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which one to buy among the three models

Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 + and Galaxy S21 Ultra, this is how the Galaxy S family has been configured for this 2021. In this generation the differences of the Ultra model with respect to its younger brothers are higher than ever And it is that last year, when we compared the Galaxy S20, in our opinion the most expensive option was not so different from the other two models.

After being able to thoroughly analyze these three phones we already have a clear opinion about which is the best, what are their similarities and what are the differences between these phones. The jump has been important in the three new Samsung Galaxy S21, models that represent a good generational change compared to what we saw in 2020.

Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 + and S21 Ultra, technical specifications

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 +

SAMSUNG GALAXY S21 ULTRA

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
172 g

161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm
202 g

165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
228 g

SCREEN

Dynamic AMOLED 2X
6.2 inch FHD +
120 Hz

Dynamic AMOLED 2X
6.7 inch FHD +
120 Hz

Dynamic AMOLED 2X
6.8 inch WQHD +
120 Hz

PROCESSOR

Exynos 2100 5nm

Exynos 2100 5nm

Exynos 2100 5nm

RAM

8 GB

8 GB

12/16 GB

MEMORY

128/256 GB

128/256 GB

128/256/512 GB

SOFTWARE

Android 11 with One UI 3.1

Android 11 with One UI 3.1

Android 11 with One UI 3.1

REAR CAMERAS

Angular: 12 MP
Telephoto: 64 MP, 3x optical zoom
Ultra wide: 12 MP
Others: digital zoom up to 30x, portrait mode, night mode, Angular director’s perspective: 12 MP
Telephoto: 64 MP, 3x optical zoom
Ultra wide: 12 MP
Others: digital zoom up to 30x, portrait mode, night mode, Angular director perspective: 108 MP
1: 10 MP telephoto, 10x optical zoom
Telephoto 2: 10 MP, 3x optical zoom
Ultra Angle: 12 MP Laser sensor for Auto Focus Others: digital zoom up to 100x, portrait mode, night mode, director’s perspective

FRONTAL CAMERA

10 MP

10 MP

40 MP

CONNECTIVITY

5G, WiFi6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB-C

5G, WiFi6, UWB, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB-C

5G, WiFi6E, UWB, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB-C

DRUMS

4,000 mAh
Fast charging 25W (charger not included)
Wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

4,800 mAh
Fast charging 25W (charger not included)
Wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

5,000 mAh
Fast charging 25W (charger not included)
Wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

OTHERS

IP68 water resistance
AKG stereo speakers
Ultrasonic fingerprint reader
2D face unlock
Samsung DeX

IP68 water resistance
AKG stereo speakers
Ultrasonic fingerprint reader
2D face unlock
Samsung DeX

S Pen support
IP68 water resistance
AKG stereo speakers
Ultrasonic fingerprint reader
2D face unlock
Samsung DeX

PRICE

From 859 euros

From 1,059 euros

From 1,259 euros

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G | Free Android Smartphone | 6.2 « FHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 8GB RAM and 128GB Memory | 64MP Rear Camera | Gray Color [Versión española]

Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G | Free Android Smartphone | 6.7 « FHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 8GB RAM and 128GB Memory | 64MP Rear Camera | Silver Color [Versión española]

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G | Android Smartphone | 6.8 « WQHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 12GB RAM and 256GB Memory | 108MP Rear Camera | Black Color [Versión española]

The similar

Before we thoroughly compare these models and explain their key points, let’s explain those points where they are identical, since they share a good part of the hardware. First of all, all three models are sold with the Exynos 2100 in Europe, with the variants with Snapdragon 888 being relegated to other markets. All have a refresh rate of 120Hz and AMOLED technology, although later we will see what differences there are in the panel.

At the level of connectivity, processor and charging technologies, the Samsung Galaxy S21 are identical. All have the Exynos 2100 and 5G, WiFi6 or NFC connectivity, among others

Connectivity is identical on all three models: 5G, WiFi6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and USB-C, plus DeX compatibility. UWB technology is present in the S21 + and S21 Ultra, not in the most basic model. Although the batteries are different, they all have 25W fast charge, wireless charging and reverse wireless charging to charge other devices. None of the S21 comes with a charger in the box, so we will have to get the adapter ourselves.

They also share stereo speakers signed by AKG, a new generation ultrasonic fingerprint reader and 2D face unlock via the front camera. Several identical points between these three models although we will soon see that the differences are finally being noticed in this generation.

The software is also the same: One UI 3.1 based on Android 11 with three years of guaranteed updates. If so, these three models should reach Android 14 (if so called), excellent news for the operating system. They also receive monthly security updates during these three years, with the corresponding security patches and certain improvements at the system level.

