Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that one of the most powerful smartphones out right now is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. This is one of the first series of devices running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 with the Ultra variant of the Galaxy S21 being the most powerful of the bunch. It’s got a larger, higher resolution screen, better cameras, and more RAM. In terms of design, it’s not much different from its smaller siblings, the Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G. It’s just larger. Anyways, we did just receive a new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Unlocked here so let’s get started with some first impressions during our unboxing.
Note: Samsung did send us a Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Unlocked in Phantom Black for us to review and evaluate.
The first thing you’ll notice with the Samsung Galaxy S21 series of devices is just how much smaller the box is. It’s about half the size it used to be and this does for any of the Galaxy S21 devices. Why is that? Basically, Samsung no longer includes a charger in the box nor are there any earbuds. All you get in the box now is the phone, a charging cable, and some documentation. Samsung now does this in order to decrease waste, but whether or not this really does that remains to be seen.
The Galaxy S21 series is the beginning of a new design language for Samsung, mainly on the back. I say that because the front of the phone doesn’t really look much different from any other phone out there. The phone features a 6.8″ edge Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display pushing a resolution of 3200×1440. The display isn’t flat like the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ are and does feature a slight curve at the edges. It’s not a dramatic waterfall though so accidental palm touches don’t seem like they will be a problem.
The screen also has a tiny pinhole selfie camera that is much better looking than a notch and is barely noticeable. Up top, the earpiece is just a very thin slit that you can’t even really see. The second speaker is also housed here.
What’s interesting to note here is that the phone itself is tall, but a bit less wide than other phones. Though not as skinny as something like the Xperia 1 series, it feels very comfortable in your hands.
Moving to the back, here’s where you’ll see the biggest changes. Instead of the usual rectangular camera bump, Samsung has now integrated it all into the corner of the device, which Samsung calls a Contour Cut Camera. On the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, it’s even more pronounced than it is on its smaller siblings. The reason for that is to house the five cameras. I do like how the metal border around the new camera module blends into the side rails of the phone.
I don’t like how the phone is a bit uneven though when placed on a table as you can rock the phone side to side with just a touch. It’s nothing a good case can’t fix though.
I should mention too that the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G only comes in two colors, unless you buy direct from Samsung, but we ended up getting the Phantom Black. It’s a very dark, matte black and barely reflects any light. I love the fact that it does not attract fingerprints, though you can still see some oily smudges that are easy to wipe off. I should mention that the back is glass, specifically Gorilla Glass Victus, which is supposed to be the toughest Gorilla Glass yet. The front glass is also this.
Now lets look at the side rails. On the Phantom Black, the side rails are are shiny black. This gives off a nice contrast to the matte black back. On the right side, Samsung houses all the buttons here on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The volume rocker is up top and the power button below that. You’ll find two mics on top and one mic on the bottom. The bottom is also where you’ll find the sim card tray, the other speaker, and the USB-C port.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is a very clean design. I love their new design language and it helps set them apart from every other phone maker out there, including Apple. This to me looks even better than the current iPhone 12 series. In fact, this might just be the best Galaxy S-series smartphone they’ve ever designed.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
As amazing as the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G looks, there are some things I already don’t like off the bat. Mainly, I don’t like the fact that it no longer supports expandable storage. I’ve grown accustomed to removing my SD card whenever I switch phones and having all my photos, music, and any other media already transferred. Now I have to manually transfer files. I mean I could use the cloud, but I prefer using physical storage. I guess I’ll have to make due and see if 128GB of storage will be enough.
The phone is also a bit on the heavy side. While it does feel really good and solid, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is much heavier than its smaller siblings.
Despite some omissions, I really like the look of the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. I wished it came in some brighter colors however, like it does on the regular Galaxy S21 5G, but I will say that the Phantom Black does look really slick. Regardless, it’s most likely going to be covered up a by a case anyways.
Without a case though, the phone does feel really good in your hands. The rounded edges help keep the phone comfortable to hold and it doesn’t feel quite as slippery as a regular all-glass phone usually does. It’s also not quite as easy to hold as the smaller Galaxy S21 5G though, but for a big phone, it feels good.
We’ll have to see how it holds up over time and of course, get some time with the phone and software. That’s basically it for now. Stay tuned for a full review in the near future.