat screen with minimal and symmetrical frames throughout the perimeter. At the top is integrated the frontal camera into a hole centered on the screen on which it is difficult to find (but is) the stereo top speaker that is used for both calls and multimedia.

In short, Samsung has brought us by 2021 a smartphone that feels very premium in hand even though the glass has been replaced by polycarbonate and that its dimensions and weight are slightly greater.

The new Galaxy S21+ 5G offers a different style that enters like a cool breeze in a market that was locking into camera modules with ceramic hob aesthetics.

Resignations that taste right for a bright screen

One of the controversies brought by last year's Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G (which we analyzed here)was to integrate a screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz but only for Full HD resolutions. If you wanted to take advantage of the panel's native WQHD+ (3,200 x 1,440px) resolution, you had to give up a higher refresh rate.

On the Galaxy S21+, the South Korean brand has pulled down the street in between offering a screen with Full HD+ resolution (2,400 x 1080 pixels) and an adaptive refresh rate on its Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G models.

In our opinion, it is a wise decision because with these screen sizes there is not so much difference between a resolution 1440p and 1080p, but it does so at the level of energy savings that, as we will see later in the autonomy section, the Galaxy S21+ will not be remembered for its battery capacity.

This adaptive refresh rate allows you to change the refresh rate of the screen depending on the type of content you are displaying at any given time to get the best visual experience while saving battery.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Phantom Violet, 8GB, 256GB Storage) with No Cost EMI/Additional Exchange Offers Electronics

For example, if you're viewing or editing photos on mobile, you don't need a 120 Hz refresh rate as their static images, so you'd only be spending battery. In this case, the Galaxy S21+ will lower the refresh rate to a minimum of 48 Hz and raise it to 120 Hz for games, videos, or apps that support a higher refresh rate.

Samsung has opted to mount the same Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with 20:9 format and Full HD+ resolution (2,400 x 1,080 pixels) on both its Galaxy S21 5G and the Galaxy S21+ 5G that we are analyzing. The only difference between the two is the screen size that in the model that we have on our hands grows to 6.7 inches.

The display offers the quality we can expect from a high-end Samsung. Indeed, it is not the screen with the most resolution, but it does offer excellent sharpness and "very Samsung" colors in which the bright and saturated tones that the South Korean brand has accustomed to predominate, but both the color adjustment and the refresh rate can be customized from the screen settings.

The Galaxy S21+ comes with two possible Intense and Natural color settings, the first being the only one that supports a certain level of white balance adjustment. So in the end the screen adjustment options look somewhat limited.

The display supports HDR10+ so it shows its full potential with extraordinary high-end brightness. Samsung has been cautious in estimating the maximum brightness peak at 1,300 nits.

However, in our measurements, the values have been much higher and we have obtained an average maximum brightness of up to 1,918 boxes in HBM (High Brightness Mode) mode and an average of 941 boxes with 100% screen brightness.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Phantom Gray, 8GB, 128GB Storage) with No Cost EMI/Additional Exchange Offers Electronics

It is a very remarkable brightness even to be a high-end smartphone with which we have obtained perfect visibility of the screen even in full sunlight and that allows displaying HDR content with greater color accuracy.

The median Galaxy S21 integrates a fingerprint reader on the screen that has greatly improved its reaction time compared to what we found in the previous generation thanks to the increase in the detection surface and allows facial unlocking by software.

these aren't the only news the Galaxy S21+ brings. Screen protection is at the best of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, a new material that Samsung has already integrated into the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which provides better resistance against impacts and scratches.

New generation Exynos that gives the size even in the high end

Samsung has released a new generation of processors for its range of high-end terminals and has changed its usual nomenclature to move away from Huawei's Kirin and Qualcomm's Snapdragon.

