- Gather around friends.
For now it is time to tell a story
about the Samsung Galaxy S21.
I don't know what I'm doing here.
It's this purple and gold phone that you're looking at.
And what's interesting
about the S21 is that Samsung has found a way
to drop the price on this phone down to $800
while still keeping a lot of flagship specs but,
not all of them.
I mean, look, bringing the price down means
that Samsung has to make some choices
about what's worth including
and where it can save some money.
And the story with the S21 is whether
or not Samsung made the right choices
on what to keep and where to save,
but more importantly
whether Samsung's choices line up with your needs.
So let's just, review the phone to find out.
So right at the top to
I do wanna get one little re viewy bit out of the way
'cause I've got some other stuff I wanna say
before we really get into it.
If you need a new phone
and you like the way that Samsung does things
you will like this phone and it won't do you wrong.
There's no WTF fails here.
And there is one incredible thing in the S21.
It has a fast and powerful processor.
As for the rest, well, it's good, but not great.
You see for the past couple of years now,
basically since mid-range phones started getting really good
I've been saying
that it's harder to buy an inexpensive phone
than it is to buy a flagship phone.
With flagship phones like this S21 Ultra here,
if you can afford to pay for this phone
you don't have to think about what your trade offs are.
Everything on this phone is as good
as Samsung can make it,
but with the S21 or really any other less expensive phone
you have to decide what you care about
and what you don't care about.
And also on the other side
every company is trying to bring
the price down on their phones
and so they have to place some bets.
And on this phone,
Samsung bet on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor.
Here is what this processor gets you.
A very fast phone with decent battery life.
That's kind of the bottom line for most people.
You can get a full day
but you can also kill it in a day
if you really overdo it.
The battery on the small Galaxy S21
with a 6.2 inch screen is 4,000 milliamps.
And for me, it's enough to get through a normal day.
There is also a Plus version of this phone
which has a 6.8 inch screen and a 4800 milliamps battery.
I didn't get the test the bigger one,
but it is a safe bet
that it has a slightly better battery life
than the regular S21.
Oh, and by the way, speaking of Qualcomm
it has a bigger and faster fingerprint sensor now
and Samsung put it in this phone,
it's under the screen and it is really good.
It's bigger and faster
and I'm really happy it's in here.
In terms of being a powerful, good performing phone,
the S21 checks that box with a big old Sharpie.
It also has a variable refresh rate screen
that goes from 48 to a 120 Hertz.
It has eight Gigs of Ram, which okay, but look
there's no lag on the camera or anywhere else.
And of course it has 5G.
And you know, by the way,
in the US I think
that 5G is starting to get good enough
that I think you should get it if you can.
But to be clear, do not upgrade just to get 5G.
But if you have to upgrade this year
all other things being equal.
If a 5G phone is on the table
you should probably opt for it.
Anyway, Samsung's choice for the most important thing
on this phone is the processor.
So let's talk
about the things that Samsung didn't choose to prioritize.
And the first one is glass.
I mean, there's of course glass
on the front of the screen
but the back of this phone is made out of plastic.
It does make the phone lighter and cheaper.
You know what?
Yeah, go for it.
It feels fine, it feels good.
I think it looks good.
And you can get it lots of different colors really easily.
Honestly with plastic, this nice.
It's kind of hard to justify asking
for glass on the back of most phones.
Plus maybe more importantly
the S21 has this new updated design that Samsung has come
up with where the metal rails blend into the camera bump
on the side which is surrounded by metal now.
And it makes the camera bump look nicer
and makes this whole thing feel just more
like an integrated whole and more elegant.
But then there's stuff that has been left
out of both the regular S21
and the S21 Plus and even the very fancy Galaxy S21 Ultra.
So for example, there's no MST Samsung's system for paying
at credit card readers it only has regular all NFC.
That's fine by me,
but there's also no micro SD card slot
for storage expansion anymore which,
I don't know you really just need to make sure
that you pick the right storage option
if you go to buy this thing.
So the base Galaxy S21 costs 799 99
for a 128 gigs of storage.
To get 256 you just have to spend 50 bucks more.
And it's the same with the S21 Plus.
It starts at a thousand dollars
and for 50 bucks more, you can double the storage.
See, I've been talking a lot about choices
but the choice of which stores option you should buy
it really seems like an easy one.
But as long as we're talking about prices
remember that Samsung phones get pretty heavily discounted
by carriers and everybody else all the time
and actually pretty fast too.
