Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and other big companies launch multiple smartphones every year with huge potentials and variety of price points. And in their lineup, there’s always that flagship phone with the highest specifications and a massive price tag.
Samsung has been launching smartphones under Galaxy S Ultra series for the last few years. The latest installment of this series is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, released in January of this year. It is an updated version of their previous model in this series, Galaxy S20 Ultra.
But, are the improvements enough for you to consider breaking your savings for this new device? Let’s take a look on its some aspects.
Galaxy S21 Ultra keeps a matte finish on the back, replacing S20 Ultra’s polished back design. Matte finish gives the device a more premium look and there’s less fingerprint than the polished ones. S21 Ultra has Gorilla Glass Victus on the back and front, which is also an update from S20 Ultra’s GG6. The camera module of this model has a futuristic look as it curves into the body of the phone, instead of a lone bump like last year’s S20 Ultra.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is more compact with a 6.8 inch display, compared to 6.9 inches in S20 Ultra. This results in more pixel density and it fits into the palm better. The biggest change in the display for S21 Ultra is the option to use a 120 hz refresh rate with 1440p enabled. The S20 Ultra is only allowed using 1440p or 120 hz options separately. Brightness has also been increased from 1400 NITs in S20 Ultra to 1500 in S21 Ultra.
The LTPO panel tech, which allows refresh rates to fluctuate between 10 hz and 120 hz to save battery when idle, is more responsive in the new device. The display is less curved in S21 Ultra, which helps reduce accidental side panel touches.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra brings some good news for the users, who were annoyed by the small under-screen fingerprint reader in the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The fingerprint reader in S21 Ultra is 1.77 times larger than the previous version. The S21 Ultra is using Qualcomm's next-generation Snapdragon 888 processor. This year, Qualcomm announced that their latest chipsets will have big improvement in performance as well as more image processing power for the cameras.
But there’s a catch, if you are a customer outside the US or China buying an S2 Ultra through official channels, you may end up getting Exynos 2100 chip in your phone, which is an upgrade on Exynos 990 used in S20 Ultra international versions. Nonetheless, it is an inferior chip to the Snapdragon 888.
The rest of the hardware offered in S21 Ultra is almost the same as S20 Ultra with some minor tweaks to the user experience.
The S21 Ultra does not offer expandable memory like its predecessor despite different price points for RAM and ROM. The battery in both devices is 5000 mAh, with superior optimisation in S21 Ultra due to better LTPO technology. The charging capacity has been downgraded to 25W in S21 Ultra from 45W in S20 Ultra. S21 Ultra uses faster Bluetooth 5.2 technology.
Let’s dig into the part you are most eager to learn about, the camera. Surprisingly, in tandem with other hardware, there hasn’t been much change in terms of actual camera hardware. But the real change is in AI and user experience. Firstly, their main camera uses a new re-mosaic algorithm which captures twice as many pixels as S20 Ultra and helps increase the details. It takes superior low-light and night mode photos under extreme darkness situations thanks to their advanced artificial intelligence.
The 100x zoom-in S21 Ultra now is much more stable than the shaky S20 Ultra due to ‘subject locking’ technology. The image quality in 100x zoom is still bad, but it’s now better than the previous one. The laser autofocus sensor in S21 Ultra solves various autofocus issues of S20 Ultra. It also provides a subtle tweak with the camera automatically switching to the macro lens when a subject is detected within 30 cm of the phone.
The pro mode now allows taking photos in raw mode, which is a big deal for professionals, as these types of photos are easily editable. The Snapdragon 888 cheap allows S21 Ultra to bring a completely new feature on the table- the director’s view. In this mode, users will be able to do videos from the front cam and back cam, simultaneously. This could be a game-changer for video content makers.
As for software, S21 Ultra will have out of box android 11, S20 Ultra too is upgradable now to this software version. A Google discovery page is a new addition to the S21 Ultra UI. Overall, it is a more clean and sharp look in terms of software, hardware and aesthetics. But the question still stands, should you upgrade to S21 Ultra?
In the end, the decision is all yours. Both phones are good with premium features. Although S21 Ultra has some additional advantages than S20 Ultra, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use the S20 Ultra in a modern setting. However, the financial situation will play a big role to take decision to upgrade the device.
As a reminder for you, a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra device is officially listed with a price tag of Tk 139,999 in Bangladesh, which is huge by any comparison.
Considering all aspects I can say that S21 Ultra is a better device than S20 Ultra and definitely worthy of your consideration for up-gradation, which will require expenditure of huge sum of money.
Sheikh Tausif Ahmed is a third year BSS student at the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected]