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Samsung Galaxy S21 5G: Pros & Cons In-Depth You Can't Ignore

In the world of smartphones, Samsung has always been a major player, frequently pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation. The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G, first announced in January 2021, exemplifies this tradition of pioneering spirit. 

Its bold design and impressive specs make it one of the most intriguing smartphones of the year. This device has a solid structure, featuring a glass front, a plastic back, and an aluminum frame, compactly encased within the dimensions of 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm. It also boasts an IP68 dust and water resistance rating, making it a perfect companion for those with an adventurous lifestyle.

This sleek smartphone is powered by either an Exynos 2100 (5 nm) chipset for international users, or a Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm) for those in the USA and China. The 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is a treat for the eyes, with a screen-to-body ratio of 87.2%, a high resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels, and a refresh rate of 120Hz. However, just as every coin has two sides, the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G also has its strengths and weaknesses. In this post, we will delve into the pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G feature-packed device.

Pros and Cons of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Pros of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Sleek and Solid Design

Starting off with the pros of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G, the smartphone boasts a sleek and premium design that immediately catches the eye. Its glass front is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, one of the most advanced protective glasses available, making it highly resistant to scratches and accidental drops. The combination of the glass front, plastic back, and aluminum frame not only adds to the phone's aesthetics but also provides durability.

The phone's dimensions of 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm make it relatively compact and comfortable to hold, even with one hand. The slim profile and lightweight build, weighing just 169g, contribute to its portability, making it easy to carry around.

Moreover, the Galaxy S21 5G is rated IP68 dust and water-resistant, meaning it can withstand immersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. This level of protection gives users peace of mind when using the phone in wet or dusty environments.

Vibrant Display

Another advantage of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is that it features a stunning 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, which is one of the highlights of the phone. The display's high refresh rate of 120Hz ensures that content and animations appear ultra-smooth, making the overall user experience more enjoyable. Whether you're scrolling through social media, gaming, or watching videos, the display's responsiveness is evident.

With HDR10+ support and a peak brightness of 1300 nits, the Galaxy S21 5G delivers vibrant and rich colors, deep blacks, and enhanced contrast, resulting in a visually immersive experience. The screen's resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels provides crisp and sharp details, making it suitable for consuming high-definition content.

Powerful Performance

The Galaxy S21 5G offers two chipset options depending on the region: the Exynos 2100 for international markets and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G for the USA and China. Both chipsets are built on a 5nm process, ensuring improved performance and energy efficiency compared to their predecessors.

The Octa-core CPU configuration varies slightly between the Exynos and Snapdragon variants but, in both cases, consists of high-performance Cortex-X1 and Cortex-A78 cores for demanding tasks and power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores for lighter workloads. This configuration allows the phone to handle multitasking and resource-intensive applications with ease, as many customers have already pointed out.

For graphics-intensive tasks, the Mali-G78 MP14 (International) and Adreno 660 (USA/China) GPUs deliver excellent performance, making gaming and multimedia experiences smooth and enjoyable.

Excellent Camera System

The camera system on the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is one of the standout pros of the Galaxy S21, offering versatile shooting capabilities. The triple-lens rear camera setup includes a 12MP main camera, a 64MP telephoto camera with 3x hybrid zoom, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 120˚ field of view.

The main camera with a large f/1.8 aperture and Dual Pixel PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) ensures sharp and clear images even in low-light conditions. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) helps in reducing blurriness caused by hand movements during photography.

The telephoto camera with a 64MP resolution and 3x hybrid zoom enables users to get closer to the subject without compromising image quality. The hybrid zoom combines optical and digital zoom for detailed shots at varying distances.

The ultra-wide camera with a 120˚ field of view is perfect for capturing wide landscapes and group photos. It allows users to fit more into the frame, offering a different perspective for their shots.

The camera software, including features like Single Take mode, captures a series of photos and videos with just one tap, making it effortless to get the perfect shot. The Galaxy S21 5G also supports 8K video recording, allowing users to capture high-resolution videos.

Moreover, the Super Steady video feature ensures smooth and stable video recording even during fast movements or action sequences.

Good Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is equipped with a 4,000mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery, which provides a good balance of capacity and slim design. The battery life can comfortably last through a day of moderate to heavy usage, including calls, web browsing, social media, and multimedia consumption.

For charging convenience, the phone supports 25W wired charging and PD3.0, ensuring that the battery can be quickly topped up when needed. Additionally, the 15W wireless charging (Qi/PMA) capability allows users to charge their phone without having to plug in a cable. Many customer reviews offer mixed battery life stats depending on their type of usage, so it's worth checking out. 

The phone also supports 4.5W reverse wireless charging, enabling users to charge other compatible devices like earbuds or smartwatches by placing them on the back of the Galaxy S21 5G.

5G Connectivity

As a part of the Galaxy S21 series, the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G comes with 5G connectivity - would be really weird if it didn't with that name, wouldn't it? -. 5G is the latest generation of mobile network technology, offering significantly faster data speeds and lower latency compared to 4G. With 5G support, users can experience faster downloads, smoother video streaming, and improved network performance in areas with 5G coverage.

