Samsung Galaxy S21 5G review

21 January 2021

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  • G
  • Gabeuk
  • mxL
  • 10 Jan 2022

I've had this phone for 6 months or so (Exynos version, I think). I actually really like. And I like it more as time goes on because it's so simple and it "just works". Nothing flashy here.

Great screen, really good battery life (2 days for me), perfect size. So far no scratches or dings (I don't use case).

The in-screen finger print reader is really good -- an ultrasonic fingerprint reader is really worth having. Fast and it just works. Wouldn't go back to anything less.

Camera is probably not as good as a Pixel 6 or latest iPhone. But it's decent enough.

Some of the inbuilt Samsung apps (e.g. Bixby) are a little annoying. I wish you could delete them. But for the most part they are fairly innocuous.

    • Y
    • Yuri
    • LxE
    • 03 Jan 2022

    Any feedback on the buggy os update 12???? Refresh rate slow camera slow.... send videos are distorted and clored screenrecord is totally distorted

      Anonymous, 10 Nov 2021CHIPSET Exynos 2100 (5 nm) - International Qualcomm SM835... morevery true

        Rahul D, 15 Nov 2021They didn’t have have to reduce the built to knock off 100$... moreTrust me, unless you keep your phone for 5 years, 50W charging barely impacts battery health. Maybe that's why they removed 45W, because it didn't save much time. But these 50W and 65W really save a lot of time. You could wake up and put your phone to charge, and it will be 100% when you go.

          • D
          • Daisy
          • fuW
          • 19 Nov 2021

          Nice phone and portable size but I wish it had space for headset speakers

            • R
            • Rahul D
            • QwR
            • 15 Nov 2021

            RandyRiffin, 24 Oct 2021Nope, they needed to sacrifice build quality to take $100 o... moreThey didn’t have have to reduce the built to knock off 100$ ! A Glass back barely costs 10$ to manufacture! Its just a method to make more picky customers to take the expensive models ! To be fair it looks good and doesn’t break ! I don’t like glass back phones all My friends are running broken phones. Back glass breaks easier than front glass as most people have a screen protector on! 50w charging isn’t good kills the battery! I was thankful they removed the 45w charging heats the phone but just cuts 5-10min !

              • ?
              • Anonymous
              • X%g
              • 10 Nov 2021

              Exynos 2100 (5 nm) - International
              Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm) - USA/China

              Why would you be partial as you charge pretty much the same price everywhere ..Samsung!!!

                • A
                • Aristocracy
                • CGH
                • 04 Nov 2021

                Nice and good

                  Anonymous, 08 Sep 2021crazy how its price went down from $900 to $500. so thi... moreNope, they needed to sacrifice build quality to take $100 off the starting price. Yeah, the Realme 8 Pro has 50W for $200, but that's like all it has (and a great camera), the display is really falling behind with 60Hz, and performance too (720G), and it's got meh speakers. It can't actually compete with the likes of the Redmi Note 10 Pro or A52 5G.
                  But I agree, Samsung could've EASILY put faster charging. I mean they put 45W for their Note 10 plus, idk why they didn't with this. And now Google is also ahead with 30W.

                    John, 18 Aug 2021Actually, the bigger screen is still the best! I don'... moreBro he's talking about android phones. If you love big phones, well you're in for a treat. We got plenty of those. I'm guessing you have a Pro or Pro Max. There's also the big boys: S21 Ultra, Mi 11T Pro, Pixel 6 Pro, Oneplus 8 Pro, Motorola Edge 20 Pro, Realme GT Neo 2 and Asus Zenfone 8 Flip.

                      Anonymous, 16 Aug 2021I have a confession to make: My favorite phone right now is... moreYayy you appreciated my phone, Pixel 3a. Now I might get a Pixel 5 or S21, Sony 5 II or Mi 11 Lite 5G (thin and light).

                        Anonymous, 16 Aug 2021I have a confession to make: My favorite phone right now is... moreBefore I tell you why Samsung dumped the 5.8 s10e, I want to say that you will really like looking at the GSMArena best smartphones list ---> Best compact phones.
                        Ok, so when Samsung transitioned to the S20, they had 3 models, S20, S20 Plus and Ultra, so the 3 from S10 (e and plus) had become the S20! So s10e was the compact samsung of 2019, now the S20 was the compact samsung of 2020, and so on.

