The ultimate flagship

Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in Phantom Silver

Missing a couple features

Galaxy S21+

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Render Phantom Violet Back Official

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is an absolute beast of a flagship, offering a stunning 120Hz QHD+ AMOLED panel with dynamic refresh rate, the latest internal hardware with 12GB of RAM as standard, and global 5G connectivity. It works with the S Pen, has Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, a 5,000mAh battery, and quad cameras that deliver truly outstanding photos.

$1,200 at Samsung

Pros

  • QHD+ AMOLED with 120Hz dynamic refresh
  • Snapdragon 888 with global 5G
  • Android 11 out of the box
  • Compatible with S Pen
  • Quad cameras, 40MP front lens
  • Great 5,000mAh battery

Cons

  • No microSD slot
  • Costly

The Galaxy S21+ is by no means a bad phone, but it misses out in a few areas. You are still getting the latest silicon the industry has to offer, along with Sub-6 and mmWave connectivity, a great FHD+ AMOLED panel with 120Hz refresh, fantastic cameras, and all the extras. If you don't need the features that are exclusive to the S21 Ultra, this is a great alternative.

$1,000 at Samsung

Pros

  • 120Hz FHD+ AMOLED panel
  • Snapdragon 888 with global 5G
  • Android 11 out of the box
  • Great battery life with 4,800mAh capacity
  • Fantastic cameras
  • Slightly more affordable

Cons

  • No QHD+ panel
  • No microSD slot
  • Doesn't work with S Pen
  • No wide-angle lens

The Galaxy S21 series is now official, and there are three models to choose from: S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra. All are likely to be some of the best Android phones in 2021. Here are all the differences between the S21+ and S21 Ultra, and what device is better suited to your needs if you're looking for a new phone in 2021.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21+: There are a lot of differences here

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs S21 PlusSource: Android Central

With the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung is once again setting the bar for the industry to follow. But unlike last year, where there was little difference between the S21+ and S21 Ultra, Samsung is doing things a little differently. The S21+ comes with a few compromises, with Samsung's latest innovations reserved for the S21 Ultra instead.

Unlike last year, most of Samsung's latest innovations are exclusive to the S21 Ultra.

What that means is that there are a lot of differences this time around. The Galaxy S21+ has a 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED screen, but the resolution itself is FHD+ — not QHD+ like last year. The S21 Ultra, however, gets a QHD+ panel. What's interesting this time is that Samsung is enabling 120Hz even in QHD+ mode, and is rolling out dynamic refresh rate that scales from 11Hz to 120Hz.

Another differentiator is the curvature of the screen — the S21+ has a flat panel whereas the S21 Ultra gets a dual curved panel. As for the internal hardware itself, both devices are powered by Qualcomm's latest 5nm Snapdragon 888 chipset.

Qualcomm says the platform is up to 25% faster in day-to-day tasks and 35% faster for gaming, so we will have to see how those claims hold up in real-world use. Global versions of the S21+ and S21 Ultra feature the Exynos 2100, with Samsung LSI overhauling its design to bring it to a level footing with Qualcomm.

However, the biggest difference is the S Pen. Samsung is making its stylus compatible with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but only that model; you won't be able to use it with the S21+. So if you like using the stylus, you now have the ability to do so with Samsung's 2021 Galaxy S flagship.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs S21 PlusSource: Android Central

As for the rest of the hardware, the S21+ has 8GB of RAM and is available with 128GB or 256GB of storage. The S21 Ultra, meanwhile, has 12GB of RAM with the 128GB and 256GB models, and there's also a 16GB/512GB version. Samsung got rid of the microSD slot on both phones, so you will need to pick up the 256GB model if you want more storage.

The S21 Ultra edges out the S21+ in most key areas.

The S21 Ultra has Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, with the S21+ featuring Wi-Fi 6. Both devices have Sub-6 and mmWave 5G connectivity, and Samsung offers global 5G bands. There's also ultra-wideband connectivity on both phones.

Rounding out the hardware, both phones have IP68 dust and water resistance, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, and 25W wired charging. They also feature glass backs and a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus at the front and back.

The S21 Ultra has four cameras at the back: a 108MP primary lens, 12MP wide-angle module, and two 10MP zoom lenses that go up to 10x optical zoom. There's also a 40MP camera on the back, and Samsung is touting significant gains from the S21 Ultra, making it the default option if you take a lot of photos. The S21+ features a 12MP + 12MP combo on the back, but it's missing a wide-angle lens.