So honestly, if you're interested
in a Galaxy S21 OR S20 Plus or even the Ultra
it's worth looking for a deal
or maybe even waiting for a deal.
Another choice that Samsung made to save money is
that the screens are only 10 ADP,
but look the screen still looks great.
It's also perfectly flat and not curved on the edges
which I know a lot of people prefer.
It's a nice screen, but it doesn't work
with the S pen like the Galaxy S21 Ultra can.
So, no stylists for you on the small one.
That leaves one more set of choices to talk about.
And it's probably the most important choices.
It's the choices on the cameras.
And with the cameras
Samsung basically decided to do, nothing.
Other than a little sensor swap on the ultra wide,
this camera system is the exact same thing as we had
on the Galaxy S20 last year.
There's three cameras
a wide and ultra wide and a 3X telephoto.
And then the selfie camera
on the front is a 10 megapixel sensor.
Now look, I know it's not totally fair to say
that Samsung did nothing.
They are taking advantage of that Qualcomm processor
to slightly tweak the way that they process images.
There are a kajillion camera features too.
You can shoot 4k 60 on all the lenses
you could use director's mode
which lets you get a little preview
of all the lenses and switch between them as you shoot.
Although it does drop down to 10 ADP.
There's pro modes for both photo and video
so that you can adjust the ISO whatever else
you want whenever you want.
There's also space zoom
which lets this thing zoom all the way
up to 30 X, but don't do it.
It's pretty bad.
Anything over three, five, 10 here is not really usable.
But set all of those features aside
and just look at the photos
and you would have to be
the persnicketiest the pixel peepers to
tell the difference between this year's Galaxy S21
and last year's Galaxy S20.
Which means that the images and photos
that this thing shoots are good.
They just don't keep up with the S21 Ultra
Or the iPhone 12.
So what I thought made the most sense to do
is to compare it to the Pixel 5
which is kind of the same idea as the S21
in terms of having to make choices
to get some cost savings.
And when you're looking
at the photos that these two phones take, honestly
it's a choice between the pixels aesthetics and consistency
or Samsung's technically superior photos
and a telephoto lens.
Looking at the images.
I prefer the pixels color choices.
I think that Samsung still over brightens a little bit.
I mean, just look at these greens
but Samsung just does a little bit better in the details.
It's nicer in night mode
and it has an optical zoom at 3X.
The pictures are overall sharper too, which usually works
but sometimes it just goes a little bit too far.
And also between these two phones
the S21 clearly wins on video too.
Okay. There's one final set of choices to talk about.
It is the choices that Samsung makes with its software.
Now I've ranted about this, my Galaxy S21 Ultra review
I'll like that down below, you can go watch that.
Here I'm just gonna keep it short.
There are ads in Samsung apps for no good reason.
And there are dozens of features in the settings
and a bunch of stuff in the quick settings.
And it's not immediately obvious what they are
or if you should care about them.
Now I've done all the work and like looked
into what all the little buttons do
and I've turned a bunch of them on and,
I really get a lot out of this phone.
It's really powerful.
But if you haven't used a Samsung phone in a while
and you pick this thing up
just prepare to invest some time to figure out
what all of these options and buttons and features do.
And if you actually wanna turn any of them on.
So those are all of the choices that Samsung made
in developing the Galaxy S21.
And when you put them all together, what you discover is
that the S21 is basically a refresh
of last year's Galaxy S20
with a faster processor in a different,
and I think nicer design.
Which means that the biggest choice here
is that instead of making a fan edition low-cost version
of the Galaxy S flagship phones
Samsung just made the Galaxy S phones themselves
the low cost editions
and left all the fancy stuff for the Ultras.
As for Samsung's decision to bring that cost down
by prioritizing the processor
above all the other features they could have put in here.
It's probably the right choice
for people who wanna have a phone
that's gonna last them several years.
A fast new processor adds to the longevity of a phone
but the bummer about all that other stuff that they left
out means that Samsung took a choice away from you.
You can't get Samsung's very best phone
without getting Samsung's very biggest phone.
And what that means is I don't think you should rush
out to upgrade to the regular Galaxy S21.
But if you do need a new phone
and you do like the way that Samsung does Android
then yeah, the Galaxy has 21 is a fine choice.
Thanks so much for watching.
Like I said, I've done a review of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
If you wanna know what a spec monster is
like when Samsung goes at it
as for the regular S21 down in the comments
let me know what you think of Samsung's choices.