Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review (Exynos 2100 variant)

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We are always excited about Samsung’s Galaxy S series flagships since they are often first to arrive and give us a pretty good idea of what to expect in the year ahead. This year, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the flagbearer that brings in several upgrades big and small. (Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review हिंदी में पढ़िए).

Samsung improves cameras with some special emphasis on zoom, the display now supports dynamic refresh rate at full 2K resolution, there is the Android 11 based OneUI 3.0 software upgrade and a very promising Exynos 2100 onboard. In our Galaxy S21 Ultra review, we will discuss what we liked and what we didn’t. Let’s proceed:


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra price in India and Specifications

PhoneGalaxy S21 Ultra
PriceSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 12GB +256GB -Rs 1,05,999
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 16GB +512GB- Rs 1,16,999
Display6.8″Dynamic AMOLED
QHD+ resolution
120Hz refresh rate
1500 nit peak brightness
519 PPI pixel density,
300,000,000:1 contrast ratio
Gorilla Glass Victus
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 or
Exynos 2100
Memory12/16GB, 128/256/512GB
SoftwareOne UI 3.0 based on Android 11
Rear Camera108MP (0.8µm)
12MP Ultra-wide (1.4µm)
10MP Telephoto 3x (1.22µm)
10MP Telephoto 10x (1.22µm)
Up to 8K at 24fps
Front Camera40MP (0.7µm, f/2.2)
Battery5000mAh, 25W USB PD 3.0 fast charging
15W wireless charging
4.5 reverse wireless charging
Misc. featuresUWB 5G, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, WiFi 6E, IP68 ingress protection, Wireless PowerShare, Dual-SIM (Nano + e-SIM), Ultrasonic In-Display Fingerprint Scanner, S-pen support
Dimensions and Weight165.10 x 75.60 x 8.90mm; 228 grams
ColorsPhantom Silver, Phantom Black

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Unboxing

Samsung has stripped the Galaxy S21 box of all yesteryear flagship luxuries. We agree that this is a step in the right direction in order to reduce the global carbon footprint. We still miss the excellent AKG earphones that Samsung used to bundle with its flagships.

Here’s all you’ll find in the Galaxy S21 box:

  • Handset with a pre-applied screen protector
  • USB Type-C to Type-C cable 
  • SIM ejector tool and documentation 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Design and Build

The Galaxy S21 Ultra makes no bones about being big and bulky, and it definitely feels distinct and appealing. The differentiating factor is the thick aluminum plate layered around the camera array which makes the camera bump feel more transitional. This is not a continuation of the solid, glossy aluminum side frame but a separate block with a matte finish matched to the frosted Gorilla Glass Victus back.

Initially we were a bit skeptical about this design highlight, but now that we have had some time to get accustomed to it – we really like it. If not for this striking detail, the Galaxy S21 Ultra would have felt a little too ordinary.

In case you are wondering, No the phone doesn’t feel top-heavy – the weight is rather well balanced. The frosted glass is fairly resistant to smudges and scratches and the protruding edge of the camera-block could resist dents rather well – we’d still recommend you use a case to maintain the pristine look.

Samsung has been gradually moving away from ostentatious display curves and it takes yet another step towards mitigating them with the S21 Ultra. I for one like subtle display curves and am glad they are still here. The bezels surrounding the screen are almost uniform and those at the top and bottom are extremely narrow.

Apart from the pre-applied screen protector, there’s Gorilla Glass Victus shielding the front. There’s also the assurance of IP68 water and dust resistance certification.

The display also has S Pen support but it’s an optional extra accessory that goes in a case and not as integrated as on the Note series. This would ensure that people who really need S Pen features have more choice.

Back in the day, Samsung’s in-display fingerprint readers used to be relatively sluggish even on flagships but that’s not the case anymore. Samsung has upgraded to a faster and bigger (1.71x) ultrasonic sensor after 2 years and this one is plenty fast and reliable. It’s also positioned where our thumb naturally rests.

Also under the display is a haptic feedback motor that worked really well for us once we increased the intensity of touch feedback.

