The Samsung Galaxy S21 comes in three flavors – the Galaxy S21 5G, the Galaxy S21+ 5G, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. As a consumer, that’s great news and gives us choices based on our needs. Some of you may not need something as powerful or large as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, while others are perfectly happy choosing a smaller phone that actually fits in their hand. Hopefully, I can give you a little insight into which one might be best suited for you and maybe also save you a few bucks in the process.
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G
I’m grouping these two phones together because the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ aren’t as different as you’d think they are. In fact, they share many things in common and when it comes down to it, you’re paying extra for a larger display.
First, what’s the same? Internally, you’re getting a lot of the same specs on both versions. Both have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 with 8GB RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Both feature the same exact camera tech, so you’re getting a 12MP Ultra Wide Camera, 12MP Wide-Angle Camera, and a 64MP Telephoto Camera. You also get a 10MP Selfie Camera upfront. All four of these cameras have the same exact specifications on both devices. The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ can also do 8K video recording and 4K UHD recording. There’s much more that’s exactly the same between the two devices, but I mainly just listed what’s most important here.
So what’s different and what are you paying $200 extra for? The biggest difference here is the display size. While the regular Galaxy S21 5G has a 6.2″ flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, the Galaxy S21+ 5G has a 6.7″ FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. While larger, it still only has a resolution of 2400×1080 like the smaller one and both feature a 120Hz refresh rate. One curiosity though is that the smaller one has a higher ppi at 421, while the larger one tops out at 394ppi. That means that the smaller display is slightly denser and better than the larger one.
Another difference is with the material used on the back. The smaller Galaxy S21 5G uses a polycarbonate backplate while the larger Galaxy S21+ 5G uses Gorilla Glass Victus. In terms of look, it’s really hard to tell that the smaller one isn’t glass. The use of polycarbonate also makes the Galaxy S21 5G much lighter in weight.
Lastly, the battery sizes are different between the two phones, The smaller Galaxy S21 5G uses a 4000mAh battery while the larger Galaxy S21+ 5G uses a 4800mAh battery. Battery life however in real-world usage is probably pretty negligible here.
As you can see, the differences really aren’t that major between the two and you’re mainly paying an extra $200 for a slightly larger display, glass back, and larger battery. That’s pretty much it. If I were you, I’d actually recommend picking up the smaller of the two, the Galaxy S21 5G, and maybe paying a bit extra for more storage instead.
To me, the smaller one is a better value as it has everything the larger one has, is lighter, and easier to use one-handed. You can also pick this up for under $800, though I’ve seen it for much lower than this. That’s a fantastic price for a smartphone with a Snapdragon 888 and one that has 5G and is supported by all the carriers here.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Now, when it comes to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, you can’t really compare this phone to its siblings. This is a completely different animal that earns its “Ultra” designation. Basically, if you need to best of everything, you’re going to want to skip the Galaxy S21 5G and the Galaxy S21+ 5G, and go straight to the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. This phone will normally cost about $200-400 more than the other two phones, but you get a lot more for the price.
For starters, you’re getting a larger 6.8″ edge Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display with a resolution of 3200×1440. It has 515ppi and a 120Hz refresh rate. This is the best display Samsung has to offer right now and is a huge upgrade from the other two phones.
Next up are the cameras. On the rear, you’re going to find four cameras instead of three – 12MP UltraWide Camera, 108MP Wide-Angle Camera, 10MP 3x Telephoto Camera, and a 10MP 10x Telephoto Camera. You also get Space Zoom that tops out at 100x. Up front, you also get a 40MP Selfie Camera which again is more than the 10MP units on the other two phones.
Internally, we also see some differences over the other two phones. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G still has the same Snapdragon 888, but it’s matted to 12GB RAM instead of 8. You can also get up to 16GB RAM if you opt for the 512GB storage option. You also get a larger 5000mAh battery here. There are also some small differences that could go unnoticed, such as Bluetooth 5.2 instead of just Bluetooth 5, and the addition of a 6GHz Wi-Fi band (HE160).
Lastly, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is the only one of the three that is compatible with Samsung’s S-Pen technology. That means that the very same S-Pen that is used on the Galaxy Note series, can be used here on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
You can see now why the Ultra is priced the way that it is and that if you want the ultimate Galaxy S21 experience, you’ll want to get this one.
So Which Should You Buy?
You’re basically going to fall into two categories here. The first being that you need to get the best. You need the best performance, the best cameras, and the best screen. If that’s the case, you’re going to buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. There’s no arguing that. This is one of the best phones on the market right now in terms of everything I just mentioned as well as looks. There’s no other phone out there that looks like this right now and you’ll definitely get some attention rocking this phone.
If you’re in the second category and you are the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily need the highest amount of RAM or the biggest display out there, then in my opinion, the regular Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is your best choice. Sure it’s the smallest of the three and has a plastic back, but it also costs less than $800. It’s also the lightest of all three making it much easier to hold and put in your pockets. The display, while being smaller than the one on the Galaxy S21+, it actually has more pixels per inch so it’s going to look much better. Everything else on the phone is pretty much exactly the same as the Galaxy S21+. So because of this, I’d recommend saving yourself a few bucks and getting the smaller one. This way you can use that money towards either more storage and even a case if need be.
Now if you’re the type of person who just doesn’t care and just wants a new phone that looks cool, you’ll definitely get that with all three. Note that not all colors come in each model. The more colorful options are only available on the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+. The Galaxy S21 Ultra only comes in Phantom Black or Phantom Silver, unless purchased directly from Samsung in which case, you get three other options that are super dark colors.
Regardless, you can’t really go wrong with any of them, but I recommend either the cheapest of the three or the most expensive. This is where you really see the differences that you’re paying for.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Unlocked)
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ Plus 5G (Unlocked)
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Unlocked)
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