We spent a month in the company of Samsung Galaxy S21 using it as the main smartphone and in this review we are ready to explain to you why we consider it the best among the top compact smartphones
Samsung’s Galaxy series needs no introduction now. With the stop (at least momentary) to the series Galaxy Note, the Serie S21 this year has the possibility of having no internal rivals in the top and premium range of the Korean company. A few months after the official launch, given your appreciation to the posthumous and prolonged review that we have dedicated to Vivo X51, I have decided to cut out the same treatment for Samsung Galaxy S21, used as the main smartphone for about a month and a half.
Among the three devices belonging to the S series we carried out this test with the S21 5G, “entry level” of the ma series top of the range in all respects, with a peculiarity that immediately attracted my attention and made the user experience truly satisfying: it is among the most compact top of the range on the market.
- Display: 6.2 ”AMOLED Infinity-O, brightness up to 1300 nits, dynamic refresh rate from 48 to 120 Hz
- SoC: Samsung Exynos 2100
- System: Android 11 Samsung One UI 3.1
- Memory: 8 GB of RAM and 128-256 GB of UFS 3.1 internal memory
- Rear Camera: triple camera with 64MP + 12MP + 12MP main sensor, max recording: 8K 24 fps – Front camera: 10MP sensor
- Connectivity: 5G, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.0 con A2DP/LE/aptX, A-GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou/Galileo, NFC, Type-C 3.2
- Battery: 4000 mAh
- Dimension: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
- Weight: 169 grams
A wonderful piece of plastic | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
Unfortunately, we could not take a look at the sales package, as we received a print sample without it, but we can confirm that it is absent the charger except in the version sold on Amazon. Having said that, however, we can move immediately to the analysis of the design of this smartphone, which probably contains most of the advantages but also the greatest “defect” of this device. In terms of build quality we are close to perfection, finding ourselves faced, in parallel, with a convincing design. Especially thanks to the incredible and now almost absolute optimization of the front with a display almost totally free of frames and interrupted only by the hole for the front camera. Samsung Galaxy S21 is available in the colors: white, black, pink and purple.
If I had to summarize with one term the biggest disappointment I have to pour out towards the Samsung Galaxy S21, this would be: Glastic. Glastic is the material that makes up the back of the smartphone, a mix between polyester and fiberglass, already present on other devices of the company. On a visual level, actually the adoption of this material has no impact, on the contrary, the first impression is that of having a glass back like the older brothers. Unfortunately, the sensation vanishes completely to the touch, when all the limits of a “plastic” solution come out, especially in terms of reaction to temperature. In this regard, we will deepen the discussion in the section of this review dedicated to performances. What is certain, however, is that certainly a material of this type has a superior resistance to falls and shocks but it is also what has diminished my experience of use more than anything else.
Speaking of user experience, after more than a month of use I can confirm that the pleasant sensation of having the perfect smartphone for size and weight. It is really hard to think of having a device with a 6.2 ″ display in your hands, the 169 grams of weight are so well balanced as to return positive old school sensations, when compactness and manageability reigned supreme . Using the Samsung Galaxy S21 is truly a pleasure with few rivals!
Samsung – display: perfect match | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
The onboard panel of Samsung Galaxy S21 is a unit 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X e FullHD + resolution with variable refresh rate in a range between 48 Hz e 120 Hz. Needless to go around it too much, Samsung’s displays are always at the top, as in the case of the S21. Display with vivid and brilliant colors, always impressive saturation for a reproduction of the contents to be envied, even more amplified by the standard support HDR10+, now standard in this range.
The only small flaw I found is one factory white calibration not exactly flawless, with a color temperature tending to “yellowish” colors. Nothing transcendental and in any case improvable to your liking through the settings. The maximum brightness that stands at 1300 nits is impressive and the oleophobic treatment of the display is impeccable.
What fluidity! | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
Samsung Galaxy S21 arrives with on board the new processor produced by the same Korean company, theExynos 2100, made with 5nm production process and equipped with GPU Mali G78 MP14. They are then matched to the processor 8 GB of RAM and 128/256 GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage not expandable. Although I am a supporter of Snapdragon home solutions, it is undeniable that this Exynos 2100 is finally a processor up to the occasion. Also thanks to a renewed software and finally like the best Android customizations also on the fluidity side, the Exynos 2100 manages to unleash its brute power guaranteeing an experience that is always at maximum fluidity, as every top should have. There GPU Mali G78 I did not find it on a par with the Adreno counterpart on very expensive games such as Genshin Impact. Nothing of who knows how impactful, but a few frames are lost every now and then at maximum details.
