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Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ Hands-on




The Samsung Galaxy S21 series is officially here, and we’re kicking off our coverage with a hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21+. Nothing changed last year in terms of how features are spread across the variants — the top-shelf features are still reserved for the Ultra, while the standard S21 and S21+ are basically the same phone, with the latter having a larger screen and battery.

Both phones in hand feel exactly how you would expect them to; sleek yet solid while sporting trendsetting designs with a big focus on display and cameras, which is very typical for Samsung flagships.

Starting with the displays, we get a 6.2-inch screen for the S20 and a 6.7-inch one for the S20+. They both use Dynamic AMOLED 2x panels with a dynamic refresh rate that ranges from 48Hz all the way up to 120Hz. The resolution has also been dropped down from last year’s QHD+ to a more power-efficient FHD+, or 1080 x 2400.

This combination of a lower resolution and dynamic refresh rate is definitely one of the S21 and S21+’s best but most low-key features. It’s a minor design change in the grand scheme of things but will have overall positive residual effects on the user experience.

As usual, under the display, we get an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner for biometric security. It’s been upgraded this year, so we can expect it to be faster, smoother, and more secure.

Checking out the rest of the body, we get the power and volume buttons on the right.

At the bottom, we get the dual SIM card tray, main microphone, USB Type-C port, and a loudspeaker.

For internal hardware, the S21 series uses either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100, depending on your region. Here in the Philippines, we’re getting the Exynos variant as always. For memory, our variants come with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.

With this new chipset upgrade, a hefty amount of RAM, and speedy internal storage, faster app performance is already a no-brainer. The more substantial upsides we get here are better and faster image processing, the dynamic refresh rate capability we talked about earlier, and of course, integrated 5G.

Checking out the battery, the S21 gets a 4,000mAh cell, which is the same as last year’s S20. The S21+, on the other hand, gets a 4,800mAh cell, which is a bit of an upgrade from the previous year. They support Samsung’s Super Fast Charging and the requisite wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.

Moving on to the cameras, both devices have the same setup.

We get a triple setup consisting of a 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, and a 64MP 3x telephoto lens for the rear. All three are kept in a new module design that takes up the phone’s back panel’s entire top left corner. This new design makes the phones look even sleeker, as it blends smoothly into the rest of the body.  For the front camera, we get a 10MP sensor, still kept in a center-placed punch hole. 

We pretty much get improvements on past features like Super Steady Mode and Single Take Mode on the camera software side. This time, Samsung has introduced “Director’s View,” which essentially allows you to record videos with the front and rear camera simultaneously, with the output resembling a video call. 

Check out our initial sample photos here:

So far, the S21 and S21+ are shaping up to be pretty good upgrades to their predecessors and have many new features that make sense. You may also read our S21 Ultra hands-on here.

Here in the Philippines, the Samsung Galaxy S21 is priced at PHP47,990, while the S21+ is priced at PHP57,990. Stay tuned for our full reviews.

Samsung Galaxy S21 specs:
6.2-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display
48~120Hz Dynamic refresh rate
Gorilla Glass Victus
Samsung Exynos 2100
8GB RAM
256GB storage
Triple-rear cameras:
• 12MP Dual Pixel F1.8 (wide)
• 12MP FF F2.2 (ultrawide)
• 64MP Phase Detection F2.0 (3x tele, 30x Space Zoom)
10MP Dual Pixel F2.2 front camera
Dual-SIM
5G, 4G LTE
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.1
NFC
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo
USB Type-C
Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
Face Unlock
AKG Stereo Speakers
IP68 water and dust resistance
OneUI 3.1 (Android 11)
4,000mAh battery w/ 25W fast charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g(mmW), 169g(sub6)
Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray

Samsung Galaxy S21+ specs:
6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display
48~120Hz Dynamic refresh rate
Gorilla Glass Victus
Samsung Exynos 2100
8GB RAM
256GB storage
Triple-rear cameras:
• 12MP Dual Pixel F1.8 (wide)
• 12MP FF F2.2 (ultrawide)
• 64MP Phase Detection F2.0 (3x tele, 30x Space Zoom)
10MP Dual Pixel F2.2 front camera
Dual-SIM
5G, 4G LTE
WiFi 6E
Bluetooth 5.1
NFC
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, Galileo
USB Type-C
Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
Face Unlock
AKG Stereo Speakers
IP68 water and dust resistance
OneUI 3.1 (Android 11)
4,800mAh battery w/ 25W fast charging, wireless charging, reverse wireless charging
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g(mmW), 200g(sub6)
Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver



Joey graduated with a degree in Digital Filmmaking from the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde last March 2017. A filmmaker by heart, he has since put aside cinema to focus on his other passion, technology. PCs, mechanical keyboards, audio, cameras, and gaming are among his biggest tech interests.

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