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Samsung has launched its latest series of phones, with the super-deluxe S21 Ultra probably being the head-turner of the bunch. The standard Galaxy S21 will likely be the most popular but Samsung has also provided the Galaxy S21 Plus as a middle ground to bridge the two opposite ends. It is affordably priced between the other two and has a medium too. It has a similar processor as in the S21 (and the S21 Ultra), but adds a bigger screen than the S21 and also a bigger battery. It is basically an S21 for people who want extra size.

Galaxy S21 Plus
Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus size comparison. Image credit: modlabs.net

However, as Simon Chandler expressed in his recent article over at digitaltrends If Samsung fans are looking for 6.7-inch screens with decent battery lives then the Galaxy S20 Plus gives you just that. It comes with a very nice display, powerful processor and a quality camera. Besides, it comes with a MicroSD card slot for those who need extra storage space.

Samsung S20 Plus
Samsung S20 Plus comes with a MicroSD card slot for those who need extra storage space. Image credit: gsmarena.com

When you consider that the S20 also comes with a charger but the S21 Plus doesn’t then despite being the older model it could be the better option. To truly see how it fairs you have to look into the specs side by side and compare the physical features, performance, and price. Only then can you really gauge how good it is and whether or not it will suit your needs.

Specifications

Galaxy S20 Plus Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 161.9 × 73.7 × 7.8 mm (6.37 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches) 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm (6.36 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 186 grams (6.56 ounces) 202 grams (7.05 ounces)
Screen size 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Screen resolution 3200 × 1440 pixels (525 pixels-per-inch) 2400 x 1080 pixels (394 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 11 Android 11
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
Tap-to-pay services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM 12GB 8GB
Camera 12-megapixel, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and ToF sensor rear

10MP front

12MP, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear

10MP front

Video 8K at 24 frames per second, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth version 5.0 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, in-display Yes, in-display
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 4,500mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

4,800mAh

Fast charging (25W)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black, Cloud White, Aura Red, Aura Blue Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, Phantom Gold, Phantom Red
Prices $1,200 $1,000

 

First impressions, displays, and build

The previous  S20 Plus model was a little underwhelming for some. The design was a little boring and predictable. But the S21 Plus looks a little different. The new rear camera slopes beautifully to the frame giving it a much more adventurous design. And it doesn’t just look good, it also serves to conceal how much the camera protrudes from the device giving it a much more streamlined aesthetic overall. It is definitely an improvement from its predecessor, the new narrowed bezels make it less of an eyesore.

With 3200 x 1440 pixels, its 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen provides 525 pixels per inch. Which makes it safe to say that the older S20 Plus has a more impressive display than the S21 plus. On the contrary, the 6.8-inch (also Dynamic AMOLED) S21 Plus packs 2400 x 1080 pixels, making for only 394 pixels per inch. It isn’t just semantics either, the clarity and definition are noticeably better, it has sharper images. Both phones have HDR10+ and a refresh rate of 120Hz.

In terms of durability, the materials are the same and they have matching IP ratings (IP68). 

Essentially neither wins the category outright, they are fairly evenly matched except that the S20 Plus has a better display but the new model is better to look at. 

Verdict:  A draw

Power and Performance

Evaluating performance here is tricky. The Galaxy S21 Plus has a newer and more powerful processor, With a brand spanking new Qualcomm Snapdragon888 the Galaxy S21 Plus has the more powerful processor of the two. The earlier S20 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. However, that doesn’t necessarily render it the best. The 21 only comes with 8GB of RAM and the 20 has 12G. The two may well cancel one another out depending on what you are looking for in a phone. Ultimately they both handle apps and games with ease but the processing of the S21 Plus doesn’t seem remarkably better.

Both phones have a generous 12GB of internal memory but once again the older model trumps the new kid on the block with its integrated MicroSD card reader. This effectively bumps its internal memory up to a terabyte. With no MicroSD reading capabilities, onboard the S21 falls short at this hurdle making the S20 the more attractive of the two despite being an older model.

The advantage the S21 Plus does have is it’s bigger battery, at 4,800mAh compared to 4,500mAh. Even though the S20 Plus’ battery was already reliable enough, lasting you more than a full day even under heavier use, the extra 300mAh the S21 Plus has is just more dependable. If you use it lightly it might even last you for more than 2 days.

Verdict: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Wins

Lenses and low-light

Both take reasonably good photos. You may remember that the S20 wasn’t the best in low light conditions. It is also fair to say that due to some software inconsistencies it had a few issues such as oversaturation and poor edge-detection. 

Although Samsung did announce that the S21 would have a software overhaul to help compensate for some of the problems users had encountered according to most reviewers it still isn’t perfect. The performance side by side is pretty much identical, there are some improvements to low-lighting but the quality still drops heavily. 

In terms of the lenses themselves, you will see from the specs above that the S21 Plus and S20 Plus offer exactly the same camera array. Both feature a 12-megapixel camera as their main lens, pitted with a 64MP telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide for shooting with.

Verdict: A draw

Operation

Both models function on an Android 11 operating system that runs Samsung’s proprietary One UI 3.0 on top. They are both a step-up from One UI 2.0 providing a better user experience. They both provide better software shortcuts such as being able to view your widget options with a convenient long-press action.

Both phones will also deliver updates to users at the same rate, given that they’re both Samsung devices. Samsung has a bad track record when it comes to Android update rollouts. Fortunately, they have pulled their socks up in recent months, and rumors are all S20 lineup models will soon have Android 11 operating systems.

Verdict: A draw

Further Features of Galaxy S21 Plus and S20 Plus

The S21 Plus and S20 Plus support 5G, inclusive of the proposed faster mmWave band. So if you live within close proximity to a 5G network you are in luck with either one. 

When it comes to differences, the S21 sports newer software such as Vlogger’s View and Director’s View. With Vloggers view users can use both camera front and rear simultaneously to shot. Directors’ view allows you to shoot a video and maintain a thumbnail view of the other lens feeds. This lets you switch between the two as and when you need to with ease.

Regardless of this welcome addition, the S21 Plus still has one simple but irritating downside which is the lack of charger in the box. UNlike S20 Plus that comes with one, you’ll need to spend an extra $25 if you don’t have a compatible charger.

Verdict: A draw

Pricing 

You can now get the Galaxy S21 Plus at Samsung’s website. The price tag starts at $1,000, and is supported by all major carriers, and is sold pretty much everywhere.

Originally priced at $1,200, the S20 Plus is no longer available from Samsung’s official store. And yet, it’s possible to find it online via third-party sellers like Amazon and Best Buy that may even offer it at a discount compared to its launch price. This could continue to drop once with the newer model selling.

Bottom Line

Despite its modern design, faster processing, and a couple of software updates to boast about the Galaxy S21 just aren’t enough to trump the S20 Plus. The older model sports a much better display features identical camera lenses and performs perfectly. The battery life on each is generous but once again equally matched. The fact that the S20 features a MicroSD card reader tips the scales. The extra storage is going to be a requirement for most users. 

Given that we are likely to see the older model drop in price online with the release of the new and that the S21 Plus doesn’t bring any major breakthroughs to the table with its new design it is tough to justify buying it.

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