Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Solved Problems!

Yo... do you remember samsung spending whole three minutes in the keynote talking about the matte black color? [Music] Hey, what the mkbhd here is and this is a Samsung Galaxy s, 21 ultra, and it's an incredibly good phone. The thing is that it does not only do a lot on paper because we already know about the big numbers, the huge specs, the ultra-story - that's all still here, but it does a lot of stuff that doesn't show up on the spec sheet a lot of subtle tweaks and changes that turn this into a really great phone. And of course I gotta start with the finish, because I had been saying : matte black everything for a couple of years. Now it's as if it's on a shirt, my car, probably my most precious possession is wrapped in matte black and his name is phantom.

So I guess you could say this: phantom black galaxy s21 ultra, the matte finish sort of speaks to me and, as I said, it is not going to be on the spec sheet. It is a really clean, flat, smooth black finish on glass and then with a slightly different texture on the metal housing around the cameras and then turns into your typical glossy black around the edges. I'm on record saying I really like it, and that was my first impressions video, and I stick by that just the way the camera modules curve into the body of the phone. The way it looks like an overlay of another S21 ultra over the first one is really the worst thing about it is that it's still uneven, so it still rocks on a table.

I was kind of worried that it would look great out of the box and then collect a ton of fingerprints and look awful, but this matte black has been shockingly good at rejecting fingerprints. Has a carbon fiber weave in the camera module for like every other color of this phone, except for phantom black for some reason, but channel sponsored dbrand's got you covered with a carbon fiber camera skin for less than two bucks? I don't know how to say this without sounding kind of full of it, but I feel that this phone was designed by or at least worked on by people who have watched mkbhd videos.

This has been a strength of samsung and their phones for years, so expect good stuff and you see that with the improvements on paper right this is a huge ol that will finally do 1440p resolution and 120 hertz. At the same time it gets even brighter with tops of up to 1500 nits, so that it is observable in pretty much any situation and the new ltpo panel tech makes it change its refresh rate between 10 hertz and 120 hertz to save battery, but my experience has kept it very responsive. That one doesn't spill over the edges at all, of course it's also a little bit smaller and the body of this phone.

It is another pretty big phone compared to the iphone 12 pro max, but it is actually a smaller footprint here and it is still huge to the oneplus 8 pro, but right is not so huge. I didn't notice that it was faster than it claimed to be, but the larger sensor surface alone makes the experience of using the fingerprint sensor much less frustrating I have less failed attempts. It feels less finicky and maybe someday the whole bottom of the phone will be a fingerprint sensor, but until then, in this world of masks, the improved fingerprint reader is welcome, so also on paper in 12 or 16 gigs of RAM, depending on which spec you find fast.

Ufs 3.1 storage is not expandable which is technically a downgrade from last year, but it's something I personally haven't used in a long time, then a high refresh rate display and a 5 000 milliamp hour battery. There are a lot of improvements to one ui 3 on this phone that do probably make a bigger difference in the user experience compared to just the cutting edge specs. Os is my favorite non-stock option, but you can't sleep on samsung software. There are tons of features packed into these phones that have a lot of potential for customization and letting you tailor it to behave the way you want you never have to dive into and use any or all the features because there are lots of them but they'll wait for you.

I think the first thing that you'll notice with the s21 ultra is the new volume control here, these sliders are just a little cleaner. In one Ui, three, the new notification grouping on top of Android, just an overall, cleaner, aesthetic and organization of things like that, the stock apps and improved dark mode that I highly recommend looks great on this oled display and can actually net you a little bit of extra battery life but also the Google Discover page to the side of the home screen and samsung launcher. I did not see that coming but hey if I worked at Samsung and I kept asking for a Google Play Edition for all these years. I sort of wish that the search box over here was also shown, like it does in the google app, but hey.

