The Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G is the perfect phone by its own standards and should offer those who are looking for an above average phone a great experience. It doesn’t offer a whole lot more than the regular, and cheaper S21 variant, but it does come with a fairly larger screen. If you require a bigger screen size, and the price point isn’t a problem for you, then you’ll be plenty satisfied with the middle sibling in the S21 family.
|Dimensions||151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm (5.97 x 2.80 x 0.31 in)|
|Weight||169 g (Sub6), 171 g (mmWave) (5.96 oz)|
|Display||Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak)|
|6.2 inches, 94.1 cm2 (~87.2% screen-to-body ratio)|
|1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~421 ppi density)|
|Corning Gorilla Glass Victus|
|Platform||Android 11, One UI 3.1|
|Chipset||Exynos 2100 (5 nm) – International|
|Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) – USA/China|
|Internal||128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM|
|Main Camera||Triple 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS|
|64 MP, f/2.0, 29mm (telephoto), 1/1.72″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom|
|12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video|
|Selfie Camera||10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF|
|Battery||Li-Ion 4000 mAh, non-removable|
|Charging||Fast charging 25W|
|USB Power Delivery 3.0|
|Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W|
|Reverse wireless charging 4.5W|
|MISC||Phantom Gray, Phantom White, Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink|
- Gorgeous new design
- Great performance
- Powerful camera
- No microSD support
- No charger in the box
Design and Layout
The Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G can be differentiated from its design compared to last year’s S20+, where Samsung really put their designers to the test. The S21+, along with the standard S21 and the S21 Ultra, have all been reworked with a refreshing look that signifies the future.
The phone itself comes with a completely flat screen like the S21, and is a 6.7-inch AMOLED display. This means that there won’t be any curvy edges around the left and right side of the display, like its previous models. Sure there might be some who will notice it here and there, but flat screens mean fewer accidental presses, which is a good thing.
Unlike the standard S21, the rear of the phone is made out of glass, giving it a slightly premium look as compared to the other models. It is somewhat of a glass/plastic hybrid made exclusive to Samsung, and they call that material ‘Glasstic’. Be very careful not to drop your phone on the floor or it might shatter the rear, and repairs are going to cost you. It has a matte finish, which gives the phone a sober, sophisticated look and feel.
Moving on to the bottom edge of the phone, the SIM card slot, USB-C port and speaker grille are all located here. Then, on the right side are the power button and volume controls. Samsung made some updates to the power button so that if you hold it down, it launches the Bixby smart assistant instead of showing power options.
Similar to the S21, Samsung has dropped the resolution of the S21+ to Full HD+, down from the QHD+ resolution from last year’s S20+. It isn’t really noticeable, and the lower resolution actually helps save battery life and lower the costs effectively. The pixel density is enough for the screen to look razor sharp, and while you might notice a difference if you’re coming to this phone from the S20+ (perhaps when watching a HD movie) this is still a very good screen.
The phone itself also comes with a dynamic display refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and it even has adaptive adjustments on the refresh rate depending on what is going on. The phone maxes out the refresh rate at 120Hz when gaming for super-smooth graphics and gameplay. On the contrary, it reduces the refresh rate to save battery when you are doing something normal like checking a web page or just browsing through social media.
The Galaxy S21+ also comes with a similar upgrade to the S21, which is the 70% increment of the in-display fingerprint scanner. However, even with the additional size on the scanner itself, it is still sometimes difficult to read compared to physical scanners. Using the password to unlock the phone itself occasionally proves to be more effective than utilising the fingerprint scanner.
The Samsung Galaxy S21+ has a 4,800 mAh battery, and that’s 800mAh bigger than the battery in the Galaxy S21, and 200mAh smaller than the one in the S21 Ultra. This means that you’ll get more on-time than the S21, and most likely a similar on-time with the S21 Ultra.
Samsung phones are famous for their short battery usage, as they require charges after certain usage. But, this phone is different. From a full charge, the phone can go constantly for 48 hours with moderate usage.
For typical-usage users, you can easily manage a whole day and a whole evening before you need to recharge, and even if you’re a heavy user of power-thirsty applications you can still manage a whole working day.
