Note: We may earn commissions (at no cost to you) if you buy through links on our site. Learn more.


8.8/10
Informr score
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra currently has an Informr score of 8.8 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 96 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

Having to pay extra for more storage up front is a new change for Samsung. In terms of everything else, there’s not a lot to say about the phone in terms of failings. At the end of the day, the simple question is, can you afford it and do you need a phone this powerful?

What's good

  • Lovely AMOLED screen
  • Best battery life for its tier
  • S-pen support
  • Fast refresh rate

What's bad

  • Very expensive
  • No MicroSD expansion
  • Ads in Samsung software

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is simply a massive phone with practically every bell and whistle out there in the known smartphone world. As expected, Samsung has put out the best in smartphone technology, but at a steep price point, is it worth the extra dough?

Design

The trend for big phones and big screens is back with a vengeance, and Samsung seems to be leading the charge with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. This phone is big, like burgeoning-on-tablet big, and while that seems intimidating, the curved display helps improve handling such a hefty slab of glass. The new matte series of ‘Phantom’ colors offers a few different options. However, anything beyond Phantom Black or Phantom Silver is currently only available direct from Samsung.

Display

A massive 6.8-inch AMOLED screen that’s nearly bezel-less already has its perks. Add in a 120Hz refresh rate, and things get ridiculous. Reviewers stated that the “vivid” colour setting was a bit punchy, but after tweaking the settings a little, it was the best phone screen they have ever seen.

A very small and hardly noticeable selfie cam punchout rests at the top. The phone also features an in-display fingerprint scanner, which reviewers said was the fastest in-screen option they’ve used. Silky smooth motion, minimal lag, and a vivid, sharp screen make the panel on the Ultra S21 a media and game lover’s dream screen.

Performance

As with any Samsung phone, it’s hard not to sing its praises. The last generation’s processor was no slouch and this year’s new one saw no complaints when it came to multitasking and quick scrolling.

Software & Storage

Software and storage are the only areas where reviewers could find faults. In the past, those who wanted to buy a Samsung Galaxy didn’t have to worry about purchasing the baseline model because it was easy to add storage later using a MicroSD card. The new Samsung line has done away with that card support, so now you will have to buy the phone with more storage upfront -- a great disappointment to reviewers.

On the software front, the implementation of OneUI 3.0 made the phone is even snappier, and menus are simplified and easy-to-use. It runs over the top of Android 11. But it still includes Bixby, a feature some reviewers dubbed the ‘Clippy’ of this generation of phones. Its added bloat and redundant features failed to impress most reviewers.

Cameras

As with most smartphones today, the most competitive part is its cameras. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra continues to set the bar for Android photography. Reviewers said that the S21 Ultra fixed a lot of the problems with previous Samsung releases. There are five cameras in all, offering a telephoto lens, a selfie cam, and zoom capabilities. Whether you’re a budding photographer or a seasoned professional, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can help you make the most of your shots.

Battery Life

Despite the size of the phone, the battery is surprisingly reliable. Reviewers stated that it would easily make it to the end of the day for serious phone users. For those who use their phones casually, you might even make it into the next day on a single charge.

If you don’t already have a fast charger -- or any charger at all -- you’ll want to budget for one. That’s because Samsung doesn’t include one with the phone to cut down on electronic waste.

Audio

Reviewers didn’t mention audio quality much. As with any smartphone, you’re going to get the best audio quality by using headphones.

Speaking of which, much like the charger, Samsung doesn’t include earbuds with the phone to cut down on waste.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gorilla Victus Glass chassis
  • 6.8-inch AMOLED display
  • Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 processor
  • 12/16GB of RAM
  • Android 11
  • 128/256/512GB of onboard storage
  • 108MP main lens, 10MP 10x zoom, 10MP 3x zoom and 12MP ultra-wide camera
  • 5000mAh battery
  • compatible with S-Pen

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that Samsung is nearly always at the top of the pack. So it should be no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is no exception. It has become exponentially closer in comparison to the new iPhone. The lack of MicroSD expansion has marred reviewers’ opinions somewhat. Having to pay extra for more storage up front is a new change for Samsung. In terms of everything else, there’s not a lot to say about the phone in terms of failings. At the end of the day, the simple question is, can you afford it and do you need a phone this powerful?

Tech Radar says, “Surprise, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is launching a month earlier than anticipated, and that’s good news if you’re eager to own the very best of what Samsung can pack into a smartphone. It wowed us with a huge screen, five cameras and the best zoom on any readily available Android phone. Caution: while it's cheaper than last year’s ‘Ultra’ phone, it remains pricey for average consumers, and it doesn’t come with a microSD card slot nor does it include a charger.”

Tom’s Guide states, “Samsung’s top-end phone beats Apple’s flagship in several ways, offering features the iPhone simply can’t match, from its dual zoom cameras to its optional S Pen support. Samsung has definitely upped its game for this year after a lackluster effort with last year's Galaxy S20 Ultra.”


Operating system
Android
Processor
2.84 GHz
Screen Size
6.8"
Camera
108+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


GSMArena

Unlike what usually happens in the movie world, Samsung's sequels are generally much improved from its first efforts, and the S21 Ultra is yet another prime example of that. Compared to the S20 Ultra, it's better in every way, and it hasn't just added things the original phone didn't have (like a ma...

- GSMArena
DxOMark

Boasting an automatic digital zoom for single-person selfies with a wider field of view for group shots, as well as an autofocus lens, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon) offers the kind of well spec’d front camera you would expect from a top-end flagship. Results for both photos and video...

- Paul Carroll, DxOMark
Gearburn

It still has exceptional photography and videography features that are great for creators, but adds future-proofed elements such as a faster processor and 5G support. While its price will remain a sore point for most consumers, it certainly delivers a compelling package.

