Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus overview: The typical center youngster

by akoloy


Nestled between the reasonably priced newest Galaxy S21 and super-premium S21 Ultra sits the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. Much of the cellphone’s {hardware} is paying homage to final yr’s Galaxy S20 Plus. But with a revamped design and a barely cheaper price level, does the Galaxy S21 Plus do sufficient to really feel like a model new handset worthy of your money?

Without the reasonably priced worth proposition of its smaller sibling or the kitchen sink strategy to specs with the Ultra, the Galaxy S21 Plus isn’t precisely within the highlight this era. Nevertheless, it’s the center youngster in Samsung’s flagship portfolio {that a} good variety of Samsung’s premium prospects may have an eye fixed on. Find out if it’s the best cellphone for you in Android Authority‘s Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review.

About this Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review: I tested the Exynos model Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus over a period of six days. It was running One UI 3.1 on the December 2020 security patch. The unit was purchased by Android Authority for the purposes of this review.


Design: New look for familiar hardware

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus purple

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Gorilla Glass Victus front and back
  • 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
  • 200g
  • In-display fingerprint scanner and facial recognition biometrics
  • Unique redesign and camera housing
  • Flat display
  • Aluminum frame
  • Phantom Black, Silver, and Violet. Pink, Gold, and Red (Samsung exclusive)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus flaunts a redesign that can’t assist however flip heads. The new look is actually bolder than Samsung’s earlier designs and will not be to everybody’s style. Even so, I’m fairly a fan of the brash Phantom Violet colorway I’ve been utilizing for the overview, and there’s no doubting Samsung’s consideration to element and construct high quality. This is a really well-built smartphone.

There’s Gorilla Glass Victus on the back and front of the handset, providing stable safety from drops and cracks. Glass could be a little slippery, however that’s par for the course within the premium tier of the market. This sits in distinction to the regular Galaxy S21 with its “glasstic” rear cowl. There’s additionally an IP68 ranking for water and mud safety, which has been normal in Samsung’s flagships for generations now.

See additionally: Samsung Galaxy S series — A history of the biggest name in Android

On the safety facet, the cellphone boasts an in-display fingerprint reader that works fairly snappily. Facial recognition through the front-facing digicam can also be supported and this works a fraction sooner than the fingerprint scanner. Although each are fast and correct sufficient that I didn’t expertise any issues unlocking the cellphone. It’s price noting that the facial unlock is all software-based and never as safe as hardware-based alternate options.

The Galaxy S21 Plus affords a really effectively rounded {hardware} package deal that is still a gold normal within the trade.

For the audio fanatic crowd, there’s no return of the beloved headphone jack right here. But the cellphone does help SBC, AAC, aptX, LDAC, and Samsung’s Scalable Bluetooth audio codecs for wi-fi headphones and the like. The cellphone’s stereo speaker setup sounds fairly good and serves up respectable stereo separation. Just don’t count on to listen to thumping basslines from these little tucked-away drivers. FM radio can also be included too, should you’re nonetheless jamming to your tunes the old style manner.

All-in-all, the Galaxy S21 Plus affords a really effectively rounded {hardware} package deal that is still a gold normal within the trade


Display: Familiar Samsung brilliance

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus lockscreen

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED show
  • 2,400 x 1,080 show decision
  • 394 pixels per inch
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh price, 20:9 side ratio

The show on the Galaxy S21 Plus is great and never simply by way of high quality. The basically bezel-free design and selfie digicam cutout are acquainted attributes of Samsung’s latest premium design ethos.

Samsung has reduce its show decision this era, from QHD+ (3,200 x 1,440) all the way down to FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) to avoid wasting on prices. However, this received’t make any distinction to most consumers, as the marginally older Galaxy S handsets defaulted to an FHD+ software program decision out of the field anyway. With a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, HDR10+ content material help, and vibrant AMOLED expertise behind it, Samsung’s show prowess is as spectacular as ever. Although not like some rival handsets, you may’t drive all apps to utilize the silky clean 120Hz refresh price. Instead, the refresh price is perpetually locked in adaptive mode.

Samsung’s show prowess is as spectacular as ever.

Whether or not you’ll miss or rejoice on the lack of curved glass boils down to private choice. Personally, on a handset this measurement, I don’t thoughts a slight curve to help with dealing with. Although on the similar time, the flat design is healthier suited to media playback and gaming, as content material doesn’t disappear and deform on the edges of the show anymore.


Performance: 5nm is quick and environment friendly

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888/Samsung Exynos 2100
  • Adreno 660/Arm Mali-G78 14 core
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128/256GB storage

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is powered by the newest 5nm flagship silicon, identical to the remainder of the vary. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 seems within the US and choose Asian markets, whereas the remainder of the world will get the Samsung Exynos 2100. Paired up with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of quick UFS3.1 inside storage, you received’t be left wanting for efficiency right here. Although sadly, Samsung has eliminated the microSD enlargement slot from its total Galaxy S21 vary.

See additionally: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Snapdragon vs Exynos tested: Which is faster?

We’ve extensively examined and in contrast the efficiency of the Snapdragon 888- and Exynos 2100-powered Galaxy S21 Ultra. Those outcomes are reflective of the Galaxy S21 Plus too. Previous years have seen a big hole between the 2 chip producers, leading to two tiers of efficiency for Galaxy S house owners. The excellent news is that the hole has narrowed this yr, with each telephones handing in just about equivalent efficiency for many purposes. The Snapdragon 888 retains a notable lead relating to gaming, however even right here the efficiency delta isn’t as nice as in earlier years.

The Exynos 2100 powered Galaxy S21 Plus clocked in Speed Test G benchmark instances as quick as 90 seconds, with a median of 101 seconds over 10 concurrent runs. This places it in roughly the identical ballpark because the Galaxy S21 Ultra mannequin benchmarked beneath. Broadly talking although, peak efficiency is significantly better than sustained efficiency with this chip.

While day-to-day efficiency has largely felt like a solved drawback for plenty of generations, no less than in premium smartphones, apps nonetheless really feel simply that bit snappier shifting to those 5nm chipsets. Everything runs buttery clean on the Galaxy S21 Plus variant I’ve been testing, from net searching and HEVC video playback to firing up 3D video games.

In truth, standard graphics benchmarks like 3DMark suggest operating its newer assessments, because the Mali-G78 maxes out its previous scoring mannequin. As a lot debate as there could also be concerning the deserves of the Snapdragon versus Exynos fashions, each present next-gen efficiency that fanatic customers covet.

The Galaxy S21 Plus additionally helps 5G sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. Unfortunately, I don’t dwell in an space with 5G coverage to have the ability to take a look at this out. However, primarily based on our expertise with the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra, we already know that the Snapdragon 888’s totally built-in 5G modem is a stable performer. Of course, your mileage with 5G knowledge speeds will finally rely in your location and service protection.


Battery: Time to learn up on charging requirements

  • 4,800mAh battery
  • 25W wired charging pace (appropriate chargers solely)
  • 15W wi-fi charging pace with 4.5W reverse wi-fi

The Galaxy S21 Plus affords distinctive battery life, very similar to the remainder of the Galaxy S21 household. The 4,800mAh battery simply lasts via a full day of heavy use, similar to snapping photos, taking pictures video, and slightly gaming on the go. Many customers may simply see two full days of lighter use, similar to net searching and checking e-mail.

If you’re after numbers, the Exynos Galaxy S21 Plus lasted 4 hours 18 minutes operating our excessive Speed Test G benchmark on loop. That’s an excellent consequence. By comparability, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra lasted three hours and 39 minutes, and final yr’s OnePlus 8T survived three hours 51 minutes.

Controversially, there’s no charger included with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. While there are real environmental arguments in favor of this transfer, the advanced USB-C charging state of affairs will possible leave many consumers with a headache.

Read extra: This is the best Samsung Galaxy S21 charger you can buy

The handset may be powered with older chargers from varied manufacturers, however to acquire the quickest 25W quick cost pace you’ll need to use one in every of Samsung’s 25W or 45W USB-C Super Fast Charging branded plugs (take a look at the article linked above for more information). We’ve additionally examined an in depth number of third-party chargers, most of which cost at 15W. The exception is the Eleject 45W Super Fast Charging plug, which helps the required USB Power Delivery Programmable Power Supply (USB PD PPS) profile to cost at full pace. Ultimately quick charging the Galaxy S21 Plus goes to be a little bit of a ache for lots of customers.

15W wi-fi charging can also be a good choice for brief top-ups all through the day. Although Samsung’s expertise is beginning to fall behind the sooner 30W wi-fi charging speeds which can be rapidly arriving at its rivals. The Galaxy S21 Plus doesn’t fairly wirelessly cost quick sufficient to be a viable alternative for quick wired charging, which is a little bit of a disgrace when there’s no plug within the field. The cellphone additionally helps reverse wi-fi charging at 4.5W.


Camera: Last-gen {hardware} with a number of new tips

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus camera

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • 12MP wide-angle — ƒ1.8, 1.8μm, with twin pixel autofocus (PDAF) and optical picture stabilization (OIS)
  • 12MP ultra-wide — ƒ2.2, 1.4μm, with AF and a 120-degree subject of view (FoV)
  • 64MP telephoto — ƒ2.0, 0.8μm, with PDAF, OIS, and 3x “Hybrid Optic” zoom
  • 10MP wide-angle selfie digicam – ƒ2.2, 1.22μm, with twin pixel autofocus (PDAF)
  • Video seize: 8K @ 24fps, 4K @ 60fps, 1080p @ 240fps, 720p @ 960fps

Camera specs are unchanged from the Galaxy S20 Plus, so it’s the Galaxy S21 Ultra variant that pictures fans will need to preserve their eye on this yr. Even so, the Galaxy S21 Plus nonetheless takes great-looking photos that stay aggressive with the most effective within the enterprise. The tried and examined principal, vast, and telephoto rear digicam setup performs admirably and Samsung has a number of new software program tips up its sleeve that will help you take higher photos and video.

