Samsung has three new flagship phones it wants to sell you: the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. They’re pricey—the cheapest model starts at $800—but these Android phones also are packed with the latest in mobile technology, from the speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor to impressively bright 120-Hz AMOLED displays.
If you’re enticed, we’ve rounded up some advice on which model you should buy—if you should buy them at all—along with cases and accessories we’ve tested, plus the best deals and promotions around, so you get the most phone for your buck.
Updated February 2021: We’ve added several cases and accessories we’ve tested, double-checked deals, and tweaked language throughout.
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Picking the Right Galaxy
Samsung’s three new phones (8/10, WIRED Recommends) have a lot in common. They all utilize the same aforementioned processor, support fast 120-Hz screen refresh rates, have 5G connectivity, and can record video in 8K resolution. None come with a charger in the box (exactly like the latest iPhone models), and Samsung also stripped out the MicroSD slot, so you can’t expand the base 128 gigabytes of storage. We talk about the fine details here, but here’s a recap of the differences.
- ★ Best—Galaxy S21 ($800): This is the Galaxy to get. It’s the most affordable of the bunch (it’s still very expensive!), but it also has the smallest screen at 6.2 inches, making it a great option if you dislike big-screen phones. It has a 4,000-mAh battery that should be enough to last a full day, 8 GB of RAM, and a polycarbonate back. Unlike the other two glass Galaxy phones, one less part of this phone is made of crackable, breakable glass. You get the same camera experience in the S21 and the larger S21+. Both models have a 12-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 64-megapixel zoom camera that offers up to 30X of hybrid optical/digital magnification.
- Galaxy S21+ ($1,000): The 6.7-inch screen on this larger model is much better for viewing movies or shows, and the larger body means you get a bigger, 4,800-mAh battery. The S21+ skips the plastic on the back in favor of a more premium Gorilla Glass Victus material that looks nice but is more breakable.
- Upgrade Pick—Galaxy S21 Ultra ($1,200): If you want to get the best camera system Samsung has to offer, go with the Ultra. It has a 108-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens, and two 10-megapixel telephoto cameras that support 3X and 10X optical zoom. This camera snaps wonderfully crisp zoomed-in shots. The rest of the phone is similar to the S21+, though there are minor changes. The screen is slightly bigger, at 6.8 inches, though the display has a speedy 120-Hz refresh rate that works at the screen’s maximum resolution (the lesser models can only hit that high refresh rate at a reduced resolution). The phone has 12 gigabytes of RAM for faster performance. It also supports Samsung’s S Pen (not included, $40 extra). The 5,000-mAh battery is the biggest in the 2021 Galaxy lineup, and this phone supports the new Wi-Fi 6E networking standard, which isn’t a necessity, but is fine to have.