- Megan Ellis, Gearburn
Ohsem

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is not made for everyone but at the same time, everyone can use it. It has its own niche market and target users. If you love photography, this is a phone for you. Nothing can go wrong when you have the S21 Ultra when trying your hands in photography. It is a wonderfu...

- Ohsem
DxOMark

The only difference between the two Samsung devices is the processor each one uses, and compared to its Snapdragon twin, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Exynos)’s Battery performance came in behind the Snapdragon (and behind all ultra-premium devices to date) in all instances. Further, it posted sc...

- Lynn Anderson, DxOMark


Prices (Where to Buy)




Common Questions


The Galaxy S21 Ultra price will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. You can compare Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra prices from around the web here on The Informr.



Samsung backs up the Galaxy S21 Ultra with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.


If your Galaxy S21 Ultra has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Samsung support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Samsung's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.



Ask the Community


No questions for the moment.


Resources


Manuals / User Guides Helpful Links Share / Embed

Maybe one of your friends will find this review helpful? Please help us spread the word.


Quick view

Screen Size
6.8"

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra's screen size is 6.8 inches with 1440 x 3200 pixels resolution.

Processor
2.84 GHz

There is a Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) Octa-core 2.84 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the Android 11 operating system (OS).

Camera
108+ MP

You can take photos or capture video with the phone's onboard 108+ megapixel camera.

There is also a secondary front facing camera with 40+ megapixels resolution.

Storage
128/256/ 512 GB

Internal memory is 128/256/ 512 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
5000mAh

The phone is powered by a Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol), 5000 mAh battery.

Galaxy S21 Ultra Specs

Overview
Release date January 29, 2021
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Networks
HSUPA, HSPA+, LTE, 5G
Mobile / Cellular Data
5G, 4G/LTE
SIM card size
Nano-SIM
Dual SIM No
Operating System Android 11

Compare Android Smartphones

Processor Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) Octa-core 2.84 GHz
Internal Storage 128/256/ 512 GB
RAM 12/16 GB
ROM No
GPS Type A-GPS
Hearing Aid Compatible Yes
TTY/TDD Yes
Noise Cancellation Yes
SAR Head: 0.77 W/kg
Body: 1.02 W/kg
Languages English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included Manual, Data Cable
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol)
Battery Capacity 5000 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging Yes
Fast Charging Yes
Video Playback Time Unknown
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Unknown
Internet Use (Celluar) Unknown
Talk Time Unknown
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Design type Bar
Multi-Use Smart Phone / PDA Yes
Material Glass
Colors Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Brown, Phantom Navy, Phantom Titanium
Dimensions [H x W x D] 16.51 x 7.56 x 0.89 cm (6.5 x 3 x 0.4 in)
Weight 229 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Water Resistant
Rugged design No
IP Rating IP 68
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology Dynamic AMOLED
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution 1440 x 3200 pixels
Pixel density 515 pixels
Size 6.8 inches
Secondary Display No
Sensors Ambient Light, Proximity, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Digital Compass
Graphics Yes
Themes Yes
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touchscreen, Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+
Input / Navigation
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Mute Key No
Input Type Touchscreen
Navigation Type Touchscreen
Predictive Text Entry Yes
Physical keyboard No
Voicemail Key No
Any Key Answer No
Voice Commands Yes
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
External Media Playback Controls No
Fingerprint Sensor Yes
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling Yes
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Yes
Contact List Capacity Depends on system memory
Multiple Numbers Per Contact Email address, Other fields
Contact Groups Yes
Auto Answer No
Voice Activated Dialing Yes
Photo Caller ID Yes
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP, Microsoft Exchange
Additional Email Features Gmail
Messaging SMS, MMS, IM
Push-to-talk (PTT) No
Connectivity
USB USB Type-C
USB OTG Support Yes
Infrared No
Bluetooth 5.2
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, OPP/FTP, HFP, HSP, PAN
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
WiFi Encryption WEP/WPA/WPA2
Mobile Hotspot Yes
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
TV Out Yes
DLNA Support No
NFC Yes
Data Tethering Compatibility Yes
Java Applications No
Brew Applications No
ECML / Digital Wallet Yes
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
ƒ/ 1.8
Resolution
108+ megapixels
Multi-camera
Yes
Zoom
10x optical
Flash
Yes (LED)
Additional Rear Camera Info
Auto focus, Effects, Face detection, Geotagging, Night mode, Panorama, Self-timer, 2nd camera feature (10 MP, F4.9, Telephoto periscope), 3rd camera feature (10 MP, F2.4, Telephoto), 4th camera feature (12 MP, F2.2, Ultrawide), HDR, Time lapse mode, Slow motion recording, 8K recording
Video Recording Formats
MPEG-4
Video Recording Parameters
Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels), 60 fps
Front Camera
Resolution
40+ megapixels
Zoom
Yes
Additional Front Camera Info
Aperture F2.2
Video Recording Parameters
Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels), 60 fps
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats AAC, AAC+, AMR, eAAC+, MIDI, MP3, OGG, WMA, WAV
Radio Yes (FM)
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, FLV, H.264 / AVC, MKV, MPEG-4, WMV
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Stereo
Headset Jack No
Custom Ringtones Yes
Vibration Alert Yes
Downloadable Ringtones Yes
Ringer ID Yes
Haptic Feedback Vibration Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List Yes
Calendar Yes
World Clock Yes
Alarm Yes
Stop Watch Yes
Timer Yes
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Document Viewer Yes
Weather Yes
Stocks No
Maps Yes
NotePad Yes
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable
Apps Downloadable
Included Software / Apps
More
Additional comments

FM Radio is market dependent

Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Reviews
Where to buy Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Suggest a correction