See additionally: The best Android camera phones

Colors pop as we count on from Samsung’s photographs, though the extent of saturation is toned down in a bit this era. Samsung’s Scene Optimizer may be useful to boost your photographs, however turning it off produces extra constant outcomes. Fortunately, this toggle is true there within the digicam preview, so switching it on and off for Night mode, and many others, is a doddle. In normal, Samsung’s digicam app may be very straightforward to make use of with all of the settings discovered within the common locations. Although I wouldn’t thoughts faster entry to taking pictures choices like Portrait and Slow-Mo.

In good lighting, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus takes some chic photos that rival some other cellphone available on the market. The cellphone’s principal digicam excels in HDR environments and its bokeh edge detection is fairly good, given the shortage of devoted depth detecting {hardware}.

Lower gentle capabilities aren’t fairly as spectacular nevertheless it stays stable sufficient in all however the darkest circumstances. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus extracts a good quantity of colour in dimly lit scenes, however you’ll spot a bit extra noise and blurry particulars because the lights go down. Night Mode undoubtedly helps out, offering you may preserve your palms nonetheless, however the outcomes are slightly smudged.

Returning to flexibility, Samsung’s somewhat spectacular hybrid zoom technology sticks round for one more era. Although the telephoto digicam solely has a 1.1x optical zoom, the 64MP sensor affords a 3x hybrid zoom that holds up surprisingly effectively to about 5x. At least in vibrant out of doors lighting, zoom high quality undoubtedly deteriorates in darker circumstances. The Galaxy S21 Plus doesn’t honest practically as effectively at 10x, however that’s in all probability additional than most photographers will ever must zoom in. The 30x choice is… effectively, simply don’t use it.

The Galaxy S21 Plus’ wide-angle digicam is a bit more hit or miss. While the sector of view is nice for becoming extra in, there’s a definite lack of element and focus that isn’t fairly as much as par with the opposite two cameras. The wide-angle lens additionally suffers from numerous perspective distortion across the image edges, which is one other blemish on an in any other case respectable wide-angle digicam setup.

Galaxy S21 Plus - wideGalaxy S21 Plus – 1x Galaxy S21 Plus – vast

Galaxy S21 Plus - 1x

Galaxy S21 Plus - wideGalaxy S21 Plus – 1x Galaxy S21 Plus – vast

Galaxy S21 Plus - 1x

The selfie digicam is excellent and the choice to toggle pure and “bright” pores and skin tones is a welcome contact. I caught with pure to keep away from Samsung’s overly-aggressive touch-ups. The Galaxy S21 Plus additionally affords the choice to take a wide-angle selfie from its single front-facing digicam. But the distinction between the fields of view is so marginal as to make the characteristic basically ineffective.

The pictures taken right here will look very acquainted to Galaxy S20 house owners. Although the Galaxy S21 Plus does add Director View as an additional instrument in its arsenal for video lovers. It’s very useful to preview the zoom ranges earlier than switching over throughout recording and simply alter the entrance/again video cut up. I don’t shoot plenty of movies, however this characteristic is nice and video high quality appears each bit pretty much as good because the pictures outcomes. With help for 30fps HDR10+ recording, 8K 24fps, 4K 60fps, and 720p 960fps slow-motion video, you aren’t in need of video taking pictures flexibility right here.

Overall, the Galaxy S21 Plus is an effective shooter, however the Galaxy S21 Ultra is definitely the better option to take your pictures sport up a notch over earlier generations. You can take a look at the full-resolution digicam samples in this Google Drive folder.


Software: One UI 3.1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus apps

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Android 11
  • One UI 3.1
  • Three years of Android OS upgrades and safety updates

One UI 3.1 will appear and feel very acquainted to Samsung aficionados, full with all the same old strengths and caveats. One UI largely retains out of the best way on your day-to-day duties. Apps open up snappily, animations zip previous with no stutter, and it’s usually fairly straightforward to configure issues simply the best way you need. Although it’s nonetheless too straightforward to grow to be misplaced within the settings menu labyrinth.

Samsung introduces a few minor modifications and new options with the transfer to One UI 3.1. As the title suggests, Samsung’s newest OS holds only a few surprises for these upgrading from latest Galaxy handsets. Perhaps probably the most noticeable distinction is that Google Discover can substitute Samsung Free on the left-most dwelling display if that’s your most well-liked vacation spot for every day information objects.