Overall the Galaxy S21 Ultra might not be the best choice for people who prefer compact phones. It’s still a big, bold, and beautiful flagship that everyone could admire.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Display 

With Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, users no longer have to choose between full HD or 2K resolution either for want of higher refresh rate or due to battery concerns. You can have both 120Hz with 2K resolution and that’s precisely how we have been using the phone – and that’s what proved to be the biggest differentiator for us this generation. In comparison, the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are now restricted to Full HD+ resolution only.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra supports 120Hz Dynamic Refresh Rate and it’s most probably based on the same HoP back plain technology as on Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra which wasn’t a true seamless VRR solution but had more subsets or more mode-switching options. Ultimately, this helps conserves battery in the high refresh rate mode.

During the course of our review, we could relish the 120Hz smoothness while scrolling and with UI transitions. It didn’t feel as if Samsung’s adaptive refresh rate sync was being overly conservative about switching to high-refresh rates.

The 6.8-inch AMOLED display supports a wide color gamut and is HDR10+ compliant. We immediately switched to the relatively color-accurate ‘Natural’ profile.

As always, Samsung’s OneUI software has a customizable Always-on mode and a brilliant dark theme to leverage deep AMOLED blacks.

This is an excellent quality display. Only when you compare it alongside mid-range or high-end flagship killers will you be able to truly appreciate its beauty. Colors are vivid, dynamic range is wide, and outdoor visibility is simply fantastic.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review: Performance and Software

The Exynos 2100 is the first Samsung chipset to directly lift ARM cores without any modifications. The chip is 5nm process-based and has 1 Cortex X1 prime core paired with 3 Cortex A78 performance cores and 4 Cortex A55 power cores. 

The SoC supports up to 26 TOPs of AI performance, which should reflect in faster camera processing and AR applications.
The chipset is assisted by LPDDR5 RAM and impressively fast UFS 3.1 storage. Samsung has ditched the option to add secondary microSD storage this year.

Overall Samsung claims 30% better CPU performance and 40% better graphics from the new Mali-G78MP14 as compared to last year’s Exynos 990 and the benchmark tests we performed corroborated these claims.

We are yet to experience Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 that Samsung employs in some other markets, but we could make out the subtle improvement in day-to-day performance over the last generation Samsung flagships.

We have the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant with us. We didn’t face any issues with multitasking or high-end gaming. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has better thermal management and runs a lot cooler than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is unsurprisingly backed by cutting edge connectivity options. There is UWB connectivity, the latest Wi-Fi 6e, 5G support, Bluetooth 5.2, and a USB 3.2 based Type-C port.

Call quality and WLAN performance were excellent.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Benchmark Scores:

  • Geekbench 5 Single-Core – 1040
  • Geekbench 5 Multicore – 3291
  • PC Mark Work 2.0 – 14,272
  • 3D Mark Wild Life – 5579
  • CPDT Random Read – 32.60 MB/s
  • CPDT Random write – 25.66 MB/s

The software is Android 11 based OneUI 3.1 software which we have extensively used on previous Samsung phones and it’s also one of our personal favorites. Samsung integrates most of Android 11 features and unfortunately, Google’s Smart Home dashboard didn’t make the cut. Samsung instead has its own ‘Devices’ tab easily accessible from quick settings. Finally, Samsung allows users to switch Bixby dashboard with Google feed. Unlike many other manufacturers, Samsung continues to retain auto call recording support.

Samsung Pay doesn’t support MST this year. At the same time, since most PoS terminals these days have NFC support, you will still be able to use your stored credit cards, at least for small transactions.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Review

The Galaxy S21 has four cameras on the rear – 108MP primary camera, 12MP Ultra-wide, a 3X telephoto, and a 10X Telephoto zoom – and allows users to save 12-bit RAW images. On the front, there is a massive 40MP selfie camera.

Samsung is putting its weight behind zoom magnifications and we can’t but agree that this is the most exciting ability in modern cameras and we do wish manufacturers keep perfecting it.

There are several limitations of optical zoom on smartphone cameras, one of which is that you can get optical zoom for only one magnification from one sensor. Samsung adds separate 3x and 10x cameras and everything in between and all the way up to 100x is digital zoom.

