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is the all-out premium flagship that is the absolute best Samsung can put in a phone, but if you don’t feel like spending $1,200 dollars or more on a phone, you might wonder how this brand new
that is still available, and at some great prices too.
Is the newer S21 Ultra worth the high price tag, or should you opt for the oldie but goodie S10 Plus instead?
Design and Display
The S21 Ultra is a big and bulky phone, but it offers a better screen and now, S Pen support
There is a noticeable difference in screen size, but we would argue that the real game changer is the fast refresh rate supported on the S21 Ultra. The S10+ runs at 60Hz and while not slow, there is a bit of a stutter here and there, micro-lag if you will, while the S21 Ultra feels silky smooth throughout. This is a difference that is far more noticeable than the faster processor or the changes in RAM, it’s really substantial, and this one thing alone is a big advantage for the S21 Ultra.
Then, the S21 Ultra brings a newer generation of the OLED technology for the screen with improved colors, power efficiency and most noticeably, brightness. The S21 Ultra also has the highest brightness of any phone (it can go to as high as 1,500 nits), meaning it will be easier to read that screen outdoors even under direct sunlight.
As for the difference between the newer and older chips, the Snapdragon 888 is vastly more powerful than the 855. It uses a newer, 5nm manufacturing process that allows for more transistors and higher performance without a big hit on battery life. What about the Galaxy S10 Plus? The Snapdragon 855 chip on it still provides enough speed for a zippy experience in daily use, but if you are a heavy user who plays graphically intense games or multitasks a lot, you will notice that the S10+ is at a disadvantage.
Both phones also have 128GB of base storage, a very reasonable amount, but interestingly, the newer S21 Ultra no longer does not have a microSD card slot, while the older S10 Plus does have microSD support for an easy way to expand storage. Older can sometimes mean better after all.
What the S10 Plus lacks, however, is 5G connectivity. You simply don’t get 5G support on the S10+, you can only use 4G LTE. Right now, this probably shouldn’t concern you much as 5G coverage is too scarce to matter. But starting next year, 5G networks will likely become much faster and wider spread, and if you want to benefit from those improved speeds, you will have full support with the S21 Ultra. The Ultra has an integrated 5G modem and supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G so it will work across all three major US carriers.
Two telephoto cameras on the S21 Ultra give it extra long zoom range that the S10+ cannot match
The Galaxy S21 Ultra brings a massive camera island and four different cameras that promise improved overall quality, but also, a long-range zoom of the kind that a 2-year-old phone just cannot match.
The big highlight here is that Samsung is bringing the 100X “Space Zoom” capabilities from the S20 Ultra, but now improved on the S21 Ultra. With a 10X zoom periscope lens, the longest range zoom ever used on a Samsung phone, you will get clean long-range zoom photos unlike any other phone out there. And an additional, 3X zoom telephoto lens makes sure zoom photos in the 3X to 10X range also look good.
Interestingly, the S10+ has a 2X zoom lens which is not great for far distances but provides exceptional quality for everyday shots and is actually used for Live Focus portrait mode photos, so this older phone might actually capture more detailed portraits than the S21 Ultra. For longer zoom shots, however, the S21 Ultra will be a vast improvement.
Let’s take a look at the camera specs first:
Interestingly, the main camera on the S21 Ultra is said to have a 24mm focal length against 26mm on the S10+ (and most other phones for that matter). That might not seem like a big difference but in reality you will get a much wider perspective in photos with the main camera on the new Ultra.
As for video, the S21 Ultra supports 8K recording at 24fps, while the S10 Plus maxes out at a 4K resolution. 8K video files look impressive, but keep in mind that you need an 8K monitor or TV to view them in their full glory, and very few people have that currently.
Most of you, however, will be recording video at 4K resolution, and the quality in that regard has indeed improved a great deal: detail is cleaner and better defined, the low light performance is better and the zoom quality… well, see for youselves:
Battery Life and Charging speeds
- 5,000mAh (Galaxy S21 Ultra) vs 4,100mAh (Galaxy S10+)
- Faster charging on S21 Ultra
Finally, there is a big difference in battery size too. The beefy S21 Ultra has a massive, 5,000mAh battery cell inside, while the price for having a thin and elegant device like the S10+ is a smaller, 4,100mAh battery. That’s a considerable difference, and the S21 Ultra delivers a noticeably better battery performance in daily use.
Last but not least, let’s talk prices because this is where the Galaxy S10+ really makes a strong case for itself.
Being a 2-year-old device, comes with perks: the Galaxy S10+ these days costs around $650 dollars, or even less with various deals, and that is half the price of the S21 Ultra. You can almost buy two S10+ phones for the price of one S21 Ultra, and both come with the same 128GB of storage.