This is the Exynos 2100, a processor with which Samsung leaps at 5 nm, with eight cores distributed in a Cortex X1 at 2.91 GHz, 3 Cortex A78 units at 2.81 GHz, and 4 Cortex A55 units at 2.21 GHz. The theory says that this asymmetrical distribution makes it more efficient by scaling power by better adjusting energy consumption. Let's see if it's true.

In our daily use, the behavior of the smartphone has been impeccable at all times, with fluid and no jerking behavior in the tests to which we have subjected them. The Exynos 2100 ranks as one of the most powerful processors of 2021 and everything suggests that it won't have too many problems to stand up to the latest Snapdragon 888 (processor that, by the way, will mount the Galaxy S21s destined for the American and Chinese market). We'll be out of doubt as new phones start coming in with Qualcomm's latest processor.

Samsung's new chip integrates a Mali-G78 MP14 GPU that pulls out muscle when higher graphics performance is demanded meeting the demands of games as demanding in this section as Genshin Impact, Call of Duty: Mobile, or PUBG.

8GB LPDDR5 RAM also helps maintain fluidity when moving games and heavy applications.

In fact, it is curious that where this fluidity is least appreciated is when executing the animations and transitions of the interface, in which we cannot consider that it gets locked, but there is a slight delay when drawing elements on the interface during that transition.

An example is when switching between the different shooting modes of the Camera app, which instead of changing the elements immediately, stops for a second and then draws the new items on the screen.

Benchmarks reveal an obvious improvement of the Exynos 2100 over the Exynos 990 and Snapdragon 865s just above the Snapdragon 865+.

The Galaxy S21+ comes equipped with 8GB of LPDDR 5 and UFS 3.1 RAM, which gives you some improvements in memory management but keeps the trend of the latest Samsung devices that don't rank among the fastest memories on the market.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Phantom Black, 12GB, 256GB Storage) with No Cost EMI/Additional Exchange Offers Electronics

Even so, they are very outstanding figures that position it among the highest mobiles in terms of performance and solvency when it comes to dealing with all kinds of heavy tasks.

The price to pay for the performance improvement is a more than obvious temperature increase as soon as the nuts are tightened and you are required for maximum performance.

The temperature increase is noted, for example, when keeping the camera open or after a gaming session, especially noticeable in the area near the cameras where the processor is usually located and on the metal edges that act as heat sinks. However, this increase in temperature is of no concern under any circumstances.

One UI 3.1 moves away from Android and brings new solutions of its own

When a year ago we analyzed the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra we already indicated that One UI was at risk of following in the footsteps of TouchWiz, the old layer of customization of Samsung devices that ended up devoured by its ambition to cover too much.

With One UI 3.1 running on Android 11, Samsung is taking another step away from the stock Android versions, betting on its own interface and exclusive functions that mark a distance from the native Android ones.

Luckily, the performance of the interface has not yet been affected by increasingly extensive menus, although in that equation it must be taken into account that this smartphone is running on Samsung's most powerful processor.

One UI 3.1 has added some improvements in the way of showing notifications and access to external devices such as headphones or Bluetooth speakers from the notification panel and shortcuts.

The quick options available by pressing and holding the icons have also been improved, now offering two groups of actions. On the one hand, the direct actions that allow access to certain functions of the selected app, and on the other hand, a contextual menu that allows you to manage functions related to the launcher and that allow you to uninstall the app, move it to the home screen, etc.

As usual in the latest Samsung phones, we find a considerable number of pre-installed own apps, as well as some third-party apps like Facebook that can be uninstalled without major problems.

The Always-on Display screen improves by adding some additional widgets with which you can control music without unlocking the terminal.

Samsung has kept the Edge bar, the quick access bar that is hidden on one side of the screen and is shown by sliding your finger from the edge of the screen to access a custom panel in which app access icons can be located more common contacts or useful tools.

If you have never used a Samsung smartphone, the Android settings menu will be a bit complex since not all the options are where they should be. For example, the settings menu for the battery shares a section with storage.

