It felt like yesterday when I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G and now, there’s a brand new upgraded device in the S series. You might not be picking up the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G for its 5G capabilities (Southeast Asia isn’t quite ready for that conversation yet, but that’s a topic for another day) but what if you’re considering this bad boy for gaming instead?
The S21 Ultra 5G comes with Samsung’s brand new Exynos 2100 chip and 12GB RAM (more than some PCs and laptops out there). So obviously gaming on this would be no problem, right?
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G prices (starting from):
- Malaysia: RM5,299
- The Philippines: ₱69,990.00
- Indonesia: Rp19.999.000
- Thailand: ฿39,900.00
- Vietnam: N/A
- Singapore: S$1,798.00
Here are the full tech specs of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G:
- Display: 6.8-inch Dynamic Amoled 2X display
- Processor: Exynos 2100 chipset
- Internal Storage: 256GB or 512GB
- Memory: 256GB or 512GB of internal storage
- Battery capacity: 5,000mAh battery with 25W fast charging
- OS: One UI 3.1
- Cameras: Quad camera setup with 108MP (wide) + 10MP (periscope telephoto, 10x optical zoom) + 10MP (telephoto) + 12MP (ultrawide); Selfie: 40MP (wide)
- Ports: USB Type-C 3.2
- Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
- Weight: 227g
Design: Huge and bulky but surprisingly comfortable to handle!
As I’ve mentioned a million times in my other reviews (yes, it’s usually me, I am the tech review auntie of IGN SEA and PROUD OF IT!), I don’t usually like big devices because of how small my hands are (or smol, t-rex hands if you want to put it in easier terms). My devices of choice have always been the vanilla or mini versions of most devices. Anything with the words “max” “plus” or “pro” are devices I usually stay away from as it implies a much larger phone.
While I initially thought that the phone is a big and thicc boi, and that I wouldn’t enjoy my experience handling it, I was dead wrong. Despite being huge and kind of heavy, the way the phone is built maximizes comfort.
The edges of the phone are rounded and rests comfortably in my hands while gaming. They also allow my fingers to reach vital parts of the screen effortlessly. I personally think that using the phone vertically for daily use feels kind of bulky but when it comes to gaming, hot damn, it’s amazing how much I can see in the game thanks to the large screen.
Usually, when gaming on large screens, the graphics tend to look blurry or washed out. However, that was not the case with Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED display. Images were sharp and crisp, allowing me to see more, especially in games like PUBG Mobile. I found it easier for me to spot enemies far away, which I feel plays a huge role in winning games.
The screen itself felt nice for my thumbs to glide on. However, those with sweaty or moist fingers (like mine) would benefit from getting thumb sleeves for a better glide while gaming.
In terms of looks, the phone now follows the look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G minus the stylus. Having the look and feel of the Note is a welcome upgrade to the device, but due to the size of the device, I wish that the phone came with a stylus like the Note series. For gaming, however, that didn’t really matter.
Performance and Gaming – Soo much power but without the heat!
Previously with the Note 20 Ultra 5G, my biggest gripe about the device is the heat it emitted. Playing games like PUBG Mobile heated up the phone so badly that the display ended up being not properly responsive. That is not the case for this device.
We tested some of the most popular games in Southeast Asia usually played on mobile phones like PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, League of Legends: Wild Rift, Asphalt 9, Call of Duty: Mobile, Genshin Impact and to test the 120Hz display, Injustice 2.
Except Genshin Impact, playing all the games mentioned on the highest settings barely heated up the phone, which really impressed me. It really is a huge step up over the Note 20 Ultra 5G. One game that heated up the phone a little more than the rest is Wild Rift but only when you switch the refresh rate to 60fps instead of 30fps, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about.
There’s no lag, delays or screen tears when playing games on the highest graphics settings and honestly, it feels good being able to do so. Even heavier titles like Asphalt 9 didn’t break a sweat and it looks soooo smooth! The same thing can be said about Injustice 2, which is one of the few games on the mobile gaming market that runs at 120fps.
Now for Genshin Impact: like other games, the game is set to Medium by default. While other devices usually warm up at this resolution, the S21 Ultra 5G didn’t even flinch. Kicking it up to high graphics showed that the device is “overclocked”, which in layman terms means most of the device’s resources are being utilised.
The phone did get warm but the game still managed to run smoothly with no lags, tears or frame drops. When I kicked it up to the highest graphics, I noticed that the phone started to get very hot. While the game was still able to render and run smoothly, I did notice some frame drops when I moved the camera around very quickly.
While it is wonderful to be able to run the game on the highest settings, to protect your battery, I recommend playing Genshin Impact on Medium to High settings.
Playing Genshin Impact truly is a delight on the device thanks to its big screen and horsepower. You get quite a wide view as well as render distance, which means you’re pretty much able to see as much as you would when playing on a PC or console.
Battery-wise, the phone only shaved off 26% of battery with one hour of gaming on the brightest display possible. This is coupled with the 120Hz adaptive display turned on. For those unfamiliar with the term, adaptive display is one of the features that come with the S21 Ultra 5G, where it can automatically switch between 120Hz refresh rate and lower depending on what you’re using the phone for. Say you’re playing Injustice 2, the phone will automatically switch over to 120Hz and if you decide to stop and scroll through Twitter, it will switch over to 60Hz. This is to reduce the phone’s battery consumption, which I found extremely useful.
As usual, Samsung rarely ever lets us down when it comes to speakers. Be it for gaming or cinematics, the S21 Ultra 5G’s speakers are crisp with perfect pitch and base. I really enjoyed watching movies and listening to music from the speakers. When it comes to gaming, it is still recommended to use headphones for games that require audio cues. However, since most games have in-game visual cues, does it really matter?
Final Verdict – Tons of power!
I can confirm that by far, this is one of the most powerful devices I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. From running games as light as Wild Rift to heavy-hitting titles like Genshin Impact, you won’t be disappointed if you picked this device to play games on.
The price is very steep but understandable as it comes with many, many impressive features outside of gaming, such as the capability to capture amazing photos and an AI that is now twice as intelligent compared to its predecessor.
- Large and impressive display
- Amazing speakers
- Is able to run almost any games on highest graphics with no issues
- Heat management has been greatly improved
- Long battery life
- A little heavy for my liking
- Price is a little steep if only used for gaming