Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Surprise, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is launching a month earlier than anticipated, and that’s good news if you’re eager to own the very best of what Samsung can pack into a smartphone.

It wowed us with a huge screen, five cameras and the best zoom on any readily available Android phone. Caution: while it’s cheaper than last year’s ‘Ultra’ phone, it remains pricey for average consumers, and it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot nor does it include a charger.

The new Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s new ‘everything phone’ with more cameras, beefier specs, and even S Pen compatibility to eclipse the very likable Note 20 Ultra. If you’re dismayed about rumors of the end of Note series, just try the S21 Ultra.Jump to…

This is Samsung’s vision of smartphone excess for 2021: five cameras led by a 108MP sensor, two telephoto cameras, 100x zoom and 40MP selfies, plus 5G, all-day battery life and up to 16GB of RAM – all packed into an Android phone with a 6.8-inch 120Hz Quad HD display and an upgraded in-screen fingerprint sensor that has a 1.7x larger surface area than the one on last year’s phone.

It’s the first new smartphone we’ve tested in 2021, along with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, and it sets the bar high – much higher than last year’s problematic ‘Ultra’ phone. Samsung has retooled its main camera with lasers – yes, lasers – to remedy the autofocus issues on the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and also upgraded the specs to keep up with the demands of processing those large 108MP photos, 40MP selfies, and 8K video without as much as a hiccup.

Photos look sharp, dynamic range is impressive and Samsung’s ‘tripod lock’ software feature steadies the 30x and 100x zoom levels on subjects to prevent the viewfinder image from jumping around. It’s much easier to pull off the 100x ‘Space Zoom’ now, although punching in 100x is limited to being a neat party trick due to grainy images, while 30x is passable in the right light.

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