In terms of software, both phones run One UI 3.0 based on Android 11 out of the box. With Samsung providing three guaranteed Android updates to its flagships, you won't have to worry about these phones becoming obsolete anytime soon.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21+: All the specs

Category Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S21+
Operating system Android 11
One UI 3.0
Android 11
One UI 3.0
Display 6.8-inch 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED
3088x1440 (20:9)
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass Victus
6.7-inch 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED
2400x1080 (20:9)
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass Victus
Chipset (NA) Snapdragon 888
1 x 2.84GHz X1
3 x 2.42GHz A78
4 x 1.80GHz A55
Adreno 660
5nm
Snapdragon 888
1 x 2.84GHz X1
3 x 2.42GHz A78
4 x 1.80GHz A55
Adreno 660
5nm
Chipset (Global) Exynos 2100
1 x 2.9GHz Cortex X1
3 2.8GHz A78
4 x 2.2GHz A55
Mali-G78 MP14
5nm
Exynos 2100
1 x 2.9GHz Cortex X1
3 2.8GHz A78
4 x 2.2GHz A55
Mali-G78 MP14
5nm
RAM 12GB/16GB LPDDR5 8GB LPDDR5
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB UFS3.1 128GB/256GB UFS3.1
microSD slot
Rear camera 1 108MP f/1.8, OIS
8K at 30fps
4K at 60fps
12MP f/1.8, OIS
8K at 30fps
4K at 60fps
Rear camera 2 10MP, f/3.0
telephoto, OIS
5x optical zoom
12MP, f/2.2
wide-angle
Rear camera 3 12MP, f/2.2
wide-angle
64MP, f/3.0
telephoto, OIS
5x optical zoom
Rear camera 4 10MP, f/2.2
telephoto
Front camera 40MP
auto focus
10MP f/1.7
auto focus
Connectivity 5G (Sub-6 and mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 5.1 LE, NFC, GPS
5G (Sub-6 and mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6 MU-MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, GPS
Audio USB-C
Stereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
Battery 5,000mAh
Non-removable
4,800mAh
Non-removable
Charging USB-C PD3.0
Fast charge (25W)
Wireless charging
USB-C PD3.0
Fast charge (25W)
Wireless charging
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Security In-display fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
In-display fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Dimensions 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm
228g
161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
202g
Colors Phantom Black, Phantom Silver Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Violet

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21+: There's a clear winner

Samsung Galaxy S21 UltraSource: Android Central

Last year, the Galaxy S20+ overshadowed the S20 Ultra because of its feature-set. There wasn't much in the way of differentiation between the two products, and the issues with the S20 Ultra's camera meant that the S20+ was the better overall option.

The situation has been reserved for 2021. The Galaxy S21+ feels like a modest upgrade in a lot of areas, with the S21 Ultra getting all the exciting features. The S21+ has an FHD+ AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh, whereas the S21 Ultra has a QHD+ panel and dynamic refresh rate tech that scales from 11Hz to 120Hz.

The S21 Ultra has the upgrades you care about, making it the clear winner.

Both phones feature the Snapdragon 888 (Exynos 2100 in global markets), but the S21 Ultra has the edge in terms of memory. The phone has 12GB of RAM as standard, with the S21+ featuring 8GB across all storage versions. There's no microSD card on either phone, and with the base models offering 128GB of storage, you will need to pick up the 256GB if you want additional storage.

Then there's the camera: Samsung has fixed the issues with the S20 Ultra, and the 108MP camera on the S21 Ultra should be one of the best of any phone this year. It is also getting two 10MP zoom lenses that go up to 10x optical zoom, and the quad camera array gives it a distinct edge over the S21+. The S21 Ultra also has a 40MP camera at the front, with the S21+ featuring a more modest 10MP lens.

That isn't all either. The S21 Ultra also gets Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, and the biggest feature addition is the compatibility with S Pen. It is a big deal that Samsung is bringing the S Pen to a phone that's not in the Note series, and while the stylus isn't bundled, you will be able to pick it up as an accessory. The fact that you're getting all these features for just $200 more than the S21+ makes the S21 Ultra the obvious choice in 2021. Add to that the fact that you are already saving $200 over last year's Galaxy S20 Ultra, and you can use that surplus to get a great case for your S21 Ultra. There really isn't anything missing here, and the sheer number of features you're getting makes it one of the best phones this year.

The ultimate flagship

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in Phantom Silver

Galaxy S21 Ultra

The flagship you deserve

The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes things to a whole new level. You'll find Samsung's latest innovations here, including a stunning QHD+ AMOLED panel with 120Hz dynamic refresh, Snapdragon 888 chipset with global 5G, 108MP lens with two 10MP zoom modules, Wi-Fi 6E, and a 5000mAh battery. Still not sold? You can even use the S Pen with this phone.

Missing some features

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Render Phantom Violet Back Official

Galaxy S21+

The middle ground in the S21 series

The Galaxy S21+ delivers the best features that Samsung has to offer in a package that's $200 more affordable than the S21 Ultra, making it a great alternative. You are getting the latest internal hardware along with fantastic cameras, Sub-6 and mmWave 5G connectivity, 120Hz AMOLED screen, and excellent battery life.

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