The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is the awkward center baby of the S21 household: it’s barely larger and higher than the usual Galaxy S21, but it surely’s not fairly the all-singing, all-dancing Galaxy S21 Extremely – however that’s to not say there’s not a spot for the Galaxy S21 Plus on this huge, crowded world.
The larger show and higher battery lifetime of the Galaxy S21 Plus make it extra tempting than the entry-level mannequin, and with a value minimize in comparison with the S20 Plus, it’s less expensive than the high-end S21 Extremely too. However with so many similarities to its predecessor, is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus definitely worth the cash? Properly…
Design and construct
Whereas the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus shares similarities with its predecessor, design actually isn’t one among them, with the whole S21 vary sporting a extra subtle look full with a brand new rear digicam housing that nearly merges with the bezels that encompass the telephone.
It’s a premium look to go well with Samsung’s flagship Galaxy vary, and the brand new color choices – significantly the gold and purple mixture equipped for overview – look nice, but when purple isn’t your factor, it’s additionally out there in silver, black, gold and crimson, though the latter two choices are unique to these shopping for immediately from Samsung.
That vibrant rear is protected by glass, an improve from the ‘glasstic’ rear of the usual Samsung Galaxy S21, giving it a extra premium really feel within the hand, and the matte end means it’s not a lot of a fingerprint magnet both.
Flip it over and also you’ll discover a flat 6.7in AMOLED show with tiny bezels and a centrally positioned holepunch selfie cam, providing an 88.6% screen-to-body ratio.
Some could also be upset on the departure of the curved edges featured in latest releases, and whereas I agree that curved shows look nicer than flat counterparts, producers by no means actually nailed the palm rejection tech. That meant mispresses have been commonplace, and there have been additionally points with textual content curving across the edges in apps, so it’s a sensible transfer general.
It’s possible that after utilizing the telephone for a day or two, you gained’t even discover the shortage of curved edges – I actually didn’t.
However regardless of the massive show on supply, the Galaxy S21 Plus doesn’t really feel significantly massive or heavy within the hand, measuring in at 75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm and 202g. In fact, this can rely on private choice, so that you could be higher with the smaller 6.2in Galaxy S21 for those who wrestle with bigger smartphones.
There’s additionally IP68 mud and water resistance on supply, that means the S21 Plus is ok to make use of within the rain, and it’d even survive a dunk within the water – though I wouldn’t depart it submerged for too lengthy if I have been you, as water injury isn’t truly lined by Samsung’s guarantee. You’ve been warned.
In a world the place new smartphones usually boast extra cameras, extra pixels and extra energy, Samsung took the quite controversial choice to reduce the decision of the Galaxy S21 Plus in comparison with its predecessor. Whereas final yr’s S20 Plus featured a high-res QHD+ panel, the S21 Plus tops out at a Full HD+ decision. On paper, a minimum of, that’s an enormous downgrade.
In actual life, nonetheless, it’s barely noticeable – even with a big 6.7in AMOLED show on supply. It’s possible that solely those that have been utilizing the S20 Plus that’d discover a downgrade when watching high-res motion pictures, however with comparatively few modifications on supply, likelihood is there gained’t be many S20 Plus customers investing within the new mannequin anyway.
For the remainder of us, the show boasts a 394ppi pixel density that leaves textual content, apps, photographs and video games wanting crisp and sharp, and the brilliant 409nits show means it’s nice to be used outdoors too. Plus, extra pixels require extra energy, so why waste invaluable battery life on one thing you gained’t discover more often than not? Full HD+ is probably going the candy spot for many.
Moreover, one of many possible causes for ditching the high-res show is that you just beforehand had to decide on between a excessive decision and excessive refresh price, and provided that the 120Hz refresh price is rather more instantly noticeable, it’s possible that the majority S20 Plus house owners opted for the latter.
