[i2pc pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-up” show_title=”false” title=”Pros & Cons” show_button=”false” pros_title=”Pros” cons_title=”Cons” heading_pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” ][i2pros]Compact body
Very good screen
Good camera setup
IP68 protection & NFC[/i2pros][i2cons]Below-average battery life
Heat problems under heavy loads
Slow loading speed [/i2cons][/i2pc]
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is not only the cheapest flagship of the new S series but also the most compact of the three devices. At just 6.2 inches, it’s one of the last “small” premium smartphones on the market. Since many of our readers are asking about such models, we have subjected the Samsung Galaxy S21 to an extensive test. In the following, you will find out where the weaknesses and strengths of the Samsung Galaxy S21 lie.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G has become an amazingly compact flagship smartphone. While most of the competitors have screens larger than 6.5 inches, the S21 uses a relatively small 6.2-inch display. This is also reflected in the dimensions of the smartphone: The Samsung Galaxy S21 is not only small but also light, measuring 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 millimeters and weighing 169 grams. For comparison, the S21+ is already 40 grams heavier and the S21 Ultra is even 67 grams.
The fact that Samsung was able to reduce the weight of the Galaxy S21 so drastically is not only due to its small size. In contrast to the other S21 models, the back of the smartphone is made of plastic. Accordingly, the S21 does not appear as high-quality as other smartphones in this price range. The plastic back is also more prone to scratches. Even though Samsung has given the back at least reasonably good protection with the matte surface, you shouldn’t put the S21 in your pocket with a key or other pointed objects.
On the other hand, the smartphone also has better protection against breakage thanks to plastic. If you use the smartphone with a case anyway, it also protects it against scratches and keeps it lightweight as an advantage. This should be a good solution for many users.
At least the frame, the buttons on the right, and the camera module are made of metal. For the latter, Samsung has opted for a conspicuous placement on the left edge, which gives the S21 smartphones a recognition value. In today’s world, that’s almost a bold step. The camera module protrudes almost a millimeter from the back. The smartphone is still quite stable on a flat surface.
There is a disappointment after opening the SIM slot. The days of memory expansion via Micro-SD are now history in Samsung’s flagships. The same applies to the headphone connection, which has also been omitted. The IP68 certification for protection against dust and water is retained.
The bezels around the screen are 2mm on the left, right, and top and 3mm on the bottom. As with the S21+, the display is also flat in the housing. According to our survey, 81% of readers prefer a flat display to the curved look of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. So, for once, there is a welcome downgrade here. The front camera is housed in a tiny punch-hole notch in the middle of the screen.
A fingerprint sensor in the display is used for unlocking, which now works faster and has a larger area than in the previous models. We can confirm this: the Samsung Galaxy S21 can be unlocked quickly and securely with a fingerprint. Alternatively, unlock is, of course, still available via face recognition via the front camera.
Samsung has recently started to protect the environment and has not included a charging adapter in the scope of delivery. In addition to the smartphone and the operating instructions, the thin package only contains a seemingly lost USB-C to USB-C cable. If you want to charge your smartphone at full speed, you can find a suitable power adapter from Samsung for around 1000–1500 Tk on Daraz. After all, a screen protector is attached to the display from the factory.
For the display, there is a downgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra on the datasheet. Instead of a QHD display, only a full HD display is used here. But don’t be fooled here. Due to the small screen size, even with the 2400 x 1080 pixels, you get a pixel density of 421 pixels per inch, compared to 515 on the Ultra. If you can see a difference here with the naked eye, you either have to look directly at the display with your nose or you have better-than-average eyes. We definitely don’t see the Full HD display as a disadvantage.
Fortunately, what all Samsung Galaxy S21 models retain is the increased refresh rate of 120Hz. Due to the increased number of images, the system appears extremely fluid and the joy of operation is definitely increased. Incidentally, the 120Hz mode of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is always adaptive and dynamically adjusts the refresh rate to the content to save the battery. In practice, the Samsung Galaxy S21 switches between 60 and 120Hz depending on the app and whether there is any movement on the display. However, we are used to much more flexible handling of the Hertz number from the Chinese competition from Oppo and Xiaomi. There, the refresh rate sometimes drops below 60Hz with the same content.
As you would expect from Samsung, an AMOLED panel made in-house is, of course, used. The contrast is infinitely high, and so Samsung’s sophisticated always-on function can be used very well. The panel’s color reproduction is very strong and less realistic in the standard “Vivid” mode. Alternatively, you can also choose the “natural” mode, which is based on the sRGB color space and offers accurate color representation. On the software side, there is also a dark mode and a reading mode for the evening hours.
It is operated either via configurable on-screen buttons or by swiping gestures. If you want to operate the smartphone using swipe gestures, you can also choose between a layout with swiping from below and swiping from below and to the side. By the way, the display is protected against scratches by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The pre-installed screen protector can be removed immediately after unpacking.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 has an excellent display with high brightness, infinitely high contrast, and a smooth 120Hz display. We don’t see it as a disadvantage in any way that Samsung doesn’t equip the small 6.2-inch panel with a QHD resolution.