Read extra: Samsung One UI 3.0 features: This is Android 11 on Samsung phones

Other new options are extra delicate tweaks for present purposes. There’s a brand new object eraser instrument tucked away below the Labs menu choice when modifying photographs in Gallery. Samsung now helps background blurring when making video calls with apps like Duo, WhatsApp, Zoom, and others. Google Duo additionally helps auto-framing to maintain your face centered throughout video calls as effectively. There’s a number of animation, efficiency, and different tweaks dotted all through the software program too.

Samsung’s software program has a number of drawbacks although. It’s nonetheless comparatively bloated with extra apps like Facebook, YouTube Music, and LinkedIn coming pre-installed for some cause. Doubling up on Samsung and Google Message apps out of the field is one other pointless redundancy you would possibly need to manually treatment. The Galaxy S21 Plus additionally removes MST fee help, leaving you with simply NFC when utilizing Samsung Pay.

Swinging again to the positives, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is ready to obtain three years of Android OS upgrades and common safety patches over its lifespan. The firm is rapidly changing into one of many higher manufacturers at offering well timed safety updates to its smartphones, so you ought to be effectively lined in the long term.

While there was some controversy over Samsung placing advertisements in One UI, I personally solely noticed a number of situations of the model plugging a few of its personal companies within the notification bar. While they could be a bit bothersome at first, these may be turned off pretty simply.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Specs

  Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Display 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh price
HDR10+ licensed
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM 8GB
Storage 128 or 256GB
MicroSD No
Battery 4,800mAh
Fast wired and wi-fi charging
Reverse wi-fi charging
Cameras Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Connectivity 4G LTE help
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E help
Operating System One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistance IP68
Color 128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB solely in Phantom Black

Future colours: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red

Dimensions and weight 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
202g

Value and competitors

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

The Galaxy S21 Plus is the center youngster of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 collection. It includes a 6.7-inch show and a 4,800mAh battery. It has three rear cameras and 8GB of RAM.

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/128GB): $999/€1,059/£949/Rs. 81,999
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/256GB): $1,049/€1,109/£999/Rs. 85,999

Samsung struck a tempting worth place with final yr’s Galaxy S20 Fan Edition and continued the worth strain with 2021’s smaller Galaxy S21. While the Galaxy S21 Plus sees an analogous value lower in comparison with final yr’s mannequin, it nonetheless feels slightly costly throughout the confines of Samsung’s smartphone portfolio. $200 extra for an additional half an inch of show real-estate and 800mAh further battery is a troublesome promote over the usual Galaxy S21.

Even so, energy customers who don’t need to spring for the S21 Ultra should still fancy a dabble. The Galaxy S21 Plus is a full $200 cheaper than the S20 Plus’ $1,199 launch value, making it a reasonably whole lot should you skipped final yr’s flagship. Especially as there aren’t too many extra compelling reductions on final yr’s telephones simply but.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs Galaxy S20 Plus vs Galaxy S20 FE

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

In the broader scheme of the trade, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus prices the identical because the $999 Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Although you may seize the 256GB mannequin for $50 lower than the equal iPhone variant. If you’re after bleeding-edge Android efficiency, there isn’t a complete lot of competitors out there proper now. At least not till extra Snapdragon 888 powered handsets launch within the coming months.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus overview: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus front 2

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Do I just like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus? Absolutely. Should you purchase it? Well, that’s not really easy to say.

The Galaxy S21 Plus is a side-ways step for Samsung’s roadmap, will little new to supply prospects over final yr’s Galaxy S20 collection and even the S20 Fan Edition. Hardware fans might be disillusioned with the shortage of bleeding-edge expertise and odd downgrade this era with a view to deliver the S21 collection to a extra reasonably priced value level.

Read extra: Samsung Galaxy S21 vs older Galaxy S phones — should you upgrade?

Still, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus takes a terrific tried and examined smartphone package deal, doubles down on bleeding edge efficiency, and trims off a hefty chunk of the previous price ticket. If you skipped an improve final era, 2021’s extra reasonably priced pricing technique makes Samsung’s newest flagship collection its most engaging in generations.

The Galaxy S Plus lineage is as robust as ever, however the Galaxy S21 Plus is a more durable promote than in earlier years.

Even so, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is a a lot more durable promote than in earlier years. If you need a Samsung flagship on a funds then the common Galaxy S21 affords virtually equivalent {hardware} at an much more engaging value level. At the identical time, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the one sport on the town for these after the best of Samsung — notably within the digicam division — for “only” $200 extra. If you budgeted for a Plus mannequin final yr now you can purchase the Ultra, and that’s the place I’d spend my cash.




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