Design: refinement across the range, plastic in the smallest model

The design of the Samsung Galaxy S21 has been completely redesigned on the back. Last year the glass of the S20 was quite slippery, something that has changed (at least in one of the models) in this generation. Starting with the small model, the Samsung Galaxy S21, it is the only one of this generation finished in plastic, covered by a matte paint that, by the way, slips more than necessary.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + is finished in glass and in matte paint. Like the S21 it is somewhat slipperyas this coating does not have much grip. The S21 Ultra is the one that stands out the best. It is also finished in glass and matte paint, but his coat of paint has a lot more grip, so it is difficult for us to slip.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only one with a curved screen and its camera module is much larger than that of its smaller brothers

On an aesthetic level, the main difference is in the camera module. The S21 and S21 + have a vertical stripe that houses three sensors, while the Ultra has a module almost twice as large, since it houses a second line of sensors (the laser and a telephoto lens). In the same way, is the only one with curved screen, so in front it is something different compared to its brothers, who show the metal frame around the screen.

This is how the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is in hand.

This is how the intermediate model, the S21 +, remains in hand.

This is how the Samsung Galaxy S21 is in hand.

Regarding the sensations in hand, almost everything is determined by the dimensions. The most comfortable of the three is the Samsung Galaxy S21, terminal with a height of just 15 centimeters and a weight of 172 grams. It is one of the most compact high-end mobiles on the market, along with other alternatives such as the somewhat smaller iPhone 12. The S21 is a marvel when we use it with one hand, it fits in any pocket and, despite being made of plastic, it feels like a premium mobile in the hand.

As for the Samsung Galaxy S21 + and S21 Ultra, they have almost identical measurements, although the weight of the Ultra is 228 grams compared to 202 grams of the S21 +. Here we are going to bet on the Ultraas the slight curve makes it more comfortable to wrap the phone with one hand, as well as its paint grip. The S21 + is very large and has hardly any elements to facilitate its ergonomics, the S21 Ultra is also huge, but we have some aids to hold it in hand.

By weight and dimensions the Galaxy S21 is the most comfortable of the three. Fits in any pocket and is not heavy in the hand

Regarding the position of ports, keypads and others, they all have them in the same place. The main difference is that in the S21 + and S21 Ultra we cannot reach the volume button naturally with our thumb, since this button is very high. In the case of the S21 we get to everything with one hand, since it is a much smaller terminal.

In short, the S21 is the most compact and comfortable of the three. If we assume that we want a giant phone, the S21 Ultra is more ergonomic than the S21 +, with similar dimensions, but considerably less comfortable and more slippery in hand.

Display: that of the S21 Ultra dazzles

After years of betting on 2K resolution, Samsung has restricted it to the Ultra model this year. Controversial decision that allows the S21 Ultra to stand out among its siblings, as its panel is noticeably better this year. As we already advanced in the analysis, it is quite noticeable that the S21 Ultra panel is of a new generation. The level of brightness, colors, sharpness and practically any point that we analyze of its panel is at the highest level of demand. It is an outstanding panel that is hard to fault.

The panel of the S21s is less sharp and bright, although it is still outstanding and worthy of the high range

The panel of the S21 and S21 + is also quite good, with a sharpness more than acceptable for any average user. However, comparing these panels with that of the Ultra, yes you can see the 2K resolution, especially in screen diagonals that exceed 6 inches. All models have, of course, a refresh rate of 120Hz, being able to use it in 2K resolution in the case of the Ultra and Full HD + in the case of the S21 and S21 +.

The S21 Ultra has a slightly curved screen.

The screen of the S21 is flat.

Regarding the screen diagonals, we have 6.2 inches in the case of the S21, 6.7 in the S21 + and 6.8 in the S21 Ultra. As we have already anticipated, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only one of the three models with a curved screenAlthough this year it is so light that it is hardly noticeable. There are no ghost touches or problems associated with said curve, although the small shading that the curve leaves when falling is still noticeable.

This year panel victory is quite clear for the Ultra model. You can see the new generation AMOLED, the brightness, the sharpness of the 2K and, in short, that it is above the other two models. The S21 and S21 + have good panels too, but their technology isn’t that advanced. Finally, highlight that the S21 Ultra is S-Pen compatible, thus being the first terminal of the S family to achieve this function.

Autonomy: three very similar experiences

Despite the fact that the batteries are very different, the autonomy is quite similar in this S21 generation. The three models are close to six hours of screen in a day of use, a little less if we abuse mobile networks, a little more if we focus on WiFi with low brightness.

Very similar figures this year with the S21 and S21 Ultra. All models move between six and five hours on the screen

The three mobiles take a little over an hour to charge with their original 25W charger, a figure that does not compete against other charges of 65 or up to 120W that we are seeing, but which seems more than enough to charge batteries between 4,000 and 5,000mAh. None come with charger, so we will have to buy the adapter separately.

