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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review (hands on): A truly amazing Android phone – Tom's Guide

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stands out from the regular Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus in several ways to earn its name. This includes dual telephoto lenses for serious zooming; support for the S Pen (a first for Galaxy S phones); and a bigger, brighter and more dynamic 120Hz OLED display. The best part? The price isn’t as Ultra as last year’s model.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra specs

Display: 6.8 inches AMOLED (3200 x 1400); 10 to 120Hz
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB, 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Rear cameras: 108MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultra wide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, f/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, f/4.9), laser AF sensor
Front camera: 40MP (f/2.2)
Video: 8K 30 fps/4K 60 fps
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Wireless: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, UWB
Size: 6.5 x 2.97 x 0.35 inches
Weight: 8.08 ounces

The Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199, which is $200 less than the ambitious but flawed Galaxy S20 Ultra. The new Ultra comes in a sleeker design and offers faster performance from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip. Still, the new S21 costs $100 more than the excellent iPhone 12 Pro Max, so Samsung has a lot to prove. 

Samsung does make some trade-offs here. You won’t find a charger in the box, and there’s no microSD card slot for expanding the storage. But overall the S21 Ultra looks like the most versatile Galaxy phone yet and a serious contender for a top spot on our best phone list. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra release date and price

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is available for pre-order starting January 14 at 11 a.m. ET. The release date for the Galaxy S21 Ultra is January 29. You’ll be able to buy carrier and unlocked versions of the phone. 

The Ultra starts at $1,199 and includes 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can also upgrade to 256GB of storage and to a model with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.  The 256GB model costs $1,249 — basically an extra $50 — while you’ll pay $1,379 for a Galaxy S21 Ultra with 512GB of storage.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra design and colors

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a camera bump, but it doesn’t jut out from the design as much as it did with the S20 Ultra. A new contour cut design better integrates the bump with the glass back and metal frame around the side. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra bottom SIM Card slot

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra colors are limited if you’re buying through a carrier, with just Phantom Silver and Phantom Black as your options. But the matte look does come across as sophisticated and should resist fingerprints. Samsung.com will offer exclusive S21 Ultra colors, including Phantom Navy, Phantom Titanium and Phantom Brown. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

One welcome design upgrade is that the in-screen fingerprint sensor is now 1.7x larger, so it should be a bit easier to unlock this device. This is especially handy now that many of us are still wearing masks. 

Measuring 6.5 x 2.97 x 0.35 inches (165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm) and weighing 8.08 ounces (229 grams), the S21 Ultra is larger and heavier than the S20 Ultra (6.6 x 2.7 x 0.34 inches, 7.7 ounces). The S21 Ultra is also noticeably thicker than the iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches, 8.03 ounces). This is definitely be a phone you’ll want to use with two hands.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra display

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is simply on eof the best screens on a phone. It’s bright, vibrant and doesn’t make you choose between sharp QHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate like its predecessor. This phone lets you do both at the same time, so you can enjoy smooth scrolling and gameplay without having to drop down the pixels. 

The refresh rate scales all the way down to 10Hz (compared to 48Hz on the S21 and S21 Plus), which should help save on battery life. Plus, the S21 Ultra is designed to get super bright outdoors, going all the way up to 1,500 nits. The S20 Ultra maxed out at 1,200 nits. 

When watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix, Moira Rose’s dark red lipstick and intense blue eyes popped, and I could make out fine fly-away blonde hairs as she complained about he movie premiere. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung says the S21 Ultra has a 3 million: 1 contrast ratio, which is 50% higher than the S20 Ultra. And there’s an Eye Comfort Shield feature that’s designed to reduce eye fatigue by limiting blue light. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

It’s the cameras where the Galaxy S21 Ultra stands out the most against the S21 and S21 Plus. There’s a main 108MP wide sensor and 12MP ultra-wide camera, which is complemented by a laser auto focus sensor.

The 108MP main camera can capture 12-bit HDR photos with 64 times richer color data and more than three times the dynamic range of the S20 Ultra. Plus, there’s a 12-bit RAW file option in Pro mode.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

I tested the camera out at a nearby store to capture a shot of produce, and the green peppers in the foreground look incredibly vibrant. And you can make out a pretty amazing amount of detail when you zoom in. 

