The smartphone market has seemingly hit a plateau in recent years as all devices are fairly capable of all but the most intensive tasks, they all have beautiful displays and decent to great battery life. But they’ve also gotten pricier over the years.
Today, with around $400, which device should you go for? Well, you could get a new midrange device and be very happy with it. However, there’s a case to be made about older flagships that seem to get more and more support.
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The Samsung Galaxy S21+ and its sibling the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra emerged as a beacon of innovation and performance when released in January 2021. Now, in 2023, with newer models hitting the market and technological advancements pushing boundaries, the question arises: Is the Galaxy S21+ still worth your consideration? In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into the key aspects of the Galaxy S21+ and assess its relevance in today’s highly competitive smartphone arena
I have the Galaxy S21+ 5G Exynos version from the UAE. It is the dual SIM version with 2 physical SIMs and an eSIM. It currently runs on Android 13-based OneUI 5.1 and has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
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Design and Display
The Galaxy S21+ was lauded for its sleek design and captivating display upon release, and these attributes still hold strong in 2023. The premium glass back and metal frame continue to exude sophistication, while the 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display remains a visual treat. The 120Hz adaptive refresh rate ensures fluid interactions, and the vibrant colors and crisp resolution make content consumption a pleasure.
Coming from the Galaxy S9+ with an eye-candy 1440p, I was at first disappointed that this panel is only 1080p but honestly, this is a great display and the 120Hz refresh rate makes all the difference.
While newer models may boast incremental improvements in design aesthetics, the S21+ holds its own, offering a timeless and premium feel that doesn’t easily fade into obsolescence. If a polished design and an impressive display are at the top of your smartphone priority list, the Galaxy S21+ still competes admirably.
NOTE: These panels are prone to screen burn in so don’t be like me, examine the display keenly with a white background on the display and see how bad the issue is on your unit before you splurge.
Performance and Power
Under the hood, the Galaxy S21+ packs a punch with its Exynos or Snapdragon processor (depending on the region) and 8GB or 12GB of RAM. Even in 2023, this hardware configuration proves capable of handling demanding tasks, multitasking, and resource-intensive applications. While it may not match the absolute cutting edge of the latest releases, the S21+ remains more than competent for the majority of users.
The 4800mAh battery, coupled with intelligent power management, still delivers a satisfactory all-day battery life. Fast charging and wireless charging support remain valuable features, ensuring that the device stays relevant in a world where convenience and efficiency are paramount.
The camera system on the Galaxy S21+ was a standout feature during its debut, and it continues to impress in 2023. The triple-camera setup, featuring a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and a 64MP telephoto lens, produces high-quality images in various conditions. The inclusion of features like Night mode and 8K video recording adds to the device’s versatility.
The Director’s View, introduced with the S21 series, still provides a unique and creative approach to capturing content. It allows you to have a feed from all the cameras on the device all at the same time, allowing you to switch between them as and when you want.
This mode can be very useful for vloggers. In my experience, it sucks juice very very fast so bear that in mind as you explore.
The selfie and portrait modes, in my opinion, is where the S21+ really shines. The camera app and the editing suite included provides you with so much flexibility and capability even after taking the shot with features that help you change the degree of background blur in post.
While newer models may bring incremental improvements in camera technology, the Galaxy S21+ remains a reliable choice for photography enthusiasts who prioritize a balance between performance and affordability.
Software and User Interface
The Galaxy S21+ benefits from Samsung’s commitment to software updates and runs on the latest version of Android with the One UI 5 skin with Android 14-based One UI 6 expected soon.
This skin is feature-rich and packed with customizations and helpful features alike. Look out for an upcoming post on One UI features.
Samsung has promised to provide four years of Android updates for all Galaxy flagships from 2019 and later, including the Galaxy S21 Plus. This means that the Galaxy S21 Plus will receive Android updates until at least 2025.
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In a market where software support is a crucial factor in determining a device’s longevity, the Galaxy S21+ stands out as a device that continues to receive attention and updates from the manufacturer.
Connectivity and 5G
The Galaxy S21+ was one of the early adopters of 5G technology, and in 2023, it remains a capable contender in terms of connectivity. I was able to connect to Safaricom 5G with no issues at all and impressive speeds.
As 5G networks continue to expand globally, the S21+ ensures that users stay at the forefront of high-speed mobile data. 4G and 3G is also supported and in Kenya, I didn’t have any signal issues on Airtel Kenya or Safaricom.
Additionally, support for Wi-Fi 6 adds to the device’s connectivity prowess, making it a future-ready choice. I don’t have a Wi-Fi 6 router so I couldn’t test this, but I haven’t had WiFi issues.
Now here’s something I didn’t think I’d like as much as I did because, for me, this has always been a gimmick. Samsung DeX is a software and hardware combination that allows you to use your Samsung device as a desktop-like computer.
You can access apps, files, and tools on a monitor or a touchpad, but it is not a full-fledged desktop replacement. However, it is more capable than you think. I recently went on a digital detox weekend and left my PC behind. I had to get some things done online and out of curiosity I just tried the Dex wireless feature.
With Chrome, I was able to handle all the editorial tasks I needed to do with no fuss at all. That all my mobile apps are still available is just the icing on an already delicious cake.
In the fast-paced world of smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G has proven its resilience. While it may not boast the absolute latest and greatest features, its combination of design, display, performance, camera capabilities, and software support positions it as a compelling option in 2023.
For users who prioritize a well-rounded device with a premium feel and are mindful of their budget, the Galaxy S21+ is undoubtedly still worth considering. As we look ahead to the future of mobile technology, the Galaxy S21+ stands as a testament to Samsung’s ability to create devices that withstand the test of time.