                        Also, at least screen sizes aren't going to get any bigger, if phones become bigger than 7 inches, then they are going to reach tablet territorry, and they wouldn't even fit in our hands! Like, they would literally slip out! Grab your iPad Mini and try to hold it with one hand, this is what our future WOULD be. But I firmly believe that this is where phone screens stop, if you look at the graph of screen sizes increasing, it has started to flatten in the past few years (and so has battery sizes for that matter). So don't worry about having even bigger options in the future! Hooray!
                        Like how there's a predicted trend that Rural life is going to become more popular than City life, opposite the Urban sprawl trend in the past years, I think companies are going to start making phones smaller when they realise their phones are too big for them to hold!

                          • S
                          • S21Njuser
                          • kn9
                          • 14 Sep 2021

                          DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE .. I have had my phone less then 2 months and suddenly in the middle of a call 70% of my lower screen started to flash and go yellow after pixels went bad . I went to TMobile they checked whole phone for drops water etc.. and said they couldn't find anything that this happened before and would order Mr a new phone. That was now 10 days ago and after 20 calls to t-mobile finally they say my phone was delivered to a store 9 days ago . I go to the store they say they have nothing it's at another store so after 2 hours and driving to 6 stores getting told its there finally the last t-mobile store says its at 1st store calls them and they start arguing . He hangs up and says if they don't have it it went M.I.A. . I contact t-mobile support again and get told a supervisor would look into it and call me back that was 3 days ago 😂 but yet they want me to still make my payment on time and charging me for a $1200 phone I can't use. This has been the worse experience ever with any phone or company .

                            • ?
                            • Anonymous
                            • Ibx
                            • 13 Sep 2021

                            Kriobergsimas, 18 Jul 2021..i've started looking for a new cell phone for my wif... moreIt's a snapdragon processor in the states and china's version.

                              • ?
                              • Anonymous
                              • IVU
                              • 11 Sep 2021

                              Anonymous, 08 Sep 2021crazy how its price went down from $900 to $500. so thi... moreThose $200 with 50W charging always have a third-degree performance. Just because it has big numbers doesn't mean it has big reliability.

                                • ?
                                • Anonymous
                                • IVU
                                • 11 Sep 2021

                                "In YouTube, for example, the phone remains at 120Hz when you're playing back 24fps videos, but it does drop to 60Hz for 30fps and 60fps content."

                                Eh? How come the lowest frame rate use the highest refresh rate? That is odd.

                                  • ?
                                  • Anonymous
                                  • y6V
                                  • 08 Sep 2021

                                  crazy how its price went down from $900 to $500.

                                  so this device is really a midranger with a flagship chipset (only the 888 is considered flagship, not the garbage 2100)

                                  they could've done last years display and build quality

                                  even $200 have 50 watts fast chargers on their boxes
                                  wtf samsung

                                    • J
                                    • John
                                    • Lb7
                                    • 18 Aug 2021

                                    Anonymous, 16 Aug 2021I have a confession to make: My favorite phone right now is... moreActually, the bigger screen is still the best! I don't really like smaller screens, it doesn't look too good to me!

                                    Here is the recent iphones that were came out since 2007!

                                    First iphone with 3.5 inch, 5 to se 1 with 4 inch, 6 to se 2 with 4.7 and 5.5 inch, x to 11 pro with 5.8 inch and 6.5 inch, 12, 12 pro, 12 pro max and mini with 5.4 inch, 6.1 inch, and 6.7 inch!

                                      • ?
                                      • Anonymous
                                      • t1%
                                      • 16 Aug 2021

                                      I have a confession to make: My favorite phone right now is the Samsung Galaxy S9. Yes, the one from 2018. I’m testing the 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra and running Android 11 on the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL, but when I want to kick back with my phone of choice, these days I’m reaching for the Galaxy S9 and its 5.8-inch screen.

                                      In short: I’m sick of big phones.

                                      In just the past few months, we’ve gotten the 6.67-inch OnePlus 7T Pro, 6.8-inch Galaxy Note 10+, 6.8-inch LG V60, and 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra, all of which are extremely cumbersome. It’s gotten to the point where the 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max is on the small side (which is probably why Apple is rumored to bump the size of its biggest flagship to 6.7 inches this year).


