S21 Ultra Lead 2
Image Credit: Vaibhav Pradip

With a larger focus on working remotely and even distance learning, consumer tech took a whole new focus in our lives. This effect wasn’t just felt by the consumer, it was felt by the brands too.

“2020 was a year of change, and the role of smartphone has been more crucial than ever in helping us stay connected. Since the pandemic started, people are spending more time with their mobile devices. At the same time, their desire to stay connected is stronger than ever” says Osman Albora, Senior Director, Mobile Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics.

Samsung saw their position in the smartphone market in the UAE grow to 39.2% in 2020, an increase of 3.2 % YOY. The company also yesterday launched their latest Galaxy S21 series here in the UAE, a whole month earlier than every other year.When asked about this, Osman replied “People are spending more time than ever before on their phones, quickly becoming an essential tool. Innovation hasn’t slowed. In fact, we have accelerated our new innovations so consumers can benefit now. That’s why we’re bringing Galaxy S21 to consumers earlier”.

Samsung Osman
Osman Albora, Senior Director, Mobile Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics. Image Credit: Supplied

Samsung S21 Series

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series constitutes the flagship S21 Ultra, the S21+ and the S21. This year all three phones come with the brand’s new contour cut design and Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 5nm processor. The S21 Ultra this year (for the first time ever) brings S-Pen support along with a 108MP quad camera setup with 100X zoom, a 5000mAh battery, 5G and an updated Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.8” display.

While the S21 Ultra has a lot of upgrades compared to it’s underwhelming predecessor from 2020, the S21+ and S21 this year come with incremental upgrades but at a slightly lower release price compared to their predecessors last year. The S21 Ultra 5G starts at Dh4899, while the S21+ and S21 start at Dh3799 and Dh3199 respectively.

Surprisingly though, even in these times, the S21 Ultra was 65% of the pre-ordered units here in the UAE and Samsung saw a 56% increase in pre-orders compared to the last year’s S20 series.

Samsung S21 S-Pen
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will be the only one with S-Pen capabilities. A first for the S-line. Image Credit: Vaibhav Pradip

2021 Choices

While the new Samsung S21 devices are definitely a true testament to powerful smartphones in 2021, there are some very ‘2021’ choices the company has made. First of those being, the removal of the charger and headphones from the box.

“We discovered that more and more Galaxy users are reusing accessories they already have. Therefore, we are transitioning to the removal of the charger plug and earphones in our latest line of Galaxy smartphones. We believe that the gradual removal of the charger plug and earphones from our in-box device packaging can help alleviate pressure that consumers may feel towards continually receiving new chargers and accessories every time they buy a new phone” says Osman. Now while he did add that there is a type-C to type-C usb cable in the box and that people are transitioning to wireless charging, there is not definitely an added expense that users need to consider when buying smartphones in 2021.

The other major change is the removal of the SD card across the series. If you’ve seen a Samsung launch before, you know the brand always touted their inclusion of the SD card. This year though, the SD card was finally removed.

“Galaxy S21 already offers enough storage capacity for S21 and S21+ at 128 or 256GB with S21 Ultra at either 256 or 512GB. Plus with OneDrive and networks including Wi-Fi 6E and 5G, you can store files in the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about running out of storage” said Osman about the removal.

Now while I don’t think that the average user burns through that much storage in the life-time of the device, considering the amount of concentration on content creation, specially on the S21 Ultra, removal and swappable storage would’ve been a huge bonus for the consumer.

Samsung S21 Series Displayq
The gorgeous displays on the S21 series all come with a 120Hz variable refresh rate Image Credit: Vaibhav Pradip

In our reviews, the S21 Ultra definitely proved itself had a worthy upgrade. The phone is a powerful and definitely good looking piece of tech. With the inclusion of support for the S-Pen (which needs to be purchased separately) and the new Exynos 2100 processor, the S21 Ultra definitely has the potential to be a handy tool in today’s work-from-home culture.

The cameras shoot up to 8K video and take up to 108MP images with a 100X zoom. In daily use, the cameras proved to be extremely capable and software improvements such as 'Director's View' and 'Single Take' were welcome additions. Battery-life on the device is great. Internal battery-management plus a huge 5000mAh battery prove to help you last through the day even if you're burning through daily tasks like video calls The phone offers the best of the best available in the market right now.