This is solid, and I guess if they let me map Bixby to google assistant all over the phone, that would have been the cherry on top, but speaking of battery again, we have an ultra number : it is 5 000 milliamp hours and that looks great on paper right in practice. Something to note, which is an ongoing conversation, is the qualcomm snapdragon chip experience compared to other regions. ... Now the initial testing results are pretty promising, basically for those who haven't known or haven't been filled in, usually the exynos version is much worse with battery life and performance in those regions. Initial testing is uh, pretty promising for the Exynos 2100. I'll leave that real conclusion to people who can get their hands on both phones.

But for now with my experience on the qualcomm phone very good battery life on one day, I got four hours of screen time on time and ended around 50 percent. It is pretty clear that the combination of triple h chip and the ltpo display technology here are working well, I would say it has. What I call a worry-free battery, don't even really think about it with super heavy use and navigation and bright screen all the time outdoors and gaming taking lots of photos and videos, then maybe you get to the end of the battery, but hey, while we are here.

Let's talk cameras, they are a big part of the Ultra Phone experience, both figuratively and literally speaking so they return all the check boxes of big Ultra numbers again : 108 megapixels 100 - Zoom 8k video Quality is still roughly what we'd expect from a high-end, Samsung phone - and I'll come to that in a second. There are countless examples of this in the world, so right when you first open the camera, the app asks samsung you. If you want to take natural or bright selfies instead of just setting the lighting on all the time, I'm glad that they added that option that they didn't have to, but that results in much more natural selfies from this 40 megapixel camera.

For someone like me with my skin tone right off the bat rather than having to mess with the exposure slider, then the 100x space zoom which yes is extreme and probably still a gimmick to most people. It got a lot more stable and easier to use thanks to the subject locking in the viewfinder. Now when you are zoomed all the way in on something, the camera tries to identify the subject of the photo you are taking and locks the viewfinder to track that, instead of shaking so much when you're like locked onto something, that's not exactly what you want to shoot, and then you have to try to adjust it, probably zoom out and zoom back in, but when it picks your subject properly.

It sometimes still hunts with the really close subjects a little bit, but for the most part it's solved, and then the camera app now detects also when you are trying to take an extreme closeup and switches to macro. It uses an ultra wide camera that has autofocus and a very close minimum distance of focus. So it actually takes really solid quality macros and it now does 4k 60fps video from all the cameras, including the selfie camera, and it'll shoot 12-bit raw photos in pro mode, which is an amazing capability that I would probably rarely actually use personally like the 108 megapixel mode.

But definitely it's nice to have them add things like director's view, which allows you to record video from multiple cameras simultaneously, which is enabled by snapdragon 8 and potentially useful for vlog style, shooting and the use of two telephoto cameras. A 3x and 10x first seemed peculiar, but I've actually found it makes a lot of sense. I could also live without the 10x, and most people could also and the s21s do not have it and that's fine but samsung is committed to offering this quality super zoom on this phone. Well then everything from 3x would not be quite up to the ultra-strange, so they have a 3x and 10x and so on the primary camera from 1 to 3x zoom is now included.

It still does 8k at only 24 fps, the wrong frame rate, and most notably, it still causes fringes on the edges with close-up subjects. Absolutely, but overall they have controlled it a lot more with color and hdr and focus, so overall look is what you'd expect much more easier to get. I would have added a little google flare to the software, the improved camera experience and spent way too much time on a matte black finish and named it phantom black, it's kind of the best they've ever done. Oh and one more thing you may have seen some shots of the limited-edition icons that I did with dbrand a few weeks ago. I've also noticed on twitter a lot of you guys who have missed out on this limited edition re-release, so I've been working with the brand on this.

For a while behind the scenes - and now you have guessed - icons are back and it's not just limited this time, it's permanently back in fact, so that icons will live forever in red and black and triple black for all 150 devices in their category. If you now ask me if you are somehow watching this in the future some time where silicon is over, that limited drop happened and you missed the train so sorry, but there are also some more limited edition colorways planned in the future. So let me know in the comments which other kind of colors you want for icons, either way that's been it galaxy, s21, ultra powerful phone, very close to what an mkbhd edition could look like..

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