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Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: At a glance

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a couple of years old, but flagships tend to age well, and newer doesn’t always mean better. Here’s a quick look at the key differences between the two Samsung powerhouses.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a more powerful and efficient processor.

Samsung won’t release any Exynos variants with the S23 series. An Exynos processor powers the S21 Ultra in select markets.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra gets the first significant camera upgrade in three years with a new primary shooter.

Samsung has doubled the storage available with the base model of the S23 Ultra (256GB) compared to the S21 Ultra (128GB).

The base model and highest-end variant of the S21 Ultra have more RAM than the S23 Ultra.

Samsung has managed to keep the S23 Ultra’s starting price the same as the S21 Ultra’s launch price. However, the former comes with less RAM and more storage.

Keep reading to learn more about the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra and whether it’s time to upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: Specs

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: Camera

The one exciting upgrade we’re looking forward to is the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s new 200MP camera. It’s the first change in three years, with previous generations, including the S21 Ultra, featuring a 108MP primary shooter. It’s not just the megapixel count that changes. Improved hardware capabilities and updated software features make for a compelling smartphone camera setup.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra can record video at 8K/30fps, 4K/60fps, and 1080p/120fps. Samsung also says there are significant improvements to low-light photography and better stabilization to make the 30x and 100x zoom photos look great. In our S23 Ultra review, we found that the new sensor offered more detail, thanks to the increased resolution, and excellent low-light performance.

The S23 Ultra brings the first major camera upgrade in years.

The other three cameras remain the same, though. Both phones have a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, a 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom, and another 10MP telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom. The S23 Ultra’s hardware and software refinements make for better photos when using these modes. That said, you can also approach this from a “why fix what isn’t broken” because the Galaxy S21 Ultra still takes excellent photos with all cameras.

However, what appears to be a surprising downgrade on the newer flagship, at least on paper, is the selfie camera. The S23 Ultra’s 12MP front-facing shooter loses the specs battle to the S21 Ultra’s 40MP front camera. But once again, the megapixel count isn’t everything. And the 12MP camera, backed by yearly software enhancements and improved computational photography, comfortably matches and even exceeds the one you’ll find on the older S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: Price

Galaxy S23 Ultra price:

8GB RAM/256GB storage: $1,199

12GB RAM/512GB storage: $1,299

12GB RAM/1TB storage: $1,399

Galaxy S21 Ultra price:

12GB RAM/128GB storage: $1,199

12GB RAM/256GB storage: $1,249

16GB RAM/512GB storage: $1,399

Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

Are you thinking of upgrading from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the S23 Ultra?

2332 votes

All of this is to say that if you have the Galaxy S21 Ultra, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade right now. Especially with Samsung’s excellent software commitment, you can easily hold on to the older phone for even a couple of years, barring any battery issues. And by then, we might get the major overhaul that won’t make every update feel so iterative. That said, if you’re an owner of the Exynos Galaxy S21 Ultra, you’ll find that moving up to the new Samsung flagship offers a decent step-up in terms of performance. Moreover, the battery life is a tangible upgrade that you will notice in day-to-day usage.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t represent a big upgrade over the S21 Ultra, unless you want a built-in stylus or better battery life.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Vs Galaxy S20: Should You Upgrade?

Specs Galaxy S21 Galaxy S20

Display

6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (2,400×1,080 pixels), 120Hz refresh rate

6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (3,200×1,440 pixels), 120Hz refresh rate

Pixel density

421 PPI

563 PPI

Dimensions

71.2×151.7×7.9 mm

69.1×151.7×7.9 mm

Weight

171g

163g

Mobile software

Android 11

Android 10

Camera

64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)

64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)

Front camera

10-megapixel

10-megapixel

Video recording

8K

8K

Processor

Exynos 2100 (5 nm) or Snapdragon 888

Exynos 990 (7 nm) or Snapdragon 865

Storage

128GB, 256GB

128GB

RAM

8GB

12GB (5G), 8GB (4G)

Expandable storage

Up to 1TB

Up to 1TB

Battery

4,000 mAh

4,000 mAh

Fingerprint sensor

In-screen

In-screen

Headphone jack

No

No

Waterproof

IP68 rating for water and dust resistance

IP68 rating for water and dust resistance

Price

Rs. 69,999

Rs 49,990 (After price cut)

As evident, the Galaxy S21 series doesn’t bring a huge design change from the Galaxy S20. The only visible difference is the slightly different camera module.