Samsung says it has also improved the Portrait mode on the S21 by leveraging AI to better separate the subject from the background. The phone did a good job with this portrait with a pleasing bokeh effect, and my blue sweatshirt and tan jacket have a fair amount of detail. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

But the headline camera feature is the Ultra’s two telephoto lenses — one with 3x zoom and one with 10x optical zoom. The S20 Ultra had just a 4x optical zoom.

It gets better. While the 100x Space Zoom has returned with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, it’s not as shaky as before. That’s because there’s a new Zoom lock feature that identifies your subject to keep it steadier in the frame. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra should perform better than the S21 and S21 Plus in low light, thanks to a faster Bright Night sensor and 12MP nona-binning technology for reducing noise reduction. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

One shot I took outside looked brighter than in real life, but the Night Mode added a gold tint that’s unrealistic. The S21 Ultra actually prompted me to fix the lighting, but the end result looked overly bright.  

On the video front, the Galaxy S21 Ultra can record 8K video up to 30 fps and all of its cameras can capture 4K video at up to 60 fps. But the coolest video upgrade is Director’s View. There’s a new vlogger mode that lets you use the front and back cameras as the same time for recording video. And you can see live thumbnails of each camera while you’re recording video, so you can make a quick call if you want to switch. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

Another software upgrade is Single Take 2.0. Just like before, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is smart enough to capture several images and videos at once for easy sharing. But the AI can now analyze more frames per second for locating the best-looking shots while also creating a Dynamic Slow Mo clip. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 performance

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra features the new Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm, which promises 20% better CPU performance, 30% better graphics and up to twice the AI performance. 

We’ll be bringing you benchmark results with our final review, but overall the S21 Ultra seems very smooth and fast so far. It has no problem juggling multiple open apps, and I enjoyed console-like gameplay when slicing and jumping why way through Grimvalor. Even with multiple enemies on screen, the S21 Ultra didn’t stutter.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra S Pen

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

For the first time ever, a Galaxy S device supports the S Pen, the S21 Ultra makes that happen with a Wacom digitizer built into the display. The S Pen, which is optional, lets you draw, sketch and take notes, just as you can on the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra. It also comes in handy for quickly signing documents.

Just keep in mind that the S Pen is sold separately — it costs $40 — and you’ll need to spring for a compatible case if you want to store the stylus on the go when it’s not in use. There are two case options with S Pen support, and both cost $69.99.

In addition to the S Pen — which is actually a slightly larger version of the one that ships with the Galaxy Note to improve its grip — Samsung is developing a second stylus. The S Pen Pro ships later this year for an undisclosed price. It’s larger overall and offer Bluetooth connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and UWB

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra supports all of the latest wireless standards, starting with 5G. The Qualcomm X60 modem inside this device is capable of carrier aggregation, which should result in higher peak speeds while delivering better power efficiency.

In addition, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the first phones to support Wi-Fi 6E, a new standard that delivers faster speeds and more overall bandwidth when you have a compatible Wi-Fi 6E router. 

Lastly, the S21 Ultra has UWB (ultra-wideband), which makes it easier to share files with other UWB devices, like the Galaxy S21 Plus. And you’ll be able to use this phone as a digital key for select 2022 cars. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra dock

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re constantly losing stuff — like me — you’ll want to check out Samsung’s new Galaxy SmartTags. You can use this tag in combination with the SmartThings Find app to track down everything from your keys to your bag. You can also use the SmartThings Find app to locate other Samsung devices, including phones, smartwatches, tablets and earbuds. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra battery life

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has the same size 5,000 mAh battery as the S20 Ultra, but this phone should last longer on a charge. The 5nm processor inside this handset is more efficient, and Samsung says that it’s leveraging AI to analyze usage patterns to reduce power consumption. We’ll see how well the S21 Ultra performs on our battery test and if it can crack our best phone battery life list. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra supports a fast 25W charger

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra outlook

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has all the makings of becoming the best Android phone around, at least for those willing to pay a premium. And it’s good to see that Samsung has dropped the price by $200 vs the S20 Ultra. The biggest reasons to be excited about this phone are the dual zoom cameras and the fantastic 6.8-inch OLED display that gives you 120Hz and full quad HD resolution at the same time.

I see the S Pen support as nice to have, as I don’t envision a ton of people taking advantage of it because of the added costs for the pen and case.

I’s a bummer that Samsung doesn’t include a charger in the box, and that you can’t expand the storage. And while all the new camera tricks are cool, I’m more interested to see how well the S21 Ultra stands up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 5 in terms of image quality. Stay tuned for our final rated review. 

