Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra long-term review
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The S21 Ultra is Samsung’s second shot at an S-Series Ultra flagship, and here’s something interesting we found out about the company. More often than not, it seems to have a stronger second act than its first. Think back to the first Galaxy S. It was an okay phone. S2 dog? Fantastic phone, big hit. The first Galaxy Fold? It had its problems. Fold2? Much better, much easier to recommend (if you have the money).
We’re not saying we’ve seen a trend or theme that has been elusive to everyone else, but we’d be happy not to mention the above because it ties in so nicely with the S21 Ultra and its relationship to the S20 Ultra. Call the first section preview if you want, but we can just hit you with the spoiler itself – the S21 Ultra is a much better product than its predecessor was. It’s more polished, more refined, and it does not suck any of the smartphone foundation – on the contrary, in fact.
So maybe it’s not fair to generalize and say that you should always wait for second generation product when it’s a Samsung, but – wait, we just remembered another example, the original Galaxy Buds vs. Galaxy Buds +. Same general idea. Well, maybe that’s not fair, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind.
Apart from this, the S21 Ultra is now old enough that we can give you our thoughts on what it was like to live with it for a long time, far longer than we normally get for our normal reviews. On paper, this is a monster – and as you will see in the next section, it is also a monster in your hand.
But specifications tell only a very small part of the story, and this long-term review reason to exist is to bring you the rest of the story with more subjective opinions and less cold objective numbers. It’s not about whether it surpasses its nearest rival by 1% in a synthetic benchmark, it’s about whether this phone was a joy to use or not, day in, day out, as our only smartphone. Does it have what it takes to be easy to recommend, or is it more hype than drug? Join the next few pages as we try to figure it out.