Samsung Galaxy S21 series has three models, just like last year, but this time the South-Korean giant isn’t particularly keen on maintaining feature parity between them. The upside is that these distinctions are also reflected in prices and the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ cost significantly lesser than the Galaxy S21 Ultra (review) while staying true to the expected tier-1 flagship experience. (Samsung Galaxy S21+ Review हिंदी में पढ़िए)

We were indeed curious to check how much is Samsung actually cutting back in practical terms. In our Samsung Galaxy S21+ review, we will discuss how it compares against the other two Galaxy S21 siblings, what we liked about the phone, and where it fell short. Let’s get started.

Contents:

Samsung Galaxy S21+ review: Price and Specs

Model  Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Display  6.7-inches AMOLED, 1080 x 2400 pixels, Gorilla Glass Victus
Dimensions 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm; 200 g
Chipset  5nm Exynos 2100 octa-core (2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 + 3x 2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 + 4x 2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)
RAM and Memory  8GB; 128GB/ 256GB not expandable
Rear camera 12 MP (f/1.8) primary, OIS64 MP (f/2.0), 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom, OIS12 MP ( f/2.2) ultra-wide
Front camera  10 MP, f/2.2
Battery  4800mAh, 25W fast charging 
Software  OneUI 3.1 (Android 11)
Others In-display fingerprint sensor, Samsung Dex, Samsung Pay, UWB connectivity, AKG Tuned stereo speakers
Price  Galaxy S21+ 8GB +128GB: Rs. 81,999
Galaxy S21+ 8GB +256GB: Rs. 85,999

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Unboxing

As most of you must know by now, Samsung has heavily cut down on the box contents to reduce wastage and carbon footprint – gone are the adaptors and those comfy AKG tuned wired earphones. Whatever the motivations may be behind this radical change, we are willing to take one for planet earth.

Box contents include:

  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ handset with pre-applied screen protector
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable
  • SIM ejector tool and documentation

That’s it.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Review: Design and Build

  • 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm; 200 g
  • Handling comfort: Galaxy S21>> Galaxy S21+ >> Galaxy S21 Ultra

The first thing we noticed was that the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is lighter and so much more manageable than the Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review). The distinctive camera module remains the veritable highlight of Samsung’s design this year.

The triple camera setup has a slice of metal layered on top, which from a distance feels like an extension of the side aluminum frame. With one less sensor to accommodate, as compared to the bigger and bolder Ultra sibling, this metal leaf is slimmer and less broad – and feels a tad more appealing to us.

Samsung retains the smudge-resistant frosted glass back for the Galaxy S21+. But honestly, for someone who’s all too familiar with the agony of shattered glass backs, I wouldn’t mind a good quality polycarbonate back half bit – the kind we experienced on the Galaxy S20 FE last year. And probably the kind that’s on the base Galaxy S21.

On the front, Samsung has further shaved off the chin and bezels are resultantly more uniform. The major omission is the display curves. I, for one, like those curves and firmly opine that they make a phone feel more premium. At the same time, many people detest them and consider them a classic case of form over function – and they’d probably be more welcoming to the Galaxy S21+.

The bigger and faster ultrasonic fingerprint sensor has made the cut and so have the excellent AKG tuned stereo speakers. There’s no expandable storage or audio jack this year.

All said and done, we quite adore the Galaxy S21+. It looks amazing and feels remarkably solid. It’s more comfortable to handle as compared to Ultra, but if it’s this comfort that you are after, you may also consider the yet slimmer, lighter, and more compact Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Display

  • 6.7-inches AMOLED, Full HD+; 48Hz to 120Hz variable refresh rate
  • LTPS backplane (unlike faster, less power consuming LTPO on the Ultra)

There is no justification for why Samsung couldn’t have delivered both 2K and 120Hz for a plus size S-series flagship, but the display on the Galaxy S21+ still feels amazing. This is an HDR10+ compliant AMOLED screen that goes up to 1300 Nits bright!

We played a lot of HDR content side-by-side on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S21+. Yes, the Ultra is sharper but the difference isn’t worth splitting hairs over.

It’s also worth pointing out that a full HD+ display is sharper than a 2K display scaled down to Full HD+, because then the remaining of the 2K pixels are judged and filled by the software. The point being, that a full HD+ display at 120Hz (adaptive) is any day better than a 2K screen dialed down to Full HD+ for higher refresh rate support (as was the case with last year’s Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy S20 series).

The refresh rate is adaptive, which is to say that it can vary from 48 to 120Hz based on the content being displayed and a few other parameters like brightness. For the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+, Samsung is using an LTPS backplane instead of LTPO (or HoP) display backplane used on S21 Ultra that allows the latter to switch in a wider range between 10 and 120Hz, resulting in lesser battery consumption. That’s perhaps also why the battery backup while running the display at maximum settings fell a tad short of what we had on the Ultra.

Also Read: Best phones with true VRR displays in 2021

From settings, you can choose between DCI-P3 (Vivid) and sRGB (Natural) color profiles, of which we prefer the latter.

