Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G evaluate: Second time’s the allure for Samsung’s premier cellphone

The Galaxy S21 Extremely will get a recent design and sports activities a stunning black end.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G, unveiled alongside Samsung’s Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus telephones, proves that generally it’s a must to do one thing twice to get it proper. Whereas simply as daring as final yr’s Galaxy S20 Extremely, the S21 Extremely is a refined second tackle the Extremely idea. There’s nonetheless the 100x Area Zoom, nevertheless it’s simpler to make use of. There may be nonetheless the “huge for the sake of being huge” design, nevertheless it seems far more interesting. And there is nonetheless a excessive worth, however at $1,200 (£1,149, AU$1,849) it prices $200 lower than the S20 Extremely within the US. The entire Galaxy S21 lineup is formally on sale right now — this is how one can purchase one.

If you would like the very best specs and options, the S21 Extremely will undoubtedly appear interesting. The cellphone may even entice digital camera nerds, because of the enhancements Samsung made to the cameras. And with the addition of S-Pen help — it is the primary Galaxy S cellphone to make use of the stylus — the S21 Extremely will possible catch the attention of Galaxy Word customers in search of a unique choice.

Learn extra: Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S21 Plus vs. S21 Extremely

LikeGorgeous phantom black finishTwo telephoto camerasThe display screen is spectacularS-Pen help

Do not LikeIt’s heavyLacks a microSD card slot$1,200 continues to be costly

Final yr’s Extremely mannequin, then again, appeared prefer it got here out of nowhere. It was a cellphone all about extra that, by sheer destiny, was launched originally of a worldwide pandemic and recession. Its daring, behemoth tackle the Galaxy S line was undercut by its $1,400 (£1,199, AU$1,999) worth and points with its practically domino-sized digital camera system.

Total, the S21 Extremely is a significant replace each by way of {hardware} and software program options over the S20 Extremely. And once you think about a lower cost, all of it type of is sensible.

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We evaluate the Galaxy S21 Extremely 5G and its bonkers cameras


The Galaxy S21 Extremely has the very best black end

I would not name the S21 Extremely’s design radically completely different, however my evaluate unit has the very best black end I’ve ever seen on a cellphone. It is the stuff that goth goals are made from. The colour is named phantom black, and once you see it in particular person you instantly perceive why Samsung made a virtually 3-minute video explaining what went into making the blackest black. The S21 Extremely additionally is available in phantom silver and there are limited-edition phantom finishes in titanium, brown and navy, which might solely be discovered on Samsung’s web site.

The digital camera bump is massive and melts into the perimeters of the cellphone, that are shiny black. And whereas the common S21 and S21 Plus are snazzy of their two-tone colours, the all-black S21 Extremely seems cool, elegant and badass all on the identical time.

The S21 Extremely is slightly heavier than final yr’s S20 Extremely and the iPhone 12 Professional Max. It is the second heaviest cellphone I’ve used up to now yr, simply behind the Asus ROG Telephone 3.

The show is brighter and provides S-Pen help

Across the entrance is among the most spectacular shows I’ve seen. It has a Extensive Quad HD decision and a variable refresh charge between 10 and 120Hz, which is decided by what’s on the display screen. And simply to be clear, you may have 120Hz and never take a success on decision just like the S20 Extremely did. The 6.8-inch show is vivid and the distinction is attractive. Masking the display screen, and the again. is Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.

Below the display screen is a bigger ultrasonic fingerprint reader which feels peppy. I had a tough time telling if it was really sooner than the one on the S20 Extremely. The show additionally has S-Pen help.

Assist for the S-Pen means you may draw, write, edit photographs and signal paperwork on the S21 Extremely.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’ve at all times been tempted by the Galaxy Word line of telephones, however I wasn’t certain I would use the S-Pen sufficient to justify getting one. However I just like the iPad Professional-Apple Pencil method Samsung took right here. With out an S-Pen, you may nonetheless get pleasure from utilizing the S21 Extremely. However when you’re S-Pen curious, you should buy a brand new one or discover an outdated S-Pen. And there is a lot you are able to do, like draw, take notes and signal paperwork. I really like modifying photographs and making changes with the S-Pen.

