Samsung's current flagship lineup, the, has been out for more than six months now. Since the unveiling of the and , Samsung has also released two new foldable devices, the and , and rumor has it the phone giant is also gearing up for the and the , a sequel to last year's popular lower-priced handset, the . Phew. With all these buzzy new phones being released, your best bet might actually be to buy one of Samsung's older models, especially if there are deals to be had. (The is also still worthy of consideration.) And if you're interested in the Galaxy S21, chances are you're very confused about the main differences between the three versions.
As the names suggest, each model in the Galaxy S21 lineup is slightly upgraded (and slightly pricier) than the one before it, resulting in a spectrum of specs to meet just about any Android user's needs. But how do you decide whether you're a baseline kind of person or if you should go directly to the top of the line? Sure, your budget can make the decision for you, but price doesn't tell the whole story and, depending on your needs, a higher-priced phone might also be the best value.
The most obvious differences among Samsung's Galaxy S21 line, besides the price, are screen size,and camera capabilities. Going up the line, each phone increases in size. If you're small-handed, you might hate the heft of the Ultra. But if you're going to be watching a lot of videos, bigger is probably better.
- Galaxy S21: 6.2 inches
- Galaxy S21 Plus: 6.7 inches
- Galaxy S21 Ultra: 6.8 inches
Battery capacity also increases as you move up the line, though we don't think you'll have any trouble getting through the day on a charge even with the baseline S21 phone.
- Galaxy S21: 4,000 mAh
- Galaxy S21 Plus: 4,800 mAh
- Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5,000 mAh
Camera geeks are probably going to want to upgrade to the S21 Ultra. You can tell just by looking at the three phones that, evidenced by its extra-large quadruple camera module, which also houses its flash. The S21 Ultra gets Space Zoom, an extra telephoto camera and a 108-megapixel wide-angle lens -- we're particularly impressed with .
A few other things to consider:? Then you'll have to get the S21. Want ? Only the S21 Ultra has that (and the new ). Ditto for storage greater than 256GB: Only the Ultra goes up to 512GB (that model gives you more RAM too), and . The S21 Plus and Ultra both feature a backing, which lends durability that the plastic-backed S21 won't have.
Check out the chart below for all of the Galaxy S21 specs compared, and read our comparison of theand .
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S21 Plus vs. S21 Ultra
||Galaxy S21||Galaxy S21 Plus||Galaxy S21 Ultra|
|Display size, resolution||6.2-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display (2,400x1,080 pixels),||6.7-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2,400x1,080 pixels)||6.8-inch Edge WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (3,200x1,440 pixels)|
|Pixel density||421 ppi||394 ppi||515 ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||2.80x5.97x0.31 in||2.97x6.35x0.30 in||2.97x6.50x0.35 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||71.2x151.7x7.9 mm||75.6x161.5x7.8 mm||75.6x165.1x8.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6.03 oz; 171g||7.12 oz; 202g||8.07 oz; 229g|
|Mobile software||Android 11||Android 11||Android 11|
|Camera||64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)||64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)||108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (telephoto), 10-megapixel (telephoto)|
|Processor||Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz)||Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz)||Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit octa-core processor (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz)|
|Battery||4,000 mAh||4,800 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Special features||IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging,||IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging,||IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 10x optical zoom; S Pen support|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$800 (128GB)||$1,000 (128 GB)||$1,200 (128 GB)|
The phone has a clean look thanks to the two-tone approach, and it has Full HD resolution, which CNET's Patrick Holland describes as "a step down from the Quad HD quality on the S20" in his review. The adjustable screen refresh rate, which is good for games and good for your battery life when it's not in use, is also a plus.
The S21 Ultra is a significant hardware and software upgrade over the S20 Ultra. That's why the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra received the Editors' Choice Award from CNET. The addition of S-Pen support (it's the first Galaxy S phone to do so) will also get be of some use for Galaxy Note owners searching for a new phone.
The Galaxy S21 strikes a good balance of features and price which should make it appealing to a lot of people. See our Samsung Galaxy S21 review.