Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra: Which one to buy?

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra in hand

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The brand-new Samsung Galaxy S21 series consists of three phones: the S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra. All three offer a flagship experience, but there are several differences between them you need to be aware of. The Ultra is obviously at the top of the pack, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best for your wants and needs.

In this article, we compare Samsung’s high-end devices in terms of specs, features, and pricing to help you decide which one is worth your hard-earned dollars. Let’s dive in!

Our first impressions: Samsung Galaxy S21 series — cheaper, but are they better?


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra


Specs

  Samsung Galaxy S21 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 421ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM 8GB 8GB 12 or 16GB
Storage 128 or 256GB 128 or 256GB 128, 256, or 512GB
MicroSD No No No
Battery 4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
4,800mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
5,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Cameras Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
– Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF

Rear:
– Wide-angle: 108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom
– Telephoto: 10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom
– Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV
– Laser AF sensor

10x optical zoom
100x “Space Zoom”

Front:
– 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Connectivity 4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
S Pen support No No Yes
Operating System One UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
One UI 3.1
Android 11
Water resistance IP68 IP68 IP68
Security Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Color 128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White

256GB only in Phantom Gray

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red

128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB only in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red

128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown

Dimensions and weight 71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g

Design

The Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus look more or less identical. Both sport a flat display with a centered punch-hole that houses the front-facing camera. Both also feature what Samsung calls a “Contour Cut Camera” housing at the back that blends into the device’s metal frame. It’s an interesting design choice that adds a bit of contrast to the overall look, although not everyone will love it.

The three major design differences between the S21 and S21 Plus are the size, materials, and color options. The S21 Plus has a bigger footprint due to its larger display, which can either be a good or a bad thing depending on your preference. It also has a glass back, while the S21 is made of glasstic, which is Samsung’s fancy word for plastic that kind of feels like glass. It’s obviously not as premium as real glass, but the upside is that it won’t shatter if you accidentally drop your phone on a hard surface.

Related: The best Samsung phones

As far as colors are concerned, the S21 is available in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White, while its bigger brother can be had in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black. Samsung will also offer Phantom Gold and Phantom Red color options via its website.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is the largest of the three models and looks similar to its smaller brothers, but it does come with two design elements that give it a distinct look. The first one applies to the Contour Cut Camera housing at the back, which is roughly twice the size of the one you get on the S21 and S21 Plus. This is because the Ultra has more camera sensors that take up more space. The display is also curved on the sides just like its direct predecessor, the Galaxy S20 Ultra. The phone comes in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, but Samsung will also sell the device in Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown in certain markets via its online store.

Features

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 3

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus are powered by the Snapdragon 888 chipset (or the Exynos 2100 in selected global markets), have 8GB of RAM, and come with either 128 or 256GB of storage. There are three cameras at the back of each phone — a main 12MP sensor, a 64MP telephoto lens, and a wide-angle 12MP shooter. You also get an IP68 rating, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, 5G support, and wireless as well as reverse wireless charging. Unfortunately, there’s no headphone jack or a microSD card slot on board. There’s also no power brick in the box.

The differences between the two phones start with the display. The S21 sports a 6.2-inch AMOLED Full HD+ screen, while the Plus model comes with a larger 6.7-inch panel with the same resolution. The battery sizes are also different, with the smaller model packing a 4,000mAh cell, whereas the S21 Plus’ battery has a capacity of 4,800mAh. Obviously, the S21 Plus has a larger footprint as well.

The S21 Ultra is a big step up from the Galaxy S21 Plus.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes things to a new level, as it offers quite a bit more than its smaller brothers. It has the largest display at 6.8-inches and the highest resolution offering WQHD+ quality. It also has the most cameras, sporting four of them at the back alongside a laser autofocus system. The main sensor comes in at 12MP, while the ultra-wide shooter offers a resolution of 108MP. There are also two 10MP telephoto lenses on board featuring 3x and 10x optical zoom lengths.

The camera system also supports 100x Space Zoom as opposed to the 30x Space Zoom you get with the other two S21 phones. Then there’s the 40MP selfie shooter, which will capture more details than the S21’s 10MP front-facing camera.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s most durable ANC earbuds yet

You get more RAM with the Ultra as well, with the base model sporting 12GB. There’s also a 16GB variant available, although that’s overkill in 2021. The handset comes with as much as 512GB of storage, although 128GB and 256GB variants are also available.

The last thing worth mentioning is that the S21 Ultra is the only one of the three new Galaxy phones to support the S Pen. The bad news is that it doesn’t come included in the box, and there’s not even a slot in the phone to put it in — like with the Note series.

The rest of the S21 Ultra’s specs and features are the same as those you get with the other two phones. That means the phone is powered by the same chipset, supports wireless charging, and has an IP68 rating, among other things.

Price

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra 2

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy S21: $799/€849/£769
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: $999/€1,049/£949
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: $1,199/€1,249/£1,149

The entry-level Galaxy S21 will set you back $799. If you want the bigger screen and larger battery offered by the S21 Plus, you’ll have to dish out at least $999. Those who want the crème de la crème will have to get the S21 Ultra, which starts at $1,199.

For reference, last year’s Galaxy S20 series was more expensive at launch. The S20 went for $999, while the Plus model retailed for $1,199. The S20 Ultra was even more expensive with a whopping starting price of $1,399.

The Galaxy S21 series will go on sale starting January 29, with pre-orders kicking off today, January 14. Those who pre-order any of the three devices in the US will get a free Galaxy SmartTag. Samsung is also throwing in $100, $150, and $150 credits to those who pick up an S21, S21 Plus, or S21 Ultra by January 28. The credit can be used on Samsung.com or the Shop Samsung app.


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra: Which phone is right for you?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back in hand 3

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

The decision between whether to get the Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus is pretty straightforward since the two phones are very similar. If you’re on a budget, don’t mind the glasstic back, and want a phone that’s small enough to use with one hand and easier to slip into your pocket, the S21 is for you. But if you play a lot of games or watch a lot of videos, you may be better off with the larger display and the bigger battery of the S21 Plus — if you’re willing to pay the extra $200 for it.

For most people, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is probably overkill.

Then there’s the S21 Ultra, which is quite the upgrade over the other two S21 models. The phone sports a slightly larger display than the S21 Plus and has the highest resolution, packs the biggest battery, has better cameras, comes with more base RAM, is available with 512GB of storage, and supports the S Pen. So if all or just one of these things matter to you and are worth the extra $200 over the S21 Plus or the extra $400 over the standard S21, then the Galaxy S21 Ultra is more than a match for the very best Android phones on the market. However, for most people, it’s probably overkill.

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Which of the three phones comes out on top in the Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus vs S21 Ultra battle in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!

Also Publish AT: https://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-s21-vs-s21-plus-vs-s21-ultra-1192551/

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