What pictures don’t show is the fact that Galaxy S21 is actually a downgrade from Galaxy S20. If we look at the build of these two phones, the Samsung Galaxy S20 sports a glass back, while the Galaxy S21 comes with the ‘Glasstic’ panel.

This is a plastic back panel material that doesn’t feel as premium as glass. However, you can say it’s more durable than glass. The S21 is slightly heavier than the Galaxy S0.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 comes in three colors- blue, pink, and gray, while the Galaxy S21 comes in gray, white, violet, and some kind of pink.

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 have very much similar displays and if you look at some specs, the Galaxy S21 display may seem a downgrade from the Galaxy S20.

Both flagships have 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED displays, with Infinity O type cut-out, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and in-screen fingerprint sensors. This is the resolution that makes the S21 a downgrade.

While the Galaxy S20’s screen resolution is Quad HD (1440 x 3200 pixels), the Galaxy S21 comes with FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2400 pixels) only.

But wait, if you’re thinking the Galaxy S20 is clearly better, you should know that the S20 can not use QHD resolution with 120Hz refresh.

People wait for the next Galaxy S series expecting some camera upgrades, however, the Galaxy S21 and S20 have the same camera setup: 64-megapixel telephoto, 12-megapixel wide-angle, and 12-megapixel ultrawide cameras.

The changes with the Galaxy S21 come in terms of camera modes only such as “Director’s View” and some in video recording.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 comes with last year’s Exynos 990 processor or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865. Similarly, the Galaxy S21 packs Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888.

Both the Galaxy S21 and S20 pack a 4,000mAh battery. These both also support 25W wired charging and 10W wireless charging.

In terms of OS, Galaxy S20 is running Android 10 but the Galaxy S21 brings the Android 11 with ONE UI 3.1 skin.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the S20 and S21 has now become the price tag. After the Galaxy S20 price cut in India, the Galaxy S21 5G which starts at Rs. 69,999, has started seeming a bit expensive, given the fact these both have mostly similar specs.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 now starts at Rs 49,990 in India. One more thing, I’d like to mention here is that the new Galaxy S series phone doesn’t come with a charger inside the box, which also cost you some extra bucks.

Looking at the specs, you can easily perceive that Samsung Galaxy S21 isn’t a very huge upgrade over Galaxy S0. In fact, there are even some downsides to the 2023 model. If we talk about the prices, the Galaxy S20 has been discontinued now and you can get one for much less than the Galaxy S21. So if you are not into that much of upgrading models every time, Galaxy S20 will still do the job for you.

Camera Shootout: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs Google Pixel 5

Samsung has a reputation for heavily saturated colors, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is no exception. The company has dialed its effect back a little this generation. The worst offenses can mostly be circumvented by disabling the Scene Optimizer feature, which tends to go a bit overboard when looking at certain scenes. Still, Samsung’s images pack in some serious color punch.

The Google Pixel 5, on the other hand, sticks very close to realism in pretty much every scenario. However, this can have the drawback of leaving some images and subjects looking a little flat and washed out. See the example below, where the Pixel 5 is a little too dark and doesn’t quite offer the pop and punch you want from a delicious food pic.

Even so, both phones have excellent white balance and exposure in virtually all pictures taken with them, so you can easily tweak colors in your editor of choice should you so desire.

The bottom line is you won’t be dissatisfied with images from either of these two phones in broad daylight. At least not without peeking closer at the 100% crops. Some benefits are gained from the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s more expensive hardware package, but they’re hardly night and day.

Extreme HDR capabilities

Samsung and Google offer exceedingly powerful HDR capabilities and are two of the best in the business at the moment. Peeking into the highlights and shadows of our samples below reveals a well-balanced dynamic range, mostly absent of clipping, and plenty of detail retention with both handsets.

Shooting in low light

However, enabling Night Mode closes this gap significantly, with the Pixel 5 providing exposure, colors, and even details to match the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Pixel 5 is definitely still the noisier of the two, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a little too aggressive on the denoise, which smooths out some of its details. An ideal result would probably be right in between the two.

So strong is Google’s faith in its Night processing technology that it markets astrophotography capabilities too. While the result is passable on a dark night, the image is a little noisy. Samsung’s larger sensor again showcases the limitations of Google’s hardware, capturing the light from distant stars that the Pixel 5 can’t make out. Again both are good, but the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is even better.

