On January 14th Samsung held its latest Unpacked event, during which it unveiled the Galaxy S21 series. That one includes 3 models, starting with the 6.2 inch Galaxy S21 and continuing with the Galaxy S21+ at 6.7 inches and the two telephoto camera-packing S21 Ultra 5G. We showed you a hands on of the S21 Ultra 5G already and now we’re back with an unboxing and more detailed look into the Galaxy S21+ 5G. We spent 24 hours with it and we can already draw some conclusions in the unboxing below.
The device is priced at $999 and it’s basically a larger Galaxy S21, with a bigger battery. It has the same cameras, storage, CPU, basic features, minus the back, which is glass, not plastic. In many countries, during the preorder period you also get a SmartTag and also a pair of Galaxy Buds Live. We have the Phantom Black version here, with 128 GB of storage. First of all, the box is more compact than usual, on account of not having a charger and headphones inside.
What we do get is a SIM key, manual, warranty, USB-C to USB-C cable and that’s about it…
I won’t bore you with specs, just impressions. The device has Gorilla Glass at the back and Gorilla Glass Victus at front, more resilient than usual and inaugurated by the Note 20 Ultra last year. The “wraparound” camera design is growing on me more and more. I also found out that the 3 camera lenses are covered with a metal plate, not the usual glass. The handset is easy to handle, even at 6.7 inches and reasonably grippy. Its back is matte and doesn’t draw prints, dirt or grease, plus it doesn’t scratch easily.
The 6.7 inch Dynamic AMOLED screen offers an adaptive refresh rate going from 48 Hz to 120 Hz, which saves quite a bit of battery compared to the predecessor. It feels prett bright judging by the time I spent with the device indoors and outdoors, on a pretty sunny day. I feel that it can easily reach 500 LUX or go past it. The refresh rate adjusts dynamically depending on the content you watch. Inside there’s an Exynos 2100 5 nm CPU and all news is good here. There’s no throttling, there’s no overheating and games ran fine. Benchmarks were also top notch, with results about 20-30% above the S20+.
I regret the lack of a microSD card slot here, to be honest and 128 GB can be filled fast wit 4K 60 FPS and 8K video captures. The 4800 mAh battery could have also charged faster, but Samsung didn’t want to risk damaging it in the long run. 25W is the top level of charging we get (wired). There’s also wireless charging and also reverse charging. A good piece of news is that the ultrasonic fingerprint reader works like a charm, fast and accurate, with a 1.7 times bigger contact area.
Let’s see how it handles screen protectors…
We also did a SpeedTest with a crazy 700 Mbps download speed on WiFi 6 and also an upload speed of 800 Mbps.
On the camera front we get a 10 MP selfie shooter, plus a 12 MP main camera with OIS, a 12 MP ultrawide camera with Super Steady stabilization and also a 64 MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. There’s 8K 24 FPS video capture and also Zoom Lock, which stabilizes the image at a more advanced level of zoom.
During my time with the camera I found its colors to be better calibrated than the way too vivid S20+ ones. It also handles zoom better and provides a lot of detail. We get new Portrait Studio options, basically filters and sliders for brightness, backgrounds, light, darkness, skin contrast. You can even use a background inspired by your clothes. Stabilization was top notch judging by what I filmed. One thing I noticed is that the 8K filming tends to show up laggy on the device’s screen in real time.
Director’s View offers extra control, letting you switch between the cameras and also use the front camera together with the back ones. Transitions between cams are fluid and fast, with previews as you do the recording or before it. Closeup is a bit better, but still not 100% when you’re really close.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G runs on Android 11 with One UI 3.1 on top, which also provides SmartThings Find, letting you find other Samsung devices, wallet or keys with a SmartTag attached. I’ll be honest the upgrade isn’t huge from the S20+, with the only noticeable ones being battery life, color calibration for the camera and also a superior CPU.
We’ll tell you more in the review. You can get the smartphone here.