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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra colors, display, and S Pen cases
All Galaxy S21 Ultra color options, some are Samsung.com order exclusive
- Phantom Black, Silver, Brown, Navy Blue, and Titanium S21 Ultra colors
- 6.8″ Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with 10Hz-120Hz @ 1440p adaptive refresh rate
We’ll save you the suspense, the S21 Ultra is huge. Albeit a tad smaller than the S20 Ultra before it still clocks in way above the comfortable to hold and use with one hand mark, both in dimensions, and in weight. Luckily, Samsung’s new Contour Cut Camera design that fuses the camera island with the steel frame adds to the aesthetics of the device enough so that it doesn’t look as big and blocky as it could have.
To make the ergonomics story more complicated, however, Samsung equipped the S21 Ultra with an S Pen digitizer for the first time outside of the Note family, and make the stylus available for the phone with select cases, like the Clear View or Silicone Covers. Tack on one of these in order to utilize the S Pen, and not only the base $1199 price becomes even higher, but the width even larger, to the point of no choice but to use the phone with two hands.
On a positive note, Samsung has shaved off the bottom bezel, and shrunk the 6.8″ display panel slightly from its predecessor just enough to make it feel the same with an S Pen case on, which is to say gargantuan. Thankfully, the so-called Dynamic AMOLED 2x display is still curved on the sides, so it’s fairly possible to hold it and control at least the mid-section of the screen with one hand.
Moving on to the most important part of today’s phones, the screen, Samsung told us that the “Galaxy S21 Ultra pulls out all the stops for those who want Samsung’s best of the best.” How so? Well:
This granularly adaptive refresh rate is what makes the S21 Ultra display, in particular, stand out. Last year, Samsung dropped the ball in comparison with the competition from OnePlus or Oppo with static high refresh rate that worked only in 1080p mode, and was constantly on 120Hz at that, taking a huge toll on the S20 Ultra battery life, but now its heir fixes all wrongs making the S21 Ultra display the one to beat later in the year.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera pictures and video recording
The best phone camera $1199 can buy
- S21 Ultra camera specs: 108MP main/10MP 10x zoom/10MP 3x zoom/12MP ultra-wide/40MP selfie cameras.
- New S21 Ultra photography features: 12-bit HDR RAW photos, Bright Night mode, Portrait mode with improved separation for selfies, Zoom Lock for clear shots at up to 100x.
- New S21 Ultra video features: Super Steady video at 60fps, 8K Snap, Director’s View, and Single Take with Dynamic Slow-mo.
Remember Apple’s boast that the iPhone 12 series can both capture and play Dolby Vision HDR? Well, it’s still 10-bit one, while the S21 Ultra not only introduces a double-zoom camera set, but has upgraded its imaging processor to allow for 12-bit capture, for “64x richer color data and 3x wider dynamic range.” Bazinga!
Why would you need two zoom cameras, though? Well, depending on which object you tap and choose, the AI module automatically chooses which zoom camera to use, as mid-range and long-distance zoom abilities have very distinct scenarios and require different technologies to turn out right.
Thanks to the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipsets’ image processing abilities, the Bright Night 108MP sensor now captures 12MP nona-binned shots that would be second to none as the sensor can snap multiple photos with different exposure much faster than before, for a much brighter Night Mode with cleaner, more defined, well-exposed low-light shots.
The main camera now shoots at a slightly wider field of view, and while this contributes to landscape shots, we also notice that detail is often very badly smudged at the edges of many photos, in a way that we haven’t really seen on other flagship phones. This issue is persistent both during the day and at night.
The scene optimizer, on the other hands, is now better at detecting low-light situations, and it will now smartly use a longer exposure more often than earlier Samsung phones where often you had to manually switch to Night Mode. The S21 Ultra consistently got brighter and better looking shots than the Note 20 Ultra and, respectively, S20 Ultra, at night just using the auto mode. All-around camera quality improvements, the 12-bit color RAW and 8K video support, and the cleanest, most stable optical zoom make the S21 Ultra camera the one to beat down the year.
And in case you were wondering about the difference in recording quality between the S21 Ultra and the less expensive S21 and S21 Plus… well, it mostly boils down to the zoom quality where the Ultra is really far ahead, especially at 10X zoom and further. This is a game-changer for people who love to shoot a lot of video on their phones, but if you don’t plan on zooming in as much, the main cameras on the Ultra and the other two S21 phones record footage with very similar quality, identical microphone recordins and similar video stabilization capabilities. Take a look at a direct comparison below:
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra software and Snapdragon vs Exynos processor performance
The best mobile chipsets out there, finally with 5G integration
Ladden with the latest One UI 3 edition of Samsung over Android 11, the Galaxy S21 Ultra adds several of Samsung’s tried and true stylus-specific apps and fucntions to justify the presence of a digitizer. The S Pen has to be acquired separately with a dedicated case but it does all the hovering, clicking, anotating and doodling in Samsung’s Notes app one would expect from it.
Both are made on Samsung’s frugal 5nm EUV process and return record high benchmarks in the Android world, plus they have integrated 5G modems for added power draw optimization. The Exynos is clocked higher than the Snapdragon in benchmarks, so it returns higher scores, but we will see about the sustainged performance over time.
In reality, everything feels faster on the new phone, from scrolling long lists at high refresh rate, to opening up the camera app and taking a picture, and both Android 11 optimizations as well as the powerful new chipsets are behind this performance boost.
The key element for greater Galaxy S21 series battery life when compared to the S20 models – FHD instead of QHD display resolution – however, is missing from the equation on the Ultra. Given that the S21 Ultra is flaunting the same 5000mAh battery piece as the S20 Ultra, and the same high display pixel density, the only battery life gains compared to its predecessor should come from the 5nm chipset and 5G antennas, right?
Well, not really, as this time around, its QHD display will be of the more frugal LPTO variety, not the LTPS panel with static 120Hz refresh found in the S20 Ultra. That alone would amount to a 15-20% diminished power draw. When we add the dynamic refresh rate that LTPO allows which only uses 120Hz when it matters – i.e. when browsing and scrolling, or during interface animations – the battery savings may be as significant as having a lower-res display. That is why the S21 Ultra battery life round will be fought and won during our battery benchmark tests.
Even in the most demanding [email protected] mode, the S21 Ultra mustered the eye-watering nearly 15 hours of screen-on time during our automated browsing and scrolling test. Not only that, but the more demanding YouTube streaming and 3D gaming tests both returned nearly 9 hours of battery life, a whopping result.
Needless to say, if you want to play at the full 120fps game mode, the screen revs up to 120Hz, and then battery life falls to 5 hours, but that is a rather extreme scenario that still puts it out there with the best in our 3D gaming battery benchmark database.
Another plus is Samsung’s Super Fast Charging technology that can deliver from the 25W charger what others deliver with more powerful bricks, and is able to fill up the giant 5000mAh battery for less than 90 minutes. Fast charging and great battery life? We’ll take it, good job, Samsung!