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Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review: Great device, but that certain something is missing

Samsung Galaxy S21 cover picture
Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2021 TechnikNews)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is Samsung's newest flagship and the cheapest of the S21 series. We tested it in everyday life. You can read what we liked and what not in our review.

Like each of the last Galaxy series, the Galaxy S21 also has a new design get donated. Although it is not really distinguishable from the front with the S20, the new design is particularly noticeable on the back. First of all, the S21 has like that Galaxy S20FE get a plastic back. The test report for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can be found here, by the way.

That caused trouble for a lot of fans, personally I don't care about it in everyday life. It still feels very high quality processed and that is the more important thing for me. If you really want to have a glass back, you have to use at least the S21 +. This also applies to the "Curved Display". The S21 also has a flat display and is no longer rounded. The camera module is also new. As in the complete series, this is now built into the frame, which looks very elegant.

Overall, the workmanship is very successful. The device sits comfortably in the hand, and I couldn't find any defects in my test device.

Samsung Galaxy S21 display

The Galaxy S21 has a 6,2 "small Full-HD + display with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. Content is displayed with very good black levels using OLED technology, Samsung builds the best displays on the market. This can also be seen again in the S21 series. It's great fun to watch films or YouTube videos on the display or just to scroll through the Twitter timeline, especially the 120 Hz are a real eye-catcher. There is a downgrade from the S20 to the S21 from a QHD + resolution to Full HD +, but that is also good for the battery. But more on that later in the article.

Samsung Galaxy S21 display

The display of the Galaxy S21 looks good (picture: TechnikNews)

Hardware of the Samsung Galaxy S21

Probably the biggest criticism of the S20 Ultra and Notes 20 Ultra was the Processor, not because it was too slow, but because the energy efficiency was far behind compared to the Snapdragon. This has been improved a lot with the new Exynos 2100. Who more about the Prozessor wants to read himself can read my article here.

The Prozessor is combined with 8 GB and 128 or 256 GB of internal memory. The internal memory can no longer be expanded. On connections supports the Prozessor WLAN 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and all common location and payment methods. Only the Plus and Ultra still have UWB, including for the Galaxy Smart Tag.

In any case, you don't notice any difference in everyday life with flagship smartphones. Everything runs smoothly, regardless of whether it's all common communication apps or complex games. Many do not even know what kind of mini-computers we already carry with us every day, because so far only a few apps have exhausted this power. That is why the S21 masters all tasks with flying colors. The device gets noticeably warm when playing complex games or watching a lot of films. But not as warm as the Mi 11 from Xiaomi.

Cameras

The cameras of the S21 are always one of the biggest points to be advertised in marketing. The 64 megapixels and the 8K video recordings in particular are praised to the skies. But the same applies here as with the Mi 11. 8K is currently just as much a gimmick as 5G. So far there are few devices that can display 8K at all and 8K video material takes up a lot of memory. That's a small one for non-expandable memory Proproblem, since everything always has to be stored externally or in the cloud.

You also have to be careful with the megapixels. Just because the number of megapixels is high doesn't mean the images are better. My colleague Yinan has very detailed information on how Google manages to take very good photos with only 12 megapixels here.

But the pictures are on a very strong level. Lots of details, strong colors and a faster shutter release time compared to last year's S20 Ultra. The videos have also been improved. Samsung has now developed a director mode which, thanks to the new power of the Exynos 2100, can film the front and main cameras at the same time. The video quality is very good, as is the stabilization.

The S21 doesn't take the best pictures on the smartphone market, but it isn't supposed to. Because that's what it is supposed to do S21Ultra. The normal version still offers its very good camera, and portraits with the front camera are also possible. The camera app doesn't feel cluttered, and users with an older Samsung device will also feel at home.

Accumulator

I was very curious about the battery, Samsung had this last year Protrouble. I tested the device for three weeks, always with Full HD+ and 120 Hz. I got about five hours in the "display time". That's a good value for a small 4.000 mAh battery, if that's not enough for you, you get 21 mAh more directly with the S800+, namely 4.800 mAh.

So I got along very well with the device for a day, the device was charged again from 73 to 0 in about 100 minutes Procent. Samsung puts a charging cable in the box, but not the power supply.
Overall, I am satisfied with the battery, but the successor should have at least 4.500 mAh on board. The competition does the same in terms of price.

Software

Samsung has managed to turn one of its weaknesses into a strength within two years. One UI brought some big changes and is now one of mine
Became favorite OEMs. The software is easy to use and has many additional features, especially with the S21. Finally, in addition to “Samsung Free”, Google Discovery can also be set as a news feed (without an additional launcher). One UI has become its own ecosystem. So if you have a Samsung tablet, you can continue a browser session directly, the Galaxy Buds connect, depending on the device (more on this in my Buds Pro Test) and Samsung is now promising three years of software updates. As an S21 user, you will get at least Android 14, no other manufacturer except Google does that. In addition, the upgrades are now delivered very quickly, even the Galaxy A50 from 2019 already has Android 11.

The device will receive security updates for a full four years. It can't keep up with Apple, but Samsung is at the top in the Android area and tops this list with Google.

Summary

Samsung's Galaxy S21 offers a very good overall package. The design is modern and yet simple, it is very well made and the display is outstanding, as is usual for Samsung. If you prefer a higher resolution, you have to go to S21Ultra to grab. The hardware has changed in many respects, especially with the Proprocessor, improved. However, the lack of memory expansion, lower resolution and the lack of a glass back are irritating. They didn't bother me personally, but are worth mentioning. The device looks like a to me Galaxy S20FE 5G+. For me, that certain something is missing, a feature, a piece of hardware that makes the device unique. Kind of like the microscope camera from the Oppo X3 Pro or the S-Pen on the Note. The cameras have gotten better, as has the battery. Samsung can convince with the software.

So should you buy an S21? There are only a few smartphones in the small 6 inch region. There that would be Pixel 5which is not really a flagship and the S20 FE 5G. If the improved features are important to you, take the S21. If you can get by with less, go for the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G (you can find our test on this here ).

Buy the Galaxy S21

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Nils Ahrensmeier

Nils is very interested in mobile devices such as smartphones, wearables and headphones. He has been writing since 2019 TechnikNews - especially news and reviews. In his spare time he plays drums and piano or pursues his hobby, athletics.

Nils has already written 306 articles and made 32 comments.

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