Camera test: S21 Ultra vs. Note20 Ultra

15 February 2021


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Shui8, 16 Feb 2021Note 20 Ultra image processing looks more matured, but the ... moreWhile I'm glad that this year Samsung turned down the saturation even further on S21U, it's also worth noting that they now mess up colours in finer textures - their newer flagship is blending yellows and green of grass together + coloured patterns in a distance seem a bit greyish, and the same trait shows up in GSMA's image quality comparison chart as well. I'm assuming that too much chroma noise reduction is being applied, which is completely unnecessary given how Note's image was already chroma-noise-free no matter the lighting condition.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on oversharpening and noise, though. Apart from more neutral colour rendition, S21U does everything worse than Note (All right, the FFC image quality and video stabilisation are a tad better, but they aren't significant enough to make up for the rest of shortcomings) where the newer hardware isn't involved. All those issues should be fixable in software update, but they shouldn't have been greenlighted in the first place.

  • Love my camera

Nick Tegrataker, 16 Feb 2021How could you tell if it is horrible or not when you have n... moreI was planning on moving away from Samsung this year, refusing to upgrade since 2017. I looked at the new Sony and the ROG . But I couldn't find a camera to match my s9plus. I now have an s21 ultra and absolutely love the photos I get on my new phone. I only use my phone as a phone and camera, but love the 21 ultra. I am so glad I purchased it ☺

Anonymous, 16 Feb 2021This night video mode of mi11 is horrible. I saw samples w... moreHow could you tell if it is horrible or not when you have no idea how other phones perform in the same situation? Heck, we don't even know how dark this scene actually have been, and you're already complaining about the video quality? Some people just can't stop being overcritical of anything, can they..

  • Alex

Anonymous, 15 Feb 2021Note 20 pictures look definitely better. way to go samsungTotally agree. And way to go, Arena. You put inferior pictures of S21 side by side with Note20 and claim S21 is a better choice!?
I should have stopped paying attention to promotional GSMA Verdict sections a long time ago. (While still being grateful to Arena for publishing samples.)

Anonymous, 16 Feb 2021Many phones do it just because of night photos. This sill... moreExcept a simple crop from the 12MP image won't have an edge in image quality even in a poorly lit environment. Go check out the low light section of GSMArena's recent camera comparison article, iPhone 12 Pro and Mate 40 Pro almost always show better textures and edge preservation than Note 20 Ultra at 2.5x zoom level while maintaining lower noise level.

  • Anonymous

Android--Master, 16 Feb 2021That can be easily done in the default app for choosing col... more
People try all profiles, nothing changes.
You will never be able to make galaxy display similar colours seen on any oled tv.
Warms tones do not go away.
The "cold" is still warmer than the " neutral" of other phones.

  • Anonymous

AnonD-973296, 16 Feb 2021ok but answer me this- does it not usually come down to the... moreXenon flash is better than LED.
It is gonna help have better colour accuracy at night.
But it requires much more space.

The very wrong white balance provided by phones like Galaxy and Iphones is choice of these makers.
This could easily be adressed if they wanted too.
Just lack of interest.

Anonymous, 16 Feb 2021They should do same to screen. Get rid of punchy tones. That can be easily done in the default app for choosing color profile.

  • AnonD-973296

SEUL8TR, 16 Feb 2021I'd take Carl-Zeiss optics with Xneon flash over softw... moreok but answer me this- does it not usually come down to the sensor and software modifications in the photo processing pipeline (i dont have much knowledge in cameras i want to learn how they work)

It seems that in terms of photo quality both severely overpriced Galaxies aren't good enough to replace my "old" $250 Pixel 4. Well, lets wait see what Xperia 1 III and Pixel 6 will offer.

  • Anonymous

i0S.-.Never.-.Again, 16 Feb 2021Samsung also failed to utilize the capabilities of the sens... moreThis night video mode of mi11 is horrible.
I saw samples while ago.
Extremely soft, huge sign of boosted ISO.

Check here : www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBQG1lrKSzw&feature=youtu.be

  • Anonymous

SEUL8TR, 16 Feb 2021I'd take Carl-Zeiss optics with Xneon flash over softw... moreZeiss no longer makes small lenses.
For example xperia still has sony lenses.
Zeiss just gives little help.

  • Anonymous

Nick Tegrataker, 16 Feb 2021The problem is that unlike some other companies Samsung sti... moreMany phones do it just because of night photos.
This silly obssession of having night photos at same quality of daylight, when not real cameras can keep same level of base iso.

  • Anonymous

Android-Authority, 16 Feb 2021S21 Ultra has less saturated colors compared to previous ge... moreThey should do same to screen.
Get rid of punchy tones.

I always think the new phone will be perfect and there won't be anything to get better. But then it comes out and there are still complaints. I have the Note 9 and like it a lot. But I feel like camera performance is worse than when I had the Note 4. Is that even possible? For some reason they downgraded cameras eventually from 16 Mpx sensors and I have just 12 Mpx. With all the AI it still feels like barely a mediocre camera.

Nick Tegrataker, 16 Feb 2021The problem is that unlike some other companies Samsung sti... moreSamsung also failed to utilize the capabilities of the sensor and Snapdragon 888 chip.

1) No 4k@120fps.
2) 8k video looks really bad, other manufacturers are doing much better job with 8k.
3) No night mode for video like we see on Mi 11.
4) Algorithms for nona-bayer sensor still haven't been optimized enough in one year's time, especially in low light photos.

Android-Authority, 16 Feb 2021S21 Ultra has less saturated colors compared to previous ge... moreYes, I can see that.

Nick Tegrataker, 16 Feb 2021The problem is that unlike some other companies Samsung sti... moreWeird move by Samsung really, as in actual camera world, most favourable Portraits are at 80mm FL, which is around 3x zoom on phone.

AnonD-973296, 15 Feb 2021does it even need that huge of a sensor, why not do what pi... moreI'd take Carl-Zeiss optics with Xneon flash over software crap.
Only neutrality you will see, what your eyes see, the camera will provide, unlike software modifications.

Android-Authority, 16 Feb 2021S21 Ultra has less saturated colors compared to previous ge... moreFollowing Sony.
Even their TV have focused towards neutral, even Sony Hifi always focus on neutrality.