The Pixel 5 continues to trade blows with the far more expensive Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in other low-light shots. Highlights and shadows are just as well balanced, but Samsung clocks in a slightly better dynamic range. Detail-wise, the two are also very close. The Pixel 5 is softer and noisier, while the Galaxy S21 Ultra is heavier on the sharpening pass and can display odd artifacts on texture details.

We won’t dwell on zoom capabilities too much, as it’s quite clear from the hardware specifications that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra outclasses the Pixel 5 here, which has neither a telephoto nor periscope zoom camera.

At 2x, Google’s Super Res Zoom software actually hands in superior detail versus Samsung’s software zoom technology. However, once Samsung’s telephoto lens kicks in at 3x, the Ultra starts taking a quality lead. Although you’ll be hard-pressed to spot too many major details differences at full-frame. The Pixel 5 holds up reasonably well given its lack of zoom hardware.

At 5x and beyond, the differences become more pronounced, particularly when looking at complex textures like tree lines. The Pixel 5 taps out at 7x zoom while the Galaxy S21 Ultra kicks in its periscope zoom at 10x for a major boost in zoom quality at long range. Samsung boasts up to 100x capabilities, but we wouldn’t recommend taking pictures much beyond 20x, or you’ll notice a major drop off in quality.

Comprehensive, flexible camera packages are expensive, so it’s not surprising to see the Pixel 5 fall short when it comes to long-range photography. That said, Google’s Super Res Zoom technology yields quite good results for short-range zooms, and we’d love to see this paired up with a 3x telephoto lens to offer competitive long-range photography without the expense of Samsung’s dual zoom lens setup.

The Pixel 5 does feature a wide-angle lens, giving it hardware to match the capabilities of Samsung’s flagship. Its lens doesn’t quite match the extremely wide field of view found on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it’s still a notable step back from the main camera that allows you to fit more into your pictures.

Looking at full-frame results, both cameras hand in good-looking wide-angle shots that follow the look of their main cameras. Again, the S21 Ultra offers vivid colors and brighter exposures, while wide-angle images from the Pixel 5 can again look a little washed out and lacking vibrancy.

Indoor lighting reveals a bigger difference between the two, but again you have to look closely at the images to make out the difference. The Pixel 5 suffers from more noise, which eats into the level of detail the phone can capture on face textures and the like. Samsung’s processing is soft and doesn’t produce much more detail, but it’s a marginally better look for portrait shots overall.

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Once again, the results are closer than we might expect, given the price difference between these smartphones. Samsung’s more comprehensive hardware package produces marginally better results, but you have to pixel peek to really notice.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 5 camera test: The verdict

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

After looking at an extensive range of pictures, it’s clear that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comes out on top in a few key areas. Its larger image sensor wins out in HDR and low light scenes, particularly when it comes to a quick snap. The comprehensive zoom package also offers quality at a distance that Google’s flagship can’t compete with.

However, the Google Pixel 5 performs equally well in several scenarios, showcasing that computational photography can keep older hardware in the game. General detail is still surprisingly good, and although the phone’s colors can look a little subdued, the Pixel 5 still looks great in daylight and even low light. Providing you have the patience to wait a few seconds for Night mode to do its thing. Its wide-angle camera is also very competitive, despite not offering quite the same extended field of view.

Which phone takes the better pictures?

5586 votes

If you’re in the market for a budget flagship with a solid camera, the Pixel 5 is still one of the best picks in the market. As this shootout has clearly shown. However, the handset’s hardware package isn’t quite in the same league as more expensive flagships on the market. Personally, I’d be very excited to see what the Pixel 6 could do with even just a small update to its camera hardware, as Google’s computational photography capabilities are still some of the best in the business.

Here’s Your First Look At The Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Ultra Renders

As we march towards the end of 2023, the chatter for Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 lineup is getting louder. We have already heard rumors of an early January launch as opposed to the usual February release cycle this time around. Now, reputable tipster OnLeaks has not only corroborated and given weight to this rumor but also shared a first look at the two upcoming phones – Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Galaxy S21

First up, the next Samsung flagship lineup could either be the Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S30 series – depending on the Korean giant’s future plans, reveals OnLeaks. We are going to refer to it as the Galaxy S21 series for now.