The good news is that this generation the 120Hz does not consume much more battery than the 60Hz. Last year we got to see differences of up to two hours of screen less to activate them, this year the consumptions in adaptable 60Hz or 120Hz are practically identical, so we can reach the end of the day even if we have the maximum active refresh rate.

Camera: The Ultra is still not the best around, but there is a jump

Last year, despite the 108 megapixels of the S20 Ultra, the processing ended up giving the victory to the Samsung Galaxy S20, with a fairly large sensor, but 12 megapixels. This year the resolutions are repeated, but the configuration of the S21 Ultra is more ambitious. In addition to having a better main sensor, it has a laser sensor to improve focus (one of the problems that the S20 Ultra had last year) and a 10X telephoto lens that will make a difference in zoom.

In this way, the S21 have a range that goes from 0.6x to 30X hybrid (3x optical x 10x digital) and the S21 Ultra again reaches 100X (10x optical x 10x digital). The jump in processing is not gigantic, but it shows on the Ultra model. Both the S21 and S21 + have exactly the same camera, so you will only see two photographs in comparison, specifically the S21 + (which will always be on the right) vs the S21 Ultra (which will always be on the left).

The s21 have a less precise color, but in detail they resolve the scene better. Galaxy S21 Ultra on the left

Regarding the results, we have some curious points to comment. This year the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra forces the sharpness something that, added to the 108 megapixels grouped in 12 (it is not a shot at 12 megapixels naturally), means that we have a somewhat artificial processing again. For its part, the detail is more natural (and better) in the S21, but the color processing is not good.

S21 Ultra left. S21 + right.

In the review of the S21 Ultra we already pointed out that the colorimetry was quite accurate, but the work that the S21 does here leaves something to be desired. If we see the photograph at a first glance, we can see that the color is not precise and is more saturated than normal..

S21 Ultra left. S21 + right.

With the ultra wide angle, again, we see slight differences at the color level, although not as marked as in the case of the main sensor. In this case, the detail on the S21 Ultra is somewhat greater, but the difference is imperceptible to the average user’s eye. It is not the best ultra wide angle of the high range in either case, but it is more than valid for daytime photography.

1x, 10x, 30x and 100x

The differences in zoom are marked by telephoto lenses. The Ultra has a 10X telephoto lens, so that from this distance the difference in sharpness is very high, in addition to being capable of reaching 100 increases. The S21s conform with a 3x optical zoom (30 digital), although photographs with 10x are not badly resolved.

S21 Ultra left. S21 + right.

Last year there were hardly any differences in portraiture, but in this generation clipping is better, noise less, and detail is improved on the Ultra with respect to the S21. This low-light shot is a good example to show how well the Ultra manages to crop, while the S21s struggle with the subject’s ears. There is also more noise in the image of the S21, something the Ultra does not show (and it does without washing the image).

S21 Ultra left. S21 + right.

In selfie we again notice the differences in color that we have seen throughout the comparison. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is also better at exposing the face, controlling the highlights that are reflected in backlit images. The detail that rescues its 40 megapixel sensor, compared to the 10 of the S21 (although the Ultra also shoots at 10 megapixels by the grouping of pixels), is greater Ω

S21 + Ultra left. S21 + right.

At night we have the same trend regarding the day: the S21 Ultra has better color and white balance, but less detail. In this case the difference is mainly given by the edges. The S21 Ultra, as we can see in the crop, loses a lot of quality and blurs the image at the edges. The S21s lose too, but noticeably less.

So which one do I buy?

If you want the best Samsung Galaxy S, the Ultra, if you want the smallest, the S21. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a significant leap from what we saw last year. This generation we do find a model with a better screen, more versatile camera, with a more striking finish and with practically everything that you can ask for from a high-end phone.

The S21 + is a bit in no man’s land. If you want the best Samsung go for the Ultra, if you want something smaller, go for the S21

The S21 is the model to buy if we don’t want the Ultra: compact, powerful and solvent in any situation. A high end that fits in any pocket and is considerably cheaper than its older brothers, despite sharing much of the hardware.

Regarding the S21 +, it is a bit in no man’s land. It is basically a bigger S21, with no advantages compared to it. If we want a large S21 and we are willing to spend about 1,000 euros, it is worth paying an extra for the Ultra, since you get the best camera, the best finish and the best Samsung mobile to date.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G | Free Android Smartphone | 6.2 « FHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 8GB RAM and 128GB Memory | 64MP Rear Camera | Gray Color [Versión española]

Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G | Free Android Smartphone | 6.7 « FHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 8GB RAM and 128GB Memory | 64MP Rear Camera | Silver Color [Versión española]

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G | Android Smartphone | 6.8 « WQHD + 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED Screen | 12GB RAM and 256GB Memory | 108MP Rear Camera | Black Color [Versión española]