Samsung Galaxy S21

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 5/5
Value for money 3/5

Ultra 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has as many cameras as it has words in its name. Four lenses and the laser autofocus system take up a sizeable portion of the smartphone’s rear, about one-sixth of the sheer black back. It’s a lot of space compared with the earliest smartphones, which had a single small round lens.

Those early lenses were often sunken in the back of the phones. Not the small protruding bumps that began to emerge as the race to make the finest smartphone camera began. Now a single camera is the standard for entry-level phones, but it won’t do for the impressive S21 Ultra 5G.

It’s almost trite to describe such a glorious piece of technology in terms of its cameras alone. But most people, after using their phone as a sophisticated Swiss Army knife of communication, use the camera the most.

The S21 Ultra takes spectacular photographs and videos, as you’d expect from the 12MP ultra-wide lens, 108MP wide-angle, two 10MP telephoto lenses and the selfie camera, which is a huge 40MP. There is also a 100X "space zoom" feature.

My favourites are the ultra slo-mo setting that produces really great clips of my son running or jumping on the trampoline. Portrait mode, which blurs the background and focuses your attention on the subject, is also excellent. But the standout feature is the ability to capture a high-resolution still image from video. The video itself is 8K and therefore high-res enough to grab that freeze frame. It means all those great moments you were shooting in video can be captured as stills.

The Ultra 5G is the top end of the Galaxy range, with all the features of 5G, the new generation cellular network, which does live up to the hype. Anyone who takes lots of pictures or backs up their data in the cloud will be impressed with how fast uploads and downloads work on 5G. This itself is a game changer.

The screen resolution is great, and there is very little you can fault in this device. Even though I am deeply suspicious in general about the security of Android, Samsung has its own security software, called Knox, and it is wonderfully secure. As high-end flagship phones go this is the phone to beat this year.

Price: from R28,000.

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