Samsung started off 2021 with a bang as it launched three premium flagships. The Galaxy S21 is suited for those who want a premium experience without burning a hole in the pocket and if there are no budget restraints, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a no brainer. So one might ask, where does the Galaxy S21+ fit and who is it for. We answer that in this review.
Before we get to that, let us put out some facts about the new Galaxy phones. The Galaxy S21 starts at Rs 69,999 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra carries a starting price tag of Rs 1,05,999. The Galaxy S21+ sits right between these two, starting at Rs 81,999. This pricing structure itself should answer part of the question, but there are more reasons from what we've learned over the course of our review.
On paper, the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are much alike. Both have the same cameras, design, processor, display specs and the rest of the add-ons such as Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. The exceptions are the display size and battery size, both of which are crucial for those who want an optimum experience.
Design & Display
Samsung Galaxy S21+ is slightly bigger than the Galaxy S21 and a touch smaller than the Galaxy S21 Ultra (REVIEW). For some, this might be the ideal size for gaming and multimedia consumption. The smartphone is sleek, light and handy, and doesn't feel like it is an oversized version of the Galaxy S21. The Galaxy S21+ has assuring single-hand use, the bigger battery and display is just an added advantage.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ features a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Full HD+ Infinity-O display with 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate with Eye Comfort Shield. As always, the display on this Samsung flagship is just as great and offers rich colours and excellent viewing experience. The viewing angles are great too, and binge-watching your favourite shows doesn't strain the eyes more than usual. Another great thing about the display we love is that it is flat, yet offers an edge-to-edge look. Despite mastering the art of curved display, it's nice to see Samsung change with the trend and consumer needs.
The icing on the cake is the ultra-smooth experience, thanks to its Adaptive refresh rate. It makes scrolling down menus and social media feeds and playing some graphics-intense games quite a delight.
On the back, the frosted glass look and that unique camera bump, which aesthetically fuses with the frame. The panel is not much of a fingerprint magnet as well, but the Phantom Silver might get some credit here too. The subtle gradience is pretty cool too, but we still love Phantom Black as it comes across as a classier shade of the lot.
The metal frame makes the phone a bit slippery, but it's nothing a silicone or a leather case won't fix. We used the phone without either and it didn't seem like a task once you get a hang of it.
If the display and design of the Galaxy S21+ have to be rated, in our view, it wins our full trust.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ cameras are the same as the Galaxy S21 camera. So if you're looking to upgrade for the cameras, the Galaxy S21 will save you a few bucks. Moreover, you won't find much changed from what you might have seen not the Galaxy S20+.
The Galaxy S21+ gets a 64MP 3X telephoto sensor paired with 12MP wide and ultra-wide sensors. On the front is a 10MP selfie shooter. The slightly modified sensors allow for brighter pictures and more balanced results. The plethora of camera modes are worth exploring, like that Single Take, Portrait Vide, Director's View, besides the usual Portrait and all.
The Galaxy S21+ is not a bad camera, in fact, it is quite great if you're looking for rich colour outputs with balanced HDR. There are some strong points like the portraits with great depth effect are captured effortlessly. The edge detection is accurate and under good light, you'll get the ideal shots. The dynamic range is definitely improved, focusing is on point and the results are rich in contrast.
The ultra-wide-angle shots also come out good without compromising on the factors of details, colours, and smudged edges. The 3X zoom is something you'll find yourself using more often as it doesn't require you to get closer to the subject at the cost of losing out on details and natural colours. But if you go beyond 3X, you'll feel the dip in quality and definitely feel the burn beyond 10X.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ has a solid night mode. Samsung has managed to do some incredible software tweaks to finally level with the competition and the results are going to impress you at the very least. All of these features are just about meeting the expectations of a flagship smartphone, but don't necessarily exceed them. It's a good camera setup, you won't hate the results. As a part of the whole package, you'll see it has been balanced out. If you truly need that above-par excellence in the camera, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate choice for you.
The Galaxy S21+ selfies also turn out great. The portrait mode might sometimes fault the edge detection, but in most cases, you'll love what it has to offer. The front camera captures a lot of details and natural colours in daylight. Low-light settings will hamper the results, but they are still usable if you ask us. There's night mode too if you like to click selfies in the dark.
Check out a few samples below:
Now let us remind you, the same camera experience is offered in the cheaper Galaxy S21.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ is powered by Exynos 2100 processor in India paired with 8GB RAM and our model had 128GB onboard storage. We are told the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 variant is slightly better at peak performance, and we don't doubt it. But if we are not comparing, the Galaxy S21+ is a solid performer. Throw anything and it will meet the expectations.
From running daily tasks to extensive gaming, the Galaxy S21+ did it all with ease. We also found the capability to handle powerful tasks without heating the phone easily quite commendable. During our testing, the Galaxy S21+ stood its ground firm. As a daily driver, you can blindly trust the phone to keep your tasks running without any lags or stutter. The OneUI 3.1 (Android 11) makes things run smoother and there are so many customisation options you can explore if you're up for it. But if you wish to leave that area untouched, it is not going to get in your way.
The Galaxy S21+ can really multi-task. We were constantly running back and forth between Twitter, WhatsApp, Internet browser, Gmail, Chartbeat and other productivity apps during a busy workday and add the extensive use of camera when not working. Must say, the Galaxy S21+ didn't disappoint.
The 8GB RAM, as compared to 12GB RAM in the Ultra might feel less, but it is sufficient to get the jobs done. But the upgrade of UFS 3.1 is welcome, which allowed for faster read and write speeds. The Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is a boon really. It is fast and accurate and fixes the challenge of unlocking the phone while wearing a face mask. Finally, there's support for 5G whenever the telecom providers of India are ready to offer.
The bigger battery is the only other USP besides a bigger display to go for the Galaxy S21+ and not the Galaxy S21. There's a 4,800mAh battery under the hood, which helped us get through a busy day. There are a lot of factors, such as the battery optimisation on the chip-level and Adaptive refresh rate, played a crucial role in keeping those bars from dropping like dead pigeons. Based on our use, we consistently got 5+ screen on time without the phone reaching its default power-saving mode at 20 percent juice. So if you ask us, the battery advantage is something you cannot ignore while considering this flagship model.
As for charging times, it goes from 0-100 percent in around 70 minutes. This is with a 25W adaptor that you do not get in the box. You need to use a spare one lying around your house or invest in a new one. In our view, it is a worthy investment after sparing 80 grand for the phone itself.
Samsung Galaxy S21+ is a solid performing, last-longing, beautiful premium smartphone one can buy this year. It lacks the wow-factor that Galaxy S21 Ultra offers, but as compared to the Galaxy S21, there are two major factors convincing you to upgrade. The bigger display and bigger battery cannot be modified into the phone, so it makes sense to spend the extra few if you want that full-day battery life after having used every corner of that 6.7-inch display.
If we had to wish, an upgraded camera to differentiate the Galaxy S21 and S21+ would have been a solid USP. Without which the Galaxy S21 seems like a far better option, given the comparable specs and savings of over Rs 11,000. We'd recommend exploring all the cashback deals and other offers available on the Galaxy S21+ if you cannot wait for a price drop in the coming few months.
If we are not comparing, the Galaxy S21+ offers solid reliable performance, excellent battery life, impressive cameras and image quality, and a display that is unparalleled. The lack of adaptor can be a turn-off, but it's the new way of life so better hold on to your current ones.