It was exciting to watch the Galaxy Unpacked event earlier this year, where the Galaxy S21 series were introduced along with the next line of accessories. We may or may not have been impressed from just the stream itself, but the real experience bogs down to holding the phone on your hands and giving it a good feel for the first time. Also, it’s one of the quickest unboxings I have ever done in my life.
The box has gotten a lot smaller compared to previous releases and it’s simply because of the omission of the charger, headphones and casing. This essentially just leaves you with the device, a USB-C cable, printed materials and a sim ejector pin. There are two very strong contrasting opinions on whether it’s simply following into another brand’s footsteps or a great effort in reducing footprint. Either way, they’re right. We do have too many chargers lying around these days, and I do keep my Samsung chargers so this didn’t bother me one bit. My only gripe is that I would have loved another pair of headphones though.
I’ve followed prices of devices for years, and the S21 series is priced in accordance with the omission of these accessories. The Galaxy S21+ retails for RM 4299, compared to the S20+’s RM 3999 price tag. With the RM 300 bump, you’re getting a new chipset, double the storage space (128GB on 20+ and 256GB on S21+) and a slightly larger battery. I would say the value is just right in this respect.
1. Camera IS the design
The S21 series’ main design highlight is the cameras, in terms of placement, style and colors. With the body being given subtle shades, the camera module get a striking new look, matching the same color as the metallic sides of the body. My Phantom Violet is a testament to that, with the camera modules being the same matching bronze while the glasstic back gets a lovely shade of violet. This combination made things a lot more stylish and premium, and subliminally worth the money. In short, a great phone to caress and even look at.
2. Another pocketable Samsung TV
I’ve always jokingly said to nearly everyone who asked me if Samsung smartphone displays were any good; that it’s like having a Samsung TV in your pocket. You’re still getting a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that’s up to120Hz strong in refresh rate. If you’re coming from the S20/Note 20 Series, you will still be jumping in on the action here.
Colors, especially the blacks were inky and you’re still able to set your color profiles just like the previous generation. Just do yourself a favor and keep it on vivid. We’re going to enjoy playing games and watching shows on this just hold out for the review 🙂
3. Cameras are the same but not really
The cameras on the S21+ are similar to the S20+’s with subtle differences. On paper, they pretty much read about the same, with S21+ getting PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) and a wider aperture (f/1.8 on S21+ and f/2.2 on S20+). However, how the S21+ takes the lead here is also the new ISP (Image Signal Processor) on the Exynos 2100. To simply put it here the new processor does a better job at processing and handling photos compared to the Exynos 990, overall producing images that’s more crisp, color accurate and clean.
One thing that’s taken away here is the omission of the ToF (Time of flight) sensor. A ToF helps a great deal in portrait taking by means of a infrared signal that measures how long it takes to return to the sensor in terms of distance and determines that depth. My speculation is that Samsung had removed it to lower cost as well as displaying confidence in their new ISP and software to bring out similar results without being more expensive. There are uses for it in AR and 3D photos as well, but I personally feel that people still aren’t too interested in such features to become mainstream.
The Quick Take
The S21+ so far has made a good first impression, but it sure begs the question, is it worth the upgrade from the S20 series? and the answer is: It depends on your usage and you what model you currently have. I’d say not to take the jump from an S20+ or Ultra, you’ll be missing out on things like expandable storage and the camera jump is more or less the same with some updates. However, if you’re on the S20, then the jump is pretty good overall.
One thing that’s better here is actually the battery life and the hardware performance. You’ll love how much faster and efficient the S21+ is, and how easy it delivers a 2 day battery life on a single charge. If this was your gripe about the S20 series and you don’t care about the rest, then jump. You’ll be really happy you did.
And the review?
We’re currently in the middle of testing, so we will be publishing our review by next week. Do stay tuned for our upcoming videos and the written review itself!