Samsung rather routinely updated the Galaxy S line of smartphones, introducing three models in 2021. The cheapest is the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. It also has every chance of becoming the most popular in the Android world. How different the novelty is from its predecessor and whether it is worth its money – in the review of RIA Novosti.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (and the entire S21 family) is balanced against its classmates. Nothing superfluous, the smartphone is laconic. The presented color “purple phantom”, of course, is unlikely to become a hit of sales, but there are a lot of Samsung design options, there is plenty to choose from.
The Galaxy S21 is the only one in the series with a polymer back panel. There was enough criticism: the smartphone was more expensive than its predecessor, and the materials were spared. However, the panel itself does not cause rejection – if you do not know that it is plastic, then to the touch the material is indistinguishable from frosted glass. Yes, it is not cold in the hand and it can be assumed that with prolonged use it will be covered with scratches and scuffs. But first, most buyers of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G wear a protective case. And secondly, the plastic allowed to win in weight: 169 grams is very good.
Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone compact by the measure of 2021
The frame of the body, of course, made of metal. But especially interesting is the new design of the camera unit. It looks like one piece with the frame, but they are still different parts. And, of course, the smartphone received moisture protection under the IP68 standard – is able to survive without consequences at a two-meter depth for half an hour.
The screen is covered by the latest Gorilla Glass Victus – we’ve already seen this on the iPhone 12. No one is immune to scratches, but in this “gorilla” worked on durability: the smartphone should withstand a fall on the floor.
It’s good that in the basic Samsung Galaxy S21 5G they abandoned the edges of the screen, going on the body – now we will definitely forget about the phantom presses. The good old flat glass is easier to install protection. And a good film is glued to the display from the factory, which is enough for the first time.
The matrix for the new generation of the S series is called Dynamic AMOLED 2X. The big news is that there is a full 120 hertz. They work in dynamic mode, depending on the application, game or interface. Of course, there is HDR10+ for video, a matrix peak brightness of 1300 nits and a customizable Always-on display.
The display diagonal is only 6.2 inches. We can say that the Koreans, without any pomp, presented a compact flagship, the fashion for which returns.
Performance, memory and communications
Introducing the new S21, Samsung promised that the five-nanometer Exynos 2100 platform will return users’ confidence in the products of the South Korean chipmaker. This did not prevent the release according to the classic scheme for the U.S. and China, the entire line of S21 on Snapdragon 888, however, in Russia, such a version can not buy.
Exynos processor with Cortex-X1 supercore really looks like a real flagship chip of 2021 in synthetics and real use scenarios. I was surprised by how the smartphone copes with trolling and heating – after a 20-minute run in CPU Throttling Test the smartphone hardly drops the operating frequency, and the case itself heats up minimally. This indicates the competent implementation of the cooling system and the layout of the processor.
In games the S21 shows itself well. Maximum framerate with appropriate graphics in many games is not a problem. But there are exceptions: for example, the beloved by many PUBG does not allow you to set the graphics above maximum, which is due to the optimization of the game for the Exynos processor and video gas pedal Mali-G78 MP14. Finally, the screen with a higher clock speed gives an advantage in those games where it is supported – as a result, the feeling of the familiar scenes is completely different.
It would be strange to see memory compromises in Samsung’s 2021 flagship. And there are none here. The base version comes with 128GB of storage, while the extended version has 256GB. The storage is made by the fast technology UFS 3.1. But the RAM is only 8 GB LPDDR5. Unfortunately, the new generation did not bring back the memory card that many people love. Neither is the audio jack.
There are specific interfaces in the smartphone, like ANT+ for sports devices or Samsung DeX for working with a computer. It’s good that the Koreans don’t forget that, because as a result you can make a working replacement for the computer from the smartphone connected to the TV or monitor.
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G works with NFC as part of the service Samsung Pay. The news is that the Koreans are abandoning the electromagnetic technology MST. But it is not widespread in Russia, so no one will notice it here.
Although 5G networks have not been launched in Russia yet, all versions of the S21 support it. This is how Samsung believes in our market. Well, if you happen to use this smartphone in fifth-generation mobile networks, the S21 will provide very advanced capabilities. The Exynos 2100 processor itself, or rather the integrated 5G modem, is capable of functioning in the millimeter range (mmWave). In theory, this gives a big advantage in the speed of downloading and uploading data. All that remains is to wait for 5G.
In this the S21 is very similar to last year’s S20. However, there is nothing strange here, photographic records have provided Ultra, and the previous generation is still strong. It is enough to refine the software.
The main camera has a 1/1,76 inch sensor with 12 megapixels. The lens with aperture ratio of f / 1,8 with optical stabilization. The second sensor is an ultra-wide-angle 12 megapixel with a viewing angle of 120 degrees. Unfortunately, the S21 does not have autofocus for the “wide angle”. But there is a tricky telephoto sensor. Thanks to its 64 megapixel resolution, it gives a hybrid “lossless quality” zoom up to three times the default. Optical lens stabilization also helps. For experimentation – software 30x zoom, but its quality, of course, is very compromised.
Telephoto in the S21 hybrid
The selfie camera is also from the S20, 10-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2. A lot of changes exactly in the software – Pro mode now works on the ultra-wide-angle camera as well. The viewfinder displays live images from all four cameras simultaneously, so you can select and switch.
And in the field of video recording there are few changes. The Galaxy S20 also introduced 8K recording – for some reason, this mode is also limited to 24 frames per second in the novelty. But stabilization on the main sensor is available in all modes.
Qualcomm’s second-generation ultrasonic under-screen fingerprint scanner is a noticeable step forward: the sensor area has almost doubled, which means you don’t have to target the right area. And the readability of the fingerprint has risen to the level of a high-quality classic sensor. And even a film glued to the screen does not interfere with the scanner.
But face recognition is only on the front camera. Yes, to fool with a photo is unlikely to succeed. But in low light the system is expectedly dull and at a small angle the camera does not want to recognize the owner. We want to believe that this will be corrected with one of the firmware updates.
The battery is exactly the same as in last year’s Galaxy – 4000 mAh. But the duration of operation on a single charge has increased dramatically. Uninterrupted video playback from the internal memory is 15 hours. Moreover, even in 120 Hz screen mode, the smartphone functioned on a single charge for two days. Perhaps in the 5G-network the situation will not be so rosy, but so far it is a clear bid for success among the current flagships.
S21 not only left without a complete power supply. Wired charging is limited to 25 watts of power, which on the background of Chinese handsets looks frivolous. Why Samsung decided to do so – a mystery, perhaps due to the desire to increase battery life without reducing battery life. Having taken the compatible QuickCharge 3 charger, it was possible to replenish the capacity by half in 37 minutes, for 100 percent it took an hour and a half.
The good thing about wireless charging is that it is 15 watts, with the ability to reverse charge other gadgets. The latter can be very useful, for example, for TWS-headset.
The S21 has a strong sense of last year’s flagship. However, it is not correct to call it an upgrade – there are indeed plenty of new features, such as the promising Exynos 2100 platform. By the way, the “base” S21 will cost 75,000 rubles, and the 256 GB version costs 80,000. This is more expensive than the S20 was asked for at the start of sales. There are not many direct competitors to the smartphone – longtime fans of the brand will not look at a raft of Chinese “tops for their money”, and the iPhone 12 has a completely different philosophy. There is, of course, Sony, but the Japanese have long been considered a manufacturer of smartphones not for everyone. So it turns out that if you want to buy a real Android flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is the logical choice.