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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Saving the best for last

The Galaxy S21 flagship smartphone series is out. But make no mistake, Samsung only wants you to buy this one: the Galaxy S21 Ultra. While the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ have sprinkles of compromises here and there, the Galaxy S21 Ultra features the best-of-the-best from Samsung.

It’s hard to not notice or appreciate the all-new, iconic Contour Cut Camera design and the sophisticated haze finish of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Let’s not forget the gorgeous Phantom Black and Phantom Silver colourways. Phantom Black, specifically, is so important to Samsung, that the company spent an entire segment at its Unpacked presentation to talk about it.

Complementing the new hues is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, the toughest Gorilla Glass yet on any smartphone.

The head-turner also features the best screen—a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with Quad HD+ resolution and adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. The screen automatically adjusts refresh rate from 10Hz to 120Hz depending on the content you’re viewing to find the balance of power efficiency and best image quality.

The screen is also 25 per cent brighter than the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+, with up to 1,500nits of peak brightness. Like its siblings, the Galaxy S21 Ultra display has Eye Comfort Shield to help reduce eye fatigue.

In terms of optics, the Galaxy S21 Ultra goes several notches up on its lower rung siblings. It gets a quad rear camera system headlined by an upgraded 108MP sensor. It can capture 12-bit HDR photos with 64x richer colour data and more than 3x wider dynamic range, as well as the option to capture 12-bit RAW.

For the first time ever on a Galaxy smartphone, you can shoot 4K at 60fps across all lenses, including the front.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra features 100x Space Zoom, although no longer a new feature, is now powered by Samsung’s first-ever Dual-tele lens system. It comprises one optical 3x and one optical 10x lens, both equipped with Dual Pixel AF.

Expect better night and low-light photography too with the camera’s improved Bright Night sensor and improved Night Mode. Improved noise reduction and 12MP Nona-binning technology also ensures low-light shots are properly exposed and crisp.

Connectivity-wise, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the first smartphones to support Wi-Fi 6E. It also supports 5G (NSA/SA, sub6). Like the Galaxy S21, its ultra-wideband (UWB) support enables you to do various things such as automatically unlock compatible car doors without keys, drop virtual messages using AR finder, locate other Galaxy smartphones or non-connected items with Galaxy SmartTag attached.

Galaxy S21 Ultra also boasts Dual Bluetooth technology that helps devices such as Galaxy Buds Pro consumer less battery with a more stable connection.

Under the hood, the flagship device packs either a 5nm Exynos 2100 processor or a 5nm Snapdragon 888 processor depending on region/market.

The top-of-the-line silicon is mated to either 12GB LPDDR5 RAM with 256GB of storage or 16GB LPDDR5 RAM with 512GB of internal storage.

A massive 5,000mAh battery ensures all-day usage, which supports USB PD 3.0 certified Fast Charging for wired charging and Fast Wireless Charging 2.0.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra runs OneUI 3 based on Android 11.

What you won’t find on the device and in-box: headphone jack, earphones and power brick.

One more thing: the Galaxy S21 Ultra now supports the S Pen! Samsung introduced a new S Pen as well as S Pen Pro, an optional USD40 extra.

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Pricing and availability

The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts from USD1,199 and is available in-store starting 29 January 2021.

By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of Vernonchan.com. A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.