The galaxy S21 ultra is Samsung's hottest new flagship with some pretty standout features. The galaxy S21 ultra has an elegant design that is pretty familiar for a Samsung flagship, the back is made from curved gorilla glass which tapers into the aluminum frame you get gorilla glass victus covering the display for extra protection and the device has IP68 rated waterproofing too. The S21 ultra is a bit hefty, but it's manageable. We like the matte finish on the back which feels great in the hand and helps to mask smudges and fingerprints. The S21 series signature design element is a metal camera bump that wraps around the edge and folds into the frame, on the ultra this brings even more emphasis to its impressive quad camera setup.

Let's go over some of the features you'll find on the S21 ultra which make it stand out starting with the curved display. The S21 ultra has a 6.8 inch dynamic amoled screen with a punch hole cutout for the selfie camera, besides its curvature it stands out by offering a high QHD resolution together with a fast 120hertz refresh rate. Last year's S20 series phones would end up dialing down from QHD to 1080p if you enabled 120 hertz. The refresh rate here is adaptive to your content when you're touching the screen or scrolling you get that super smooth effect and then depending on the situation the S21 ultra screen can dial back to as low as 10 hertz to save energy. As far as the picture quality goes this is pretty much the best oled screen, we've tested to date with a pixel density of 515 ppi the picture is clear and sharp and you get vivid colors and inky blacks colors can be tuned to great accuracy in settings and you get HDR10 plus support too. The brightness here is incredible as well we measured a maximum of about 460 nits with the slider and the phone can boost this to 1020 nits in auto mode if you're out in bright sun. One unique feature here on the S21 ultra is support for an S pen stylus which before you'd only find on a galaxy note phone, however you need to buy it separately and there's no built-in holder for it on the phone itself, though you could find a case that can do that for you. You get all of the basic on-screen features that you'd get on a note phone including taking notes, drawing, accessing quick shortcuts and taking advanced screenshots. You don't get any of the Bluetooth functions for now though these will be supported by the upcoming S pen pro. 

 Another feature you'll find on the S21 ultra is excellent battery life, this isn't exactly something Samsung is known for, but this year they're turning over a new leaf the S21 ultra has a 5000 milliamp hour battery just like last year's model however battery life is way better this time around the S21 ultra scored an excellent endurance rating of 114 hours in our battery life tests, but as you may have heard Samsung has turned over a new leaf as far as charging goes too. You won't get a charging adapter in the box so you'd have to find one separately. There is support for 25 watt wired charging and with this sort of adapter, we were able to go from zero to 54 in half an hour. There's also support for 10 watt wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. The S21 ultra is the first phone to offer support for the new 
Wi-Fi 6e which can offer lower network latency in the 6 gigahertz band.

Finally let's go over the S21 ultra's unique camera setup. It has a 108 megapixel main camera, a 12 megapixel ultra wide with autofocus and two zoom lenses, a 10 megapixel ten times folded periscope zoom and a traditional 10 megapixel three times telephoto both with dual pixel autofocus and ois plus there's a 40 megapixel quad-bayer front-facing camera with autofocus an upgrade over the 10 megapixel unit found on the other S21 models. From the main camera 12 megapixel photos taken during the day are excellent in nearly every respect. We do feel that they are a bit over sharpened though. 12 megapixel shots from the ultra wide are good too but not great you get nice colors and dynamic range, but these appear to be over processed and you lose out on some detail because of that. Since the ultra wide has autofocus you can use it to take close up macro style shots too, these are lovely with plenty of detail and nice colors. Zoom shots from the 10 megapixel three times telephoto are upscaled to 12 megapixels, these are okay with low noise and nice dynamic range but again we found them over processed. The 10 times zoom camera also upscales its photos to 12 megapixels and we felt the same way about these too, you get great dynamic range but average detail and you can see processing artifacts here and there. Surprisingly low light photos from the main cam are merely okay, the level of detail is not quite at the level of the S20 ultra or even the galaxy S21. But with night mode we're back in flagship territory with this on the results are great the highlights and shadows are restored and you get much more detail and much lower noise, at night the ultra wide camera is not so hot but though quality isn't impressive normally turn on night mode and you get some good results. Low light shooting with the telephoto cameras is possible if it isn't too dark and the results are decent from both with accurate colors and low noise. Night mode helps the three times telephoto a lot, bringing you quality that's just as great as the main cameras but night mode is not so useful on the 10 times telephoto, it improves exposure but unless you stabilize the phone somehow you'd probably end up with a blurry result. Selfie photos come out in a cropped 5 megapixels by default but you can opt for a wider 10 megapixel photo overall these are among the best we've seen from a smartphone. As far as video recording goes 4k footage shot at 30fps is very good, across all of the cameras including the selfie camera. The videos are not the sharpest for a flagship but in all other respects they are excellent. So overall we like the S21 ultra's cameras they're quite versatile and the hardware is solid. It's just the processing that appears to be a bit off if you're pixel peeping. Hopefully Samsung tweaks that through software updates. 

Now let's see what else the S21 ultra has to offer these features are pretty much shared with the rest of the S21 series. You get an ultrasonic fingerprint reader which is upgraded over last year's models. It's a lot more responsive and the target area is larger. For audio there was a pair of stereo speakers, it's a hybrid setup with one bottom firing speaker and the earpiece acting as the second one, loudness is very good and you get good sound quality too with nice vocals and high notes. There isn't much in the way of base though, if you want to plug in headphones you won't find a 3.5 millimeter jack here. You'll need to connect wirelessly or use a usb c dongle and another thing you won't find on any of the S21 phones is a microsd slot though you can get 128,256 or 512 gigs on board. The S21 series phones come with one of two cutting edge chip sets depending on the region either a snapdragon 888 or an exynos 2100 both with support for 5g connectivity. Our S21 ultra has 12 gigs of ram though you can get up to 16. In cpu benchmarks the ultra does a nice job scoring better than last year's exynos model though, it isn't a huge improvement over the alternative snapdragon 865 and gpu-wise the S21 ultra offers flagship grade performance though, this does fall behind a bit in direct comparisons due to it's high resolution screen, regardless though we were happy with the ultra everyday tasks felt lightning fast and we didn't experience any thermal throttling while gaming.

Finally let's go over the interface of the S21 ultra. It's Samsung's one ui 3.1 based on android 11. it integrates quite a few features from the new android there are also a few tweaks here and there, one change you'll see directly on the home screen is that one ui 3.1 provides a google feed panel instead of Samsung daily and if you pull down the notification shade it will cover the whole screen now with no gap beneath. You have access to notification history and settings too in case you accidentally deleted something important and you can now pin your favorite apps to the top of your share options for easy access. There are some new changes to the lock screen too the default shortcuts are now monochrome and you have access to the well-being widget without having to unlock your phone. 

So  the galaxy S21 ultra is a phone that is in many ways groundbreaking. It has the best amoled screen we've seen on a phone yet, excellent battery life especially for a Samsung flagship, S pen stylus support and support for the new Wi-Fi 6e plus you have a brand new flagship chipset an elegant and durable build, stereo speakers and a super versatile camera setup. The only things we're really missing here are expandable storage a headphone jack and a charging adapter but these things are gone. Samsung decided we don't need them and they're probably not coming back that's the future. Also even though we like the cameras they could definitely be better with less heavy-handed processing and hopefully Samsung will make some changes through software updates. Overall Samsung has succeeded in making this year's flagship feel like a cutting-edge device and if keeping up with the newest tech is something that you're after and price isn't an issue the S21 ultra deserves a recommendation.

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