The Samsung Galaxy S smartphones have been on the market in two versions for different markets for years. In America and Asia, for example, smartphones come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and in Bangladesh with Samsung’s Exynos processor. In general, the versions with the Exynos processor performed worse in terms of performance and energy efficiency in the past. The difference should now decrease, however, since Samsung has moved away from the in-house architecture in its Exynos 2100 chips and designed the processors with the ARM Cortex-X1 architecture. So let’s take a look at the benchmarks and squint over to the Xiaomi Mi 11 with Snapdragon 888, which Samsung has installed in other regions.
As you can see from the benchmarks, the Exynos 2100 is still less powerful than Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon processor. The accusation that Samsung favors certain regions is still valid. However, you have to somehow leave the church in the village. The Exynos 2100 is also manufactured using the latest 5-nanometer manufacturing process, and the performance difference from the Snapdragon 888 is roughly 10%. You don’t notice that much in everyday use. The Samsung Galaxy S21 runs at an enormous speed in the system, and apps and games can also be used without restrictions.
The Snapdragon 888 has significant problems with heat development and throttling under high load, as you can read in our reviews of the Xiaomi Mi 11 or Vivo IQOO 7. We were, therefore, curious to see whether the Exynos 2100 also had the same problems. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. If you run performance-hungry apps such as benchmarks or stress tests several times, the Samsung Galaxy S21 gets uncomfortably warm and the performance drops by up to 30%. Such scenarios do not occur in everyday use, but it still dampens the euphoria that the old Snapdragon 865 performs better under load than the new 5 nanometer chips.
Since, in addition to the display size, the camera setup, in particular, distinguishes the Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones, we list the three Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones in comparison here:
So the Samsung Galaxy S21 has the same camera as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus. The Ultra version differs significantly from the two inexpensive smartphones and, with the exception of the ultra wide-angle camera, has completely different sensors. The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, on the other hand, have an identical camera setup to the old Samsung Galaxy S20. There is not much new to report here.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 records stabilized videos at up to 4K and 60FPS via the front and main cameras. The quality of the recordings is impressive: strong colors, fast focus, and strong dynamics. Another advantage of Samsung is that it is possible to switch cameras during video recording. Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 is good for recording videos.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a dual-SIM mobile phone. All the important 4G and 5G frequencies for Bangladesh are supported, and the most important bands for worldwide use are also included. The network reception of the smartphone is average. When talking over the earpiece or the hands-free function, you get flawless quality on both sides. Of course, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and WLAN telephony are also available here, if supported by the provider.
For a wireless connection, Bluetooth 5.0 is available for use. Some manufacturers already offer the 5.2 standard, which is perhaps worth mentioning in this price range. Otherwise, there is the new WiFi 6 standard. The WiFi range is very good. The SAR value is 0.456/kg on the head and 1.509W/kg on the body. It is also important to mention that the USB-C port is USB 3.2acts. So nothing stands in the way of using Samsung’s Dex. Samsung uses GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, and GALILEO satellites for navigation, but without dual GPS.
The location is determined quickly and reliably. In addition to the standard sensors, there are also a gyroscope, an e-compass, and a barometer. An FM radio is said to be present in the Snapdragon version. In any case, there is no FM radio in the Exynos version. NFC for contactless payment with Samsung Pay and Google Pay is, of course, available.
A hybrid stereo setup consisting of a speaker on the underside and an ear cup is used to reproduce sounds. The sound is very clear and loud. Basses are also present, although we have heard better speakers in the bass range. The sound is still excellent, though.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 4000 mAh battery. Of course, that’s a fair bit less than the 4800mAh S21+ or the 5000mAh Ultra. However, the Samsung Galaxy S21 also has by far the smallest display. According to a battery test on YouTube, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ has the best runtime, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the S21 Ultra in last place. However, there are no big differences in runtime between the different models.
During the day, we tested with a 14% remaining battery with an active usage time of 6.5 hours with 4 hours of YouTube playback, one hour of surfing and social media, and 15 minutes of camera use. Infrequent users can possibly get two days out of the battery. Most users will be on a one-day term. This is a rather below-average result, which is also reflected in the PC-Mark battery test.
You can charge the Samsung Galaxy S21 with up to 25 watts if you use a power supply with Samsung’s fast charging technology. The charging time is one hour and 10 minutes. If you use a conventional PowerDelivery power pack (without PPS), you will get 18 to 20 watts of charging power. A complete charging process then takes 1.5 hours. So there is not a big difference between Samsung’s own power supplies and standard PD chargers. In general, it should, of course, be noted that Samsung shares last place with Apple when it comes to quick charging. For example, the Xiaomi Mi 11 charges in 40 minutes, and the Vivo IQOO 7 in 14 minutes. After all, the Samsung Galaxy S21 supports wireless charging with 15 watts. The competitors also present other speeds for Qi charging.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 can achieve an overall good result in our test. The only real weakness compared to the competition is the rather below-average battery life. Apart from that, the smartphone offers an excellent display, a fast processor, and a good camera setup. Of course, it’s a bit of a shame that the days of headphone jacks and microSD slots on Samsung are over. With the Samsung Galaxy S21, you get one of the few compact flagships on the market.
While the Galaxy S21 gave us a lot of pleasure in the test, we can’t say the same about the price of the smartphone. With a street price of over 66,000 Tk, you have to ask yourself where the added value of a Galaxy S20 FE actually lies. Essentially, only the better selfie camera can be mentioned here. In our opinion, the fan edition of the S20 series offers significantly better value for money.