Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra First Impressions Of Features & Look

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has undoubtedly captured the excitement of many Samsung fans, and from our first impressions, we can see why.

First of all, when you take it out of the box, it definitely looks different from its predecessor. From the back, that is. The S20 Ultra had a brighter finish, while the S21 Ultra opted for a matte metallic finish instead.

This already gives the phone a more premium look from the get-go, especially with how the Phantom Silver (which we received) can take on pink tints in some lighting.

Silver takes on a pretty pink tint under certain lighting

If you take a look at its quad camera setup, you’ll notice that something is a little different as well. The camera bump (which some don’t like and others just don’t care about) is still very much present, adding an extra 2mm to its overall thickness, but Samsung has tried to make its design a bit more transparent.

Still fairly prominent, but with a softer edge where you would touch it

They did this by integrating the edge of the camera with that of the phone, rather than popping it out into a single rectangular box, jutting out the back. It doesn’t really affect the feel in the hand.

Hefty for that premium feel

Apparently the phone itself carries physical weight (we’ll move on to internal specs soon). By weighing it ourselves and checking with other sources, we can come to a consensus that it weighs between 228-229g.

It’s a solid and heavy phone!

In comparison, the S21 weighs only 171g, while the S20 Ultra weighs 220g.

Holding it for a while isn’t too bad, but if you’re using it for long periods of entertainment and news, you’re probably going to feel some tension after a while.

The large cameras also ensure that the weight is tilted slightly up to the right of the phone, which could throw your grip off balance if you’re not careful.

The camera bump is still prominent, but notice how its edge flows into that of the phone?

However, all of that weight adds to the high-end feel of the phone, as it isn’t as light and “plasticky”.

A snapshot of his cameras

We only had the S20 and Note20 like our other Samsung comparison phones, so the S21 Ultra’s selfie camera looked like a huge upgrade.

From left to right here we have the Galaxy Note20, S20, and the new S21 Ultra for size comparisons.

The difference between its 40MP camera and the 10MP selfie camera of the S20 and Note20 was so obvious, with images being clearer and of better overall quality. If you’re coming from the S20 Ultra, they share the exact same specs, so you might be less impressed.

Rather than trying to impress with extremes like the S20 Ultra, Samsung also chose to tone it down and refine the experience further. On a related note, they opted for a 108MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide lens, and two 10MP telephoto lenses, one with 3x zoom and the other with 10x zoom.

The 100x space zoom is still there, but Samsung promises it’s much better this time around thanks to a new laser autofocus system. We can see this works to help stabilize your subject, but don’t expect crisp images, which always raises the question of why would we need this feature?

A screen that knows what you’re doing

Samsung introduced a new adaptive display (10-120Hz on the S21 Ultra) so users no longer have to choose between a high-resolution display or a high refresh rate.

Now you can have the best of both worlds, as the screens will automatically adjust to whatever you do. For example, if you are just reading an article online, its refresh rate will drop. Turn on a game and it will resume.

This is meant to help save battery life, but with the 5,000mAh battery that the S21 Ultra packs in, we don’t see rapid battery draining being such a big deal.

Maybe it’s thanks to this new adaptive display that we noticed how good the screen quality is. At 6.8 inches, its Quad HD + Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is impressive.

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The S21 Ultra is also Samsung’s first S-series phone to work with an S Pen. We didn’t have its own S Pen to test, but we tried it with the Note20’s S Pen and it worked fine. It was fluid and responsive, making it easy to take notes.

We haven’t tested any of the Tabs pens, but we can confirm that it works with the Note20!

We can’t confirm whether the S21 Ultra’s S Pen has the same 9ms latency as the Note20 Ultra’s S Pen, but it would make sense that it does.

The only thing worth complaining about is that the S21 Ultra does not come with an S Pen itself, nor can it be stored in the body of the phone like the Note20 and Note20 Ultra. Instead, you’ll have to buy a bulky case to get the S Pen.

But hey, maybe that’s more of an incentive to protect the S21 Ultra’s pretty backs and prominent cameras.

We’ll be spending more time with the S21 Ultra to write a more detailed review soon, so stay tuned for that!

  • You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for RM5,299 here.
  • You can read more about what we wrote about Samsung here.

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Jothi Venkat

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