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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in the test: What can the camera, battery and Co. do?

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra * is the latest premium model from the premium range of Samsung Galaxy S smartphones. That’s why it’s obviously a good cell phone – there’s absolutely no doubt about that. So the S21 Ultra is on the cutting edge of technology, it looks fantastic, it has excellent battery life and one of the best displays on the market. Its greatest strength, however, is its quad-lens camera system with two different zoom lenses for three- and ten-fold zoom, a 108-megapixel standard wide-angle lens and an ultra-wide-angle lens.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in the test

So far so good. But do these features justify the price of 1,249.00 euros? I tested the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra * – and especially its camera.

The design and display of the S21 Ultra

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra * is tasteful and simple. On the front is a glass plate with slightly curved edges. The back with the large camera module as a design element is also made of glass. In contrast to the previous models, it is frosted glass, which not only looks better, but also does not attract as many fingerprints.

Like most large smartphones, the Samsung Galalxy S21 Ultra * is relatively heavy with a weight of 229 grams. This is probably due to the 6.8 inch screen diagonal. If you are not used to handling large cell phones, you might be overwhelmed at first.

On the other hand, the S21 Ultra * can hardly be surpassed in terms of its display. With a luminance of 1,500 nits, it can get incredibly bright. In addition, there is the razor-sharp and colorful AMOLED technology of the screen. The resolution of 1,080 pixels can be increased to 1,440 pixels (which is completely superfluous, but nice to have) and the frame rate is a proud 120 Hertz.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: performance and battery life

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra * ensures smooth use of the smartphone. The twelve to 16 gigabyte RAM also helps ensure that the phone works without any problems worth mentioning, even when it is used intensively with many open apps.

The outstanding performance of the S21 Ultra * is supported by its powerful battery. The smartphone charges at a top speed of 25 watts and the battery lasted an impressive 16 hours and 42 minutes in a permanently running YouTube video in our test. The only drawback with the battery: The scope of delivery includes a charging cable, but no charger. So if you don’t have a USB-C charger, you’ll have to buy your own, which is a bit frustrating at a price of € 1,249.

The camera of the Galaxy S21 Ultra from Samsung

While the display, performance and battery of the Samsung Galaxy S21 * meet all the requirements of a premium smartphone, its camera exceeds all expectations. It has four different lenses: a 108 megapixel standard wide angle lens, a twelve megapixel ultra wide angle lens with a 120 degree field of view, a ten megapixel triple zoom lens and a ten megapixel ten times zoom lens that can zoom up to 100 times digitally. Wow. You can’t imagine anything under that? Then take a look at these pictures that I took with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Here is a picture of the night sky above my balcony:

The luminosity of the moon over Berlin comes into its own even without a zoom.

The luminosity of the moon over Berlin comes into its own even without a zoom.

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And here is a picture of the moon, taken at the same time with the zoom activated:

At maximum zoom you can see how strong the zoom of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra really is.

At maximum zoom you can see how strong the zoom of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra really is.

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I took this photo in Treptower Park in Berlin. First without zoom:

Even at dusk, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can take razor-sharp images.

Even at dusk, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can take razor-sharp images.

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Then slightly zoomed in:

The simple zoom has little effect on the quality of the image.

The simple zoom has little effect on the quality of the image.

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And a little closer:

Even at ten times the zoom, the image quality hardly deteriorates.

Even at ten times the zoom, the image quality hardly deteriorates.

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Finally very close:

The picture only becomes a little blurred from a zoom of 20x.

The picture only becomes a little blurred from a zoom of 20x.

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Admittedly, anything that goes beyond 20x zoom isn’t really worth it. The photos will then be out of focus and generally look bad. Nevertheless, it is astonishing how good the quality of the images remains despite the activated zoom. With the two zoom lenses you can take clear and sharp photos from medium (three times zoom) and long (ten times zoom) distance, as no digital zoom is required, which reduces the image quality.

The 108 megapixel wide-angle lens takes twelve megapixel photos by default, but you can switch to 108 megapixels to get photos with more detail – even in poor lighting conditions. This means that recorded images stay sharp even when you zoom in on them. In night mode, the camera combines the megapixels from 108 to 12 so that it can take in more light. The same also applies to videos that can be rotated in up to 8K resolution.

But does a smartphone really need such a powerful camera? Before the test, I would have answered this question with “no”. But anyone who has once enjoyed taking photos of the moon with a cell phone camera will no longer want to do without it in the future. How often you actually use the zoom in everyday life is an open question. However, the mere option of being able to fall back on it if necessary is worth gold. In this respect, the camera is by no means an overkill feature of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra *.

What are the weaknesses of the S21 Ultra?

The S21 Ultra * has no serious weaknesses, most of the disadvantages can be neglected. These include, for example, its weight and the not completely flawless 20x zoom. Apart from the lack of a charger, I can forgive the smartphone for these disadvantages. If you also already have a USB-C charger, you shouldn’t mind that anyway.

Test conclusion: is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra worth it?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – from € 1,249.00 at Samsung *


I already mentioned at the beginning that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra * is a good smartphone. I still stand behind this statement. As far as camera and display are concerned, there is currently nothing better on the market. The only reason not to choose an S21 Ultra is that it is quite expensive. That’s why I recommend waiting a little longer before purchasing it. Samsung phones usually lose value quickly, so you can expect the first reductions in spring or summer. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can already find the first offers from just under 1,000.00 euros. Alternatively, you can buy the smartphone in combination with a cell phone tariff and save some money. Without a contract, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is available from these providers, among others:

Disclaimer: We’re looking for products for you that we think you’ll like. The selection is subjective, but editorially independent. We have affiliate partnerships, which means that if you make a purchase using a link marked with an asterisk, we receive a small commission. Our recommendations and the selection of products are not influenced by this. The content is also independent of our advertising marketing. You can find our guidelines for journalistic independence here: www.axelspringer.com/de/leitlinien-der-journalistische-indabhaengigkeit

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