Menu organization details aside, One UI 3.1 is a customization layer that allows good connectivity, making it easier to share content on social networks or send it to other services and devices in a simple way.

In this sense, it seems to us one of the best customization layers, which may be somewhat weighed down by the excess of animations, transparencies, and configuration options that the user will not always use.

With this new version of the Samsung interface also come the new improvements for DEX, the Samsung desktop interface that adds wireless connectivity functions to display DEX on computers wirelessly and not only connecting to monitors through a USB cable as before.

Samsung has not left out the optimization of its terminals for games and includes the Game Launcher functions, designed as a HUB for all content related to games; and Game Booster with which it optimizes the operation of the terminal while the games are running by limiting the notifications or deriving all the resources available to their execution.

Same configuration as the Galaxy S20 but great improvements in processing

On paper it might be thought that we find little novelty in the configuration of cameras and essence this is the case. The most "photographic" model is the Galaxy S21Ultra 5G, with more advanced and differential photographic equipment, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 + and Samsung Galaxy S21 offer the same focal lengths as their predecessor.

However, the main novelties in this section are found in how the new Samsung mobile processes with the data collected by these sensors. The use of artificial intelligence and improvement in the photographic stacking that the new processor allows is undoubtedly the most disruptive factor in this section in which the consolidation of the technologies that Samsung implemented in its 2020 models predominates.

As usual, before getting into a meal with the analysis of the photographic performance of the Samsung Galaxy S21 +, we pause briefly on its camera application.

In terms of aesthetics, the camera app of the Galaxy S21 + does not differ too much from its predecessors, offering quick access to the most common modes and showing the configuration options of that mode at the top. However, to access important settings such as HDR, you must access the settings menu as this option is not visible.

Shooting modes that were already in the 2020 models are maintained, such as Single Capture, which takes a small video from which different images and fragments are extracted to which different effects and cuts are applied, leaving you several options ready to share on your networks social.

To access more complex modes than the automatic Photo and Video modes, it will be necessary to enter the More section, where 12 additional shooting modes are grouped, among which we find the Pro mode of photography and video to obtain greater control with manual settings, slow motion, super slow motion, and fast motion modes, as well as specific modes for food or panorama.

Highlight the Night mode and Portrait Mode, which take full advantage of the new functions of artificial intelligence applied to computerized photography.

We start with what we could consider as the main or angular camera, although this name comes more for the lens it mounts than for the sensor behind it.

How could it be otherwise, the results obtained with this lens are very good under favorable light conditions, achieving a good level of sharpness thanks to its double focus system, a very natural and progressive background blur provided by a good number of aperture and a good dynamic range in colors facilitated by fairly large pixel size.

All this makes photos taken in good light with this lens look impressive by having the focus point very well defined and creating a very progressive and natural blur. Due to its focal length and type of lens distortion, it is an especially well-equipped camera for portraiture.

Even offering good quality sharpness, this camera tends to show noise even at low ISO sensitivities, generating a kind of grain in the photos.

In general, all Samsung processing tends to have very saturated colors, especially blues and greens. This becomes especially noticeable when scene management is left to the artificial intelligence system and it is contained a bit more when the user takes control of shooting modes.

Outstanding performance in the telephoto camera with 64 megapixels and an aperture of f / 2.0 offers spectacular results very close to those of the "main" camera. In fact, this camera handles image noise better.

In part, this good performance is due to the intervention of artificial intelligence that generates the hybrid 3x and digital zoom of up to 30x. In general, this camera maintains consistency in the treatment of colors. They are saturated and even somewhat unreal, yes, but at least they are equally so in all three focal lengths.

At its native 3x zoom level the quality is maintained with a good level of detail and sharpness throughout the image. That quality is maintained with minimal loss as digital zoom increases are forced to 10x. From that point on, a more pronounced drop in sharpness can be seen and the edges become more diffuse.

The wide-angle camera is the one that raises the most doubts, although it must also be recognized that one of the most complicated to manage due to the large number of distortions that these extreme focal lengths are used to generating.

