Earlier this month, Samsung released the Galaxy S21 series with some ambitious upgrades as well as sensible compromises. We have already given you a look at the Galaxy S21 Ultra and it is safe to say that this phone doesn’t know what the word “compromise” means. If you have got more than Rs 1 lakh to spend on a phone, go get it. Stop reading this piece. Also Read - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra leaked render hints at an S Pen slot, Galaxy S22+ leaked too
However, if you are willing to restrict your spending urges on your annual flagship upgrade this year, it is the Galaxy S21 Plus that appeals. Starting at Rs 81,999, the Galaxy S21 Plus goes against the iPhone 12 but is distinct in many ways. The new design is attractive while the Exynos 2100 has shown itself in good colors in the S21 Ultra. Is this then the better Galaxy S flagship to buy this year? Also Read - Phones launching in India this week: Vivo X70 series, Mi 11 Lite NE 5G, Samsung Galaxy M52 5G, and more
Since I just got my hands on the Galaxy S21 Plus, it will be tough to answer this question right now. However, that does not stop me from giving out an initial perspective on this phone. Also Read - Deal of the day: Samsung Galaxy M32 5G with Rs 2,000 flat discount on Amazon is the best deal today
With the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung showed how you can do a slim phone with a large camera hump without offending onlookers. The S21 series embraces the large camera hump better and makes it a standout design element in a sea of rather similar-looking smartphones. While people are obsessed with the large camera hump on the Ultra, I am more of a fan of the slimmer version on the Galaxy S20 Plus.
My Phantom Silver Galaxy S21 Plus is currently the most elegant Samsung phone I have seen so far. Not only is the fusion of the hump into the frame a clever and tasteful choice but the implementation is top-notch. This color version has a matte metallic finish for the hump, a chrome finish for the frame, and a uniform silver finish that shows hues of purple and blue. The careful choice of matte finish throughout the phone’s surface makes this a stunning hand accessory. Those in formals will not mind flaunting it naked (at least I won’t).
Keeping a matte phone free of smudges is difficult and given the hot as well as oily Indian conditions, it could be a task to maintain that new look. The rear of the S21 Plus is made out of Gorilla Glass Victus, which theoretically should rest scratches and shatters better. I will reserve my judgment on this bit for the full review. Moreover, if you use a protective case, this won’t be your concern.
It’s also very nice of Samsung to keep the frame curved and not follow Apple’s ways of flattening it. Personally, I am more comfortable using S21 Plus over the iPhone 12, despite the former having a larger footprint.
The entire front is dominated by a display that stretches from edge-to-edge, only separated by the slimmest bezels I have seen on a flat display phone. I do miss the curved edges from the days of the Galaxy S9 Plus but I can’t deny that a flat display is easier to live with on a phone. Samsung extends the Gorilla Glass Victus protection to the front too and pre-installs a plastic screen protector as well. How nice of you, Samsung.
Specifications and features at a glance
If you love dreamy numbers, Samsung has a bunch of them to present. You love a large display? Samsung offers a 6.7-inch canvas, which is large by all standards. Inside that canvas lies a Dynamic AMOLED display that maxes out at Full HD+ resolution this year and offers a Dynamic refresh rate system, with the latter maxing out at 120Hz. Samsung reserves the LTPO panel for the S21 Ultra. At first glance, this is a superb display and it is difficult to keep my eyes off. Unlike Apple and OnePlus, Samsung loves boosting the saturation slightly and I prefer it this way on my phone. Of course, “naturalists” can still dial down the saturation levels from the settings. The scrolling is smooth and so are the system animations. Also, this display can go BRIGHT under the sun – thanks to the 1300 nits of rated brightness.
Coming from the iPhone 12, the tiny punch-hole style cutout is a relief to the eyes. In addition, the new Samsung One UI 3.1 interface gels well with the cutout. Samsung’s interpretation of Android 11 uses bright and colorful icons, a beautiful Samsung One font, and a pleasant interface. All of these mixed together make for the most elegant Android experience I have seen on a smartphone so far. There’s lots of stuff to play within One UI and it would take a lot of my time to go through all of them. Keep an eye for my full review.
On the whole, the Galaxy S21 Plus has been snappy so far and I can genuinely see the benefits of the Exynos 2100 chip. It compares with the Snapdragon 888 on paper and with my colleague already having spent a considerable time with the S21 Ultra, I am coming into the S21 Plus with high expectations. After spending just a few hours, I can say this is a properly fast phone.
Another aspect that caught my attention is the new ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. The S21 Plus is using the updated sensor from Qualcomm and this one works as well as the optical sensors I have seen on OnePlus phones so far. There are some issues with the detection but I guess Samsung is already preparing updates to fix this.
I haven’t had enough time with the cameras yet. Similar to last year, the regular S21 and S21 Plus don’t get the 108-megapixel sensor. Instead, Samsung is using the standard-affair 12-megapixel unit with a 1/1.76-inch sensor with 1.8um pixels, with reliance on Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS. There’s only a single zoom camera with 3x hybrid zoom, relying on a 64-megapixel sensor. The ultrawide camera is also a 12-megapixel unit with a 1/2.55-inch sensor, capable of Samsung’s Super Steady video stabilization. The selfies care dealt with using a 10-megapixel camera and initial impressions on this one are good (quite comparable to the iPhone 12’s front camera).
Even for the rear cameras, the few photos I have taken show a lot of promise for still photos. With a host of camera features baked into the camera app, I expect to spend a lot of time using these for creating content on the streets of Noida.
To keep all of this powered up, the Galaxy S21 Plus is relying on a 4800mAh battery and if the Note 20 Ultra’s battery performance is any indication, I do not hope to carry a charging adapter around with me.
Speaking of the charging adapter(yes, how could I not take the opportunity to point it out), Samsung isn’t giving you a charging adapter in the box this time. You are also missing out on those awesome AKG-tuned wired earphones in the box too. If you don’t have an old fast charger lying around, you will need to invest at least Rs 1,999 for the 25W USB-C to C adapter from Samsung. Samsung cites environmental concerns for skipping the accessories and in the POV of someone who gets pampered by new phones every two weeks, it makes sense. For regular consumers though, it could be a hassle to buy the charger separately.
Galaxy S21 Plus first impressions
Based on a few hours of interaction, the Galaxy S21 Plus comes across as an interesting choice for a luxury phone. It looks its part, especially with that expensive matte finish treatment going all over the phone. Additionally, the display already seems like a treat for the eyes and it makes the snappy One UI interface a pleasant experience. It seems as if it ticks all the right checkboxes for a luxury smartphone.
But how does the Exynos 2100 hold up as a premium-grade chipset when pushed hard? Are the cameras good enough to make me not pick up my iPhone 12? Has Samsung worked on the battery performance to make this a truly all-day phone?
Keep an eye on BGR India for the full review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.