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Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ 5G First Impressions

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We just got our hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ and here are our first impressions of the new flagship smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+

Samsung kickstarts 2021 by announcing the company's new flagship S21 series of smartphones. We were able to get our hands on all three models and in this article, we will be sharing our first glimpse of the new S21 and S21+. If you are interested in reading about the S21 Ultra, you can read it at this link.

The S21 series comes with the recently announced 5nm Samsung Exynos 2100 5G SoC or the 5nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (in the US, South Korea, and China), 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, 25W Wired charging, Qi Wireless charging, Wireless Power Share (reverse wireless charging), stereo speakers, and will run on One UI 3 based Android 11 out of the box.

In the Philippines, the Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at PHP 49,990 while the S21+ starts at PHP 57,990 and is up for pre-order from January 15 to 28, 2021.

Let's dive in!

Build Quality/Design

Samsung Galaxy S21 in Phantom Violet
Samsung Galaxy S21+ in Phantom Black
Samsung Galaxy S21+ in Phantom Black

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ are made with a metal frame and a glass front panel. At the back of the S21 is a frosted glasstic back panel while the S21+ has a frosted glass back.

At first glance, it was hard to tell that the S21's back panel was glasstic. Unlike the Note20's frosted glasstic back panel, the S21's frosted back panel felt better in the hand and felt nearer to the way the S21+'s frosted glass panel felt.

S20's glasstic body feels better than the Note20's glasstic

But still, glasstic phones aren't universally accepted in the PHP 50K range.

On the top left side of both phones is the triple rear camera set-up with the LED flash on the side. Samsung has changed the design and look of the camera module of the S21 series by using making the metal frame extend and continue to the camera module's brushed metal surface.

Level up in elegance for S21+!

Both the Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ comes in only 8GB and 256GB variants. Aside from the size of the phone and the size of the display, the other difference between the two phones is the battery capacity. The S21 comes with a 4,000mAh battery while the S21+ comes with a 4,800mAh battery.
Adaptive 120Hz display for both the S21 and S21+

In front of both smartphones is a flat Dynamic AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution or 2400 x 1080p and adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. The only difference is the size. The S21 has a 6.2-inch panel while the S21+ has a large 6.7-inch panel.

Both phones feature a punch hole on the top middle part of the display that houses a 10MP f/2.2 selfie camera with Dual Pixel AF.
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ top and bottom

On top of both phones are antenna lines and two microphone ports while at the bottom of both phones are antenna lines, speaker grill, USB Type-C port, microphone port, and SIM tray.

There is no 3.5mm headphone jack and the SIM tray can only house two nano-SIMs. Unlike the past Galaxy flagships that carry a Hybrid SIM tray.
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ left and right
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ left and right

On the left side of both phones are more antenna lines while on the right side are more antenna lines, the power button, and the volume rocker.

Both the power button and volume rocker are made of metal and have a premium feeling tactile feedback.

The body of the S21 measures at only 161.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm and weighs only 172 grams while the body of the S21+ measures 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm and weighs only 202 grams.

Samsung Philippines is carrying the S21 in Phantom Gray and Phantom Silver while the S21+ will come in Phantom Violet and Phantom Silver.
Samsung Galaxy S21+'s camera app UI

Both phones have an identical rear camera set-up made up of a 12MP f/1.8 main camera, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, and 64MP f/2.0 3x telephoto while on the notch of both phones is the 10MP f/2.2 selfie camera with dual-pixel.

Running the show is Android 11-based One UI 3.1 with the camera app with Photo, Video, Pro, Night, Macro, Portrait, and more. Samsung has rebranded its Live Focus mode to Portrait.

The rear camera can take videos at up to 8K without stabilization and 4k 60fps with stabilization while the front-facing camera can take up to 4K 60fps video.

Other features include WiFi 6, IP68 water and dust resistance rating, stereo speakers, and Samsung DeX.

Unlike the S21 Ultra, both phones do not have WiFi 6E and S-Pen compatibility.

As of the moment

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+

Our first impressions of the Galaxy S21 and S21+ are mostly great. 

We love that both come with the new 5nm SoC, 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, Adaptive 120Hz FHD+ display, 5G connectivity, sweet overall specs, and are built with premium materials. 

Our gripe is mostly on the S21 as it has a frosted glasstic back panel, a smaller 4,000mAh battery, and is only available online and thru Philippine telcos.

We had hoped that the S Pen support extended to the S21 and S21+ and not only S21 Ultra.

Also, there's no power brick for those who won't pre-order the phones.

We expect that both phones will perform well but we recommend staying tuned for our full review once we get our hands on a review unit. 

For those who are interested, the Samsung Galaxy S21 series will be available for pre-order from January 15 to January 28, 2021.

Stay tuned for our full review.

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