Technophile

Samsung S21 Plus: A beauty in violet

Mala Bhargava | Updated on February 06, 2021

The in-between all rounder from this year’s flagship series

A Samsung phone is a Samsung phone. That’s possibly a truism only a Samsung user will understand. But this particular Samsung phone is a real beauty. I’m checking it out in the Phantom Violet colour I begged them to send me, but others reviewing the phone are equally blown over by the colour variants they’re looking at, including a Phantom Silver and Phantom Black.

You would think violet and gold would make for a garish over-the-top combination on a phone. But no such thing. The S21 Plus looks so good I wasted no time taking out a knitted dress in the same shade, adding a rose gold pendant, and holding the phone as the completion of a fashionable outfit. I had nowhere to go so settled down to explore the smartphone.

The glass on the back looks silken and the colour shifts as the light fall on it. It’s subtle and more like lavender, not necessarily just feminine, however, despite the dress. There’s Gorilla Glass Victus protection on the back and front panels. All that there is on the back is a quiet Samsung logo and the dominant camera housing with its three lens circles in a pale matte finish gold. The edge of this section wraps and disappears into the edge of the phone which is a somewhat more glossy gold rail all around.

The buttons on the right edge are in the same metallic gold. It all looks very elegant and it’s a huge pity that one will have to cover up the whole thing with a case. You’d want to if you owned this phone because sometimes or the other, phones take a fall. It could also get scratched, which would really destroy the look. When you put it down on a surface, it’s not entirely flat, but the wrap of the metal does help protect it somewhat and a case would help offset the camera bump more. The back is extra cool to the touch and with winter being almost over, is beginning to feel rather nice though it does happen to be smooth and slippery. This is by no means a small phone, but not uncomfortable or heavy to hold.

The S21 Plus is the in-between phone that has fewer stand-out features. The Ultra, on the higher side, has a more advanced camera as its highlight and the S21 stands out because it’s the smallest of the three phones in this series and some people really crave compact devices. It also has a plastic back and is lighter. That leaves the S21 Plus being the most iterative phone of the lot but also one that’s quite comprehensive in what it offers: in other words, an all-rounder.

This phone shares a lot with the higher end Ultra. It’s almost the same size, at 6.7 inches worth of screen space. The display has the same look of expanse with the tiniest of dots for the front camera being barely noticeable. The only thing is the resolution is lower at 1080x2400. That’s something many people have immediately pounced on but honestly, it’s a beautiful display nonetheless. When you consider that it means paying Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 less, I certainly wouldn’t mind the barely visible drop in resolution. It also supports the adaptive refresh rate of the Ultra going up to 120Hz if you want things super smooth or capping at 60Hz if you opt to save battery and resources if you want to. In this case, it doesn’t auto drop all the way down to 10Hz but to 48Hz.

The S21 Plus also shares the newest Exynos 2100 with the other two phones but doesn’t have a 16GB RAM option. Instead, it has 8GB RAM with either 128GB or 256GB RAM storage and no memory card slot. The other things that are missing are the 3.5mm headphone jack that users don’t seem to be letting go off and all the extras from the box including the charging brick, nice AKG earphones and a case. These are something companies can expect to see much grumpiness over for a long time to come. Is a pair of earphones really holding up the environment, for instance? I rather doubt it and the move to remove extras looks what it is — cost saving for the companies.

Performance on the S21 Plus is all lag-free, every bit as expected at this level. It gets a little warm with heavy tasks though. It works on Android 11 with Samsung’s OneUI 3.0 interface, one of the most feature-rich but intuitive. But even a top-end Samsung phone is not immune from annoying push notifications from its MyGalaxy app and various other odds and ends. However, these can be tamed quickly enough.

Unlike the S21 Ultra, the S21 Plus doesn’t support the use of the S-Pen. It also has lower camera specs and no dual telephoto. Amazingly, when it comes to regular photos from the primary lens the images are not that dramatically different from the Ultra’s 108MP lens which makes you wonder. The cameras are 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide and a 64MP telephoto with 1x optical and 3x hybrid zoom. So it’s in the zoom department that the S21 Plus has been stepped down in comparison to the Ultra. If the ultimate video and very large hi-res photos are important to you, it’s best to look at the Ultra, but if your photo needs are more ‘regular’ the camera set on this phone performs well enough though just not in any breakthrough manner. In fact, not very different from the previous gen. The front camera is a 10MP.

Other elements worthy of mention are a 4,800mAh battery that holds up very well and has 25W charging — nothing more like some of the much cheaper phones do these days, sadly It supports wireless charging. It has an IP68 rating and is absolutely a 5G phone.

When it comes down to it, the changes from the previous S20 Plus definitely don’t warrant an upgrade from the S20 line or even, if your device is in good shape, from the S10 series unless you specifically need the extra processing power or are just plainly an enthusiast and have the money to spend. Coming from an older phone or even a non-Samsung phone, the S21 Plus is a beautifully designed and ‘complete’ phone with great performance and a very good set of cameras.

Price: Starts at ₹74,200 at Amazon, elsewhere starts ₹81,999

Pros: Very elegant and premium with unique design, a complete good performer, future-ready with 5G, IP68, latest processor, a good set of cameras, beautiful high-refresh display

Cons: Expensive, many complaints on the lack of memory card, slot and 3.5mm jack, no essential extras in box, expensive

Published on February 06, 2021

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