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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra debuts with serious camera chops and a $1200 price tag

By Nadeem Sarwar January 14, 2021, 10:05 am
Galaxy S21 ultra

Samsung has just launched its camera-centric flagship – the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The priciest member of the Galaxy S21 series is big, bold, and brimming with features that help it stand out from the standard Galaxy S21 or the S21+. Starting with the design, the Galaxy S21 Ultra opts for a more pixel-dense curved panel and has a much larger camera island. Plus, it comes with support for the S Pen stylus that will be sold separately but doesn’t dock inside a slot akin to the Galaxy Note series phones. 

Starting with the display, the Galaxy S21 Ultra packs a 6.8-inch WQHD+ (3200×1440 pixel) Dynamic AMOLED 2x panel with HDR10+ certification and a centered hole-punch. Notable, the screen offers a peak 120Hz refresh rate, but it can dynamically adjust itself between 10Hz and 120Hz based on the on-screen content. Additionally, users can operate it at a 120Hz refresh rate setting without downgrading it from the native WQHD+ resolution. 


Inside, it is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100 SoC, ticking alongside 12GB or 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of onboard storage. But one area where the Galaxy S21 Ultra truly stands tall above its siblings is its imaging hardware, which consists of four rear cameras sitting alongside a laser autofocus sensor.

Galaxy S21 Ultra on a phone stand

The main camera uses a 108MP sensor, while wide-angle photography is handled by a 12MP camera. There are two 10MP telephoto cameras – the first one provides 3x optical zoom output, while the second one relies on a periscope system to deliver 10x optical zoom output. You also get a 100X Space Zoom facility. On the front, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy S21 Ultra with a beefy 40MP selfie camera.

The main 108MP camera performs 9-in-1 Nonacell Pixel Binning to output 12MP shots, but you can capture full 108MP resolution photos as well. It can also click 12-bit HDR photos that retain more color information and dynamic range. Another major upgrade is that all four rear cameras as well as the front camera can now record 4K videos at 60fps frame rate. Plus, the wide-angle camera can capture 12-bit RAW files when Pro Mode is enabled, offering users more control while editing images. 

Samsung claims to have vastly improved the night mode performance on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and is also offering some useful tricks as well. For example, when you go beyond 30x zoom, locking the focus becomes increasingly difficult, and even minor movements result in a blurry photo. To counter that, there is a zoom focus lock button that automatically locks the focus on the subject, letting users capture a stable shot. Additionally, if you zoom in on a 108MP photo, an on-screen button will let you extract a crop from that file and saves it as another image. 

Galaxy S21 Ultra with s-pen

Another special feature that is available on the Galaxy S21 Ultra (and S21+) is support for Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. UWB opens the doors for conveniences such as unlocking a car with your phone and helping find a lost device. Plus, it is the only member of the Galaxy S21 family to support the new and improved WiFi 6E standard. A 5,000mAh battery keeps the lights on, complete with support for wireless as well as reverse wireless charging. 

How much do you pay for Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra?

The Galaxy S21 Ultra comes in Phantom Black and Phantom Silver colors, and it starts at $1,199.99. Pre-orders for the device are available now, and it will be up for grabs starting January 14 from carrier partners, retail outlets, and Samsung’s official website. Additionally, Samsung.com will exclusively sell Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown color options of the device. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specifications:

Display6.8-inch Curved WQHD+
Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Infinity-O Display
3200×1440 pixels
515ppi pixel density
HDR10+ certified
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (10~120Hz)
Eye Comfort Shield
Rear Cameras108MP wide camera
(Phase Detection AF, OIS, F1.8, 0.8μm)
12MP ultra-wide camera
(Dual Pixel AF, FOV, 120°, F2.2, 1.4μm)
10MP primary telephoto camera
(Dual Pixel AF, 3x optical zoom, OIS, F2.4, 1.22μm)
10MP secondary telephoto camera
(Dual Pixel AF, 10x optical zoom, OIS, F4.9, 1.22μm)
100x Space Zoom
Laser autofocus sensor
Front Camera40MP
(Phase Detection AF, FOV 80°, F2.2, 0.7 μm)
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 888
Exynos 2100
Storage128GB / 256GB / 512GB
USB PD 3.0 Fast Charging
Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
Wireless Power Share
UWB supportYes
WiFi 6E
SoftwareAndroid 11


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