I really want to love samsung and their products. I think One UI is very well thought out and is almost equals if not exceeds stock Android in terms of how polished and finished everything feels.
But I can't help but notice the obvious flaws that my S21 Ultra has.
I bought this phone to replace my OnePlus 7T because I wanted to experience the "flagship" quality cameras that every YouTuber was talking about. It was a very expensive purchase, a little less than thrice the cost of my 7T.
First impressions, it was bad. The cameras were nowhere near the adjectives that the reviewers used to describe it. It was like I have a different phone because I was not at all impressed by the photo quality and I'm wondering why this is considered "flagship" quality. My OnePlus 7T with Google Camera takes far better pictures with unbelievable detail. I was so disappointed because the whole reason I bought S21U is because of the cameras, and it was worse than my previous phone.
Now the reason why I say this:
1. S21U takes unnatural, pictures of people even with 0 skin smoothness and Natural selfies enabled. Side by side comparison with my Google Camera powered OnePlus 7T shows how much of an "Oil Painting" look that S21 has. It was like samsung telling me that my face is too much covered with pimples and imperfections, let's hide that hideous pimples and dark circles of yours. It was very disappointing.
2. Over-sharpening. Samsung processing tends to oversharpen everything to make it appear as if more details are present. If you zoom in a bit, every detail vanishes and you find artifacts due to over sharpening. In comparison, Google camera on 7T produces pleasing images with excellent noise reduction and preservation of details on zooming in without coming off as oversharpened.
Only thing I feel Samsung is good at is on zoom which is not something I or even most others use very often atleast not as often as just point and shoot main and ultra wide lenses. I do agree that video is superior on the Samsung.
The next biggest complaint is, Heating issues.
I own an Exynos model so I can't speak for Snapdragon variants.
When you open the camera app, the phone rockets to 36-38°C no matter the ambient temperature. If you continuously switch between lenses and modes (without taking any pictures by the way) the phone can reach temperature excess of 40°C.
I get anxiety whenever I open the camera app because I know the phone is going to heat up so why even bother? It remains warm to the touch even on day to day applications even though on paper, the battery temperature is low. There is something to it because, you can feel the warmth on the back glass at all times whereas this never was an issue with my 7T. Samsung did replace my first Ultra deeming it defective but the replacement unit too feels exactly the same. But Samsung denies no such issue exists because to them, a device is defective only when it hits 48°C. My unit reached "only" 46°C. This issue alone bothers me all the time I'm using my device because I can't help but feel how cool my OnePlus is to the touch.
Next issue is performance. I get wildly inconsistent scores on various benchmarks like geekbench, 3d mark. My OnePlus consistently achieves the scores it is supposed to achieve. Whereas my Ultra rarely achieves the average scores and most of the time performs equal to or if not worse than my 7T which is a 2 year old device. ( I get geekbench single core scores like 500-600 consistently with occasional 1000-800. Same story with 3D mark ).
Now these benchmarks aren't just synthetic scores. These do translate to real life. On games like genshin impact, I get often stutters and the over-all look and feel of the game's graphics feel poor in comparison to my 855+ powered OnePlus 7T. Though I do agree that S21U has better thermal management on games compared to my 7T but I believe it is solely because of extreme thermal throttling.
These issues are really hurting the user experience because the camera and the performance are the key reasons I bought this device when my 7T was perfectly working. Now when the phone fails in my key reasons to buy it, all other features like an amazing display, countless features in OneUI becomes null to me.
I'm really sad to come to this conclusion but I don't think the S21 Ultra is worth it at all. Its an overpriced junk in my opinion and is one of my worst financial decisions I have made. It brought me immense unsatisfaction and stress because as I briefly told previously about giving the phone to Samsung for the analysis, it was not pretty. I made countless calls to customer care and fought with samsung technicians for 1 whole month. So I conclude that because of these reasons I am never purchasing a samsung device again. S21 Ultra is the first and last samsung I am going to own.
Please feel free to inform me if your experience varies from mine. I know this is a very long read but I would really appreciate it if you go through it. Thanks.
At the price I bought this phone, I can only buy the regular 12 with far more fewer features. I also have not experienced iOS before so I'm not very keen on changing.
46°c is normal for heat when using camera or gaming. Every other flagship phone in last 2 years I have seen reaching near 40-45°c during extensive use. Above 48°c I would say it is over heating since Snapdragon also rate its phone to perform normal until 47°c.