On the positive side, we highlight the good management of the verticality of the lines that are maintained without too many distortions in most of the images, although they inevitably lean as they approach the extremes.

In terms of sharpness, this camera maintains the type in the central part, but there is a notable loss of sharpness in the corners where halos begin to appear and distort the image, forcing perspectives.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + camera keeps the HDR setting in the background. Its use allows to soften the shadows and balance the lights by increasing the number of shades between both points. This is especially noticeable indirect light scenes where harsh shadows are generated.

HDR has applied automatically, so it is advisable to keep it activated since its effect is noticeable.

The Portrait mode offers very good results and with a very good degree of edge detection even when an aggressive degree of blur is selected, although in this case there are greater problems in the detection of the silhouette and the common defects become more noticeable in glasses, hair, and ears clipping.

Something that we liked in this way is that the photos obtained with this shooting mode can be edited from the gallery and vary the level of background blur without losing quality.

At night, all cameras suffer equally from quality loss, but some perform better than others. In low light, we have observed that artificial intelligence manages very well in automatic mode, although a slight loss of sharpness and the appearance of noise is inevitable.

When activating the Night mode, we see that the amount of noise is reduced, but the sharpness and detail of the photos are sacrificed, leaving flatter images in any of the focal lengths, although it is more obvious in the wide-angle. In both cases, the white balance selection is very successful even when two types of light with different temperatures coincide in the same scene.

If we focus on the front camera, in good light conditions very detailed selfies are obtained in which skin tones are taken care of. It offers two different apertures, opening the focal length so that nobody is left out in group selfies without excessive distortion being appreciated.

Blurring can also be applied to the background with the front camera, although with this lens precision is greatly reduced and misfires are more common.

In night selfies, the quality and level of detail decrease considerably, and the risk of finding shaky selfies increases.

The video section has been enhanced in this new iteration of the Galaxy S, with an 8K resolution at 30 fps. With this setting the sensor is at the limit of its power, so the video is not stabilized optically or electronically.

In a summary, we could say that the Galaxy S21 + does not stand out as the smartphone that is going to revolutionize the panorama of mobile photography —in any case, that would correspond to the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. But what it does bring is the certainty that the user can take the smartphone out of their pocket and take quality photos with a single touch, even when they don't have any knowledge of photography.

Samsung engineers have not bothered to design a revolutionary lens and camera system, they have limited themselves to making the most of the hardware they already had and knew to make it work in the best possible way. This is not easy and in the Galaxy S21 + they have succeeded.

A little more than a day of use with 4,800 mAh and a fast charge that knows little

Definitely, the Samsung Galaxy S21 + will not be especially remembered for offering the best battery on the market and it is surprising since we expected a better optimization of consumption by offering different energy-saving strategies such as opting for the adaptive refresh rate and a lower resolution or using a 5nm processor.

In itself, the autonomy is not bad since that 4,800 mAh allows us to reach the end of the day without major problems, but it is not as brilliant a result as that offered by other terminals with similar battery capacity.

In our tests we have tried to make an intermediate use in which we combine the use of social networks and messaging apps, browsing, watching some videos connected to a WiFi network, the occasional game, taking some photos, and listening to music connected to a Bluetooth headset.

With this usage profile, with which we believe any user can be identified in their day-to-day lives, we have obtained an average of 7 hours of screen time in just under a day and a half of use. As we say, these results are not bad at all, but we were hopeful that the optimizations would have a greater impact on battery life.

As a curious note, to say that in our tests we have detected slightly shorter usage times when we activated the refresh rate of 60 Hz since in proportion, the adaptive mode keeps the screen below that 60 Hz for a longer time because the app than at 120 Hz, while with Standard mode it stays constantly at 60 Hz.

With only correct autonomy, we have to ask ourselves about the charging options available for this Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G that we are analyzing. To begin, you will have to reach the drawer to find a charger since the new Galaxy S21 does not include it in the box.

