Samsung has two premium phones to choose from the Galaxy S 21 Ultra, and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
In this video I'm going to compare everything from the design to batteries to specifications, and of course the S Pen support because they now both support that.
So Let's get started.
Now these two phones not only look different from the outside, but they also were designed for slightly different purposes.
The note has traditionally been Samsung's line for productivity, whereas the Galaxy S line it's traditionally been the flagship line and because of that, they do have some Some stylistic differences to talk about.
The first is the physical design in terms of the squared off edges on the note 20 Ultra and more rounded edges on the S 21.
Ultra Now both of these phones.
Are pretty hefty, I definitely feel like I need to do some weight training to use this one handed nop just kidding.
I'm actually not that weak.
But in terms of how they feel one handed to use, I actually think that the galaxy S 21 ultra the wages distributed a little bit better for my hand and using it with one hand, just because that camera module Is balanced fed up then the kind of domino style on the night 20 ultra, which is a little bit more top heavy.
Now let's talk about screens.
They both share a dynamic amyloid display, although they're slightly different in size.
The nurture 20 ultra is just a touch bigger at 6.9 inches.
Whereas the S 21 ultra is 6.8 inches.
They both have that infinity o display with that cutout for the selfie camera at the top.
And of course they both have 120 hertz refresh rate.
It is adaptive on both of them.
So it's dynamically changing depending on what you're doing.
Now there is a little bit of a difference when we are talking about using 120 hertz on both of them.
So yes, they both have the adaptive refresh rate.
But in terms of the maximum resolution that you get when you are using 120 hertz, you actually get the highest w q HD plus resolution On the S 21 Ultra ad 120 hertz whereas if you're using 120 on the note 20 Ultra, you are only able to get full HD plus resolution so that's something to keep in mind.
These phones also both have an in screen fingerprint reader now the S 21 Ultra as you would expect To use a slightly newer technology the Qualcomm ultrasonic fingerprint reader is a little bit larger, and supposedly a little faster.
I don't know if I can actually say scientifically if it's positive, definitely anecdotally in my testing, it feels perhaps a fraction of a hair faster.
Oe maybe that's just the new shiny phone feeling but overall, it works effectively on both.
I say it's a little bit more accurate in terms of less fails on the S21 Ultra, how about that?
Let's talk about the glass.
Now both of these phones have a glass on the front and the back which is Gorilla Glass victus which is really glasses latest and strongest glass.
Side note we have done a drop test on both of these phones.
And let me just give you the bad news you're going to have to put a case on one of these phones whichever one you get both of them actually because glass will break.
And the IP rating of both of these is IP six, eight, which means that they are water and dust resistant.
But again, be careful because none of this is covered under warranty if you hurt your phone in the swimming pool.
And finally colours.
s 21 Ultra is back in black baby I am okay so I'm not a colour possessed about what colour what finished.
A phone comes in comes to this phone I don't mean about that matter Black finish.
It just looks fantastic and honestly, film photos don't do it justice.
It looks great.
Nothing against the rose gold or the mystic bronze of the Note 20 Ultra.
There are other colors of course on both of the phones but I'm kind of focusing on their flagship colors.
Just feels a little bit 2020 now this is the first generation of Galaxy S phones at offer support for the S Pen and that might make you feel a little bit panicked.
If you are a fan of the note series.
I know that I definitely love the note series theory so I was a little bit concerned going into using the S Pen with the Galaxy S 21 Ultra, but the functionality is actually slightly different.
So what you need to know is that there is Bluetooth support for the S Pen and of course the integrated S Pen into the actual phone body on a note 20 ultra and the S pen is compatible with the S 21 ultra.
However, it is not Bluetooth compatible.
So that means we lose out on certain functionalities, such as if you leave the S pen behind and walk away with your phone, you don't get a notification that you've left it behind.
Just kind of sad.
You get that on the note 20 ultra.
That being said there is going to be an S Pen probe that does have bluetooth support coming out later in the year.
The things that they share, you can take notes, you can annotate screenshots.
You can translate texts that you've scribbled into words and convert that or Align your handwriting for example.
But what you can do on the note 20 Ultra as well our actions and gestures so you can use the S Pen to do things like swipe back and forth between pages or apps, songs tracks, open the selfie camera, switch to the main rig camera and use it as a remote.
