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Samsung S21 Ultra one month real-world use review

(Topic created on: 26-02-2021 08:25 PM)
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Guy41
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So I've had the chance to be one of the first real owners of the S21 Ultra worldwide (reviewers excluded) and this is how I summarize my 1 month of use:

I received my unit roughly 10 days before the first pre-orders were shipped to customers. When I first received the ultra it was totally unusable. Camera would lag and stutter heavily, phone would heat and shut off after 5 minutes of video calls. I will cut Samsung some slack here because it is very much possible that the firmware was not yet fully ready. 
I had my 1st unit replaced for another one which came just as the (very quick) updates were starting to roll.

The improvement was incremental but very noticable with the heating issues resolved after updating to firmware AUB6.

The phone I have now (AUB9) is a totally different phone than the one I had initially received. 
I know that there are still quite a few customers who are still experiencing severe over-heating issues. Mine, however is honestly amazing now aside of a still few issues left with the camera.
I'll summarize here:

Pros:
*AMAZING screen. Seriously. Nothing I've seen comes close to this. It is very evident when watching videos and especially when playing games
*Gaming performance - top notch. No current AAA graphically-demanding game lags or stutters eve one bit during prolonged use
*Camera - excellent dynamic range, quick reliable focus, excellent colors. Very very versatile - from useful macro mode to very good zoom capability with good lighting. 108mp mode - TONS of details. 
*MUCH improved finger-print reader. Almost can't fault it.
*S-pen support - love it. Get one as soon as you can.

Cons:
*Battery - only average. Not nearly as advertised. Roughly 20-21 hours with mixed use (regular browsing, phone calls, 30 min gaming, a couple of youtube videos etc). I would emphasize I am on 5G with limited reception and that may impact battery life.
*Camera - portrait mode still very slow. It does create beautiful shots but there is heavy processing going on and it can stutter when it detects faces. Not good for when your kids move around, excellent for when your kids stay still.
*Camera - 108mp mode a bit slow. Probably to be expected
*Camera - software issues - no zoom lens choice when shooting UHD60 (SAMSUNG!! fix that bug already!)

I upgraded from S10+ which I loved. But this phone is a whole different thing. The screen itself, and the improvement in the versatility of the camera and the wonderful dynamic range alone justify imho the upgrade. 

*Caveat: one last thing. It is still unclear and Samsung has kept quite about it whether there are in fact batches of damaged phones that have overheating issues that are not software related. 

 

21 REPLIES 21
smiley
Troubleshooter
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I could almost have written this paragraph myself.

Thanks @Guy41... you have saved me the time 😂

absolutely 💯 would agree with your thoughts.

a couple more software updates and I believe it will be truly amazing in the other areas. 👍😉

Smiley
- Smiley
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Babishko
Big Cheese
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Very concise contribution Guy41!.. Thanks for sharing with us. I assume your phone is the Exynos version?. I am seeing such varied problems and performance almost from phone to phone. There is little consistency and it all reeks of bad software to me. Not a difference in chip quality control. For instance my phone shoots great 4K 60fps video through all lenses all though through the 10x lens the footage looks to be jumping around in the viewfinder but when you watch it being played back it is perfectly stabilized?.. The low light video quality was appalling at first but is getting better all the time as I use the camera every day to help with optimization. It still gets very warm though but nothing more. In my opinion the Exynos 2100 is a very powerful chip and Samsung's software is letting it down. A lot. It will get sorted though to the point that six months down the line these running in problems will be just an unpleasant memory and the quality of the hardware will be the sole talking point on this brilliant to be phone. 👍👍
Joeeye
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That's a good description to your experience. Mine is actually quite different, I got mine on the 29 January and from day one it was cool as a cucumber, had no heating issues (still don't) or much to complain (in terms of camera updates changed things for better or worse). Over the last few updates though my phone temperature has gradually risen, but I'm guessing it's more to do with more apps being installed and the weather getting slightly warmer. Battery wise, I think it's been excellent, even though I've been pretty hard on my unit, I keep pretty much everything on and achieved consistent 9 - 11h SoT. This is ofcourse mostly wifi so I tried a day on 4g/5g only and still managed over 8 hours SoT which is still impressive I think (was sorting music and had a lot of Bluetooth usage with my Buds Pro).

The thing you mentioned about the camera zoom when shooting UHD60, you mean no switching during recording right? It does let you choose which zoom camera but you can't switch during recording.
Guy41
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Yup, inability to switch lenses during UHD60. Note that with UHD30 you can switch lenses while recording. Obviously a software bug.

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Joeeye
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I'm not too sure about that, you can switch with FHD+ 60 too so it may be intentional. If that's the case it'll be very disappointing, but I hope I'm wrong.
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Graham37
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yeah good review! I also upgraded from S10+ and I have loved every moment with my S21 Ultra so far!

I have not had one issue with the phone, overheating, camera etc. I'm yet to still upgrade to the AUB9 patch but so far so good.

Camera is amazing but could still be improved further.
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Vetri
Voyager
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I was a but disappointed in the beginning but have seen some of your posts that made me stick to this device lol and I don't regret it. after a few clear cache routines it feels like a different device now and it takes stunning photos 😁
isko01
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Hey :smiling-face:

 

Thx a lot for this post.

 

1. How I remember you had the same problem with overheating when use camera? Did you get notification that camera app need to close because if overheating? 

 

2. And after AUB9 camera is working fine? No so much overheating? :smiling-face:

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Guy41
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Actually all overheating issues were fixed with AUB6.

Before that I had several times when the phone crashed (literally wouldn't respond) after about 10 minutes of video calls on Zoom. 5 minutes of camera use would get it to ~45-46c. Now there is no overheating issue whatsoever even with extensive video calls, camera use or gaming. It's a brand new phone.