Samsung Galaxy S21 sets the bar high for its rivals despite some compromises

In the world of Android smartphones, the focus is on Samsung right now. The company just dropped a trio of Galaxy S21 series flagships. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S21 Ultra - with its upgraded camera hardware and a ton of camera tricks - made tongues tremble, and rightly so. However, the smallest and most affordable member of the family - the Galaxy S21 - is the real dark horse this time around. And this is the model that will likely boost shipments this year for several reasons. Let's go:

An abnormally lower price

We all complain that the price of flagship smartphones keeps increasing year after year, and Samsung is no exception. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S10 with a base model price of $ 900 in 2019. Then came 2020, and with it came the Galaxy S20, with an even higher starting price of $ 1000. Naturally, we expected the Galaxy S21 to start even higher, but surprisingly Samsung has had a nice turnaround this year.

Galaxy S21 hand pocket

While smartphone makers often rejoice in offering an improved model at the same price as its predecessor, and rightly so, Samsung has just rewritten those rules. The Korean smartphone maker has cut the price of its latest flagship by $ 200. Starting at $ 800, the Galaxy S21 is simply a great device for several reasons.

The most important - and the most obvious too - is the hardware upgrade. But plastic construction and no expandable storage? Now, we'll get to that part in just a minute. Let's focus on internal upgrades first, along with a few superficial improvements.

Yes, it is a flagship product through and through!

Let's start with the biggest one - the processor at its core. It's an industry-wide consensus that the price of Qualcomm's high-end SoCs has increased dramatically in recent years, and the arrival of 5G has only made matters worse. And the kind of upgrades the Snapdragon 888 offers, it doesn't need much explanation to guess that Qualcomm's latest offering comes at an even higher price point compared to what the company charged for its chips. high end last year. And yet, Samsung has used this chip inside the Galaxy S21 without a price increase. In fact, he managed to reduce the price by $ 200.

The gap between Exynos and Qualcomm is narrower

What about the Exynos 2100, as a large chunk of Samsung's markets will get a Galaxy S21 powered by its internal chipset? Well, a quick glance at the specs and capabilities of the Exynos 2100 shows that it is neck and neck with the Snapdragon 888. Now at Pocketnow, we think synthetic benchmarks only tell the story. half the story and the real world experience is what really matters. So let me put it in layman's terms here - both processors deliver more power than you really need.

Pocketnow back panel of Galaxy S21

Samsung's internal chip prowess really arrives with Exynos 2100

Everything is just like butter. Whether it's scrolling through my Twitter feed or playing demanding games like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile, the Exynos 2100 version of the Galaxy S21 is above it all. Call of Duty: Mobile - a particularly demanding game - returned a constant frame rate of 60 fps with cutting edge graphics settings and no lag or stuttering at all. And from what my colleague Jaime tells me, the Snapdragon 888 model of the device is no different.

Now let's talk a little about the cameras. Samsung has outfitted this phone with the same imaging hardware you'll find on the Galaxy S20, which is both good and bad.. On paper, this looks like a bad move with an old camera setup for a new flagship device. But on the other hand, it also gives Samsung more time and experience to further refine the camera output of these sensors. For a case study, take a look at what Google and Apple have been doing with 12MP cameras on their phones for years.

Samsung takes inspiration from Apple and Google for the camera, and it works

Samsung appears to have played the same game as Google and Apple here. And from what my colleague Jaime Rivera tested, the raw camera performance has indeed improved on the Galaxy S21 compared to its predecessor. While it's certainly reassuring to hear from potential buyers, the imaging prowess of Samsung's latest entry-level flagship is more plentiful, as the company has added a ton of useful camera tips to it. 'device.

galaxy s21 shot from below pocketnow back panel

One of them is 8K video capture, which allows users to capture short 8K video clips. Additionally, if you think any frame from the video deserves a photo on its own, you can extract 8K still image anytime from the video that is output at 32MP resolution. And if you're into vlogging, Director's View, Vlogger View, and multi-mic recording are some of the features you'll really enjoy.

Samsung also claims to have improved the portrait photography capability of the Galaxy S21, and the unique excellent grip has also been upgraded to version 2.0 for even better results. Check out the Galaxy S21 Pocketnow review to learn more about the Galaxy S21's camera performance:

What compromises Samsung has made with the Galaxy S21?

However, Samsung has made a few compromises here in order to achieve this price. The first is the plastic of its back panel, instead of the “higher end” glass of the Galaxy S21 + and its brother Ultra. But honestly, I don't care, mainly because the build quality is great. The plastic back panel is pleasant to the touch and in no way cheap.