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GSAs help create safe, welcoming environments – Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

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Pride Month may kick off on June 1, but Catholic schools in Windsor-Essex work towards making students from the LGBTIQ+ community feel welcome and safe throughout the entire year, according to Rosemary LoFaso.


“It’s not about celebrating one day or one month out of the year,” said the Superintendent of Education whose portfolios include equity and diversity, and safe schools. “What we try to do throughout the year is incorporate programming, initiatives, events and opportunities for students to really feel like they belong in the community, and that’s a day-to-day thing.”


An essential part of that comes in providing support to school GSAs, which may stand for Gay-Straight Alliance or Gender Sexuality Alliance.


“It’s really a chance for us to feel that we can just be ourselves without judgement,” Angelina Boschin, a student at Holy Names Catholic High School, said of the GSA at her school. “It’s a way to remind ourselves that we’re not alone and also that we can work together to hopefully make a better tomorrow for anyone who does feel alone.”


Having a GSA in a school goes a long way to make it a more accepting place, according to Danielle Desjardins-Koloff.


 “The presence alone of a club is a source of support to students and it’s not always students who identify as LGBTIQ+,” said the Principal at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School. “So the presence of the club itself definitely makes a statement about how we feel about taking care of our students, and upholding the dignity of every student.”


“I think the message really is that June might be Pride Month, but I think we’re proud all year long of all our students, and they’re accepted and they’re loved and they’re supported,” said LoFaso.


Check out this great video we produced about GSAs in our schools:

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PS4 Sold 6 Units A Minute, PS5 Is Selling Nearly 1,000 – Forbes

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Just how insane is PlayStation 5 demand? Sony came up with a striking comparison in a recent presentation about the future of the brand, and the current situation of console sales.

We all know that PS5s are selling out instantly whenever they appear…anywhere, but Sony explains just how fast the system is selling compared to its predecessor:

  • In the US, at this stage of the console’s lifecycle, the PS4 sold 80,000 units in nine days.
  • The PS5 has been selling 80,000 units in 82 minutes, on average.
  • That’s 6 sales a minute for PS4, nearly 1,000 sales a minute for PS5.

They also have a graph about “purchase interest” in the console one year after launch where the PS4 has 28% interest and the PS5 has 55% interest. Again, all of these stem from the fact that so many of the people who want the PS5 just have been physically unable to get one, and this is the only reason that the PS4 is outselling the PS5 at this point in both lifecycles.

The “sales per minute” concept does not translate to something like PS5 sales would be 10,000% more than PS4 if they could only produce enough units, but it’s still pretty fascinating all the same. The slide is titled “unprecedented demand,” which certainly does not seem like an exaggeration, and it’s easy to imagine that PS5 probably would have broken all console sales speed records if Sony was able to produce more units. Instead, they are promising shortages that will continue into 2023 due to the ongoing supply chain/component issues. Things may not normalize until 2024, the company says.

The PS5 shortages seem to go hand in hand with another development, that Sony has started to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by limiting their game sales to the PlayStation and PlayStation only, especially now in an era where they cannot make enough of the boxes. This seems in part behind their push to get more games to PC, and they’ve reported a huge surge in PC sales due to recent ports like God of War, and it seems like other exclusives such as Returnal are about to make their way to PC in a much faster fashion than past games.

Microsoft has been doing cross-PC sales with the Xbox for a while now, and this is different than Sony which is doing later ports, sold separately, but they can get away with that due to high demand for their exclusives outside of the PlayStation ecosystem. Expect PC to become an increasingly important part of their business as they expand this concept, as Sony says they want half their game sales to be PC and mobile by 2025.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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Instagram is down, users report trouble logging in – MobileSyrup

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If you’ve been facing issues loading Instagram Stories, posts, or DMs, fret not, you’re not alone.

Outage tracking service Downdetector displays that users of the Meta-owned application have been facing issues logging in, along with connectivity issues since 12pm ET/9am PT.

Image credit: Downdetector

It’s worth noting that other Meta-owned services, including Facebook and WhatsApp, don’t seem to be affected.

Instagram hasn’t released an official statement about the update yet. Back in October, the Meta-owned photo-sharing app said that it is testing a feature that will let alert users of outages or technical difficulties directly in the app. It seems as though the feature is still in testing because the app has no mention of an outage currently.

It’s unclear what the cause of Instagram’s technical difficulty is. The last time the photo-sharing app had an outage was on October 4th, 2021, when it went down alongside Facebook and WhatsApp.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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