Samsung’s latest flagship trio has arrived, which means that if you’re looking for one of the best phones of 2021, you’ve now got three likely options in the Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra all feature a similar design language but different price points, specs and features. Here is how the three devices compare to help you decide which might be the right one for you.
Of course, even if you’ve settled on one of the Galaxy S21 range, deciding which can be tricky, as they have many similarities and just as many differences. With that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at all three Samsung Galaxy S21 models, so you can see the comparisons.
- S21: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm, 172g
- Galaxy S21+: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm, 202g
- S21 Ultra: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm, 228g
All three Samsung Galaxy S21 models have an all-screen front with a single-lens punch-hole camera in the top center of the screen, so front-on they look similar, though the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a curved display, while the other two are flat.
The Galaxy S21 is the smallest and lightest, followed by the S21+ and the Ultra is the largest and heaviest. Flip them over, and the similarities continue, at least at first glance. The three phones have what looks like a glass back. However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is actually glass; the standard Galaxy S21 uses ‘glasstic‘. However, plastic that’s designed to look like glass.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also has a much bigger camera block than the other two, though all three have it positioned in the top left corner.
If you want the biggest screen possible, then you’ll want the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, as this has a 6.8-inch curved 1440 x 3200 (WQHD+) screen, while the other two models are both smaller and lower resolution. Firstly the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has a 6.7-inch flat screen. While Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 6.2-inch flat display, and both have a 1080 x 2400 (Full HD+) resolution.
All three phones have a refresh rate of up to 120Hz though. Above all in a first for Samsung, the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports that refresh rate while running at a QHD+ resolution. So you don’t have to choose between a high resolution and a high refresh rate.
All three phones also use ‘Dynamic AMOLED 2X’ displays and have an in-screen fingerprint scanner.
- S21: Triple rear camera (12MP + 12MP + 64MP)
- Samsung S21+: Triple rear camera (12MP + 12MP + 64MP)
- S21 Ultra: Quad rear camera (108MP + 12MP + 10MP + 10MP), 40-megapixel front camera.
As with the design, the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus are very similar to each other. In fact, they’re identical, with both phones sporting a triple-lens setup. It consists of a 12MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, and a 64MP f/2.0 telephoto.
That telephoto snapper is capable of 3x optical zoom. Above all, the main lens has optical image stabilization (OIS).
The setup on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is quite different though. As a matter of fact, this has a quad-lens camera with a 108MP f/1.8 main snapper. A 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide one, and a pair of 10MP telephoto cameras. One of which is f/2.4 and allows for 3x optical zoom, and the other of which is f/4.9. It can extend the optical zoom range to 10x. The main camera and both telephoto ones also have OIS here.
The differences between the S21 Ultra and the rest of the range don’t stop when you come to the front camera either, as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 40MP one, while the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus each have a 10MP one.
However, all three phones can record video in up to 4K quality at up to 60fps, and they all have the same assortment of camera modes. Such as pro mode, night mode, Single Take, Live Focus, slow motion, and more.
Battery life Span of Samsung
As a matter of fact, you can understand the battery situation here. The capacities getting larger as you move up in smartphone size and price.
Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 4,000mAh battery, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has a 4,800mAh one, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery.
So there’s a big jump in size from the S21 to the S21 Plus. However, that reflects the big jump in screen size, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra only has a slightly larger screen (and also therefore battery) than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.
All three phones additionally support fast charging, fast wireless charging, and Wireless Power Share, the latter of which lets you use them to charge up other devices wirelessly.
Specs and features of Samsung
- S21: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100, 128/256 GB.
- S21+: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100, 128/256 GB.
- Galaxy S21 Ultra: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100, 128/256/512 GB.
All three Samsung Galaxy S21 models have the same chipset, but exactly what chipset you’ll get depends on what country you’re in. US models use the Snapdragon 888, while the UK and most other regions use the Exynos 2100. However, both of those are very powerful.
The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus also have 8 GB RAM, coupled with 128 GB or 256 GB of storage. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra ups both types of memory, with 12 GB or 16 GB of RAM. Samsung gives a choice of 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of storage (the last of those sizes being the only one that comes with 16 GB).
All three phones support 5G and run Android 11, with the main difference in features. Being that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supports Samsung’s S Pen stylus, letting you use the phone like a Galaxy Note.
However, unlike with the Samsung Note range you have to buy the S Pen separately here. There’s no slot for it in the phone. However, though there will be in some covers.
- S21: $799.
- Galaxy S21+: $999.
- S21 Ultra: $1,999.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at $799 / £769 / AU$1,249, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus starts at $999 / £949 / AU$1,549, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199 / £1,149 / AU$1,849. In all cases that’s for 128 GB of storage, with prices rising if you want more. So for each step up in the model the starting price rises by around $200 / £200 / AU$300.
In terms of availability, all three models are available to pre-order from January 14. They hit stores on January 29.
The bottom line
The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus look to be very similar phones. They have the same screen resolution, camera configuration, and RAM amount. The only major difference – other than the higher price for the Plus – is that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has a massive screen and a bigger battery to go with it.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra though is a very different beast. Beyond being the biggest and most expensive of the three. It also has a very different camera setup, a higher resolution screen, a bigger battery, a more premium build. Above all it has more RAM from the base variety. And support for the S Pen stylus.
Perhaps even more than normal then this year’s top Galaxy S model towers above the rest of the range – at least on paper.
Special remark on Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 ultra
We’d always recommend waiting for our full review before spending this much money on the phone, though, especially as specs can sometimes be misleading, with a prime example being the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, which actually arguably has a worse camera than the Galaxy S20 Plus, despite the bigger numbers.