100 times zoom, 108 megapixels, 6.8 inch screen – these are eye watering specs folks, and that’s how the new Samsung Galaxy S21 range tops out, but across the range there’s a whole new look, fantastic specs and some smart new software tweaks – particularly for the camera buffs out there keen on a Samsung Galaxy S21 in Australia.
It’s an all new look for 2021, trying to stand out a bit as it seems everyone has followed Samsung’s “camera island” design, so for a start this device moves that island to the side right up against the edge of the phone. Then there’s new colours, and a more simplified product lineup when compared to last year’s Galaxy S20.
Samsung Australia’s Garry McGregor says these devices are an important step for Samsung given our newfound reliance on connectivity after a difficult 2020 “The events of 2020 have changed us fundamentally. Mobile technology specifically, has been critical in facilitating connectedness, stability of work, education and foster self-expression. Mobile devices are today, more critical than ever.
With the Galaxy S21 range, there are three models that meet a multitude of personal preferences. With an advanced, pro-grade camera system, an exceptionally smooth, immersive display and the S21 Ultra with the most powerful battery of any S series device.
The Galaxy S21 and S21+ deliver everything you expect from a Galaxy device and have been designed for Aussies who want a sleek, bold and premium smartphone experience. Along with the incredible new design, there is an incredible camera experience – with pro-grade camera capabilities and new video innovations that will let you capture what matters most, with unbelievable ease and spectacular results.
The S21 Ultra is for those who demand the ultimate premium smartphone experience with cutting-edge technology. The S21 Ultra takes productivity and creativity up a notch by extending the incredibly popular S Pen experience to the Galaxy S series for the first time1.
The S21 introduces new camera features that make it easier than ever to capture share-ready moments. The innovative new Director’s View lets you shoot video with different lenses at the same time. And you can use Vlogger Mode to capture content with the front and back cameras simultaneously. For the first time, you can also record 4K video at 60fps with all camera lenses, and even record 8K footage in low-light environments with incredible quality².”
Having had a solid first look at all the features of the S21 range from Samsung, Here’s our highlights for those looking for an upgrade or to benchmark what they have now against something at the top of the game.
5G on every Samsung Galaxy S21
In 2020, the Samsung Galaxy S20 was available in several variants, both 4G and 5G, with the 5G versions coming in at a premium price.
For this new range in 2021, they’re all 5G and because the entry price is lower, that means in reality a huge saving on the previous model phone.
Specs show both sub6 and mmWave 5G support, however this could differentiate by region, so we’ve asked Samsung Australia to clarify which variants will land in Australia.
Three different Galaxy S21’s to choose from
There’s your bog-standard but feature rich Samsung Galaxy S21 which features a 6.2 inch screen, and a 4,000mAh battery.
With a 6.7 inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is a much bigger beast but carries much of the same camera technology as the standard S21, though with a 4,800mAh battery to power you through the day.
Coming in big with a 6.8 inch screen is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – what a mega smartphone. The 5,000mAh battery is huge, but so is the screen.
Each of them offer the faster 120Hz display if you should choose to enable it, and each of them have the same design style, though different colour options and materials are in use across the range.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra the king of smartphones
It’s almost ridiculous to think that the Galaxy S21 Ultra features improvements on what was a pretty impressive set of specs in the S20.
Here’s some highlights from the spec sheet of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
- 6.8 inch Edge QHD+ DYnamic AMOLED screen with Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
- Quad rear camera system, plus Laser Auto Focus sensor
- 108MP Wide Angle, 12MP Ultra Wide, 10MP Telephoto with 3x Optical zoom, and 10MP Telephoto with 10x Optical Zoom
- 100x “Space Zoom”
- Up to 16GB RAM and 512GB Storage.
- The newest WiFi 6E
Yep, that’s pretty impressive stuff. And if you’re just doing spec comparisons, good luck beating the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Using an S-Pen on your Galaxy S21 Ultra
Here’s where Samsung starts to muddy the waters of their product lineup and user base.
There is an optional case you can buy with an S Pen in it for storage, or just use the S Pen from your other Samsung device and you’ve turned your premium Galaxy S21 into the latest generation “Samsung Note” device.
This is genius, but also confusing, only in the sense that Samsung always directed that “note taking” audience to the Note device. Pure Note devotees will no doubt tell me why the Galaxy S21 Ultra is not suitable as a Note device, but perhaps that’s just the point, this is to entice a greater use of the S Pen among the mainstream audience.
Interestingly, Samsung cite their use of “Wacom’s Technology” in announcing this compatibility – I’ve not seen them refer to a third party like that when it comes to their Pen/Stylus interaction across other devices – or at least not as strongly.
8K Snap for photos from your best video
So you’re shooting an 8K video – great. Good news, it’s not recording at 60 frames per second, but also with 8K Snap you can grab a high resolution still after you’ve shot your video. No need to try to remember that while you video – you can do it from the camera roll after the fact.
Single Take gets a boost
I think Samsung’s Single Take feature is desperately under-rated and under-utilised. Rather than choosing photo, video, slow mo or effects, you choose Single Take and the camera takes about 15 seconds of video and then using the software analyses the results to produce a bunch of photos, videos and slow mos for you to use.
Single Take 2.0 features improvements to Single Take’s identification of the “moments” but also a new “Dynamic Slow-Mo” which speeds up and down the vision depending on the action detected by the AI on board.
Space Zoom not as difficult to see and use
If you’ve taken the Ultra to show off about the Zoom, you’ll know that at 100x Zoom it’s bloody hard to keep your subject in the screen to snap that shot.
Now, with improvements on the Samsung Galaxy S21 software, there’s enhanced stabilisation and a Zoom Lock which allows you to effectively freeze the frame to allow you to snap the photo you need.
With a shaky hand, even the 30x zoom is hard to use, but it’s amplified on the 100x zoom.
Galaxy S21 Director Mode – Use the best camera
So you’re shooting a video, but you’re thinking – would the 3x zoom lens be a better shot for this? Or perhaps the Ultra-Wide angle to capture more of the scene. With Director Mode, you can see ALL the lenses at the same time.
We haven’t tested it yet, but this seems like a handy tool for video shooting.
Shooting a Video? Choose your best Microphone
If you’ve perhaps mounted your camera on a tripod for a better shot while you record a lesson to camera, or a talk about something you’re making a video of, perhaps a performance, now with the Samsung Galaxy S21 range you have microphone choice. Pair a bluetooth device with Microphone and you can choose that as your audio source on the video.
So if you’re wearing Samsung Galaxy Buds headphones, they can be your microphone. Particularly handy when you’re a distance from the camera to ensure you’re getting the best audio possible.
4K Video with any lens
In a first for multi-camera smartphones, 4K Video shooting is available on every lens you choose on the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Pricing and Availability
Prices start at $1,249 for the S21, $1,549 for the S21+ and $1,849 for the S21 Ultra. They come in a range of colours, pre-orders start today, and they’re available from January 29.
Head to our full pricing page for all the details of the Prices and Colours for the Samsung Galaxy S21 in Australia.