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Samsung Galaxy S21 Review

Samsung’s standard-size flagship phone doesn’t deliver the same spectacular specifications as the Ultra, but is it still worth a look?

What we love — it’s powerful, the camera is reliably good, and it’s had a price cut

The Samsung Galaxy S21 has a seriously strong processor that’s among the best in the business (either the Exynos 2100 in Europe or the Snapdragon 888 in the US). You won’t lack for power when you’re gaming or using the camera, which can even record up to 8K 24fps, but swapping to 4K 60fps will allow you to get footage from different sensors simultaneously.

Speaking of which, the camera is not a drastic improvement over that of the Samsung Galaxy S20 — but it is still a very capable snapper that performs well in a variety of environments and includes lenses for ultra-wide and telephoto options.

There have been a couple of design changes, the most significant of which is the switch to a plastic, rather than glass back. On the one hand it doesn’t quite have the same premium feel we’ve come to expect from flagships, but on the other it does make the device lighter to hold, and best of all, a bit lighter on the wallet.

What we don’t like — the screen and the battery aren’t the best around

The plastic backing isn’t the only compromise that’s been made to cut the price; unfortunately the screen resolution has been downgraded from 1440p to 1080p, and yes you can tell the difference; but at least it does retain the super smooth 120Hz refresh rate that leaves even the latest iPhones in the dust.

The battery is sufficient but not very impressive. According to our experience, you’ll get a day’s usage (or more specifically, five to six hours of screen time) but don’t expect this device to tolerate multiple days of heavy usage without needing a charge. And when you do come to charge it then make sure you’ve got a compatible plug, as the box only includes a cable but not the plug itself.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a good phone that, above all, offers high processing performance and a reliable camera. There have been some compromises made in comparison to other top-notch phones, most notably the plastic materials and the lower screen resolution, while the battery hasn’t blown us away either. Fortunately the price is more competitive, which partly makes up for these potential shortfalls.

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