The Galaxy S21, as you can see in the renders, does not seem much different than its predecessor. It includes a flat AMOLED display, roughly 6.2-inch in size, with a punch-hole cutout at the center. The biggest change here seems to be the rear camera setup. It looks the same but it now extends (or flows) from the metal frame of the device to the rear. The camera module includes a triple camera setup with the flash present to the right of the module.

OnLeaks further adds that the device will measure roughly 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, with the thickness going up to 9mm if you take the camera system into account. The USB Type-C port is present next to the speaker grill at the bottom.

Galaxy S21 Ultra

OnLeaks did not share any deets about the Galaxy S21 Plus, which will most likely sit between the standard and Ultra variant. As for the highest-end Ultra variant though, you will most likely see a bigger camera module on the rear. It also flows in from the metal frame as the standard variant and houses a quad-camera setup. The LED flash will be baked into the module here.

The tipster is not aware of the exact camera specifications but the rumors suggest you will find a wide, an ultra-wide, and possibly, two telephoto sensors (one periscope for Space Zoom) on the rear.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is said to accommodate a bigger 6.7-inch – 6.8-inch display with a centered punch-hole cutout. This variant will measure 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm but when you take the camera bump into account, the thickness goes up to a whopping 10.8mm. Oh, it’s gonna rock on the table and that’s disappointing.

S-Pen Support?

Also, OnLeaks gives weight to yet another long-running rumor. The Galaxy S21 Ultra might be the first Galaxy S-series smartphone to have S-Pen support. Yeah, the device may not have a cavity to store the S-Pen but if you already own one, you will be able to use it with the S21 Ultra with ease.

What’s Under the Hood?

As for what we will find under the hood, the Galaxy S21 series will be powered by the 5nm-based Snapdragon 875 chipset globally. It launches in early December. But, we expect the rumored Exynos 2100, which is currently said to beat the Snapdragon 875, in benchmarks to power the device in India. And if the rumors are true and the Exynos chipset is finally ready to match its Snapdragon counterpart, then Indian users might be in for a treat as compared to disappointment in the past.

Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Vs Sony Xperia Z Ultra Comparison Review

Display And Processor

As mentioned earlier, both the devices come with screens measuring more than 6 inches. The Mega 6.3, as the name suggests, comes with a 6.3 inch screen whereas the newer of the two, the Xperia Z Ultra comes with a 6.4 inch one at that. The devices are indeed quite large, and take the term ‘phablet’ to a whole new level. We were used to seeing phablets with 5.5-6 inch screens before this.

The Xperia Z Ultra comes with a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, which makes the 720p display on the Mega 6.3 look miniscule. The Xperia Z Ultra is quite simply the better of the two when it comes to display. With just 0.1 inch more, you get a much higher resolution which allows for a better pixel density, which in turn means better video/multimedia experience on the device.

The Samsung Galaxy Mega comes with a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.7 GHz. This move from Samsung got its fair share of scrutiny by reviewers and tech enthusiasts around the world, since most of them expected a quad core processor. On the other hand, the Sony Xpreia Z Ultra comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, which is said to house the world’s most powerful chipset on mobile devices. The Quad core processor is clocked at 2.2 GHz, which does sound like some serious power to us.

The Xperia Z Ultra sweeps the stakes as far as display and processor is concerned.

Camera And Memory

Given the ultra high-end specifications on the Xperia Z Ultra, you would expect to see a 13MP main camera at least; but Sony decided to include only an 8MP unit. The same camera (in terms of resolution) can be found on the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 as well, so there is nothing much to choose from as far as numbers go. However, Sony are known for their imaging technology and it might not be a surprise if the Xperia Z Ultra fares better than the Galaxy Mega 6.3 when it comes to imaging. However, we cannot give our verdict on this at the moment, at least until we have the Xperia Z Ultra in our hands.

On the storage front, the Mega 6.3 comes in 2 variants; 8GB and 16GB while the Xperia Z comes only in 16GB. Both devices come with microSD card slots which can accept cards up to 64GB in size, so there can’t be one winner in this category.

Battery And Features

Given the massive screen size on the devices, you expect equally massive batteries to power them up, and both these devices do not disappoint. The Xperia Z Ultra comes with a 3050mAh battery which should be enough for 6 hours of screen on time, whereas the Mega 6.3 features an even bigger unit at 3200mAh which should take you through one day with quite a bit of ease.

This is impressive from Samsung, who’re offering the Mega 6.3 at quite a bit lesser compared to the Xperia Z Ultra from Samsung.

