New year, new Samsung flagship.
Aptly named S21 which also reflects the new year, Samsung’s newest Galaxy device is an early riser, releasing in January instead of the usual March launch.
Coming in three models; S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra ensures that there is a device for all users, from the light to super-user range. The S21 is the entry level model – but by no means a watered down experience.
We received the S21 pre-launch and the first thing you are likely to notice from the box is the exquisite tri-camera housing on the rear of the smartphone.
True, almost everyone uses a phone case – and you should to protect your new tech investment, however Samsung have gone a step ahead and housed the camera lenses in to their own raised framing keeping the lenses themselves from being damaged if, say, the phone comes up against something else in your pocket or bag, or simply being slid across a surface.
All of the S21 models are built for maximum speed. It’s foot to the floor with the power of Exynos 2100 processor (Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 – USA and China) which is not only built for superior multi-tasking but also optimised for battery consumption.
The S21 has 8GB of RAM and all models are 256GB storage. Samsung have removed the option of expandable storage by way of microSD.
It’s great being a power user, sure, but what really shines for the Galaxy S21 is the camera.
There are three lenses at the back. A 12MP wide, 64MP telephoto and 12MP ultra-wide and records in both 4K and 8K.
The front is going to see you right and then some for those breathtaking selfies with it’s single 10 MP lens.
Samsung could have left it here – but they didn’t, an additional camera mode that is perfect for vloggers, YouTubers and more; Director Mode.
This new recording innovation activates both the rear and front cameras simultaneously, enabling you to record and narrate at the same time with a picture in picture.
On the fly you can zoom in or out at the touch of a tile on the Director Mode and flip the front and rear camera view without the need of pausing your recording session.
Whatsmore Samsung have tidied up Night mode. A pitch black night time shot when using the dedicated mode will use a technical sorcery for a clear, detailed and lit shot.
The S21 has a maximum of 30x digital zoom and there has been work done to steady the camera’s view when at full zoom – but bear in mind the closer to go in, the less detail you’ll get.
The brilliant AMOLED screen comes in at 6.2 inch on the Galaxy S21 @ 1080 x 2400 pixels and offers both 60 and 120Hz refresh rates.
While there is hardly a bezel to speak of the S21 does not have an edge screen.
The UI is cleaner too. Rocking Android 11 the S21’s interface is cleaner and sharper than ever before.
As the S21 only has a 4,000 mAh battery I do recommend keeping the screen on 60Hz unless you are playing a serious mobile game. The higher refresh rate does gobble up the life of the Galaxy S21, in my test with the device the higher refresh rate limited the battery to around 9 hours from full to flat, whereas keeping it on 60Hz gained just over 12 hours of normal use.
Gaming – the Galaxy S21 can do.
Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG and Fortnite played superbly. The downside though is the smaller battery. Call of Duty sucked up a large chunk of juice (around 60%) in as little as 2 hours of play on 120Hz.
So while the Galaxy S21 is most definitely more than capable in being able to keep up with it’s bigger siblings in gaming power, it loses the race for longevity. I imagine however that the more serious players out there would go for the S21 Ultra with the beefier battery and super-size screen.
For the moderate users to the multi-taskers, the S21 is a perfect device offering you currently unbeaten mobile photography chops that no other smart device can compare to at the time of writing.
Samsung Galaxy S21 – little but loud, small yet bold and if larger smart phones is not your thing then it’s the perfect upgrade.
Released: January 2021
Device Name: Galaxy S21
Chipset: Exynos 2100
Internal Storage: 256GB
Camera: F: 10MP. R: 12MP wide, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide
Price: $1,399.00 (NZD)