We are quite fastidious about our phone displays, and the difference while switching from sharper 2K to Full HD screen was less impactful than what we had expected. This is an awesome display to consume content on – one of the very best available options!

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Review: Performance and Software

  • Exynos 2100 performance is a significant bump over Exynos 990
  • Software is intuitive
  • Fingerprint reader is exceptionally fast

All Galaxy S21 series phones are powered by Exynos 2100 chipset which is a significant improvement when compared to Exynos 990 from last year. This one is restricted to a relatively lesser 8GB LPDDR5 RAM, but should it really matter if we don’t feel a difference?

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Benchmark scores

  • Geekbench Single Core – 1070, 1102
  • Geekbench Multicore – 3206,3599
  • PCMark work 2.0 – 13107
  • 3DMark Wildlife – 5779
  • Androbench Random Read – 302.25 MB/s
  • Androbench Random Write – 281.6 MB/s

As is also indicated by benchmark scores, the phone runs exceptionally fast and smooth. The difference is very noticeable compared to Exynos 990 phones. No complaints here. The Ultra scored better and has faster sequential reads and write speeds (UFS 3.1 vs UFS 3.0), but the difference isn’t reflected in day-to-day usage or gaming.

We’d be remiss to not highlight how impressive the fingerprint reader performance is on Samsung’s 2021 flagships! Samsung has included cutting-edge connectivity options including 5G, Ultra wide-band connectivity, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. Call quality is also excellent.

There is no MST this year, which could be used to store credit/ debit cards and make secure payments across almost all sale terminals. Personally, MST has been very helpful as it ensured we had all our credit cards with us at all times. I am hoping most PoS terminals now have NFC support and Galaxy S21 owners won’t miss out on this convenience.

Also Read: 5 Cool Multitasking Tricks for Samsung Phones with OneUI

As for the software, we are by now quite familiar with Samsung’s OneUI 3.1 (Android 11). It’s extremely intuitive, well designed and one of our personal favourite interfaces. On the downside, Samsung is still a bit pushy about its own services. We’d have preferred Google’s Smart Home dashboard over Samsung’s ‘Devices’. Samsung Dex, Samsung Pay, and Knox security are welcome additions.

Also Check: Best Samsung Phones To Buy In 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Review: Camera Performance

Talking about the camera, the Galaxy S21 Plus shows iterative refinements over the last-gen S20+. It’s missing the 108MP sensor and zoom chops of the Ultra, but there are new software tricks like 8K snaps, Portrait mode filters, and director’s view to look forward to.

The primary camera is a 1/7.6-inch 12MP sensor, and it’s paired with a 64MP 3x hybrid zoom camera – both of which have OIS. The third 12MP wide-angle camera doesn’t have AF as on the Ultra.

The camera performance is simply fantastic. In daylight, Samsung Galaxy S21+ captures stunning details with a wide-dynamic range and properly exposed highlights and shadows. The end result is quite close to what we have on the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The good thing about flagships is that the wide-angle camera is not just an afterthought. The one on the Galaxy S21+ proved genuinely useful when we had to capture a wider canvas. There is a zoom camera too (3x hybrid zoom) but the performance doesn’t come anywhere close to what we have with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The live focus mode is now portrait mode and it sees a ton of improvement this generation – for both front and rear cameras.

In dark scenes, once again we were surprised to find out that the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S21+ were quite close. The phone also has a night mode but if the scene optimizer is on, it detects night and fine-tunes capture settings accordingly in the auto mode.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ is also one of the best Android phones for videos. Director’s View can be used to shoot reaction videos from different cameras and there’s also the ‘8K video snap’ which allows you to snap a still image from an 8K video. We are not sure how frequently we’d be using these, though.

So, overall, the S21+ has an impressive flagship-grade camera that’s among the best you can get for the price.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ review: Battery and Audio

  • 4800mAh battery with 25W fast charging
  • Powerful stereo speakers

There is a 4800mAh battery onboard and we could stretch the battery to a little more than a day with moderate to heavy usage. It’s quite likely that you will need to resort to late evening charging on days you actively use your phone.

Fast charging maxes at 25 watts and you will need to buy a USB PD fast charger, separately. This definitely feels lackluster by 2021 standards.

As for audio, the S21+ has excellent stereo speakers. We didn’t face any issues with wireless audio either.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Review: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S21+ is an extremely premium flagship with a mesmerizing display and bold, distinctive looks. It’s backed by a powerful chipset, has a very assuring battery, and runs delightful software.

The camera performance is surprisingly close to what you get with the pricier Ultra (save for the zoom prowess, of course).

This is surely a phone we can recommend. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is clearly superior but, if you ask us, the choice between the three variants should primarily be based on the size you are most comfortable with.

Pros

  • Amazing design
  • Excellent cameras
  • Gorgeous display
  • Superfast in-display fingerprint sensor
  • Powerful stereo speakers

Cons

  • No audio jack or expandable storage
  • Only 25W fast charging

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