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Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G preview


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After a steady barrage of leaks and rumors, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G is finally official. Announced as the middle-ground phone between the Galaxy S21 5G and S21 Ultra, the S21+ combines a large display and battery without surging past the $1000-barrier. Just like its predecessor, the Galaxy S20+, the S21+ feels like the phone for people who enjoy a large device but don’t necessarily need the extra pizzazz or can stomach the price tag associated with the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

Galaxy S21+ display and design

Despite the slightly refreshed looks, the Galaxy S21+  definitely has the core Galaxy DNA etched deep into its exterior design. Unmistakably a high-end Samsung phone, the Galaxy S21+ fuses glass and metal in a premium amalgam that looks oh-so posh.

The true star of the new design is the refreshed rear camera module, which has been sort of blended with the side of the phone and definitely looks way less intimidating than before. Not that we had any problems with the S20-series in this regard, but it can’t be argued that the new design employed by Samsung looks way better.

At the front, we’ve got a few changes as well. The display is now completely flat and only interrupted by a tiny punch-hol near the top that facilitates a 10MP selfie camera. While flat displays are more practical, curved ones offer slightly easier gesture navigation, but our general opinion is that curved screens are slowly going out of fashion. The 6.7” LPTO Dynamic AMOLED display of the S21+ is only slightly smaller than the one found on the S21 Ultra, but it’s pretty similar in features with the top model. The display has a 120Hz display that automatically adjusts the frame rate based on the content you’re consuming, ranging from 48Hz all the way to 120. That’s unlike the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which can refresh at 10Hz at the lowest and thus save battery, though we suppose the S21+ would introduce modest power-savings as well.

The display also features Qualcomm’s second-gen fingerprint scanner. This is kind of a big deal as it makes fingerprint recognition 50% faster and also much easier thanks to the 77% larger scanning area, which means you don’t have to worry about nailing the exact spot every time you have to unlock your phone.

Galaxy S21+ performance

As is tradition, Samsung has once again used two different chipsets for the different markets it will sell the phone in. In the US, the Galaxy S21+ comes with the Snapdragon 888 chipset, whereas the rest of the world gets the brand-spanking new Exynos 2100.

Both of these chipsets are based on a 5nm manufacturing process, which theoretically means that there shouldn’t be such a large performance gap between the two chipsets, which has been a recurring theme in the previous years with preceding Snapdragon and Exynos chipsets.

Samsung seems to be quite confident in the Exynos 2100 chip that will be powering the Galaxy S21+, so it will be quite intriguing to see if the new chipset will turn out to be equal or better than the Snapdragon silicon. Just like the Galaxy S20-series, the Galaxy S21+ comes with a 128GB base storage, which is necessary when you take into account that the Galaxy S21+ can take 8K video snaps.

Luckily, powering the whole shebang is a beefy 4,800mAh battery that would probably last a day of heavy usage. Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 is on board, ensuring up to 15W of wireless charging, but wired fast charging is supported as well.

Galaxy S21+ camera

The triple-camera setup of the Galaxy S21+ mostly relies on its software and feature improvements rather than on pure hardware improvements. At least that’s the general impression the S21+ instills as it lacks the sophisticated dual-tele setup of the much more premium S21 Ultra. The ultra-wide and wide-angle cameras are both 12MP units, whereas the 30x Space Zoom 64MP telephoto looks like a humble but good enough offering in early 2021.

There are a bunch of new camera features like enhanced Single Take, Vlogger View, Live Thumbnails, Improved Super Steady, better portrait lighting, Cinematic 8K Snap and Multi-Mic Recording. Let’s be honest, some of these sound like gimmicks you’ll try one and forget, but others, like the smooth Super Steady feature, are features that you’re very likely to want to use in your everyday life.

Galaxy S21+ battery life

Now, it’s pretty hard to predict what to expect from the Galaxy S21+ in terms of battery life. The reasons are three. Firstly, Samsung is using a display with a dynamic refresh rate for the first time, which could theoretically introduce big power savings. Secondly, the new generation of chipsets that both Qualcomm and Samsung have developed could introduce a ton of potential power savings on their own as well. Last but not least, there’s a beefy 4,800mAh battery at the rear of the phone, and that’s a respectable size that could really improve the overall endurance. Yet, we have 5G, a large high-res display, and tons of other power-hungry hardware components, so things probably even out at around a day or so of moderate usage.

That being said, I’m cautiously optimistic that the S21 series and the S21+ 5G could finally bring the Exynos and Snapdragon Galaxies closer in terms of battery life as it’s quite unfair to have a big spread between the two variations of the phone. Rest assured we will test the battery life of the Galaxy S21+ as soon as possible.

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