Shutter, which is kind of nice.
But to be fair, I really didn't feel like I missed out on any of those actions when I went to the S 21 Ultra because most of the time when I was using those air actions on the note 20 Ultra.
I just felt like a really bad mad conductor.
But one thing that might sway your decision to choose the note instead of the S 21 Ultra if you are thinking about S Pen support Is latency.
Now the notes 20 Ultra has a latency of nine milliseconds when using the S Pen.
We don't know what it is on the S 21.
Ultra, but assuming it's not gonna be as fast as the note 20 Ultra that said, I did some side by side tests of doing scribbling I really didn't notice that much of a difference.
Maybe my brain is super slow but I really couldn't tell much of a difference.
I would say if you were an artist or someone who likes to do a lot of precise drawing the note 20 Ultra probably feels a little bit more precise for most people, myself included.
The S 21 Ultra was perfect.
Let's talk about and the camera and the hardware and image processing, because there's actually a bit of a significant difference here.
Now, both of them share an ultra wide, a regular wide angle camera at 108 mega pixels and a telephoto camera, which is Five times on the note 20 Ultra and three times and 10 times on the S 21 Ultra.
Let me tell you if you like to zoom, you know, we all like to be able to use cameras in, right?
The S 21 Ultra is going to be your best bet.
Now I did a couple of different comparisons at different focal lengths to show you just how close you can get with each camera.
Now at the, I guess five times optical zoom range, it's obvious that the note 20 Ultra looks better compared to the hybrid zoom That is on the es 21 Ultra at five times if you want the most flexibility at three and 10 and then beyond the 21 Ultra does look better.
Now I'll show you a photo comparison At the regular one times or just on a wide angle camera, and then at 50 times, which is the maximum that the note 20 Ultra can go to and half of the maximum that the S 21 Ultra can go to, and you'll see the difference is pretty clear.
Yes, 21 Ultra definitely has much more definition captures more detailed That extreme length than the normal 20 Ultra.
Now that being said, I would not go any further than 50 times with this.
Yeah, you can go to 100 times but it looks pretty bad.
I would avoid it at all costs.
for regular shots taken at 12 mega pixels.
I honestly think both of the phones do an excellent job in good lighting conditions.
really hard to tell the difference between the two.
I mean, sure, you could probably pick it a little bit of pathogens like contrast and color saturation, for example, but overall, they both look really good.
And that's thanks to pixel binning technology, which is Taking all that data from the big 108 megapixel sensor and consolidating it into a much more manageable 12 megapixel file.
While both have that 108 megapixel sensor, the F 21 Ultra does seem to have benefited.
Focus and I do prefer how it renders the shallow depth of field compared to the notes.
For night mode photos the S 21 is generally a lot sharper, especially if you look at photos at full magnification, but the processing, really ups the sharpness and the saturation compared to the same shot on the note.
I'm not really a selfie kind of girl but I will tell you that the selfie cameras are fairly similar in performance except for the fact that the Estonian ultra has a 40 megapixel sensor, but that's not really what I care about.
I care about the accuracy of the color rendition.
And finally Samsung has given us a normal and a bright setting.
As for video performance, well I think that they both do a really good job.
Although I can see some improvements when shooting at 4k 60 which is my preferred resolution to shoot at on the S 21 Ultra, it just looks a little bit clean in terms of the image overall, the stabilisation also looks to be improved for me and I think the dynamic range is just a little bit better on the newer phone which is not a surprise.
They can both shoot at 8k at 24 frames a second.
If you want We do have some 8k samples available for you on our Cnet's highlights channel.
Although, this video is rendered in 4k, so you will not see 8k right here but definitely click out and go check out those samples for yourself.
Battery and processor.
Now, as you would expect the new iPhone, how Has the latest Snapdragon 888 processor or Exynos 2100 depending on where you are in the world, whereas the NERC 20 Ultra has the Snapdragon 865 Plus or the Exynos 990.
Now I can't comment on the performance of the XML versions.
They only have been using the Snapdragon phones.
Now to me the real test of performance is real world testing rather than showing you the benchmarks.
So I have done a lot of different things in my testing.
Including playing games, shooting and editing a lot of 4k and 8k video as well as regular day to day tasks.
