As a fan of smartphones that spend money on phones rather than other vices, I often focus on the high-end flagships. This year, Samsung is making a competitive pitch to also consider the entry-level Galaxy S21 5G. Starting price is $ 200 off last year’s Galaxy S20 and competitive hardware.
Also: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Review: Improvement of the S20 with a surprise from the Note
While big phones seem to be the trend for many companies including Samsung, there is also something to be said for phones that are easy to use with one hand, can be put in any pocket, and are powerful enough to challenge the flagships.
Also: The future of the Samsung Galaxy Note is related to the launch of the Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Galaxy S21 5G costs four color options starting at $ 799.99. The phone can be pre-ordered with all kinds of trade-in and start-up offers, which means the phone costs only $ 99.99 with the right trade-in.
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G specifications
- processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
- Main display: 6.2 inches, 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution (421PPI), Dynamic AMOLED Infinity-O with an adaptive refresh rate of 120 Hz
- operating system: Android 11
- R.A.M.: 8 GB LPDDR5
- warehouse: 128GB / 256GB internal storage options
- Cameras: 64MP rear f / 2.0 telephoto lens with 3x hybrid optical zoom, 12MP f / 1.8 wide angle camera and 12MP f / 2.2 ultra wide angle camera (120 degree field of view). 10MP f / 2.2 front camera.
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, GPS / Galileo / GLONASS / Beidou, NFC, UWB
- Sensors: Accelerometer, barometer, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, gyro sensor, geomagnetic sensor, hall sensor, proximity sensor, RGB light sensor
- Dust / water resistance: Degree of protection IP68
- battery: 4000 mAh non-removable with fast wireless charging. Wireless PowerShare is also available.
- Dimensions: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm and 171 g
- Colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy and Phantom Brown
The differences between the high-end S21 Ultra 5G and the S21 5G are the screen size and resolution, the camera specifications, the RAM / storage options, and the battery capacity. The display and battery vary depending on the size of the device, so you can get a lot less phone for $ 400.
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The most noticeable new hardware feature of the S21 is the new Contour Cut camera housing, which extends the metal frame from the right and back. The cameras are surrounded by this metal frame and have a pretty unique camera array design.
Samsung has a new color palette in 2021 with the phantom name at the beginning of each option. I received a phantom purple phone to rate with a lovely purple matte back, rose gold sides, and rose gold camera body. The back of the S21 is made of plastic, while the S21 Ultra has a matte glass back design.
The Galaxy S21 is a gorgeous piece of hardware with minimal top and bottom bezels, no side bezels, and a small, hole-centered, front-facing camera. The Power / Bixby and Volume buttons on the right and nothing on the left.
The Super AMOLED display is obviously stunning and I am sure that it will soon receive the highest title of any smartphone display. Samsung continues to improve its display, even if there seems to be little room for improvement, as Samsung sets the bar for display technology on smartphones. Higher brightness, improved contrast ratio and Eye Comfort Shield are included in the S21.
Wi-Fi 6E support is included in the S21, but we can’t test this as we don’t have access to a 6E network. Future proofing the latest flagship smartphone from Samsung is great.
Also: Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at $ 799.99 and launches Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra with camera upgrades
The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G starts with Android 11 and Samsung One UI 3. The Android security update from January 1, 2021 is available in our test device. We may receive more updates on these evaluation units before they become publicly available later this month.
I’ve been using One 3.x on a Galaxy S20 Ultra for a few weeks and I’m happy with the user interface. I’m excited about the launcher update, which now shows Google Discover as an option on the far left of the home screen. You can still switch to Samsung Free, but it’s great to see Samsung offer options to users. In the past, I’ve always turned this panel off because I didn’t find Samsung’s offering very convincing. This also applies to me with OnePlus and its old shelf home screen.
We still find some Samsung apps like Internet, News, Samsung Notes, Samsung Health, and a few others, but you have the option to choose these apps during setup so that you don’t have to install them all and have more control over your phone than in your phone the past.
First usage experiences
I only spent a couple of hours with the S21. It feels pretty small to me as I’ve been using big phones for a year. The size is likely to be very attractive to those with smaller hands or who want a more portable phone. With my aging eyes and big hands, I’m on big smartphones for my own use.
The phantom purple is a nice shade and looks great with the rose gold camera. A plastic back is perfectly fine with me as it’s more durable than glass as a lot of people wrap their phones in cases anyway.
Full test plan for review
A T-Mobile SIM card is in the Galaxy S21 and I plan to spend a lot of time testing it out including my wife’s use as she is a big Samsung fan and likes a slightly smaller phone . Here’s what I want to focus on, but please leave comments and let me know what else you want to address.
- Speed and responsiveness
- Cellular reception
- Battery life
- Camera performance compared to other mid-range phones in the $ 500- $ 800 range
You can interact with me here or on Twitter while I work on the full review and other articles on the Galaxy S21.