Feature-Rich Software

The Galaxy S21 5G runs on Android 11 with Samsung's One UI 3.0 out of the box, which provides a user-friendly and feature-rich interface. Samsung's One UI is known for its intuitive design and extensive customization options, allowing users to personalize their phone to suit their preferences.

The phone comes preloaded with various Samsung-exclusive features, including Samsung DeX and Samsung Wireless DeX, which allow users to transform their phone into a desktop-like experience by connecting it to a monitor. This feature is particularly useful for productivity tasks when you want a larger screen and keyboard.

Bixby, Samsung's virtual assistant, supports natural language commands and dictation, providing users with a convenient way to interact with their device hands-free.

Cons of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

No Expandable Storage

Starting off with the Galaxy S21 5G's cons we've got the fact that it lacks a microSD card slot, meaning users cannot expand the phone's storage beyond the internal options (128GB or 256GB). 

While the available internal storage options should be sufficient for many users, those who frequently store large media files, such as high-resolution videos or extensive music libraries, might find the lack of expandable storage limiting. Without the option to add additional storage via a memory card, users may need to rely on cloud storage or frequently manage their device's content to avoid running out of space.

Plastic Back

Despite the phone's premium look and feel, the back of the Galaxy S21 5G is made of plastic. While the front of the device features durable Gorilla Glass Victus, the plastic back is more susceptible to scratches and scuffs. 

Additionally, some users find that the plastic back doesn't offer the same premium aesthetic as glass or metal. Although Samsung used this design choice to reduce weight and potentially decrease costs, some users might prefer a more premium build with a glass back.

No 3.5mm Headphone Jack

The Galaxy S21 5G, like many modern smartphones - including the latest iPhone -, lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. This omission means users must either use wireless Bluetooth headphones or rely on USB Type-C or wireless audio adapters to connect traditional wired headphones. 

While Bluetooth audio has improved significantly over the years - and Samsung has some very impressive earbuds on sale -, some users may still prefer the reliability and simplicity of a wired headphone connection, especially if they have high-quality wired headphones they wish to use.

Limited Refresh Rate Options

Another disadvantage worth pointing out is that while the Galaxy S21 5G's display supports a 120Hz refresh rate, users do not have the option to adjust the refresh rate manually

The phone automatically switches between 120Hz and lower refresh rates based on the content displayed to save battery life. While this adaptive refresh rate is beneficial for battery optimization, some users may prefer having more control over their display settings. Other devices on the market allow users to manually set a specific refresh rate (e.g., 60Hz or 90Hz) for different scenarios.

Exynos vs. Snapdragon Variants

The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G comes in two chipset variants: one powered by the Exynos 2100 (used in international markets) and the other by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G (used in the USA and China). 

Historically, there have been performance differences between Exynos and Snapdragon variants, with some users reporting that Snapdragon-powered devices outperform their Exynos counterparts in certain tasks, such as gaming or power efficiency. This discrepancy can lead to mixed user experiences depending on their regional variant. However, these days you can find the variant you want with a bit of digging around

No 3D ToF Sensor

Unlike its more expensive sibling, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 5G does not include a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor

A ToF sensor provides depth-sensing capabilities, enabling features like more accurate facial recognition and enhanced augmented reality experiences. Its absence on the Galaxy S21 5G is a con that might result in slightly less precise depth detection for certain camera features and AR applications, though the primary camera system still delivers high-quality photos and videos.

No FM Radio on All Variants

The Galaxy S21 5G features an FM radio, but it is only available on the Snapdragon-powered models (market/operator dependent). 

This means that users who have the Exynos variant will miss out on this functionality. While streaming services and online media consumption are prevalent, some users still appreciate having access to a local FM radio for real-time news, music, and emergency broadcasts, especially in areas with limited internet connectivity.

Bixby and Samsung Software Pre-installed

Bixby may not be as widely adopted or feature-rich as other virtual assistants like Google Assistant, leading some users to disable it in favor of alternative options. Although some of this software can be disabled or hidden, users might prefer a more streamlined software experience without additional pre-loaded applications.

Verdict: Should You Buy It?

In conclusion, after digging through the pros and cons of the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G we see that the phone offers a remarkable balance of power, style, and innovative features that position it as a strong contender in the competitive smartphone market.

 The standout features such as the vibrant Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, robust processor, 5G connectivity, and a versatile camera setup make it a worthwhile choice for users seeking a premium smartphone experience. However, the absence of a memory card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with a plastic back cover, are some aspects that could be deal-breakers for some potential buyers.

Regardless of the cons, the Galaxy S21 5G presents significant value, especially when considering its competitive price point. Every smartphone has its strengths and weaknesses, and the S21 is no exception. Yet, its compelling features and performance make it a noteworthy device in its category. Ultimately, whether it's the right device for you will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.