The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus carves a middle path for those looking for a larger version of the Galaxy S21 without spending the extra money on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It retains the S21’s core hardware but adds a larger screen and a larger battery, allowing users to enjoy more visually-impressive media content for a longer period of time. It’s a fantastic Android phone, but while it’s one of the most recent of Samsung’s offerings, When people are looking for a large, powerful Samsung phone, it shouldn’t be the only option.
Last year’s Samusng Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is another notable entry in this category. The more expensive version of the Note 20, it is possibly the most powerful and feature-packed Android available right now. Since it most certainly competes with the S21 Plus, we thought it would be helpful for you to see how the two models stack up against each other in a head-to-head comparison in order to pick the best option for your choice.
|Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra||Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus|
|Size||164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm (6.49 x 3.04 x 0.32 Inches)||161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm (6.36 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches)|
|Weight||208 grams (7.33 ounces)||202 grams (7.05 ounces)|
|Screen Size||6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X||6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X|
|Screen Resolution||3200 x 1440 pixels, 20:9 ratio (511 pixels per inch)||2400 x 1080 pixels, 20:9 ratio (394 ppi)|
|Operating System||Android 11, One UI 3||Android 11, One UI 3|
|Storage||128GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB|
|Micro Card Slot||Yes||No|
|Tap-To-Pay Services||Google Pay, Samsung Pay||Google Pay, Samsung Pay|
|Processor||Exynos 990 (global), Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus (USA)||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|Camera||108-megapixel, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide rear, 10MP front||12MP, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, 10 MP front|
|Video||8K at 24 frames per second, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+||8K at 24 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+|
|Ports||USB 3.2, USB-C||USB 3.2, USB-C|
|Fingerprint Sensors||Yes, in-display||Yes, in-display|
|Battery||4,500 mAh Fast charging (25W)Qi wireless charging (15W)||4,700mAhFast charging (25W)Qi wireless charging (15W)|
|Colour||Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White||Phantom Black Phantom Silver Phantom Violet Phantom Pink Phantom Gold Phantom Red|
Design, display, and durability
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Plus and Note 20 Ultra take opposing approaches to smartphone design. The Note 20 Ultra has the angular, squarish body that has come to define the Note series, whereas the S21 Plus has a more subtly curved frame with a flat screen. The S21 Plus distinguishes itself even more by having a camera bump that slopes nicely into the frame, making it more discreet and less imposing.
While the S21 Plus may be more appealing, there’s no denying that the Note 20 Ultra has a sharper and more impressive display. Its 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen has a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels and provides around 511 pixels per inch, which is a high ratio in anyone’s book. In comparison, the S21 Plus’ 6.7-inch display has only 2400 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of around 394 ppi. Even though both benefit greatly from a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, the Note 20 Ultra has a “wow” factor that the S21 Plus lacks.
Both the S21 Plus and Note 20 Ultra are IP68 certified, which means they can withstand 30 minutes of immersion in shallow water. Despite this similarity, the Note 20 Ultra’s noticeably superior screen gives it the edge in this round.
Battery life, performance, and charging
It is difficult to make a direct comparison between the Galaxy S21 Plus and the Note 20 Ultra when it comes to a discussion about their respective levels of performance. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in the S21 Plus outperforms the Snapdragon 865 Plus by a slight but noticeable margin. The Note 20 Ultra has 12GB of RAM, whereas the S21 Plus has only 8GB. This difference may not be significant, as it only becomes apparent when switching between resource-intensive apps.
Both phones come with 128GB of internal storage as standard, but there is a significant difference between the two. The S21 Plus does not have a microSD card slot, whereas an SD card slot is available in the Note 20 Ultra. With the addition of a MicroSD card that allows you to expand things up to 1TB in the Note 20 Ultra’s case, this could be very important for anyone who needs extra space to store all of their photos and data.
The S21 Plus has a larger 4,800mAh battery than the Note 20 Ultra, which only has 4,500mAh. This is likely to result in a two to three-hour difference in practice, especially given that the Note 20 Ultra has to support a slightly larger screen. Both phones support 25W fast charging, though the S21 Plus does not come with a new charger out of the box.
This round will be declared a tie. The S21 Plus lacks a MicroSD card slot, but not everyone requires one, and the slightly larger battery tips the scales back in its favour.
Both phones have three rear camera lenses, though the specifications are different. The Note 20 Ultra has a 108MP wide lens, a 12MP periscope telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide, whereas the S21 Plus has a 12MP wide lens, a 64MP telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide.
In our review, we discovered that its camera outperforms that of the S21 Plus’ predecessors, including the S20 Ultra. Its excellent main sensor produces excellent photos in most lighting conditions, and its periscope telephoto lens produces better zoomed shots than the S20 phones. It also performs admirably in low light, an area where the S20 phones occasionally faltered. Given that the S21 Plus’ camera does not vastly improve over the S20 Plus’, this advantage remains, even with the few minor software upgrades Samsung has added to the newer phone.
Updates and software
Samsung Note 21 ultra and S21 plus have the same android version which is android 11 and both of these devices are powered by One UI 3. It’s a good Android skin, with a streamlined UX and increased customizability, but since both phones use it, there’s no discernible difference between the two.
The two phones will also receive updates at roughly the same intervals, though the S21 Plus may now receive slight priority due to its newer model. Aside from that possibility, this round is a tie.
Both the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy S21 Plus are 5G-ready smartphones, supporting all major 5G bands, including the faster mmWave band. This is obviously fantastic news if you live near a 5G tower or two.
While the S21 Ultra now includes S Pen support, the S21 Plus does not. The Note 20 Ultra, of course, supports the S Pen, which can be used to take handwritten notes, mark up documents, draw and sketch, and perform a variety of time/effort-saving gestures. It’s a powerful accessory that definitely adds to the device’s premium feel.
Furthermore, the Note 20 Ultra is designed for streaming Xbox games, a first among smartphones. When combined with the S Pen support, the Note 20 Ultra wins this round as well.
Cost and availability
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus costs $1,000 and is now available for purchase directly from Samsung. It is supported by all major carriers and available from the majority of major retailers.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a starting price of $1,299. It is also supported by all major carriers and available from the majority of major online retailers.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is our real winner, outperforming the Galaxy S21 Plus in almost every category. It has a noticeably sharper and clearer screen, more internal memory, a better all-around camera, and S Pen support. The S21 Plus may be more stylishly designed, but it falls short in other areas of the Note 20 Ultra. However, if you want to save $300 and don’t care about microSD cards or S Pens, the Galaxy S21 Plus will not disappoint.