Key Specs

Model Sony Xperia Z Ultra Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

Display 6.4 inches, full HD 1080p 6.3 inches, 720p HD

Processor 2.2 GHz quad core 1.7 GHz dual core

RAM, ROM 2GB RAM, 16G ROM expandable up to 64GB 1.5GB RAM, 8/16G ROM expandable up to 64GB

OS Android v4.2 Android v4.2.2

Cameras 8MP rear, 2MP front 8MP rear, 1.9MP front

Battery 3050mAh 3200mAh

Price About 44,500 INR About 28,500 INR

Conclusion

On the other hand, the Mega 6.3 is a device which is not too powerful and at the same time, not underpowered. You can use the device for daily tasks like email, reading, multimedia, etc.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra VS Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Hands on Comparison Review[Video]

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Hands

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra hands-on: You can preorder, but you shouldn’t

Samsung has a new flagship, though the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has the feel of something pretty familiar. Largest of the company’s phones with its 6.9-inch Super AMOLED display, the S Pen enabled handset doesn’t stray too far from last year’s Note 10, only pausing to dip liberally into the aesthetic of the Galaxy S20 Ultra released earlier in 2023.

That is, thankfully, no bad thing unless you wanted revolution not evolution. You’d have been out of luck there generally with the Note line-up anyway; the past few iterations of Samsung’s Android workhorse have been about refinement, it’s fair to say.

With its $1.3k+ price tag, it’s also fair to have high expectations for the Note 20 Ultra. I’ll put aside the wisdom of Samsung opting for a plastic back on the $999.99 Note 20 until I’ve had a chance to play with it myself, but its full-spec’d sibling has no such compromises. Though the Mystic Bronze color looks a lot more pink than you might expect, the frosted finish to the rear glass works nicely against the highly polished metal frame.

Samsung’s attention to detail has come on leaps and bounds over the past few years, which is a good thing considering how in-your-face the Note 20 Ultra’s camera bulge is. I can understand the urge to accommodate a fancy periscope zoom – which folds the optics across the Note to manage its 5x optical magnification – but the resulting protrusion is no mere bump. It looks unwieldy, but more annoying still is how it leaves the Note 20 Ultra rocking as you use it on a table.

That’s all the more frustrating when you go to use the S Pen. Samsung’s stylus supports the same 4,096 levels of pressure, but some refresh magic – including AI prediction of where you’re likely to swipe the nib next – leaves it feeling that little bit more fluid to write or sketch with. It’s truly a lovely sensation, up until the point where the Note tips to the side on the desk because of that accursed camera barnacle.

Pick it up, meanwhile, and it’s a reminder that those with small hands might want to look elsewhere. The 6.9-inch screen may be pushed to the edges as best Samsung’s engineers can, but it still leaves the Note 20 Ultra at 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm. The downside to the premium construction is a 208 gram weight, too. Yes, that’s a little under the iPhone 11 Pro Max (at 226 grams) but then again it’s hardly like anybody said Apple’s phone was lightweight either.

All that gets easier to stomach when you actually see the display, however. Its WQHD+ resolution is detailed and its AMOLED tech is bright and color-rich. A 120Hz refresh rate – which can automatically ramp down when such rapid speeds are required, to save on power – leaves it silky-smooth in scrolling. Samsung’s Infinity-O hole-punch camera is small and easily overlooked.

Pull out the S Pen from its silo – moved, for 2023, from the right to the left side – and you get new Air Actions that allow you to control more of the phone wirelessly. You can navigate through a PowerPoint using just wand-like swipes, for example. It has the potential to be useful, but with DeX having gone wireless there’s arguably more chance you’ll be holding the Note 20 Ultra in your hand anyway, even when presenting to a remote screen.

As for power, it’s early days with the phone – and my full review will have to wait for now – but the combination of Snapdragon 865+ and 12GB of RAM doesn’t exactly leave me concerned the new Note will be lacking in grunt. You get a 4,500 mAh battery with fast wired and wireless charging, too, plus 5G, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and Ultra Wideband which will be useful for Android Nearby Share when UWB is more common.

All in all, the Note 20 Ultra is shaping up to be just what we’ve come to expect from the Note series. Power, form that follows function, and a beautiful Samsung display on top of it all. Camera performance and the rest will have to wait until the full review too, but Samsung’s decision to cherry-pick sensors from the well-reviewed Galaxy S20 Ultra seems like a sensible one.

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