Should I Buy Samsung S21, Plus, Ultra or iPhone 12 in 2021?

In this article, we’ll compare everything we know about the Samsung Galaxy S21 and the iPhone 12. 

These two phones are actually really good to compare because they are so similar and it's obvious this year that Samsung really have made the S21 base models. So not the Plus or the Ultra but the Vanilla Galaxy S21 really as a head-to-head competitor with the iPhone 12.

So starting with the design the biggest differences here are going to come with the back materials. The iPhone 12 actually having a shiny finish on the back, the 12 Pro, the 12 Pro Max having matte finishes. The S21 is going to have matte finishes on most of its colors.

This year the S21 series bringing a brand new camera array design. I really like the design this year, mostly because it's just unique and different and kind of new. The chassis and the bezel itself comes right around into the camera array and I think it looks really good. I like the three camera design. I think the lens openings are looking really big symmetrical and I think that works one of the biggest differences you can see.  

Coming to the front side the other big difference is of course really the notch versus the very tiny hole punch that Samsung using. Samsung of course double up the earpiece speaker at the top of the phone but of course it's not as big. So you should be getting better audio quality from the iPhone 12. But the screen design overall in terms of the screen to body ratio and having a system up there getting in the way of the phone of course that goes to the S21.

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The displays on them in terms of the physical size are really similar as well. You've got a 6.1 inch on the iPhone 12 and a 6.2 inch on the S21, both screens are OLED displays and of course they're both the highest quality. Samsung actually make both of the displays for both of the phones so they're going to be almost impossible to really distinguish in terms of the color accuracy and of course there are both OLED as well. So you're going to get very good contrast ratios on both. One massive area where the S21 is just leading the iPhone 12 those in screen refresh rate. So actually the S21 this year isn't getting any high resolutions, you have to go for the ultra if you want that. So it's gonna be a full HD display but you do have that 120 hertz refresh rate which is just super great. So if you're gaming you're going to notice the smoothness. Both of the displays are flat though and that's really a difference with the S21. Last year there was a small curve on the display, this year it is completely flat that is the same as the iPhone 12.The S21 Ultra camera does have a hardware advantage over the iPhone 12. So comparing the main cameras you have two 12 megapixel image sensors. So in terms of the hardware not too much to distinguish between them now. Apple did add a better wider aperture lens on the iPhones recently so they do have some better low-light performance and also have some more natural background blur, if you do get close to objects. Overall, I thought the upgrade on the main image sensor on the iPhone 12 last year was pretty good. Actually, both phones also have a 12 megapixel Ultrawide so it is going to be a very similar experience. 

Now, the biggest difference that you're gonna see between the iPhone and the S21 really is just the colors and also the contrast that they put on the image when you're actually taking it from the camera app. The iPhone in my experience takes more yellowish photos and the Samsung usually takes more bluer photos and photos with slightly more contrast. Now, this comes down to personal preference whether you prefer one or the other but you can go into the photos app of each of the phones and change the white balance and the contrast quite easily. So I think overall the comparisons here don't matter too much because they're both very high quality somewhere where the S21 pulls ahead though is in the zoom camera because the iPhone 12 doesn't have one when you are zooming on the iPhone 12. It's all going to be a digital crop into the main image sensor now that's an issue because when you crop into a sensor it's going to introduce some noise into the image. So zooming on the iPhone 12 isn't going to be as good as the S21 Ultra which has a dedicated zoom lens with a three times optical zoom. Not only that though but the camera sensor under the optical zoom on the S21 is high resolution. It's 64 megapixels which means essentially you have more resolution to play with. So you can actually crop into that sensor maybe 5x or 6, 7x zoom and you're still going to be getting pretty good results. By the time that you've got to 7x zoom on the iPhone 12 things are breaking up and it just doesn't look that great. The S21 Ultra also supports 8K video recording from that 3x zoom lens because it has a high resolution, it can support 8k. So the S21 series will this year support 8k video recording at 24 and 30 FPS. Then you have 4K at 60 FPS and then 1080p up to 240 FPS on the Spec Sheet. For sure the S21 takes it here, it has a zoom camera and the iPhone 12 doesn't. If you want a zoom camera then you'll have to go up to the iPhone 12 Pro and you get Lidar as well and that lighter sensor is something that the S21 doesn't have. Of course you do have the Plus version as well of the S21 but it actually doesn't change any of the camera hardware at all. The Plus version this year of the S21 really is just a bigger phone. 

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There are no hardware upgrades except for a bigger screen, a bigger battery because of the bigger screen and apparently the addition of an Ultra wide band chip in that phone but sticking with the S21 and the iPhone 12 for sure you get an extra camera 8k video recording. For me isn't a massive spec that you should really be hanging on because there are some issues with dynamic range and stabilization so really for me it's just about the zoom and yeah the S21 takes it with the zoom but in terms of the Ultrawide and the main image sensor it's going to come down to personal preference here. For me there are very few differences between these two flagships.

When you look at the battery sizes you think well the S21 Ultra is going to have a much better battery life 4000mAh versus 2815mAh on the iPhone 12 but as we know years and years now iOS is different to Android very different hardware setups, different processors as well. The iPhone 12 for me it lasts about a day and then the next day morning you're gonna have to charge it probably overnight. Comparing the physical battery size kind of irrelevant because it's just so different but even though Android maybe isn't as efficient overall in terms of its processes, a much bigger battery overall is just going to perform better. You do get wireless charging on both to get the fast wireless charging on the iPhone though you have to use MagSafe or a MagSafe compatible charger. If you use a Qi charger then the charging speed is reduced on the S21 that doesn't happen it's just going to be Qi compatible although you don't get that MagSafe and the magnet on there. So there are a lot of accessories you can get with the iPhone of course you're not going to be able to get with the S21. You do get reverse charging on the S21 though and that is something that you don't get on the iPhone 12. So if you're getting maybe some new Galaxy Buds Pro that should be releasing with S21 or you have some previous versions already then of course you can charge those off your phone. Something you can't do with the iPhone chipsets. 

Another area of the difference really you get the A14 chipset in the iPhone, it's a five nanometer chipset. You do get 5nm chipsets in the S21 depending on your region you'll get the Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100 benchmarks. For right now show that actually the 888 and the Exynos 2100 are much more similar than in previous years. The Exynos 2100 improving a lot, it's changed a lot of the CPU designs and so the performance of that chipset is much closer to the Snapdragon. That's a really good bit of news for Exynos markets benchmark results though of the Snapdragon and the Exynos still not quite up to the performance of the A14. So it looks like the A14 is keeping its crown as the highest performer when it comes to flagship SoCs.

In terms of prices though it looks like the S21 is going to start at around $800 and the iPhone 12 also starting at 800. It is clear that Samsung have really made an iPhone 12 competitor. A very similar price overall but you do get some hardware upgrades as you would expect with Samsung a zoom camera, a higher spec out screen overall slightly better charging specs as well. But the overall performance of these phones are going to be very similar. Apple possibly taking it just with the performance of the chipset and of course iOS versus Android whichever one you prefer to buy you probably just go for one over the other.