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Samsung Galaxy S21 Early Impressions: A Promising Successor!

Things I Like

  • Impressive 120Hz AMOLED Display
  • Good Camera Setup
  • Good Performance
  • Decent Battery Life
  • One UI Feels Very Intuitive

Potential Weakness

  • Plastic Back
  • GPU could be weak compared to Snapdragon variant

Samsung Nepal recently launched the Samsung S21 series and among them, Samsung 21 is the company’s affordable flagship. It comes as an upgrade to the Samsung S20.

Samsung Galaxy S21 is Samsung’s cheapest flagship that is rocking a 120Hz display, Exynos 2100, Triple camera setup, and 4000 mAh battery.

I have been using this for 3-4 days now and I love the phone. Let’s see why!

Samsung Galaxy S21 Specifications

  • Body: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm, 169 g (Sub6), 171 g (mmWave), Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and/or eSIM, dual stand-by)
  • Display: 6.2″ FullHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1080 x 2400 pixels,120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak)
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus (front)
  • Chipset: Exynos 2100 (5 nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, UFS 3.1
  • OS: Android 11, One UI 3.1
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • Front Camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4000/4800(S21+) mAh battery, Fast Charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
  • Colors: Phantom Grey, Phantom Violet

Samsung Galaxy S21 Price in Nepal: Rs. 1,09,999 (8/256GB)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Early Impressions

Design

Unlike the Samsung S21+ and S21 Ultra, Samsung S21 gets a plastic back just like the Note 20.

Even though it’s a polycarbonate back, the rear feels more premium to the plastic back that we get from top-end mid-range phones.

The new camera design of the Samsung S21 blends the camera module to the side frame seamlessly. The camera bump is similar to the last year’s Note 20 but it doesn’t feel as boxy.

The rear back has a matte finish and fingerprints do not show up quite easily. It is also IP68 rated for water and dust resistance.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Design
Samsung Galaxy S21 Design

On the front, it has a hole-punch in the middle of the screen. The bezels are slightly reduced and the screen is now flat. This is a welcome addition as it cuts down the repair cost if broken.

As usual, S21 gets an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and it is 1.5 times larger than the previous generation. It works better and feels faster than the one on the Note 20 series.

ALSO READ: Samsung S21 Ultra Available for Pre-Booking in Nepal with Exciting Offers

The volume button and power button on the right. On the bottom, it has a USB-Type C and sim tray with dal sim support but it doesn’t have a MicroSD slot. Samsung has officially killed the microSD support on their flagship phones.

The phone is small and it only weighs about 169gms. It feels very compact and sleek. If you want a phone with a small footprint, then this is it.

Impressive High Refresh Rate Dynamic AMOLED Display

Samsung provides both downgrades and upgrades interms of the display. Now, it has an adaptive refresh rate display that switches between 48-120Hz. On the other hand, the display resolution has been now downgraded to 1080p.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Display
Samsung Galaxy S21 Display

The 1080p panel feels more than enough for a phone of its size. You aren’t going to feel major difference unless you are pixel peeping.

The colors of the AMOLED panel are as you expect from Samsung with a saturated profile. It has a peak brightness of 1300 nits and it is easily usable outdoors.

The 120Hz refresh rate feels slick and smooth. The adaptive display should certainly help it to conserve battery life.

Exynos 2100 Hype

Samsung has been hyping up the Exynos 2100. They even held a separate event for the Exynos 2100.

Exynos 2100 is a 5nm chipset that is similar to the Snapdragon 888. Both of them use the same architecture and CPU. The major difference is their GPU.

Exynos 2100 uses ARM’s X1 prime core clocked at up to 2.91 GHz alongside a trio of Cortex-A78 cores running at 2.8GHz and four power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores working at 2.21GHz. It uses the ARM Mali-G78MP14 GPU. Along with this, it now has 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.

Exynos 2100

If you look at it, Samsung has even managed to clock the CPU higher than the Snapdragon 888. Interms of benchmark, it was able to get a single-core score of 1069 and a multi-core score of 3213 on GeekBench. If you look up the score of Snapdragon 888, then it is higher than that of the Exynos 2100.

For gaming, I’ve only played COD so far and the performance has been really good. I have been playing it on the highest available settings and it seems to handle it pretty well.

Even though it is lagging behind the Snapdragon 888, the real-world performance seems to be good so far.

I will be testing the S21 rigorously and will let you know how it performs in a long run. We shall see if the Exynos 2100 is any better in the full review.

Similar Camera Setup

Samsung Galaxy S21 is rocking a similar sensor setup as the Samsung Note 20. It has 3 cameras on the rear with a 12MP main sensor, a 64MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide angle sensor.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Rear Camera
Samsung Galaxy S21 Rear Camera

More than anything else, I think the dynamic range of the S21 feels better than the S20 and Note 20.

I have been playing around with the camera and the photos do look good with good contrast and saturation.

ALSO READ: Samsung M51 Review: The Best Mid-Range Smartphone!

Else, it has a 64MP telephoto lens that can provide 1.1x optical zoom and 3X hybrid zoom. It also has a 30X zoom feature. The ultrawide angle sensor is also a 12MP sensor but this time it has autofocus and can be used to get macro shots.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Front Camera
Samsung Galaxy S21 Front Camera

As for night shots and videos, I still need to test its camera. It is now capable of capturing videos up to 4k 30 from all three sensors and p to 4k 60/8K 24 from the main sensor.

I will tell the full story in my full review but enjoy some samples for now.

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The 10 MP front camera captures good images with saturated colors. It can also capture videos up to 4k 60 fps.

Battery

Samsung Galaxy S21 has a 4000 mAh battery along with 25W fast charging. As of now, I have been able to get a day of battery life from the S21.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Charging Port
Samsung Galaxy S21 Charging Port

As for the charging, Samsung claims that the 25W charger can charge it from 0 to 100 in about 1 hour and 13 mins. I will update the battery test in my full review later this week.

Software

On the software side of things, it has Android 11 along with One UI 3.1. One of the cosmetic changes that you will immediately notice is the new notification shade. It is now transparent and you can easily add a notification toggle with the plus button at the end.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Software
Samsung Galaxy S21 OS

Some of the other major change comes interms of camera features. It has improved the single-take feature and the new director mode is probably the best addition. You can now easily switch between all three lenses on a fly.

Moreover, you can capture from the front camera simultaneously. There’s a zoom lock feature that helps to stabilize the camera when capturing zoomed-in pictures.

Final Thoughts

Samsung Galaxy S21 has a similar but new design which feels better than the previous generation. Even though it is a plastic rear, the material seems to be a semi-premium. However, at this price, a glass back would be much nicer.

Also, the Exynos 2100 seems to have a competitive CPU performance. Surely, the Mali GPU is not as good as the Adreno but the gaming has been good in my initial testing. I will follow up on its long-run gaming performance in my full review.

Stay tuned for the full review where I will be exploring more on every aspect like camera, performance, and battery even further.

What’s your take on the Samsung Galaxy S21? Let us know in the comments below!

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Long-term Review: A Gorgeous Flagship Phone!

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