Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G Review

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G Review

Better than the S21 but not quite as good as the S21 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (also spelt S21+) is the middle model. If you want a phone that’s affordable but still new and mostly an upgrade from the S20, you’d go for the S21 model. If you wanted all the bells and whistles available, you’d go for the S21 Ultra with the highest specs. So, does that leave any one out there who would buy the Samsung Galaxy S21+?

4 out of 5 stars

Pros

  • Sleek design and colours
  • Fast processor and 120Hz display
  • Larger screen
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons

  • No extra-large capacity option (and no MicroSD expansion)
  • Screen resolution could be better
  • Not much improvement over the S21 model

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Full Review

Released as part of the full S21 series in January 2021, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is a decent phone. It has all the features you need, including a great refresh rate and very decent battery. The main downfall of this phone is that many of the features are not much of an improvement over the S21 model… or the S20 Plus model from the series before.

In this smartphone review of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, we’ll cover the main features of this flagship phone as well as some key areas to look out for. You’ll also find an in-depth look at the system, battery life and camera specs, as well as a comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus model.

Main Features

We are reviewing the entire Samsung S21 line up, as well as a handful of past models, so here are the main features you need for easy comparison. This is where the Galaxy S21 Plus fits in.

  • Released: January 2021
  • Weight: 200g
  • Dimensions: 16.15 x 7.56 x 0.78cm
  • Display: 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • System: Exynos 2100 processor with Android 11
  • Cameras: Dual rear 12MP cameras, rear 64MP telephoto camera, front 10MP camera
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB, 8GB RAM

Besides larger dimensions for the phone and display, plus a slightly heavier feel, the main features of the 21+ and 21 are virtually identical.

Three other key features that Samsung are pushing for this model include:

Key Feature – Samsung.com Exclusive Colours

The overall design of the S21 series is a good step up from the S20. Gone are the pastel Cloud shades and incoming are these sleeker, modern Phantom shades. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is available in violet, black and silver. Violet is our favourite, as the two-toned colours give it a unique feel that’s not ‘girly’ in the slightest.

With the S21 Plus model, you also have the choice of gold and red, but only if you buy it directly from Samsung.com.

The phantom pink colour is not available for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.

Key Feature – Larger Display

The display screen sizes for the S21 series are as follows:

  • S21 – 6.2-inches
  • S21+ - 6.7-inches
  • S21 Ultra – 6.8-inches

So initially, the S21+ seems to have the largest jump in screen size. You definitely notice the difference more when comparing the S21+ to the S21, rather than the S21 Ultra. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the display is better.

Yes, it’s half an inch larger… but the resolution and refresh rate are both exactly the same. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus also has the Flat FHD+ that the S21 has, rather than the superior QHD that’s found on the S21 Ultra and S20 Plus. That’s right. The Plus model from the previous series has better screen resolution.

Why have Samsung done this to one of the key features of the phone? Likely because it encourages S20 Plus owners to immediately jump to the higher spec (and therefore more expensive) model, rather than choosing the S21 Plus.

There’s also a trend with the S21 series in general to leave out some good features to bring the price down all together (e.g., no MicroSD card support and ‘glasstic’ design), which could also explain the lower quality screen.

It’s important to note, however, that just because the screen isn’t as improved as we’d hoped, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good! On the contrary, the display is pretty great. Just not as great as it could be.

Key Feature – 5G

Just like the S21 model that we reviewed, 5G compatibility is a something Samsung are really pushing. They’ve made all their phones in this series 5G compatible and there are no 4G-only options.

You can read more about our thoughts on Samsung’s 5G performance in our Samsung Galaxy S21 review.

The main takeaway for the S21+ 5G, is that the larger battery can handle the demanding 5G connection a little easier than the lower S21 model.

Display and Screen Size

  • Display: Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • Screen Size: 6.7 inches
  • Resolution: 2400 x 1080
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz

We’ve already given you a good idea of how the display and screen size stacks up to related Samsung Galaxy models, but when we look at it without comparing it, a different story emerges.

Despite the FHD+ rather than the QHD, and despite the lower resolution, it’s still impressively sharp, bright and vibrant. The 120Hz refresh rate is still impeccably fast and combined with the larger display size, this is a great phone for gamers and binge-watchers.

The Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and IP68 waterproof rating are worth noting too – this is not an overly fragile phone.

Battery Life

  • Energy: 4800mAh
  • Performance: unknown playback times

The battery is good. Actually, it’s one of the best things about this phone! Without doubt, the advantage of having a larger phone is that it can fit a larger battery. The 4800mAh will last you all day long, even with the 5G, 120Hz refresh rate, and all your apps firing away.

There’s nothing to really complain about here.

If you like the processor and software features of the S21 but are worried that the battery won’t be able to cope with heavy use, then the S21 Plus is the solution. The same specs and performance but with enough juice to last all day long.

Memory & Performance

  • Processor: Exynos 2100 (or Snapdragon 888 in the US)
  • Operating System: Android 11
  • Storage: 128GB or 256GB
  • RAM: 8GB

One of the many reasons that people choose a more expensive model from a series is because there just isn’t enough storage space on the lowest model. But this is a bit of a problem with the S21 Plus. While it has a bigger battery than the S21, the processor, storage capacity and RAM are all identical.

Overall, the performance is great regardless. It’s a fast and responsive phone with a powerful processor that can handle near anything a gamer or videographer can throw at it. The only issue is, there may not be enough space.

Think carefully about whether 256GB is enough for you, especially as you cannot expand the capacity with a MicroSD card.

Cameras

  • Rear Camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.8)
  • Rear Camera: 12MP ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2)
  • Rear Camera:64MP telephoto (ƒ/2.0)
  • Front Camera: 10MP selfie camera (ƒ/2.2)

Seem familiar? Yes, you guessed it. The camera specs (and camera software) for the S21+ and S21 are the same. They’re not a huge upgrade on the S20+ either.

Nonetheless, you can take clear, crisp and bright photos with this phone. The new photography features (including 8K videos) are impressive too. Portrait, night mode and single take modes are great, in particular. A novice photographer would certainly be impressed, and your holiday photos are all going to be gems.

But bear in mind, Samsung have saved the best photography features and camera specs for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Check out our review of that if the cameras are the main reason you’re looking into the S21 series.

How does it compare to the Galaxy S20 Plus?

They are very similar! The main differences come down to the design (the entire S21 series is sleeker with matte textures and phantom shades) and battery/processor, which are both improved and expanded compared to the S20 Plus model. The finger scanner has been upgraded and is faster on the S21 Plus too.

While they both have the same camera specs, with slightly different aperture, the S21 Plus is far superior with software and photography features.

On the other hand, the screen resolution of the S20 Plus was actually higher – although you’d struggle to notice this unless you held them side by side.

So, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is definitely an improvement over the S20 Plus model, but it’s not as huge a jump as you’d expect.

Conclusion – Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus?

This is a great phone. Full stop. If you purchased it, we’re confident that you wouldn’t be disappointed. The performance is fast, the battery is capable, and the screen size is just right for most people. However, when comparing it to the full S21 series, it becomes apparent that it’s not a huge upgrade from the S20 Plus and lacks several excellent features on the S21 Ultra. It’s up to you whether you think the cost of the S21+ is worth it, when you consider what else Samsung have on offer.

Click here to find and compare Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus prices