Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review: balance is key

Introduction

We tested the Samsung Galaxy S21 +. Compared to the smaller model in this series, it offers a glass back as well as a larger screen diagonal and a more substantial battery. Is this the formula likely to please the greatest number?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus dos

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S21 + // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + – or Galaxy S21 Plus – is the middle smartphone among its siblings. Technically very close to the smallest model, it has a template that approaches the largest variation. Does it therefore offer the best of both worlds or, on the contrary, does it not find its place in this 2021 vintage? Here is our full test to find out.

This test was performed with a model loaned by Samsung.

Our video review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 +

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Samsung Galaxy S21 + datasheet

Model Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
OS version Android 11
Manufacturer interface One UI
Screen size 6.7 inches
Definition 2400 x 1080 pixels
Pixel density 394 dpi
Technology Super AMOLED
SoC Exynos 2100
Graphics Chip (GPU) Mali-G78 MP14
Random access memory (RAM) 8 GB
Internal memory (flash) 128 GB, 256 GB
Camera (back) Sensor 1: 64 Mpx
Sensor 2: 12 Mpx
Sensor 3: 12 Mpx
Camera (front) 10 Mpx
Video recording 8K @ 30 fps
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.2
Supported bands 2100 MHz (B1), 800 MHz (B20), 1800 MHz (B3), 2600 MHz (B7), 700 MHz (B28)
5G Yes
NFC Yes
Fingerprint sensor Under the screen
Ports (inputs / outputs) USB Type-C
Battery 4800 mAh
Dimensions 75.6 x 161.4 x 7.8mm
Weight 202 grams
Colors Black, Silver, Purple
Price 1059 €
Product sheet

The younger brother, well in the middle

The Galaxy S21 + may only be the youngest of its three-smartphone sibling, but it’s still a big guy. At just one inch smaller in diagonal than the Ultra model, it’s not for people looking for a device where the entire screen is accessible with their thumb.

However, it is very different from the S21 Ultra in many ways. The Galaxy S21 + has a flat screen and therefore more angular finishes than its big brother. Add to that a considerably less weight of 202 grams – it’s not a feather either – and you have two sensations in your hand that are not at all alike. Objectively speaking, it would be hard to determine which one is the best, but I think everyone will prefer one or the other of these designs. If you are not sure what your tastes are in this area, feel free to pick up the phone in a store if you have the chance to get a feel for it.

Samsung Galaxy S21 et S21+

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + is really the big brother of the classic Galaxy S21 // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Regardless, overall the Galaxy S21 + is very well finished, very well balanced. The matt glass back offers a pleasant satin feel under your fingertips, while the rear metal photo module that wraps around the upper left edge protrudes only slightly in relief. A good point. Aesthetically, it is therefore extremely similar to the classic S21 , with the difference that the latter is dressed in polished plastic for greater lightness.

The rest is fairly classic and reminds us that Samsung did not seek to revolutionize its fashion on this generation, but rather to validate achievements. We thus find a discreet punch in the screen and a fingerprint reader placed in the panel. Small problem that does not appear on the Ultra, however: the volume keys on the left – above the unlock button – are difficult to reach with the thumb, not practical for increasing the sound.

Samsung Galaxy S21 et S21+

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21 + // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

MicroSD jack and drawer do not answer the call, unlike the USB-C port, IP68 certification and dual nanoSIM slot.

A beautiful 120 Hz screen to adjust

The Galaxy S21 + deserves its “plus” suffix. With a diagonal of 6.7 inches, it does not play in the backyard of the little ones. OLED display and Full HD + definition (not beyond) are present alongside the adaptive 120 Hz mode which brings great fluidity to the user experience.

Samsung is very good at designing smartphone screens and this model does not lack this reputation. We thus have perfect contrast and a very high maximum brightness, rising to 790 cd / m² according to our observations. Even under a blazing sun, readability will not be threatened. Then, as usual with South Korean devices, there are two modes for color management: vivid and natural.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + seen from the front // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

The first, configured by default, allows you to enjoy a very wide range of tones with color spaces covered at 201% for the sRGB and 135% for the DCI-P3, which is larger and therefore more complicated to manage. To enjoy your movies and series pleasantly, it is a delight. Alas, this is done at the expense of fidelity to reality.