I ought to word there are just a few concerns. The S21 Extremely would not include an S-Pen and would not help Bluetooth or gesture performance. For instance, the S21 Extremely cannot ship you a notification when you depart your pen behind. Additionally the Extremely would not have a built-in slot to retailer an S-Pen, however Samsung will likely be promoting circumstances for it that embrace S-Pen storage.

Uncover the newest information and finest opinions in smartphones and carriers from CNET’s cellular consultants.

The S21 Extremely has 2 telephoto cameras

The S21 Extremely’s digital camera system obtained a number of important updates. There are 4 rear cameras: one huge, one ultrawide and two telephoto cameras. The time-of-flight sensor is gone and instead there’s laser autofocus.

The 108-megapixel sensor on the primary digital camera is new and it has higher autofocus for each photographs and movies. There’s even a brand new focus enhancer instrument that pops up onscreen to assist the cellphone discover focus even sooner for photographs. The instrument seems prefer it could be switching to a wider view to take action.

There are 4 rear cameras: huge, ultrawide and two telephotos.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The twin-telephoto cameras are a primary on any cellphone and add an a variety of benefits. One has 3x magnification and the opposite 10x. This implies once you zoom in, there are two locations in your zoom vary the place the picture is not being cropped the place your photograph may have higher picture high quality. One other profit is stability. The 2 cameras are paired collectively to assist make zooming in, even at 100x, simpler and extra regular.

At 30x, a zoom information pops up that will help you discover the actual spot that you just’re zoomed in at. You may lock it so it would not transfer, which turns the information yellow. This works effectively. Clearly you continue to must watch out to not transfer the digital camera round an excessive amount of, nevertheless it’s much less finicky and irritating than the S20 Extremely.

Pictures from the S21 Extremely are wonderful, with good element and a large dynamic vary. There’s a 108-megapixel mode, however I discovered the 12-megapixel photographs coming from pixel binning look persistently nice.

Beneath are a number of photographs I took with the S21 Extremely.

I took this with the primary digital camera set to 12 megapixels, which makes use of pixel binning to mix 9 pixels into one.

Patrick Holland/CNET

One advantage of pixel binning is that it could deliver out the small print in a photograph. Discover the completely different textures and particulars.

Patrick Holland/CNET

I used single-take mode within the digital camera app to seize photographs and movies of this cute little canine. Here is one of many photos my S21 Extremely selected.

Patrick Holland/CNET

There’s a lot for the S21 Extremely to seize appropriately right here: The barren tree branches, the water and the white fluffy clouds within the blue sky.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Listed below are three completely different photographs I took from the very same spot utilizing the huge 1x digital camera (left), the 3x telephoto digital camera (center) and the 10x telephoto digital camera (proper).

Patrick Holland/CNET

In low mild, evening mode is excellent. Flaring on the lens is minimized and photographs look vivid and not using a bunch of picture noise or noise-reduction smearing. Beneath are just a few evening mode photographs I took:

This was taken with evening mode and could be my favourite photograph of the bunch.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Here is one other evening mode seize. I like how the S21 Extremely introduced the colours within the sculpture out.

Patrick Holland/CNET

You should utilize evening mode on any digital camera. I took this shot with the ultrawide digital camera in evening mode.

Patrick Holland/CNET

For selfies there’s the identical 40-megapixel digital camera because the S20 Extremely. However you now have an choice to vary the colour tone to both vivid or pure which is superb.

Here’s a selfie I took with the pure setting.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Samsung additionally added the power to take uncooked 12-bit colour photographs. And there is a new video characteristic referred to as Director’s View, which supplies you a thumbnail preview of the video feeds coming from all the cameras on the telephones. As you report, you may swap between them. Inside Director’s View there is a vlogger setup that offers you a side-by-side video view or a stacked one when you’re capturing vertically. This implies you may report your self with the selfie digital camera and present what you are seeing or reacting to from any of the rear cameras.

On paper, Director’s View appeared like one thing I would strive as soon as however not likely use. However after a while utilizing it, I can positively see some folks being into this characteristic. If there’s a draw back to Director’s View it is that the ultimate video is saved in HD as a substitute of 4K or 8K. I might like to see this thumbnail preview interface when recording a daily 4K video.

I am excited to pit the S21 Extremely and its cameras in opposition to the iPhone 12 Professional Max and Google Pixel 5. Every cellphone takes a unique method to images and every will enchantment to completely different folks.

