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S21 Ultra Camera and Performace Issues

(Topic created on: 09-03-2021 04:47 PM)

Hey everyone,

I'm a latecomer to the party having only purchased the S21 Ultra this weekend directly from Samsung. It's the Exynos version (UK) with the latest March update and yes...I have peeled the sticker off the camera module.
Originally I was blown away by the speed and the 120hz refresh rate on the device but having used the device more I'm starting to feel let down.
I'm coming from a Note 9 which will have its 3rd birthday this year and was hoping the s21U would blow it out of the water, this isn't the case. Yes, it has a better screen, yes, the benchmarks have higher scores and, yes, it opens apps a fraction of a second faster than the N9. 
The camera should be better too, right?
This is where I'm having a really hard time justifying the cost of this phone. Whilst the HDR is definitely better on the S21U I have to ask, at what cost? The camera goes from being a grainy mess in low light conditions to an artifact ridden, over smoothed oil painting in the sunshine. Portrait mode is awful, the 2.5x digital zoom makes everything look fake and I'm even getting poor edge detection so it's blurring people's ears out or half their hair is missing! Night mode is passable, better than the N9 but it's nothing special and still very odd to zoom in on.
I have taken the same pictures with both devices (I have attached these below) and the note 9 retains a lot more fine detail...its a 3 year old phone. The note 9 also focuses a lot better than the s21u which constantly focuses and unfocused as if its pulsing.
S21 Crop:


Note 9 Crop:



S21U Crop:



Note 9 Crop (The whisk is more detailed):



S21U Crop:


Note 9 Crop:



Annoyingly it won't let me upload the full size pictures as they're too large. Once I've figured out how to upload those I'll edit this.

Having used every single S device since the S2 this is probably the first time I've felt like the camera hasn't improved as much.

My second issue is performance. I'm not getting massive overheating problems like some of you but I am getting subpar framerates on games compared to the N9.
COD mobile is running at 60fps with a max of 72% gpu with the Highest settings on my note 9. On my S21U I'm getting 45fps and 86% on the gpu. The game is noticeably less smooth on the s21u compared to a 3 year old device. Fair enough this could just be an optimisation thing for the new chip but there's a few YT videos showing people getting 60fps on the S21U.
I am meant to be sending my N9 in for trade to Samsung within the next 2 weeks, I'm really starting to question whether I should.
The camera and performance are my 2 main criteria when buying a new phone and this time it feels like I've made the wrong choice. My alternative options aren't really much better (Can't go Huawei because of the GMS issues, Xiaomi have buggy software with sporadic updates and Apple, no reason needed)
Anyway, sorry for the rant. I gather a lot of you also have these gripes with the phone so I guess I'm either looking for you to persuade me it'll all be fixed by May or persuade me that my N9 is worth keeping!
Thanks in advance.


Big Cheese
Hi there StewyC87. Like you my friend I came from the brilliant Note 9 to the Exynos S21 Ultra. The two year contract of my Note 9 had ended and I wanted to see how far phones had come primarily in video quality and speed and efficiency and features and I wanted to focus on taking pictures a little more also. The video quality out of the box was beyond a disappointment. It was awful in low light especially with rampant noise and mushy blotchy moving detail. I knew from the off that this phone had been released whilst still being a work in progress. My camera got way too hot also but did not overheat as I was careful not to extend it too far. I knew the problems I were having were happening to others but I knew that software updates would be coming to sort the problems out. Buying a first production run phone can be a minefield so I did not panic and just focused on what the video camera COULD do and I used it a lot to record about 15 5minute long 4K 60fps videos in good light and a few indoor low light videos also with software updates in between and now my low light video quality is better than my Note 9's which quite surprised me and Stabilization and audio were miles ahead but in good light shaded areas on my videos are still noisier than that of the Note 9's but I believe this will change and on this member's community there have been reports of Exynos camera updates throughout April and May with Directors view being extended to 4K 60 fps video with Android 12 and improvements to the 10x zoom lens with the April and May updates also. I just want to give you hope StewyC87 that things will improve for the S21 Ultra especially camera wise but for me I have my trusty Note 9 as a second phone now. To be honest I would hold onto to your Note 9 and use it as a second phone until the S21 is the great phone I know it will be in the not too distant future. For me it is getting closer all the time and it's photo performance is really captivating and delighting me and keeping me very happy in every way till the video recording is where it should be. My semi rant over now. Good luck StewyC87. 👍👍
I have the S21+ (UK) and the camera is a constant pain, it's a job to take a photo, then can't find the photo I've taken anywhere in the gallery and when trying to close the camera it freezes up, the screen in half camera and half screen saver. Any fixes for this?