In fact, on the DCI-P3, the average Delta E is measured at 5.78 by our probe and the CalMan software from Portrait Displays. However, for colors that are faithful to reality, we aim more for an index of around 3. In this mode, the Galaxy S21 + meets above all shows a large gap on red – sacrificed in favor of the dominant blue – and flesh colors. . The average temperature is around 7090 K in this configuration.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ écran mode vif

In vivid mode, the Samsung Galaxy S21 + offers an average Delta E of 5.78 on the DCI-P3 // Source: Frandroid

You may prefer the natural mode, more faithful to reality with a Delta E at 4.45 on the DCI-P3 and a temperature of around 6600 K. But this option makes the colors a little dull with a DCI- P3 covered at only 77% and sRGB at 114%. The retina is much less flattered.

As always, we recommend using the vivid mode by adjusting the temperature slider one notch to incorporate a bit of red for better balance.

No bad surprises on One UI

Nothing has changed in terms of interface compared to the classic Galaxy S21. One UI 3.1 is therefore at work and is based on Android 11. Everything is very intuitive with a great slew of options and customizations, but we regret the absence of Google’s power menu and also the presence of certain applications installed by default.

The lowering of the interaction elements for ease of use with one hand is quite relevant on the Galaxy S21 + which, remember, is not a small smartphone. Beyond that, we always appreciate the dark mode, the navigation by gestures, the native screen recorder and all those features that contribute to the success of One UI.

Note that here too the in-screen fingerprint reader is really effective. A very good point for Samsung, which has not always been convincing in this area. Finally, for your SVoD content, you will obviously be entitled to HD quality thanks to the Widevine L1 DRM.

Excellent audio quality

With a speaker at the bottom and a speaker at the top of the screen, less efficient, also serving for calls, the Galaxy S21 + offers good audio quality with powerful sound, but not always very well balanced.

On the deepest bass, limits can be felt while the higher tones can crackle a bit if you turn the volume up. With headphones, the smartphone is very pleasant, thanks in particular to the Dolby Atmos option, but also to the native equalizer which allows you to fine-tune your listening according to your profile and your preferences.

A good main photo sensor

We can tackle the photo part here and, once again, this is the occasion to remind that the Galaxy S21 + is largely identical to the S21. At least, that’s not where he sets himself apart from his little brother. There is indeed a rear module made up of three sensors:

  • 12 megapixel main sensor;
  • 64-megapixel sensor for zoom, 8K videos and better-defined photos;
  • 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle.

So it’s no surprise that the two smartphones offer exactly the same photo experience.

Samsung Galaxy S21 et S21+

The Galaxy S21 and S21 + have the same photo block // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

We are therefore not going to discuss at length the capabilities of the Galaxy S21 + in this area. You can find the part dedicated to the photo in the test of Galaxy S21 for more details. If not, here’s a quick summary of what to remember.

The main sensor of the smartphone is really very effective, day and night, to produce well-defined shots with good colorimetry and a nice sharpness. Samsung takes good care of its copy.

Note that the scene optimizer enabled by default automatically forces night mode when it deems it necessary.

On zoom, the phone does quite well despite the odd system it uses – the same as on the S20 generation. This is not optical magnification, but a zoom digitally managed by the 64 megapixel sensor. Samsung promises that, thanks to its algorithms, there is no degradation in the image up to x3.

However, it feels like the device is not at all as versatile as the impressive Galaxy S21 Ultra and its 10x optical zoom that cannot be digitally imitated at the moment. We retain a positive point that said, colorimetric consistency with the main sensor is well managed here. In low light, however, this is not the best solution if you want to enjoy a good level of detail.

Ultra wide-angle is interesting for capturing more elements in the scene with well-attenuated distortion, but it suffers from two visible flaws. There is no good color consistency here and at night the images produced are unfortunately not level.

The portrait mode is very good, precise in the bokeh effect and therefore perfect for highlighting your subject.