S21 Extremely has a Snapdragon 888 chip and 12 or 16GB of RAM

Powering the S21 Extremely is the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, together with 12GB of RAM, or 16GB in the costliest mannequin with 512GB of storage (see the chart under for costs). In my benchmark exams, the S21 Extremely scored higher than final yr’s S20 Extremely. And in use, it dealt with every part I threw at it, even taking part in Xbox Recreation Cross Final video games on it.

Supplying juice to the cellphone is a 5,000-mAh battery. I’ve simply been averaging a day and a half on a single cost. That stated, I nonetheless have quite a few battery exams to place the S21 Extremely by way of. Please examine again to this evaluate for updates.

You should utilize the Xbox Recreation Cross Final app to play Xbox video games in your S21 Extremely.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Beneath are the outcomes of my benchmark exams for the S21 Extremely.

3DMark Slingshot Limitless

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.zero single-core

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.zero multicore

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Android 11 and 5G help

The Galaxy S21 Extremely runs Android 11 with Samsung’s OneUI 3.1 prime layer. And I prefer it lots. I can now default to Google Pay or Google Uncover Information feed, as a substitute of Samsung’s variations. The search for every part from settings to pop-up home windows is clear and up to date. And with a cellphone this huge, OneUI helps make it simpler to make use of one-handed.

Final, the Galaxy S21 Extremely has 5G and helps each sub-6 and mmWave flavors of 5G. You should not get the Extremely for its 5G. However as 5G networks get higher, so will your 5G speeds and connection. After which we’ll actually have one thing to speak about.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely specs vs. Galaxy S20 Extremely, Galaxy Word 20 Extremely, Galaxy Word 20

Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely

Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely

Samsung Galaxy Word 20 Extremely

Samsung Galaxy Word 20

Show measurement, decision

6.8-inch AMOLED 2X, 3,200×1,440 pixels

6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

6.9-inch; 3,088×1,440 pixels

6.7-inch; 2,400×1,080 pixels

Pixel density

515 ppi




Dimensions (Inches)

2.97×6.5×0.35 in

2.99×6.57×0.35 in

6.49×3.04×0.31 in

6.36×2.96×0.33 in

Dimensions (Millimeters)




161.6×75.2×8.Three mm

Weight (Ounces, Grams)

8.07 oz; 229g

7.76 oz; 220g

7.33 oz, 208g

6.84 oz, 194g

Cell software program

Android 11

Android 10

Android 10

Android 10

Digital camera

108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (3x telephoto), 10-megapixel (10x telephoto)

108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight digital camera

12-megapixel (ultrawide), 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)

12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (huge angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto)

Entrance-facing digital camera





Video seize






Snapdragon 888

Snapdragon 865 Plus

Snapdragon 865 Plus

Snapdragon 865 Plus


128GB, 256GB, 512GB

128GB, 512GB

128GB, 512GB



12GB, 16GB

12GB, 16GB



Expandable storage


As much as 1TB

As much as 1TB



5,000 mAh

5,000 mAh

4,500 mAh

4,300 mAh

Fingerprint sensor





Headphone jack





Particular options

IP68 score, 5G-enabled, 100x Area Zoom, 10W wi-fi charging, 10x optical zoom

5G enabled; 120Hz refresh charge; 100x zoom; water-proof (IP68)

120Hz display screen refresh charge, 5x optical zoom, 120Hz show; UWB sharing, S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wi-fi PowerShare; water-proof (IP68)

S Pen stylus; 5G connectivity; Wi-fi PowerShare; water-proof (IP68)

Worth off-contract (USD)

$1,200 (128GB), $1,250 (256GB), $1,380 (512GB)

$1,399 (128GB), $1,599 (512GB)

$1,300 (128GB), $1,450 (512GB)


Worth (GBP)

£1,149 (128GB), £1,199 (256GB), £1,329 (512GB)

£1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)


£849 (4G) and £949 (5G)

Worth (AUD)

AU$1,849 (128GB), AU$1,949 (256GB), AU$2,149 (512GB)

AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

AU$1,849 (4G) and $AU$1,999 (5G)

AU$1,499 (4G) and AU$1,649 (5G)

First revealed Jan. 21.

About the author: SubSellKaro

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