The 2021 Galaxy has a fast charge of 25 W, which is something that also leaves us a bit cold. In 2021, many mid-range smartphones already have charging powers above 33 W, and 45 and 65 W of power are becoming more common in the high-end range.

Surprisingly, a smartphone of the size of the Galaxy S21 does not offer a higher charging power, even if it does not include an official charger for that power. If it is assumed that the user will have chargers at home (or that they must buy them separately), it must also be assumed that those chargers can offer fast charges above those 22 W.

With that battery capacity and maximum fast-charging power of 25 W, the Galaxy S21 + need about 27 minutes to recover 50% of its charge and 74 minutes to complete 100% of the charge cycle.

The new Samsung mobiles also allow Qi wireless charging of 15 W and reverse charging of up to 4.5 W to charge accessories such as the Galaxy Buds Pro that were presented alongside the new batch of Galaxy phones or watches without needing a charger.

In general terms, we repeat the pattern that we have been observing throughout this analysis of the Galaxy S21 +: very continuous concerning its predecessor, nailing its benefits point by point.

Of course, in its favor to say that with a minimal increase in battery capacity (from 4,500 mAh of the S20 + to 4,800 mAh of the S21 +), the new processor has improved performance while maintaining the same consumption levels as its predecessor But they could have finished the job by adding more efficient fast charging to catch up with their high-end competitors rather than mid-range levels.

5G, good connectivity, and a sound that does not stand out for its power

With the arrival of the Galaxy, S21 Samsung has renounced the duality of models with a 4G and a 5G version, to focus on a single version equipped with the best connectivity for the future. What less when you are investing 1,109 euros in the version of the Galaxy S21 + that we are analyzing.

If Samsung mobiles are already used to showing good connectivity in all their ranges, it is to be expected that the high-end of 2021 will come even better equipped. In this sense, the Galaxy S21 + does not disappoint.

In addition to 5G SA and NSA connectivity and dual SIM, the Galaxy S21 + incorporate support for dual-band WiFi 6 networks, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo positioning.

In the audio section, the Galaxy S21 + that we are analyzing offers a stereo sound adjusted by AKG with support for Dolby Atmos. At the power level, we do not find a display of benefits with an excessively high volume, but it indeed manages to maintain the type with the distortion until reaching 80% of its power.

Beyond that point, it begins to lose a lot of sharpness and, exceeding the safety threshold marked graphically with a dotted line in the volume control, there is a greater increase in power, but the quality of the audio is completely sacrificed. Audio.

One of these improvements is what Samsung calls Adaptive Sound. This function performs a personalized listening test and, based on the results, plays the content adapted to obtain the best results at those frequencies.

Very continuous in almost everything, but brilliant in the details

We put an end to this analysis and it is time to give our opinion of the Galaxy S21 +. In general, we can say that this is the most balanced model for power and performance, but it may not be the most interesting for its price.

This is where the main question that potential users who choose the Galaxy S21 + instead of the Galaxy S21 should ask themselves. Is it worth paying the 1,059 euros for the 128 GB version or 1,109 euros for the 256 GB variant to get a screen just a little larger or a little more autonomy? The answer is not simple and will only depend on the use that each user makes of the smartphone or their personal preferences.

The new family of Galaxy S21 offers a spectacular design and very careful finishes, but internally it is only appreciated as an update concerning last year's models without betting too much on innovation.

Samsung's new phones feature Exynos 2100 processors that allow them to stay in the spotlight and cope with the ubiquitous Qualcomm Snapdragon, but they don't offer much higher performance than the Snapdragon 865+ already offers.

In the photographic section, the main improvement has not come in the camera hardware, which was already good enough for this model, but because of the image processing part. Although it seems somewhat minor, this is a great advance in the photographic experience of Samsung mobiles, but it is still appreciated as an update of what already existed, and not as a great innovation.

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