On the selfie side, the 10 megapixel front sensor takes sharp photos when it takes advantage of good light conditions. In low light or when suffering from backlighting, it encounters more difficulty in offering a precise rendering or well exposed, without ever being catastrophic.

Finally, when it comes to video, the Galaxy S21 + shows similar limitations to the S21 and that’s a shame. On stabilization for example, it is very far from the expected quality. Sharpness, too – in 1080p, 4K or 8K – is not polished well enough. Here, too, the S21 Ultra shows that it is a league above the S21 and S21 +.

Fortnite is a problem for the Exynos

This is the same Exynos 2100 found on all Galaxy S21s. Engraved in 5 nanometers, this chip offers very high level performance and can even compete with the overpowered Snapdragon 888 of the Xiaomi Mi 11. As we can see in the benchmarks below, the Galaxy S21 + is far from being ridiculous.

Note all the same that Qualcomm’s SoC is a step above the exercises related to the graphics part.

Model Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Samsung Galaxy S21 Xiaomi Mi 11
AnTuTu 8 631182 647131 701270
AnTuTu CPU 180234 178483 193721
AnTuTu GPU 258444 268720 311081
AnTuTu MEM 108498 115695 99107
AnTuTu UX 84006 84233 97361
PC Mark 2.0 12884 12466 12746
3DMark Slingshot Extreme N / C 8216 N / C
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Graphics N / C 11129 N / C
3DMark Slingshot Extreme Physics N / C 4288 N / C
3DMark Wild Life 5679 5843 5805
3DMark Wild Life medium framerate 34 FPS 35 FPS N / C
GFXBench Aztec Vulkan / Metal high (onscreen / offscreen) 38/29 FPS 38/31 FPS 44/31 FPS
GFXBench Car Chase (onscreen / offscreen) 53/63 FPS 54/66 FPS 60/70 FPS
GFXBench Manhattan 3.0 (onscreen / offscreen) 118/163 FPS N / C 118/170 FPS
Sequential read / write 1615/1018 Mb / s 1868/1300 Mb / s 1490/733 Mb / s
Random read / write 80760/71572 IOPS 78431/72742 IOPS 63547/65922 IOPS

See more benchmarks

This is confirmed by Fortnite . The game from Epic Games does indeed cough a bit on the Galaxy S21 + in Epic mode at 60 fps. However, these concerns do not at all hamper the gaming experience on the Mi 11 equipped with the S888 with the same configuration on the game.

In summary, the Exynos 2100 chip does play in the big leagues, but it would benefit from improving its score on greedy games.

Solid autonomy, but recharging too slow

With its 4800 mAh battery associated with the Exynos 990, the Galaxy S21 + offers, like the other models in this range, a good autonomy. While it is not necessarily as solid on its bearings as the Ultra version, it can hold you serenely all day long with fairly active use.

So chain the various applications, even keeping the screen set to 120 Hz adaptive mode, the smartphone will not rush to 0% battery. Like its little brother the classic S21, it will remain a bit tight for the two-day Grand Slam in normal use.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus en main

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + in hand // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

As a guide, know for example that the Galaxy S21 + withstands our ViSer personalized test protocol for 11 hours and 32 minutes. This easily ranks him among the good performers, without being a crack.

You won’t find a magazine in the box, I don’t really need to reiterate that detail. Be aware, however, that it supports charging power of up to 25 W. That’s not a lot for this price bracket. Competing brands are now offering much more impressive solutions.

With this power, you will need a good hour and a half to go from 10 to 100%. It’s long, too long for a smartphone of this caliber. Wireless charging – reversed or not – is part of the game.

Samsung Galaxy S21 + Network and Communication

I could copy and paste what we wrote for the Galaxy S21 in terms of network and communications. The Galaxy S21 + benefits from the same qualities in this area. It is 5G and Wi-Fi 6 compatible, works on all French 4G frequency bands and is excellent on calls by transmitting your voice perfectly.

Moreover, on the geolocation side, no dysfunction can be reported.

and availability of Samsung Galaxy S21 +

The Samsung Galaxy S21 + is sold in France at the recommended price of 1059 euros for the version equipped with 128 GB of storage. Go up to 1109 euros for the 256 GB one.

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