And really, honestly, there's nothing that I could have thrown at these phones that they weren't able to To cope with.
The only thing is I did anecdotally notice that the S21 Ultra was a little faster when it came to doing some really resource intensive stuff like cutting down an 8k video.
For example, it was just a little bit faster on the S21 Ultra.
Now both of the phones are 5g as you would expect, given they have 5g in their official names which I'm not going to say all the time.
Battery life is also going to vary between the two now yes the S 21 Ultra has a larger capacity batteries 5000 milliamp hour batteries compared to 4500 on the note 20 Ultra Now, Viega is not always better, as some people might tell you.
Because it does come down to performance and how you use the phone and what settings that you have that also plays a huge part in battery life and overall performance.
Now, we will say that both of these phones a hundred percent will get me through the day with juice to spare I generally think that the standby time though on the note 20 Ultra is a little bit better than that on the S 21.
And I'll tell you why.
When I have a new phone, I'm sorry, I'm going all out.
I'm going large or I'm going home because I use everything I can.
I'm shooting 4K video 8K video, I'm using the HQWH screen, I'm using a 120Hertz refresh rate, you ain't gonna make me go to 60.
So that's why the standby time and over all battery life for me On the S21 Ultra with all of those pages next up is not as much as the equivalent.
If you are a numbers person and do like the specific amount.
You can go to our full review on cnet.com and you can find The full results of our battery tests on both of these two phones.
When it comes to wireless charging, of course they are both wirelessly charged enabled and they also wired charge through USBC at 25 watts.
However, there is no charger in the box for the 21 Ultra.
Where as there is on the Note 20 Ultra.
So many points to the Note 20 Ultra because, again, I spend a lot of money on this phone, and now I have to buy another charger.
I mean, I probably have one in the house but I think I want another one.
Now the base storage on both of these is 128 gigabytes.
But by now you are also probably aware that as well as not having a charger the S 21 also does not have micro SD expandable storage and note 20 Ultra does that to a maximum of one terabyte.
Come on Samsung like I am shooting 8k videos because my crazy future self is come back in time to tell me that I now have an 8k television.
And I should have been filming all my memories unite.
K so 128 gigabytes ain't really going to do it for me.
Fortunately, there are two other storage tiers of two 56 and five 12.
Although that, of course.
The cost ram as well is different on the highest model.
Now 12 gigabytes is what you'll get on the Note 20 Ultra on all models and storage capacities that's 128 and 512.
And you will also be able to get 16 gigabytes of RAM if you choose the highest SPECT as 21 Ultra the 512 gigabyte model.
Still not enough storage for me.
Just I'm done.
Now if you use Samsung Pay, you will know that one of the flagship features of Samsung Pay is MST or magnetic secure transmission technology, which means that you can use your phone pretty much any terminal even if it doesn't have NFC I was probably one of the five people in the world that loves to use MST and see the look on people's faces when I held it up to a terminal that wasn't NFC enabled and they're like, No, no, no, this doesn't take Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google pay Unlike men and so it really does watch these.
And it works.
So I'm sad that the S 21 Ultra lost that feature.
The notes 20 ultraverse does have that feature so something to bear in mind if you are a big Samsung Pay user.
Now time to decide which phone is the right one for you Now obviously this is always a decision that comes down to what is your use case for the phone what do you use more not necessarily prices we discussed and less the price of this phone comes down significantly over the next few months which it may very well do.
Now if you like to use the S Pen then I would suggest that the note 20 Ultra is the better buy until we get the S Pen pro on the S 21 Ultra later in the year.
And that is just because it feels a little bit more precise and obviously you have that Bluetooth connectivity which may be very useful in many situations.
But for most other applications, I actually think this time, which is probably a first for me, because most times when I do a comparison between an older phone versus new phone.
I often find that the older phone is much better but In this case, I actually think the S 21 Ultra is the better all around package and definitely worth the money, especially if you are considering the choice between a note or an S 21 Ultra thanks to the camera technology, the screen the adaptive refresh rates.
I also really just like how this feels in the hand, it feels much more balanced and much more usable.
And I, also have the flexibility of S Pen support, if I want that, but you know, the fact that I don't have MST, I am still on about that and I'm still mad, but I guess I'm just going to have to start shopping at places that only accept NFC.