For a fair while Samsung has been the Apple of the Android world with some premium phones rocking some eye-wateringly premium price tags. Despite not being a big jump in price from the previous series, the S21 still $1399, $1799, and $2199 respectively for the S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra. I got my hands on the $1399 Galaxy S21 to see if it is a worthy upgrade.
Opening the box up I was felt a combination of shock and joy. The first is that they sent me the phone in Phantom Purple colour and I fricken adored it. The light purple colouring is absolutely gorgeous except the little panel with the cameras which sticks out has the phantom pink colouring. If you get this phone in Grey, White, or Pink then the camera panel is the same colour as the rest of the phone which looks way better. If only they could make these panels in purple, though if you are going to jam the phone in a case you probably don’t care.
If you do care about the colours, oddly the S21 has more colour options than the s21+ and the S21 Ultra has even less options. So if you like seeing the colour of your phone and you like anything except black or silver then you may need to look at the cheaper options.
The thing that shocked me in a bad way was the included cable. Now forgive me if this has been a Samsung thing for a while, but the cable out of the box is a USB-C to USB-C cable. Now having had a few phones over the years I have plenty of USB-A to power adapters, so a USB-A to USB-C cable with no power adapter would make some sense, but no USB-C to power adapter is included.
If you are going to buy your fam a brand spanking new phone and they are joining the smartphone generation, or haven’t upgraded for a while, it is unlikely they have a power adapter for this phone. You either need to buy a USB-C to power adapter, or already have a way to charge USB-C devices.
If the above made no sense to you, while you are in the shop ask the nice shop assistant for the plug to charge it. If they don’t have a nice shop assistant, go buy your new phone at a different shop. You don’t need to deal with bad customer service when you are dropping $1400. If you are being a bit rude and demanding, maybe you should be nicer to these poor shop clerks who are probably lucky if they make living wage no matter how much you spend.
Anyway, back to the phone…
Having not used a Samsung phone in a while, I was shocked by how smooth the setup was. Things like Smart Switch were familiar but the process has gotten much faster, and the bloatware has either been decreased or the phone is powerful enough to not be slowed like it used to be.
Either way I found switching my data from my old Oppo to the Samsung Galaxy S21 a breeze.
The phone is certainly zippy as well. I know this line of phones goes up to the $2199 model, so I did feel my bias creeping in that this is the cheap model. You know the cheap … $1400 model. This is of course crazy and the S21 is a banger of a phone which has its own benefits over it’s bigger siblings.
It is the smallest of the phones which will benefit people with smaller hands or pockets, and with its plastic backing it is a light phone. Despite this the lower powered cameras still take some amazing photos. This is another thing to keep in perspective, despite having less cameras and them being lower powered, it was still a massive step up from my 18 month old phone. They seem to have done some good software tricks too because the photos I took were way better than I expected.
And of course, it is $800 cheaper than the Ultra, so you can buy this phone and an Xbox Series X.
Then there is the battery life. Despite not having a massive battery Samsung has done some work under the hood to make this pretty damn good. Using it at a normal pace e.g., playing some games, browsing the net, listening to podcasts, and watching some videos, I regularly had around 30% battery life at the end of the day. This means on an especially heavy day I still have some wiggle room which is key for when a new game comes out and I spend more time playing games than usual.
Ultimately the Galaxy S21 is a pretty damn good phone. At times it doesn’t feel like a premium phone despite the price being above 1K, but in the premium line this is the bottom model. Despite this you still get a pretty damn awesome phone for the price. Now if only Samsung would adopt the seamless app screen like Oppo has.