The Samsung Galaxy S21 is beautiful, distinct, and like the Galaxy S20 series that preceded it, has a small palette of colors to choose from depending on which size phone you get. The smallest of the three, the regular S21, has four colors, the S21+ has three, and the S21 Ultra only has two. This might over-simplify your choice depending on what size phone you're planning to pick up, but if you need help picking, I'm more than happy to oblige because some S21 colors are good, some S21 colors are bad, and others are just boring — and there's nothing worse than spending $1,000 on a boring phone.
Majestic and mysterious
Purple phones are so easy to get wrong but it looks like Samsung got it perfectly right with Phantom Violet. The color is well balanced so it doesn't skew too blue or too pink, and you still get rose gold accents on the camera module, frame, and buttons to lend a softer, warmer air to its look. Phantom Violet is available for both the Galaxy S21 and the S21+, and it's the one I'll be getting.
Limited to the little one
If you want a pink S21, you'll have to go for the smallest of the three S21 models. I'm all for that because I'm a fan of phones that are easy for my small, feminine hands to use one-handed. You get a rose gold frame and camera module here, just as you do with Phantom Violet, but the pink hue on the plastic back is more of a tan salmon pink than last year's more vivid Cloud Pink.
Best for the Ultra
The Galaxy S21 Ultra only gets two colors, Phantom Black and Phantom Silver, and between you and me, the silver takes the gold medal. This phone looks brighter, it'll blend with a wider variety of cases and accessories, and it also has, in my humble opinion, the best-looking accents and camera module of the bunch. That bright silver just absolutely pops. I wish the Phantom Violet had it, too.
Goes with everything
This is the only other color for the S21 Ultra and S21+, and while I'm not a huge fan of buying a black phone when there is literally any color option, I know that black is the most common phone color for a reason. Black is unobtrusive, it blends in with everything, and it goes with pretty much every case and accessory combo you throw at it.
Suave and sophisticated
For the smaller S21, we get Phantom Gray, which is the halfway point between Phantom Black and Phantom Silver. It has a nice gunmetal shading to it, and it's stil dark without being the same old boring black that every other phone comes in. Phantom Gray is the most understated of the S21 colorways, and that will appeal to many.
Let there be light
Most of us tend to shy away from white phones for the same reason we shy away from white pants or white cars: It tends to show everything — every speck of dust, every tiny abrasion, and every flaw. By that same stroke though, white phones draw the eye for their brightness, and I can think of dozens of clear, patterned cases that could take full advantage of it.
Custom colors for the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra
Best of the customs
Ordering a custom color can add weeks to your delivery time, but it'll also give you a bolder look. Phantom Red for the Galaxy S21+ is not quite as candy red as the S20 FE, but the Rose Gold accents give it a nice warm look, like caramel drizzle over an apple tart. If Phantom Violet isn't for you, Phantom Red most certainly is.
Creamy and luxurious
This color goes a few shades warmer than the Phantom Pink we see on the S21, giving the S21+ a totally rose gold phone as opposed to a salmon pink phone with rose gold accents. Only available for the S21+, Phantom Gold will likely draw a lot of attention for its unique shading, but I think Red still looks better.
The S21 Ultra gets three custom colors, starting with a Titanium with carbon fiber accents that looks like an upgraded version of the base S21's Phantom Gray. It gives you a nice balance between the utter abyss of Phantom Black and the super-shiny Phantom Silver, giving you a soft glow and unique flavor.
Like a stormy sea
This is my personal favorite of the S21 Ultra colors. Not only am I an absolute sucker for blue phones, but the subdued navy blue here is a cross between a faded, well-worked denim and the twilight sky just before the stars come out for us to wish upon. If you really want to let it pop, consider mixing Phantom Navy with a cobalt bumper case.
Down to earth
If you don't go in for monochromatic hues of Titanium and Silver, consider going an earthy route the way the Note 20 series last fall did. Phantom Brown is a rich brown hue, like a well-polished hardwood or a smooth-grain leather, and I can only imagine how luxurious it'll look when combined with a leather case.
What is the best color for the Galaxy S21?
The Samsung Galaxy S21 — I keep calling it the little one, the smaller one, but it's still a 6.2-inch screen — has the widest color selection, with four options and two actual colors alongside the monochromatic hues. The world needs more colorful phones, and it especially needs more breathtakingly beautiful purple phones in it, so I emphatically endorse the Phantom Violet Galaxy S21. The shade is absolutely perfect. It's not so deep that it clashes with everything, it's not as light as last year's Cloud Blue or Cloud Pink, and it's a nice neutral shade that can appeal to everyone without looking as traditionally feminine as the Phantom Pink.
Phantom Pink could've stood to be a few shades pinker — it's a little more orange than last year's Cloud Pink — but it's a nice option for the Rose Gold lover in your life. Phantom Gray is also a good option for users who prefer their phones not draw any attention to themselves. Phantom White could be fun in some situations, but you better get a great case if you want to keep that pearly white from showing every smudge and smidge of everything. While you're at it, grab a screen protector to keep that gorgeous display scratch free.
What is the best color for the Galaxy S21+?
Like the regular S21, the S21+'s best colorway is also it's only technicolor, non-custom option. Phantom Violet is more vibrant and warm than the Phantom Silver or Phantom Black. That said, I do wish Phantom Violet had gotten the same bright silver camera module as the Phantom Silver. It also pops and it's a little more neutral than Rose Gold, for those of us who haven't been fawning over Rose Gold for the last decade.
If you are a rose gold fan, Phantom Gold is here for you as a custom color, but it's only available at Samsung.com and only in select countries. Custom colors also add up to 5 weeks to your delivery date, so even though the Phantom Red looks like the absolute reddest red ever once you stick it under a spotlight, I'm not sure how many people will wait and entire month just for a color you could easily get with a case, instead.
What is the best color for the Galaxy S21 Ultra?
The largest and S Pen-compatible S21 Ultra only has Phantom Silver and Phantom Black widely available, just like last year. There's a nice dichotomy between Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, but the Silver is more eye-catching and more universal. Unless you're part of the MATTE BLACK EVERYTHING crowd — and really, more power to you if you are — you'll likely be happier with the Phantom Silver over time.
If you absolutely need color in your S21 Ultra, you'll have to wait weeks for a custom color like the Phantom Navy and Phantom Brown, which offer subdued, sophisticated tones and carbon fiber accents to the camera module for extra depth. There's also a Phantom Titanium, which is a middle ground between the Silver and Black. These colors aren't available in all countries, are only available on Samsung's website and require additional wait time, so be aware if you set your heart on them.
Better than ever
Samsung's latest flagships bring prices back down.
There's a lot to love about the S21 series — new and improved cameras, a striking new look, support for the S Pen on the Ultra — but it's hard to overstate how important it is that the S21 starts a full $200 less than the S20. While that price cut had some features cut alongside it, such as the microSD slot and a swap from glass backs to plastic for the smaller model, it's a welcome change that will make the Galaxy S21 accessible to a much wider audience.