                                      But at least Apple makes an iPhone that’s under six inches. If you want a decent Android phone that can actually be used with one hand, your options are basically a 5.6-inch Pixel 3a or a Galaxy S10e. The Galaxy S20 starts at 6.2 inches and goes up from there, nearly half-an-inch bigger than the Galaxy S9 from just two years ago. Take a look at how phones sizes have increased over just the past three generations:

                                      Galaxy S9: 5.8, 6.2
                                      Galaxy S10: 5.8, 6.1, 6.4, 6.7
                                      Galaxy S20: 6.2, 6.7, 6.9

                                      LG G7: 6.1
                                      LG V50: 6.4
                                      LG V60: 6.8

                                      Galaxy Note 8: 6.3
                                      Galaxy Note 9: 6.4
                                      Galaxy Note 10: 6.3, 6.8

                                      OnePlus 5T: 6.0
                                      OnePlus 6T: 6.4
                                      OnePlus 7T: 6.6

                                      Bottom line, premium Android phones have ballooned over the past two years and are just plain too big now, especially when you factor in the ever-taller screen ratios. The Galaxy S20 Ultra barely fits in my pocket, and its tremendous size makes it difficult to use—even with two hands. Case in point: I’ve been experiencing issues with autofocus that’s at least partially due to my inability to keep it still while snapping a pic.


                                      And I have fairly big hands. My wife wouldn’t even consider the Galaxy S20 Ultra, effectively shutting her out of the best camera features just because she doesn’t want a phone with a 6.9-inch display. Choosing between screen sizes is one thing, but forcing buyers to choose a phone that’s downright unwieldy just to get the best features is just wrong. And beyond the fear of missing out, they’re just too heavy, fragile, and awkward.

                                      Bigger isn’t always better

                                      I simply don’t understand why Samsung dumped the 5.8-inch model with the launch of the Galaxy S20. For most people, it’s the perfect size, big enough to get work done but not too big where you can’t use it with one hand. But if you want an S20, you’ll need to get a phone with a screen that’s at least 6.2 inches with a noticeably larger body than the Galaxy S10e.


                                      A half an inch of screen size might not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference. Compared to the Galaxy Note 10+, the S20 Ultra is only 4.6mm taller, but for the impact it had on my grip and reachability, it may as well be a foot. By comparison, the Galaxy S20 is 9.5mm taller than the S10e, so by jumping from 5.8-inch to a 6.2-inch screen you’re getting a significantly bigger phone, too, which for many will cross the line from useable to unbearable.

                                      But phone makers don’t seem to care. I’m willing to bet that next year’sGalaxy S30 will start at 6.4 inches, with the upper model inching ever closer to 7 inches. Usability has basically gotten lost in the race to be biggest, and there’s no signs of it slowing down. If anything, with the advent of folding tech, phones are going to push further into mini tablet territory.

                                      Folding phones might still be novel and interesting, but we’re a long way from mainstream use. The Galaxy Z Flip is certainly a big step in the right direction, but with so-so cameras, nascent UIs, and uncertain form factors, foldables are still in the experimental phase and likely will be for a while.

                                      But even if foldable phones were to magically become durable and affordable, the only real problem they solve is pocketability. When you want to use the Galaxy Fold, you’re still stuck with a giant screen, and if anything, folded phones will quickly get just as big as today’s non-folding handsets. This brings us to a crossroads: There’s only so much bezel that can be trimmed, and if phone screens keep increasing in size, we’re going to be looking at Galaxy Tab A-sized screens in just a couple more years, folding or not.

                                      And it’s all a big distraction from the truth: smartphone evolution has stalled. Folding displays and space-zoom cameras aside, we’ve at something of a lull in smartphone innovation, even as displays have gotten bigger. I'll admit that Samsung's Galaxy S20 120Hz panels are downright remarkable, but brightness and speed aside, my Galaxy S9's display is plenty good. As we all wait for the next big breakthrough, whether it’s folding screens, everlasting batteries, or next-gen AI, phone makers are trying to convince us that bigger screens are the main thing we need, and power users will work harder and smarter with more pixels. 


                                      And as a result, small phones have gotten short shrift. Phone makers have reserved some features for its biggest phones due to space and battery limitations, but now, even 6.2-inch phones are missing out on features in their larger-screener counterparts, whether that's better screens, faster connectivity, or more powerful cameras. 

                                      Phones used to have so many new features people wanted to upgrade every year, but with the push into more screen, people are holding onto their phones longer. Part of the reason is the price, of course, but that’s merely a consequence, not the cause. The larger issue is that phone makers are reserving their best features for phones with the biggest screens, essentially forcing consumers to buy more phone than they might want.

                                      So they’re waiting, which only leads to bigger phones. Phone makers are in such a race to one-up each other that none of them seem to be thinking about what can actually make them better. And a 7-inch display isn’t it.

                                        • A
                                        • Anonymous
                                        • 3%I
                                        • 31 Jul 2021

                                        Me, 02 Jul 2021Don't buy the S21 it will go dead in two months and th... moreLol, you're probably misleading to yourself because of a fact that the screen will work after 2 months!

                                        What a liar!