This time round you’ve bought the adaptive 120Hz refresh price as normal, making animations and scrolling a buttery-smooth delight. It’s sensible sufficient to robotically alter the refresh price from as little as 48Hz all the way in which as much as 120Hz, relying on what you’re doing, in a bid to enhance battery life. Gaming will get you the total 120Hz expertise, whereas much less graphically targeted duties like listening to a podcast will cut back the refresh price, and it’s often on the cash.
Decision and refresh price apart, the opposite huge change on supply is within the in-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which is 70 % bigger than that of the S20 Plus, making it simpler to find and unlock your telephone.
Some have complained in regards to the efficiency of the in-display scanner of the S21 Plus, however I haven’t discovered this to be the case, efficiently scanning my print and unlocking the telephone more often than not, and the bigger space means it’s simple to provoke the scan too.
Specs and efficiency
Samsung famously likes to separate its processor providing in its flagship Galaxy S vary, which often ends in these within the US having access to Qualcomm chips whereas many of the world makes use of Samsung’s personal Exynos chipsets. And, contemplating the truth that Qualcomm’s chips often supply higher efficiency and battery life than the Exynos chips, it has been a pain-point for UK and European patrons – till now.
No, Samsung hasn’t determined to ship a Qualcomm-enabled Galaxy S21 Plus all over the world – the 5nm flagship Snapdragon 888 remains to be a US unique – however the Exynos 2100 chipset has come alongside leaps and bounds, lastly providing comparable efficiency to Qualcomm’s choice. Being primarily based within the UK, this overview will concentrate on the Exynos-powered variant of the S21 Plus.
The large query is, how does it carry out in benchmarks? It’s excellent news for the Exynos-powered Galaxy S21 Plus, hitting 3589 in multi-core Geekbench 5 CPU assessments and 43fps within the highest high quality Aztec Ruins OpenGL GFXBench benchmarks, simply competing with many of the competitors in 2021. You may check out the benchmark breakdown right here:
In fact, benchmarks are a great way to quantify efficiency, but it surely by no means tells the total story. In real-world efficiency, the Galaxy S21 Plus is blisteringly quick: apps open immediately, it could deal with media-heavy apps like Twitter and Fb with out a trace of stutter and it could energy high-end cellular video games like Name of Obligation Cell with out breaking a sweat.
That super-fast expertise is additional enhanced by the buttery smooth 120Hz refresh price, making the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus a pleasure to make use of each day.
Like its normal sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus sports activities 8GB of RAM as normal. That’s greater than sufficient for the typical joe, however for those who’re the sort to multitask and edit/export movies on the go, the S21 Extremely’s 12- or 16GB of RAM could also be extra up your avenue.
That’s paired with both 128 or 256GB of storage, however not like some rivals, that is extra essential as there isn’t a microSD card slot on any of the S21 vary. Contemplating it has lengthy been a powerful benefit for Android telephones in comparison with the iPhone, it’s disappointing to see it disappear from Samsung’s 2021 flagship Galaxy vary – particularly for those who intend on recording numerous movies and downloading a bunch of apps.
When it comes to connectivity, anticipate finding the most recent and best together with 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.zero and assist for ultra-wideband (UWB), permitting for simpler location of Samsung’s new Bluetooth tracker amongst different SmartThings advantages.
In relation to software program, the Galaxy S21 Plus runs Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI three.1 pores and skin. Samsung’s One UI has come a great distance previously few years, providing distinctive options together with Samsung DeX assist, and it’s usually slick in operation, however there are some nuances to get used to for those who’re coming from a tool operating inventory Android.
It’s value noting that whereas the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus will get the improve to Android 12, don’t wager on it occurring anytime quickly. Even when Google releases the software program within the subsequent few months, Samsung is slightly slower than the likes of OnePlus with regards to releasing the replace to its current vary, and we don’t envision it hitting earlier than the top of 2021 or, extra possible, early 2022.