This year optical zoom feels more stable. It’s easier to lock focus when you are all zoomed in – we could even snatch number plates of slow-moving cars at 20x. All of the images below were taken from the same vantage point.

Daylight performance is astonishing as expected. The camera captures a wide dynamic range and can retain ample details. Colors are well balanced with a slight hint of oversaturation.

The super wide-angle camera does a great job in proper lighting. In dark scenes, wide-angle camera quality deteriorates steeply.

Galaxy S21 Ultra is equally impressive under artificial Indoor lighting. Images retain sufficient details and have excellent contrast.

In dark scenes, the camera keeps the noise in check. The night mode is smart enough to properly expose tricky scenes. Gradient colors of the sky in following samples were accurately reproduced.

Live focus mode is now Portrait mode and it works faster and better. Samsung uses the 3x telephoto lens for depth information in Portrait mode and portraits are thus all zoomed in. There are also several effects that can be added to portraits. Selfies have remarkable details and retain natural skin tones.

The camera quality is flagship worthy. We could consistently capture amazing pics without multiple takes.

As for videos, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can capture optically stabilized HDR10+ videos and shoot 8K footage at 24fps. The quality of footage and video recording is again pretty awesome. This year Samsung adds a Director’ View mode which can capture footage from both front and rear cameras simultaneously.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Battery and Audio

There is a massive 5000mAh battery inside but this year there is no charger bundled in the box. With display set to 2k resolution and 120fps adaptive refresh rate, the battery can comfortably last for more than a day. With moderate usage, we could easily cross one and a half day mark.

Samsung has always been conservative with fast charging, but the max 25W fast charging (USB PD) support on the 2021 flagship feels off-putting. With 25W USB PD fast charger, it takes 30 minutes to fill 40 percent of the battery tank and a full charge takes around 1.5 hours.

As for audio, there are powerful stereo speakers tuned by AKG. We didn’t face any issues with streaming wireless audio. The audio jack is still missing.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Review, Pros and Cons

The Galaxy S21 Ultra represents the best of Samsung. This best is not a monumental shift from what we had last year but a series of incremental refinements that add up and notably uplift the experience. The biggest draws include improved zoom cameras and an excellent display paired with a battery and SoC capable of sustaining it at maximum settings. Other highlights to look forward to including S Pen support, significant improvement in processing power, and a more refined software.

If price is a consideration, there is no dearth of options to choose between. If what you need is an uncompromised Android flagship, and if you don’t mind a big phone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is definitely worth considering.


  • Excellent 2k display with 120Hz support
  • Exynos 2100 is a significant upgrade
  • Decent battery mileage
  • Zoom performance is fantastic
  • Powerful stereo speakers
  • Appealing software


  • Thick and heavy
  • Modest fast charging
  • No audio jack or microSD card slot

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra FAQ

What is the SAR value of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Head SAR is 0.252. Samsung doesn’t specify Body SAR value.

Are there any heating issues with Exynos 2100?

So far there hasn’t been any heating issue on our review unit. Exynos 2100 runs cooler than Exynos 990.

How is the battery backup while running Galaxy S21 Ultra at 2K resolution and at 120Hz?

Without gaming, battery lasted for 1.5 days on moderate usage to heavy usage. With gaming, your mileage will be lesser.

Does Galaxy S21 Ultra support carrier aggregation and dual VoLTE?

Yes, it does.

Will Wi-Fi 6e work on Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra?

Wi-Fi 6e is supported and it will work only in select markets where 6GHz band is open for unlicensed use.

Does Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has MST?

No, it does not.

Deepak SinghDeepak Singh
Deepak has more than 8 years of experience in covering technology for several eminent publications in India. He currently leads an enthusiastic team of young writers at Smartprix and tries to uphold the highest quality standards.

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Vinoth peter
2 years ago

Does Samsung support face unlock in night time or dark areas?

Deepak Rajawat
2 years ago

As long as there is some light in the room it works.

3 years ago

Wow One of the best launch of Samsung