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About this item
- PRO-GRADE CAMERA: Zoom in close with 100X Space Zoom, and take photos and videos like a pro with our easy-to-use, multi-lens camera.
- SHARP 8K VIDEO: Capture your life’s best moments in head-turning, super-smooth, cinema quality 8K Video.
- MULTIPLE WAYS TO RECORD: Create share-ready videos and GIFs with multi-cam recording and automatic, professional-style effects.
- HIGHER RESOLUTION, 100X ZOOM: Get amazing clarity with a dual lens combo of 3X and 10X optical zoom and revolutionary 100X Space Zoom.
- ALL DAY INTELLIGENT BATTERY: Intuitively manages your cellphone’s usage, so you can go all day without charging.
- POWER OF 5G: Experience next-generation connectivity for everything you love to do: more sharing, more gaming, more experiences.
- Battery power consumption depends on usage patterns and results may vary.
The new Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s next ‘everything phone,’ with bigger cameras, beefier specifications, and even S Pen compatibility, to supplant the popular Note 20 Ultra. If you’re worried about the conclusion of the Note series, try the S21 Ultra.
Samsung’s smartphone excess vision for 2021 is as follows: Five cameras, including a 108MP sensor, two telephoto cameras, 100x zoom, and 40MP selfies, as well as 5G, all-day battery life, and up to 16GB of RAM, are all packed into an Android phone with a 6.8-inch 120Hz Quad HD display and an upgraded in-screen fingerprint sensor with a 1.7x larger surface area than last year’s phone.
Along with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, it was one of the first new smartphones we examined in 2021, and it set the standard high – much higher than last year’s troublesome ‘Ultra’ phone. Samsung has retooled its main camera with lasers – yes, lasers – to fix the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s autofocus troubles, as well as updated the specs to handle the demands of processing those enormous 108MP photographs, 40MP selfies, and 8K video without a hitch.
The photos are clear, the dynamic range is remarkable, and Samsung’s ‘tripod lock’ software feature keeps the 30x and 100x zoom levels on subjects from bouncing about in the viewfinder. Although punching in 100x is confined to being a neat party trick owing to blurry photos, 30x is tolerable in the correct light, it’s much easier to pull off the 100x ‘Space Zoom’ now.
More than any other smartphone telephoto camera, the S21 Ultra’s 10x and 3x optical zoom capabilities captured the shots we desired every time. Our side-by-side tests with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has a maximum optical zoom of 2.5x, support this conclusion. In some low-light circumstances, Apple’s main camera takes clearer photos, but Samsung’s night mode has improved enough to close the gap after sunset or while you’re clicking away indoors – and its default camera app is more feature-packed and easier to use than Apple’s.
Only two-thirds of the plot is around photography and speed. With a softly curved edge-to-edge display, decreased back camera hump, and hypnotic matte Phantom Black color option that’s like a black hole sucking in your eyes, this is a tale of design beauty and performance beast (other colors are available). It’s difficult to look away. Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the company’s best-looking phone to date.
The revamped style and improved performance haven’t resulted in a price hike over last year’s S20 Ultra — in fact, Samsung has made this phone substantially less expensive. Granted, we thought the first Ultra phone was overpriced, and the S21 Ultra is still a bit pricey – it costs more than the iPhone 12 Pro Max – but Samsung gives you a bit more for the extra money: a larger, brighter, and more capable curved screen, 10x optical camera zoom (vs. 2.5x on the iPhone), and stylus support, which Apple has yet to include on any iPhone.
Samsung may, therefore, provide better value for your money, depending on your priorities.
What’s the catch, exactly? We said earlier that the S21 Ultra is Samsung’s vision of excess, but you’ll have to let rid of anything that doesn’t fit into the company’s plan. Say goodbye to MST (being able to use Samsung Pay with credit card machines even if they didn’t have NFC) and the microSD card slot for additional storage. You won’t find a charger in the box, though; Samsung, like Apple, cites e-waste as the rationale for omitting the power brick.
If you’ve only recently recovered from the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack in Samsung smartphones, be prepared for these changes — we’ve seen some diehards declare “no microSD, no sale” in our YouTube video comments. But there’s enough good here to make up for any little annoyances, and we’re confident that this ‘Ultra’ phone will finally live up to its moniker.
While more impressive smartphones, such as the iPhone 13, OnePlus 9 Pro, and Xiaomi Mi 11, have emerged after we first reviewed this, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra remains our top pick for the best smartphone available as of November 2021.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is also generating buzz, however, there’s no word on a release date just yet, so we don’t expect the ranking to change anytime soon.
- Gorgeous phantom black finish
- Two telephoto cameras
- The screen is spectacular
- S-Pen support
- It’s heavy
- Lacks a microSD card slot
- $1,200 is still expensive
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the pinnacle of Samsung's smartphone capabilities. It amazed us with its large screen, five cameras, and the finest zoom of any Android phone now available. Warning: while it's less expensive than last year's 'Ultra' phone, it's still out of reach for most people, as it lacks a microSD card slot and a charger.