Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review
Daylight shootout: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. S20 Ultra vs. S21
A flagship camera can't do without a shootout, so we asked ourselves what we would have liked to see in this review. We decided the first thing people would like to know is how the new Ultra camera is faring against the old one and whether there are any major differences between the S21 Ultra camera and the regular S21 shooters. And now come the photos.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra daylight photos are slightly better than the S20 Ultra's - they offer better dynamic range thanks to the new HDR processing and offer a more accurate color rendition. The new Ultra photos are a bit over-sharpened, though.
The Galaxy S21 samples look a lot like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. We had to pixel-peep a lot, and the two minor differences we found are the slightly toned down sharpness on the regular S21 images and traces of noise here and there.
All three Galaxies have the same 12MP ultrawide camera, AF or no AF. And naturally, all three of them output the photos with equal quality. The old S20 Ultra has a slightly warmer color saturation, but that's the only (minor) difference.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 4x telephoto camera that defaults into 5x zoomed mode. Naturally, the S20 Ultra images offer higher magnification at the expense of sufficient detail and upscaling artifacts.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra and S21 both have 3x zoom cameras with different sensors and optics - 10MP with 70mm zoom lens vs. 64MP with 29mm lens. The Ultra upscales its output to 12MP, while the S21 crops the center of its large sensor and then upscaling the content. Well, the Ultra offers the better shots, obviously - its native 3x images are sharper and less noisy.
There was no doubt that real 10x optical zoom (S21 Ultra) would be better than a digital one done over a 4x camera (S20 Ultra). You can compare both 10x options and see clearly the superiority of the native 10x camera.
Low-light shootout: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21
The Galaxy S21 Ultra low-light photos from the primary camera aren't impressive, but they are an improvement over the S21's as far as noise-handling is concerned.
The S21 images, on the other hand, retain a slightly better color saturation.
We also shot these scenes with Night Mode, and the photos from both S21 phones are virtually identical.
The ultrawide snappers are identical on both S21 models, and so are their low-light photos.
Same goes for when using Night Mode - it yields similar images on both phones.
Both Galaxy S21 phones have 3x tele cameras, but they save entirely different photos. The ones coming from the Ultra are more detailed, with very-well handled noise and much better dynamic range. You can clearly see more detail in shadowy areas.
Using Night Mode on the tele snappers improves the quality further, though the S21 is still lacking a bit - the Ultra once again offers sharper images, with less noise and better dynamic range.
Low-light shootout: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S20 Ultra
The Galaxy S21 Ultra low-light photos from the main camera aren't impressive, but they are better than those shot on the S20 Ultra. The noise-reduction does a better job on the S21 Ultra, and the color saturation is better.
The differences when using Night Mode are melted down to slightly better exposed darker areas on the S21 Ultra and sometimes - a notch better saturation. But we had to stare in those pixels really hard to notice these minor changes.
It's really tough to tell apart the samples from the ultrawide shooters as they use the same sensors. There are negligible differences here and there, but for all purposes - these shots are the same. And they all look bad.
The Night Mode improves the ultrawide shots on both phones, and once again - they save indistinguishable photos.
We also snapped zoomed photos side by side with both Galaxy Ultra. The S20's 5x photos are obviously more zoomed in, but they lack in detail. In fact, they looked like cropped and upscaled versions of the ones we took with the S21 Ultra 3x cam - same noise, exposure, and colors just zoomed a bit more.
Absolutely the same conclusion is valid for the Night Mode telephoto samples - the ones from the S20 Ultra looked like cropped and upscaled versions of the S21 Ultra. Yes, that identical.
Conclusion: The S21 Ultra seems to offer minor improvements over the S20 Ultra and S21 as far as primary, ultrawide, and 3x telephoto quality is concerned. But none of these other phones offers native 10x zoom - that's exclusive to the S21 Ultra, and as far as versatility goes - the new Ultra is unmatched.
Got mine a couple of weeks ago. 12/256 Had a Oneplus 7T earlier. First major difference I have experienced is the weight. It feels much heavier. The camera makes up for it though. Have not experienced any heating issues yet, fingers crossed ! F...
- 14 Sep 2021
- Lori 0
I've had my s21 for about 2 weeks. My previous phone was a s8+. What a difference!! The pics are re outstanding! I love it. Five stars from me
- 28 Aug 2021
- 13 Aug 2021