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Galaxy Unpacked 2021 | The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung's latest truly premium device with a price to match

The Galaxy S21 Ultra. (Source: Samsung)
The Galaxy S21 Ultra. (Source: Samsung)
Samsung has made the Galaxy S21 Ultra official, alongside its smaller S21 and S21+ siblings. Its heretofore well-leaked specs is housed in a fresh case design with a metallic rear camera housing and an otherwise matte finish. The OEM also confirms its newly-acquired S Pen compatibility, new 108MP main shooter and Knox Vault security features.

Given the gradual generation-by-generation watering-down that has led to the S21 and S21+, their Ultra counterpart is the real Samsung flagship launched today (January 14, 2021). Its 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED WQHD+ display with a refresh rate that can vary from 120 hertz (Hz) down to just 11Hz, up to 16GB of RAM, as well as new Qualcomm or Exynos processors, serve to underpin this impression.

Furthermore, it does indeed now have S Pen (and S Pen Pro, the only one to support Bluetooth) features, albeit one without the in-phone-charging and storage properties of the Galaxy Note series: an additional case will be required to keep it on the Ultra at need. Nevertheless, the new premium device does integrate Wacom technology for its new styli.

By itself, the phone does indeed exhibit the re-designed chassis seen in all of its leaks, with a new metal hump for its quad rear cameras. The main sensor here is 108MP, which has been seen before; however, this is a new ISOCELL HM-series component that combines Nonacell pixel-binning-technology und a 0.8 micron pixel size.

The Ultra is also the only S21 variant capable of dual zoom, a function it can do at 3x and 10x out of separate 10MP lenses. 100x digital Space Zoom also returns in this variant. Ultra-wide-angle duties are handled by a 12MP 120-degree sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus (AF).

This configuration is rated for 8K UHD recording at 30fps to HD at 960 fps. The Galaxy S21 Ultra's front-facing Cyclops selfie camera is also upgraded to 40MP. Samsung asserts that the user can send these cameras' footage securely to friends or family using Private Share, or store them using the SoC-level Knox Vault.

On that note, Samsung has also integrated Qualcomm's latest under-display fingerprint sensor into the S21 series included. Once unlocked, the flagship is poised to integrate into Samsung's wider ecosystem using ultra-wide-band (UWB) technology. This can help it co-ordinate with various devices from the OEM, smart-home and appliances included.

There is also a new dimension of Android Auto available to the S21 Ultra that can be set to activate the same ecosystem products once the car in question is near enough to the user's home, a feature that leverages wireless communications and geo-fencing. UWB can also be applied to Digital Keys for one's home or car, although this may be dependent on manufacturing partners.

Needless to say, the S21 Ultra can also interact seamlessly with the new Galaxy Buds Pro and SmartTags, the latter of which also has UWB to enhance its locational performance. The new flagship is available in Buds Pro-matching Phantom Black and Phantom Silver, as numerous initial tips have predicted.

However, alternative shades - Phantom Navy, Brown and Titanium - are exclusives available from Samsung's Online Shop in various markets. Then again, they are not exempt from the new normal of having nothing useful besides a USB type C to C cable in the box with them.

These new colorways are paired to SKUs of 12GB of RAM with 128GB to 256GB of (non-expandable, something Samsung glossed over completely during their unveiling) internal storage, or the top-end 16GB RAM/512GB internal storage option.

None of them come cheap, however: they are priced at US$1199, $1249, and $1379 respectively. They are available to buy from January 29, 2021; however, pre-orders are open from now until January 28 in most markets.

Customers who avail of them might get somethiing extra from Samsung for doing so: for example, those who buy direct from the OEM in the US get $200 "Instant Credit" that can cover a range of cases or accessories, the Galaxy Buds Pro included.

You can use an S Pen with the S21 Ultra... (Source: Samsung)
You can use an S Pen with the S21 Ultra... (Source: Samsung)
...although both can only fit into compatible cases. (Source: Samsung)
...although both can only fit into compatible cases. (Source: Samsung)


Samsung Press Release

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 01 > The Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung's latest truly premium device with a price to match
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-01-14 (Update: 2021-01-14)