One space that has remained largely unchanged is the digicam division, with the Galaxy S21 Plus sporting what is basically the identical setup as that of the S20 Plus, compromised of a 12Mp primary snapper, 12Mp ultra-wide and a 64Mp telephoto lens with 3x hybrid zoom. That will sound disappointing, however contemplating the good efficiency from the Galaxy S20 Plus, it’s not an enormous grievance.
As anticipated, photographs from the primary 12Mp rear snapper are detailed, vibrant and supply nice color accuracy, and the f/1.eight aperture means it excels within the low-light division too, additional enhanced by the digicam’s devoted Evening Mode. It’s a flexible snapper that you just’ll possible be utilizing more often than not.
The 120-degree ultra-wide-angle captures extra of the scene with a barely extra warped fisheye perspective that may distort on the edges, however relying on what you’re snapping, it’s not likely a lot of a difficulty. It’s best for panorama images, and it’ll be nice to seize group photographs as soon as we are able to all start assembly up in massive teams once more.
It’s not fairly as succesful in low gentle as the primary snapper with an f/2.2 aperture, however utilizing it along with the Evening Mode often produces respectable outcomes.
The telephoto lens affords a 3x hybrid zoom that produces outcomes you’d be comfortable to share on social media, however that rapidly stops as you improve the digital zoom to 10x, 20x or the utmost 30x zoom. The digitally magnified photographs usually lack any actual element, akin to CCTV footage from the early 00s, and it’s unlikely that you just’ll be utilizing all of it that usually.
On the flip, you’ll discover a 10Mp selfie digicam that’s brilliant and detailed sufficient for selfies and, arguably extra essential throughout a pandemic, it’s nice for video calls too.
That’s all very acquainted, however the lack of modifications meant Samsung may concentrate on enhancing the software program facet of issues.
One such new function is Director’s View, permitting you to take photographs and movies utilizing the entrance and rear cameras on the identical time. That’s nice for vloggers that wish to seize response photographs as they’re recording footage on the rear digicam, merging the 2 photographs into one with out the necessity for enhancing software program, and it usually works fairly properly. You’ve even bought a preview of all three rear cameras directly, permitting you to preview and alter lens mid-recording.
There are additionally enhancements to the Single Take mode launched on the Galaxy S20 vary, which for the unitiated, takes photographs and movies utilizing all three rear-facing cameras on the identical time and, utilizing AI, presents what it thinks are the most effective photographs. It really works a lot the identical because it did beforehand, however with the brand new addition of slo-mo video assist, making it a useful function when attempting to get a snap or a video of a fast-moving topic like a toddler or a pet.
What’s barely disappointing is the return of [email protected] video – it was current on the Galaxy S20 vary on the identical framerate, and given the increase in efficiency and the claims of [email protected] video on supply from each the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100, it’s disappointing to not see a rise on the Galaxy S21 Plus. Even 30fps would’ve supplied barely smoother high-res footage.
In actuality, although, it’s unlikely you’ll be capturing in 8K anytime quickly given the massive file sizes and the shortage of 8K TVs to have the ability to truly get pleasure from the additional element on supply. Extra helpful are the [email protected] or 60fps choices and 240fps slow-mo modes additionally out there on the Galaxy S21 Plus.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus sports activities a four,800mAh battery, however as we all know from earlier Samsung telephones, a big capability doesn’t equate to nice battery life – it additionally is dependent upon how power-efficient the chipset is, and that’s historically the place the Exynos chipset has struggled.
The excellent news is that Samsung has made strides in that division. The Galaxy S21 Plus comfortably makes it by way of a full day with average use, together with texting, taking the occasional picture and enjoying a sport or two of Name of Obligation Cell, and for those who use your telephone much less typically, it may lengthen to round a day and a half earlier than needing a top-up. You may additional lengthen it by capping the show refresh price at 60Hz, however the place’s the enjoyable in that?