Performance like a champion then, but no flaws? Unfortunately, even in this case, the problem is partially attributable to Glastic. Although I have found conflicting opinions between the various forums, the sample of Galaxy S21 that I have in test warms up a lot and the sensation of heat is inevitably amplified by the plastic material that makes up the body. During my prolonged test I always used the smartphone without a protective cover and unfortunately the feeling of heat at the rear is anything but pleasant. Obviously we are talking about situations reached when the workload begins to be important but it is still a feeling that I had not felt for some time and that I certainly would not have expected and would not like on a top-of-the-range smartphone.
Photographic sector with ups and downs | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
Before going into the examination of the photographic sector in all its components, it is useful to specify that the subtitle clearly refers to the photographic sector in relation to the top range of the market and that therefore the analysis of the same part taking into consideration the top camera phones on the market .
Galaxy S21 is equipped with three rear sensors: main 12MP f1.8, 64MP zoom f2.0, 12MP f2.2 wide angle. The greatest advantages compared to the photographic sector already seen on S20 concern above all the fluidity of photographic application and some small general improvements within the shots. Considering the extended test, I had the opportunity to really test the cameras in any context. In optimal light conditions we are faced with beautiful shots, with a marked tendency toexasperation of saturation and contrast, capable of creating vivid photographs perfect for social use, as per Samsung tradition. Considering the competition, I would certainly have expected a little more from the camera zoom which interpolates a zoom with a low loss of quality. only at 3x.
On the other hand, the wide-angle camera is good, although certainly not the top of the sector. The macro shots, on the other hand, did not convince me very much. The shots in low light conditions are also good, but the feeling is always that of being disappointed in the face of a definition and quantity of detail that is certainly not impeccable, indeed, the color tends to mix quite a lot. More than anything else, that extra something seems to be missing that would have fully satisfied expectations, considering that the smartphone has a launch price of almost € 900. Average front chamber, without praise and without infamy.
Samsung Galaxy S21 can go as far as the maximum resolution of 8K at 24 fps in video recording from the rear camera e 4K 60 fps from the anterior chamber. Very high resolutions that result in a ‘excellent amount of detail, even when you decide to record at lower resolutions. Excellent image quality which unfortunately is not accompanied by a stabilization at the height of what is seen with vivo and Oppo or trivially even with the older brother S21 Ultra. Optical stabilization that still settles on good results in Full HD. Overall, therefore, everything translates into a vote between 8 and 8.5 which at first glance and at a first test, perhaps with optimal light conditions, can suggest even more remarkable peaks but which over time and with the shots are resized. It is up to you to choose whether you rate it enough on such a device.
5G, Wi-Fi 6, NFC .. | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
Samsung Galaxy S21 is a very complete smartphone from every point of view: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and above all 5G. All without neglecting the Widevine L1, essential for streaming multimedia content in Full HD. The quality of audio reproduction is decidedly top thanks to the joint operation of the ear capsule and system speaker that allow you to take advantage of a stereo sound.
Small honorable mention to the smartphone unlocking systems. Obviously present both the unlocking with the face and with ultrasonic sensor below the display. In the latter case, it is an updated version compared to what has already been seen on the S20, a decidedly functional update since the smartphone unlocks instantly and with an even higher margin of error in contact with the screen. Ditto for the unlock with the face, absolutely instant. This fluidity, among other things, is maintained to the thousandth even after some time from the first use, despite the smartphone being loaded with applications in the background.
One UI: finally an interface up to par! | Samsung Galaxy S21 review
If there is a reason why I have been reluctant to recommend Samsung’s top range for years, this is the proprietary interface. One UI. In recent years, it has undergone several updates, but it has brought with it slowdowns and fluidity certainly not flawless, especially in the long term. I wanted to try S21 and the new One UI 3.1 for a long time just to try to understand if it could really be the turning point for the Korean company’s smartphones.
The fluidity, from the first moment, is clearly higher than in the past, opening applications is really …