In lieu of the upcoming Galaxy Unpacked event, let’s do a long-term review of the Samsung S21 Ultra. We’ve seen many smartphones in the first half of the year 2021, but the S21 Ultra is the phone that has always been in my pocket since I got it.
After using it for 6 months, here are my thoughts and experience.
The phone – after testing so many other phones, the S21 Ultra is still one of the best-looking phones. The design is iconic and sexy and I still take a moment to stare at it when I clean the case every now and then.
Now, I have not spent any time without a case on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but honestly – I really still do like the matte black finish of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
We should also talk about the accessories though. The S Pen is a separate purchase and I end up ditching the bundled case because it was too grippy. I got this case from Spigen which is thinner than the bundled case from Samsung, but it’s a bit wider.
While we’re talking about the back of the phone, let’s talk about those cameras once again. This time, Samsung really stepped up their camera game on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, touting a total of 4 cameras – whereby two of them are telephoto lenses at different focal lengths.
I have taken a lot of pictures and videos using this phone. I sometimes even just straight up use the Galaxy S21 Ultra to take pictures and videos to use in videos that you are watching right now – and no editing is required. That’s a big time saver for me.
To have a look at many point-and-shoot pictures I took with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, watch the video at the top of this long-term review.
Transferring data is also quick since the Galaxy S21 Ultra uses USB 3. Some other wannabe “flagship” phone still uses USB 2, by the way.
And while on that matter, I have to highlight one thing. The Galaxy S21 Ultra that I’m using comes with 256GB of storage and so far, I got about 140GB of stuff in the phone. I got too lazy to delete or organize my files and I end up just hogging data now. And yet, I still can’t finish up that 256GB of storage.
I know, many people are complaining about the lack of a microSD card slot – and I was kinda weirded out at first too. But, I end up not needing a microSD card slot.
For me, I use my phone to work. That’s why the Galaxy S21 Ultra is pretty much perfect for me. The Exynos 2100 is surprisingly good this generation since it doesn’t overheat like the Snapdragon 888 chipset and never lags when I use the phone to do my stuff.
I usually hop between multiple different apps, saving and cropping screenshots, and using the S Pen to write, draw, and mostly to illustrate stuff.
And that is why I like Samsung’s One UI. Edge Panel compliments the overall user experience so well that I find myself breezing through tasks that everyone else that’ll be complaining. For example – Edge Panel has an option to select a part of the screen then save a screenshot.
But before you hit save, there’s another option to extract the text. I find these kinds of features too useful – especially since some people like to take a picture of my parcel’s tracking code through a picture in WhatsApp. So I use this feature to extract the tracking code in a second and put it in the parcel tracking website.
Then comes Samsung Pay – it’s very convenient. I mean, as the pandemic literally raging nowadays, I find myself not even using cash. I just use my cards and e-wallets nowadays. And that is also because I don’t want to go to the ATM to withdraw cash as the daily cases are skyrocketing.
Foooh… anyway, I don’t play games on mobile phones because I have a decked-out PC behind me that I use to edit the videos that you are watching now and also to play games.
And throughout my usage, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 5,000mAh battery rarely goes below 45%. Even during the days when I need to go back to the studio, I still end up more than 45% of battery. And every day, I get a lot of emails and notifications too.
Now, you might have realized that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra that I’m showing here has a pretty hazy screen. That’s because I changed to a matte screen protector recently. I replaced the original pre-installed screen protector since it was a bit scratched up.
While I’m using a matte screen protector, the fingerprint scanner still works perfectly fine.
Speaking of the display, I am using this display at 1440p resolution at 120Hz. That’s because I can – and I still have a lot of battery juice left to burn at the end of the day. That goes to show that the LTPO backplane is really working its hardest to ensure the battery life is as long as possible.
Sometimes if I am too busy doing something else, I go to bed with still about 60-ish% of battery left – and I just end up not needing to charge for the day.
And since I have such good battery life, I never needed fast charging. I just use a 10W charger and charge whenever I go to bed and unplug when I wake up.
But, the battery life does get affected by software updates. Every month, without fail, there will be an update available for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I do feel that certain updates prolonged the battery life a bit more. It’s not that significant but definitely noticeable and consistent.
But the price…
If you’re thinking of picking up the Galaxy S21 Ultra today, then I have good news. You can even get this phone with 256GB storage at about RM4,299 now which I think is a big price drop from the initial RM5,299 that Samsung was asking for.
While the RM4,299 price tag is a much more reasonable price, it’s still an expensive phone overall. With that said, throughout my usage, I think I found the phone that suits my use case the most. Perhaps this is an example of “you get what you pay for”?