Samsung states that they have already improved the 25W charging capabilities of its new phones, and the wireless Qi charging also works well. Like the previous flagship models, the S21+ also supports reverse charging, so you can charge your Galaxy Buds or other Qi-compatible accessories by placing them on the back of the phone.
Software and Performance
The Galaxy S21 series are one of the pioneers to be launched with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (available in US) and they’re the very first to support the Exynos 2100 (Samsung’s own chipset, which powers the phones sold in markets outside the US).
Before this, the Exynos processors did not put up a good fight against Qualcomm technology, and the reviews on the Exynos weren’t exactly satisfying, until this year that is. Like the S21, the S21+ comes built-in with 8GB of RAM, and that should be enough for normal users unless you are opting for the best phone in the world.
A downside to the phone itself is the lack of a microSD card slot. Over the years, Android phones had their advantages over Apple phones because of expandable storage, but it seems like things are about to change.
Since there’s no expandable storage, the spotlight falls on the internal storage the phone comes with. Even with that, it still isn’t highly recommended. With the cheapest model of the S21+, you only get 128GB, which is really insufficient by modern smartphone standards, and even more so when you don’t have the option to expand on that. You have the option to upgrade to the 256GB model, but it’s still just the normal storage space for smartphones out in the market, and nothing out of the ordinary.
The Galaxy S21+ runs Android 11 with Samsung’s interface One UI 3.0. It’s still working well currently, but Android 12 is at least another year away, so you’ll be using the current version for quite some time.
Samsung did not tweak anything on the cameras this year, which means whatever you get on last year’s S20+, you will get it this year as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not that good, and Samsung decided to upgrade the software instead of the cameras on the phone. Starting with the hardware, you’re once again getting a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide cameras, and a 64MP telephoto snapper with 3x hybrid zoom.
Compared to the S211 Ultra’s 100x zoom, the S21+ only offers 30x digital zoom, but the results are pretty normal when it reaches maximum zoom, with some blurry and grainy features of the photos itself. The selfie camera still remains at 10MP, which is still considered a great camera for selfies and whatnot.
This year, Samsung added a new Director’s View feature, where you can take pictures using the front and rear cameras at the same time.This provides vloggers and content creators with extra room to work with as they can record primary footage alongside their own faces instead of having to switch around the camera angles each time.
As mentioned earlier, software improvements were also made to Samsung’s Single Take mode, a camera setting where Samsung enables you to capture content with all 3 cameras at once.
The new upgrade to this was the slow-mo mode, which increases the functions of how the setting is used. This setting is best used on pets because it records almost everything at the press of the shutter, which means that you’ll be able to capture anything your pet does in a matter of milliseconds.
As for video quality, it comes in 8K resolution at 24 frames per second with a very high level of detail, although the footage can be a bit too cropped at times. More useful are the 4K at 30 or 60fps options, and Full HD at 30, 60 or slow motion at 240fps.
When it comes to competition on Samsung, the direct rivalry will of course be iPhone. Comparing the S21+ to iPhone’s flagship model, the iPhone 12 Pro, there are definitely some points worth mentioning. Both of them are truly incredible devices, and even come at the same costs. The Galaxy S21+ is a big phone, while the iPhone 12 Pro is more compact. The Galaxy S21+ has a bigger display with faster refresh rate and longer battery life, while the iPhone 12 Pro has better performance and better cameras.
Another worthy competitor will be the newly released OnePlus 9 Pro. The phone is equipped with the latest high-end Snapdragon chips and are priced lower than most of the competition. The OnePlus 9 Pro includes mind blowing charging features, in which they can wirelessly charge at a super-fast 50W and can charge at 65W over wired charging.
Overall, the Galaxy S21+ is a phone that shouldn’t be missed out if you are looking for something new. If you like phones that have bigger displays, then the S21 Plus is the phone you’re looking for, with a 6.7-inch display that’s significantly bigger than the 6.2-inch screen on the S21.
As of now, Samsung phones are still among the best on the market for a reason, and the S21+ is one of the most powerful phones you can buy. If you are going to buy a top phone with Android, this is an excellent choice with its top-end chipset and plenty of RAM.
If you own an older model of Samsung (except the S20 series), the S21 Plus is a compelling upgrade. It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it’s future-proofed thanks to 5G support. It is still a little pricey, but it gives all the functions you can have with a very good value.