Apparently, Samsung has dropped the quick cost of this yr’s vary, capping it at 25W in comparison with 45W on supply from final yr’s mannequin, however Samsung claims that it’s resulting from improved effectivity of the 25W charging capabilities.
It’s not a declare that may be simply examined although, as Samsung adopted Apple’s instance and has determined to not ship earbuds or a charging brick with the S21 vary, assuming that the majority have already got a charger useful, permitting the corporate to scale back general environmental waste. For those who do want a 25W charger to get untethered rapidly, Samsung at present sells them for £29/$19.
There’s additionally 10W wi-fi charging assist, and if that you must top-up your Qi-enabled wi-fi earbuds or smartwatch, there’s 5W reverse wi-fi charging on supply too.
Samsung’s mid-tier Galaxy S21 Plus is available in at a cool £949/$999 for the 128GB/8GB mixture, and there’s additionally a 256GB/8GB combo that’ll set you again a further £50/$50 at £999/$1,049. That will sound costly – and it’s – but it surely’s less expensive than the S20 Plus, significantly within the US, which launched at a whopping £999/$1,199.
For those who’re tempted by Samsung’s newest Plus mannequin, you possibly can choose it up from the likes of Samsung and Currys within the UK, together with Samsung and Finest Purchase within the US if you wish to purchase it outright.
You may also get it on contract, with Vodafone providing the Galaxy S21 Plus for £48 a month with a £48 upfront price, alongside the likes of O2, EE and Carphone Warehouse.
The brand new design on supply from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus appears to be like nice, and the brand new color choices add a vibrant really feel to the flagship smartphone. There’s a glass rear, providing an improve in really feel in comparison with the glasstic rear of the usual Galaxy S21, and the matte end means it’s not a fingerprint magnet both. Some might lament the shortage of a curved show, however with out the mispresses that got here hand-in-hand with curved shows, most will possible respect the shift again.
Although the show has had a downgrade in decision from QHD+ to FHD+, it’s possible that you just gained’t discover a distinction in real-world use. Moreover, it means you possibly can take advantage of the 120Hz refresh price, one thing not out there at QHD+ on the S20 Plus, and a diminished decision improves battery life too.
Talking of, Samsung has lastly cracked the chipset method and produced an Exynos chipset able to competing with choices from Qualcomm, providing each blistering quick efficiency and all-day battery life with average use – nice information for anybody seeking to choose up the Galaxy S21 Plus outdoors of the US.
There could also be an issue with regards to charging, although, with Samsung following Apple’s lead, ditching each the charging brick and headphones this time round. For those who want a 25W charger to benefit from the fast-charging tech, you’ll have to choose one up individually.
There aren’t many modifications in digicam on supply, however with nice efficiency from final yr’s S20 Plus digicam providing, it’s not an enormous disappointment. It allowed Samsung to focus extra on the software program, introducing the multi-camera Director Mode and enhancements to the One Take performance too. These wanting extra succesful cameras ought to go for the ultra-premium Galaxy S21 Extremely.
There isn’t sufficient right here to tempt S20 Plus house owners to improve, sharing lots of the identical options and, in some respects, a downgrade in specs, but it surely’s an ideal choice for these coming from an older smartphone eager to expertise a 2021 flagship.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: Specs
6.7in Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 48Hz-120Hz show
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Gorilla Glass Victus (back and front)
5nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 888/Samsung Exynos 2100 SoC (market dependant)
128GB/256GB non-expandable storage
Rear cameras: 12Mp primary, 12Mp ultrawide, 64Mp telephoto
10Mp front-facing digicam
Stereo audio system
Android 11 w/ One UI three.1
Samsung DeX assist
IP68 mud/water resistance
UWB (ultra-wideband) assist
25W quick charging (contains PD charging assist)
10W wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
75.6mm x 161.5mm x 7.8mm
Launch colors: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Violet
Samsung.com unique colors: Phantom Gold, Phantom Crimson