Plastic construction is a hard pill to digest when spending $ 800, but the quality is great

And oh, did I tell you that plastic doesn't shatter like glass either? So yes, you're probably saving a few hundred dollars to replace the glass back panel. But that's just my personal opinion, and the one I live with without any regrets. But for those who prefer a glass construction, it would be a hard pill for them to shell out north of $ 800 on a plastic phone, regardless of how tough it is and how good it feels to the touch.

The other major compromise here is the lack of a microSD card slot. And from what I can process, Samsung did it to make money, plain and simple. Even if Samsung's profit from this scheme is quite small, multiply it by the millions of Galaxy S21 units Samsung is going to ship, and suddenly you have a lot to fill your coffers..

galaxy s21 display pocket now

Let me walk you through the basic math here. The base 128GB model of the Galaxy S21 will set you back $ 800, while the 256GB model costs $ 849 in the US. Now, if you get the 128GB model and assuming it offers the luxury of storage expansion, you can double the storage by purchasing a 128GB microSD card from Amazon which would typically cost $ 20, and I talks about a fairly fast microSD card from Samsung itself. .

So, while doubling the storage module on the Galaxy S21 costs Samsung around $ 10, the company is still saving an additional $ 20 for each 256GB variant of the phone. It's just a rough guess, but you still get the point. On the other hand, the read and write speeds offered by a microSD card are not as fast as the UFS 3.1 storage inside the Galaxy S21. These are the only two key compromises you'll make with the device. The rest of the package is really good.

pocketnow tilted galaxy s21 rear camera

Some might argue that the Galaxy S21 is upgrading to an FHD + panel from a higher resolution display panel on its predecessor. But trust me, it's still crisp, produces gorgeous colors, offers great viewing angles, and feels just like butter at a 120Hz refresh rate. Plus, the lower resolution panel also helps with the battery life. Speaking of battery, you get a 4000mAh unit that easily lasts a full day and supports wireless charging as well as reverse wireless charging.

So what now?

Now there is something else at stake here. If you're one of those people who intend to take full advantage of the Galaxy S21's camera capabilities and shoot plenty of high-resolution videos, that storage space is going to fill up soon. Even if that number goes up to 256 GB. Now if you want a model with more storage capacity, you are out of luck even with the bigger - and more expensive - Galaxy S21 +, because it also hits 256 GB. . Still want at least 512GB of built-in storage on a Galaxy S21 series phone? The only option you have is the much more expensive Galaxy S21 Ultra, the 512GB variant of which will set you back $ 1380..

Now that's all markup. Of course, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra you get better build quality, noticeably powerful cameras, a more pixel-dense and more advanced AMOLED display, a bigger battery, support for WiFi 6E and Ultra. Wideband, among other benefits. But all of those extras take a step back when buyers' budgets for a new Samsung flagship can strictly not exceed $ 900, or even less.

Galaxy S21 sets high benchmark for Android flagships in 2021

galaxy s21 topshot pocketnow

A smartphone is not just a single parameter, but the sum of all its parts. The Galaxy S21 turns out to be a prime example of this theory. With a price tag of $ 800, the Galaxy S21 sets a high benchmark for any Android flagship coming in 2021. This phone excels in most of the things you'd want from a high-end phone. Yes, it cuts some corners, but the next wave of Android flagships like OnePlus, Sony and other Chinese smartphone makers will struggle to outperform the Galaxy S21 in raw smartphone experience. And to top it off, the Samsung brand will also play a key role if you spend north of $ 800 on a high-end Android device..

Samsung's latest flagship is more accessible and convincing buyers to look elsewhere would be a difficult task for rivals

I'm a firm believer that by lowering the asking price of the Galaxy S21 and making it more accessible - especially with all of those aggressive offers in tow - the company has firmly stated that it can compete in multiple price brackets in the high segment. range. Yes, a Galaxy S21 FE (Fan Edition) is inevitable, but for now, Galaxy S21 appears to be the real Fan Edition device for the company's target audience. Despite all of its strengths and pitfalls, the Galaxy S21 comes across as a great smartphone at the end of the day - one that won't leave buyers begging for more for what they end up paying.

Of course, Samsung's profit margin may not be as high in the case of the Galaxy S21 as that of the rest of its siblings, but shipping more volumes and reducing the market share of rivals in this segment is a huge deal. victory in itself.. So here's the verdict: If you're looking for an Android phone in the $ 800 price bracket, I can easily recommend the Galaxy S21 right now, especially if you live in the US.

    Samsung Galaxy S21

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 features a high-end processor to power it, an improved triple rear camera setup with a host of new features, a gorgeous 120Hz display, and a new design to go with all upgrades. And at a price tag that is $ 200 less than its predecessor, it's hard to ignore.

Nadeem sarwar

I've been writing about consumer tech for over three years now, having worked with names like NDTV and Beebom in the past. In addition to covering the latest news, I've reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I've also interviewed tech executives and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets.

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