This is the Galaxy S 21 Ultra 5G and it proves that sometimes it takes doing something twice to get it right,
Last year's Galaxy S 20 Ultra seemed like it came out of nowhere.
It was a phone all about access.
That was by here fate launch at the beginning of a global pandemic.
But it's bold behemoth take on the Galaxy S line was undercut by its 14 $100 price.
Issues with its nearly Domino sized camera system.
The Galaxy S 21 Ultra.
Well, just as bold is a refined second take on the ultra concept.
There's still the 100 times space soon but it's easier to use.
They're still the big for being big sick design, but It looks much more appealing.
And there's still a high price but at 12 $100 in the US, it costs $200 less than the S20 Ultra.
Now I wouldn't call the S21 Ultras design radically different but this is the best black finish I've ever seen on a phone.
It's like the stuff that golf dreams are made of.
The color is called Phantom black and when you see it in person, you understand why the S 21 also comes in Phantom silver, as well as limited edition Phantom colors of titanium, brown and navy which can only be found on Samsung's website.
The camera bump is larger and melts into the sides of the phone which are glossy black.
And while the regular s21 and s21 Plus look fun in their two tone colours, the all black on the s21 Ultra looks cool, elegant and badass all at the same time.
Around the front is one of the most impressive displays I've seen.
It has a wide-quad HD resolution, a variable refresh rate between 10 and 120 hertz, which is determined by what's on the screen.
It's bright, the contrast is gorgeous.
The 6.8 inch screen is covered in Gorilla Glass Victus As is the back and it has Samsung's new icomfort Shield, which is basically like the blue light filter mode we've seen on previous Samsung phones but it can now automatically change depending on time of day.
Under the screen is a larger ultrasonic fingerprint reader which feels peppy.
I had a hard time tell if it was actually faster.
Then the one on the 20 altra.
Also incorporated into the display is Wakeham, technology.
You know the folks that make those black stylists and tablets graphic designers use with their computers.
This means there's S Pen support the first ever on a Galaxy S phone having the option to use an S Pen.
Has been great.
I've always been tempted by the Galaxy Note line of phones but I thought the idea of having a stylus and not using it all the time might not justify the cost.
So I like the, for lack of a better comparison iPad Pro slash Apple Pencil approach here.
Meaning you can thoroughly enjoy using the S21 ultra without an S pen.
But if you already have one or if you are S pen curious, and you wanna buy a new one for $40, there's a lot, you can do like draw, take notes, signed documents, and more.
I really enjoyed editing and making adjustments to photos with the S pen.
Now I should note that there are a few considerations.
First, the S 21 Ultra doesn't come with an S Pen.
And the phone doesn't support Bluetooth and S Pen gesture functionality.
So for example It can't send you a leave behind notification if you well leave it behind.
And there isn't a built in place in the ultra to store the espin.
However, Samsung will be selling cases for the S 21 Ultra that include S Pen storage
The camera received several significant updates.
But let's just catch up there are four rear cameras a wide and ultra wide and two.
That's right two telephoto cameras.
Gone is the time of flight sensor but in its place is laser autofocus.
The 108 megapixel sensor on the main camera has better autofocus for both photos and videos.
And now there's a focus enhancer tool that pops up when you're taking photos to help the phone find focus even faster.
It looks like it might be switching to like maybe a slightly wider field of view to do so.
I'm not sure about that.
The dual telephoto cameras are quite interesting.
Because one has three times magnification and the other 10 times magnification, and there are a number of benefits to this.
The first is image quality.
You now have two places in your zoom range where the image isn't being cropped, the other is stability.
The two cameras are paired together and help big zooming in even at 100 times zoom Easier and less shaky, at 30 times magnification, a guide pops up to help you find what particular spot you're zoomed in that and now you can lock it so it doesn't move.
And when you lock it, the guide will turn yellow.
This works actually pretty well.
Obviously, you still can't move your eye Thrown around a lot, but it's less finicky and less frustrating then the es 20 Ultra.
Overall photos are excellent with good detail and dynamic range.
There's 108 megapixel shooting mode, but I found the 12 megapixel photos coming from pixel binning really good.
In low light,the night mode is outstanding reflections or minimize images look bright Without a bunch of image noise or noise reductions for selfies, there's the same 40 megapixel camera as the S 20 Ultra but now you have an option to change the color tone to either bright or natural which is excellent.
Now I'm very excited to put the S 21 Ultra and its cameras against the iPhone 12 Pro max And the Google Pixel five, but each phone takes a very different approach, which is cameras, and each appeals to different people, but I promise more soon.
some neat additions to the S 21.
Ultra are the ability to take raw 12 bit color photos, and a new video feature called director view, which gives you a thumbnail preview of different feeds coming from all the cameras on the phone.
As you record, you can switch between these different fields.
There's even a kind of a blogger setup which gives you a side by side video format or a stacked one if you're shooting vertically.
This means you could record yourself with a selfie camera, at the same time show what you're seeing or reacting to with any of the rear cameras.
And you have the ability to switch between those rear cameras while you're recording.
On paper directors view seemed like single tape, meaning something they might try once but not really use.
I can definitely see people being into this feature.
If there is a downside to directors you is that the final video saved in HD not 4k or 8k.
Powering the es 21 Ultra, is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon, 888 chip, along with either 12 gigabytes or 16 gigabytes of RAM.
My review unit had 16.
And my benchmark test the S 21, Ultra scored better than last year's S 20 Ultra.
And did use, it handled everything I threw at it.
Even playing Xbox game pass ultimate games, supplying the juice to the phone is a 5000 milliamp hour battery.
It's been easily averaging a day and a half on a single charge.
That said, I still have a number of battery tests to put the S 21 Ultra through so kick back to my written review on cnet.com for updates Let's talk about Android 11 and one ui 3.1.
Which I like a lot.
I can now default to Google pay and Google discover news feed.
The look for everything from settings to pop up Windows is clean and contemporary, last 5G Yep.
The galaxy has 21 Ultra has 5G and supports both sub six and millimeter wave.
Meaning you have your choice of U us carriers.
It's going to work on, but you shouldn't get the ultra just for the 5G, but as carrier 5G networks get better.
So will your 5G speeds and connection and then we'll really have something to talk about.
Overall, the s 21 Ultra is quite a major update both in hardware and software features over the last 20 Ultra.
And look, there is so much more I didn't have time to get to in this video.
So make sure to check out my written review on CNET where I go even more in depth on the ultra and its features.
And also make sure to Watch my Galaxy S 21 5T review video.
But now I'd like to hear from you guys.
What do you think of the s 21?
Did you preorder one?
What improvements are you looking forward to trying out the most?
Throw your thoughts in the comments.