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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S21 Plus: Should You Save Some Bucks?

author Luis Silva (February 2021 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The Galaxy S21 Plus is more expensive than the Galaxy S21, but it also is the better device of the two considering their specs.

It has a glass back and better battery life.

What else stands out?

The Galaxy S21 Plus also features a larger (+0.5") display. But the Galaxy S21 features a lightweight body (31 g./1.09 oz less).

In the end, it's up to you because they ended up with similar scores.

How much more will those additional features cost me?

If you're considering a new and unlocked smartphone, it should be about $201 more expensive.

Read on and find out more about them, how they rival their competition, and how the industry is scoring their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

CONTENTS

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Introduction

The Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Plus were launched last January.

Here you can look at the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Plus, compare each other's features, and decide which one is best for you. Let us delve into the finer details.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Release Date 2021, January 2021, January 0y.
OS Updates 3 years 3 years 0y.
Security Updates 4 years 4 years 0y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

As for performance, Geekbench 5 gives them the same score. Basically, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

We can classify both of them as high-end.

Performance*
vs.
Features Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
SoC Exynos 2100 Exynos 2100
Graphics Mali-G78 MP14 Mali-G78 MP14
Geekbench 5 Score 3113
3113
0
OS Android 11 and OneUI Android 11 and OneUI
Tek-Score
7.2
7.2
0.0

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

Samsung Galaxy S21 front transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus front transparent png

They ended up with identical scores, so you have to decide for yourself.

The Galaxy S21 Plus also falls behind almost all of its competitors: It is 20% below the average pixel density.

Given the Galaxy S21, you should know that 92% of its rivals can play HDR content and have an Always-On display, and all have an AMOLED screen.

Considering the Galaxy S21 Plus, please be aware that 89% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 93% have an Always-On display.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 6.2
6.7
0.5
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x2400
1080x2400
0
Refresh Rate 120hz 120hz 0
Dots per Inch 424.48
392.81
-31.68
Always-On-Display Yes Yes
Notch Hole Hole
Peak Brightness 856 nits
883 nits
27
HDR HDR10+ HDR10+
Sub Tek-Score
9.2
9.0
-0.3
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
9.7
9.6
-0.1

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

Samsung Galaxy S21 back transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus back transparent png

If you value quality photos, you should know that the Galaxy S21 Plus is about 32% above other smartphones from its price range. However, none of these stand out.

About the Galaxy S21: DXOMARK reviewed this camera and gave it 123 points. By including its wide-angle lens, you'll end up with a score of 137. For an in-depth review, click here.

To put things in perspective: keep in mind that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. However, only 4% of them feature a macro lens.

About the Galaxy S21 Plus: DXOMARK evaluated this camera, and here's the score: 123. And if we consider its wide-angle lens, that score goes up to 137. You can click here to check it out.

Winding it up, if you must know, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K and have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and 93% feature Optical Image Stabilization. Regardless, only 15% of them feature a macro lens.

If you prefer, we can grade these two more as high-end.

If you're a snapper addict, you'll miss a telephoto lens, so you better wrap it up and start looking for other devices like the Sony Xperia 1 II. Or just forget everything else because phones like the Oppo Find X2 Pro are a much better option.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Megapixels 12
12
0
Aperture 1.8
1.8
0.0
Lens 26mm
26mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 1 1 0
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 4320 4320 0
Score 137
137
0

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Megapixels 64
64
0
Aperture 2.0
2.0
0.0
Lens 29mm 29mm 0
Lens Type Regular Regular
Megapixels 12 12 0
Aperture 2.2 2.2 0.0
Lens 13mm 13mm 0
Lens Type Ultra-wide-Angle Ultra-wide-Angle
Score 14 14 0
Selfie Camera Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Megapixels 10
10
0
Aperture 2.2
2.2
0.0
Lens 26mm 26mm 0
Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus vs.
Tek-Score
8.1
8.1
0.0

Who has the best frame?

None of them stands out, so you can't go wrong here.

The Galaxy S21 weighs 169 g. (5.96 oz), while the other is 31 g. (1.22 oz) heavier. If you want a big screen in a lightweight phone, I've created an adapted score for a "weight to display size" ratio. The Galaxy S21 got 6.6, which means a pretty nice weight for a 6.2 inches screen. The Galaxy S21 Plus, on the other hand, has 4.6, so nothing to state here.

You can drop the Galaxy S21 into the water, up to 1 to 3 meters deep, just like the Galaxy S21 Plus. That should be for up to 30 minutes, in standby mode, so no underwater photos.

Looks*
vs.
Body Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 151 x 71 x 7 mm
(5.33 x 2.50 x 0.25 in)
161 x 75 x 7 mm
(5.68 x 2.65 x 0.25 in)
9478
Weight 169 g. (5.96 oz)
200 g. (7.05 oz)
31
Build Front glass Front and back glass
Colors Phantom Gray, Phantom Violet, Phantom White, and Phantom Pink Phantom Black, Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, Phantom Red, Phantom Gold, and Phantom Pink
Screen To Body Ratio 86.57%
89.75%
3.19
Disp.Size To Weight Score 6.6 4.6 -2.0
Looks 6.5/10
10.0/10
3.4
Waterproof IP68 IP68
Biometrics Under Display Fingerprint Under Display Fingerprint
Tek-Score
7.7
7.2
-0.5

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

At 4000 mAh, the Galaxy S21 is the owner of the smallest battery, while the Galaxy S21 Plus features 4800 mAh. And GSMArena did test them out, and the Galaxy S21 Plus does have an advantage here.

What's even better, the Galaxy S21 Plus can also easily defeat most devices. Do check our top 10 list of smartphones with the best battery life.

Battery*
vs.
Features Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Capacity (mAh) 4000 4800 800
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 81% left
84% left
3
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 62% left
70% left
8
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 67% left
74% left
7
Bat. To Phone Size Score 6.2 4.1 -2.1
Sub Tek-Score
7.0
7.6
0.6
Fast Charging 25w
25w
0
Wireless Charging 15w
15w
0
Reverse Charging 4.5w
4.5w
0
Tek-Score
6.9
7.3
0.4

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

They share the same amount of storage.

Storage*
vs.
Features Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
RAM (GB) 8GB
8GB
0
Internal (GB) 128GB
128GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
6.0
6.0
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

They also do have a resemblance here.

If you got used to counting on the good-old 3.5mm headphone jack, forget about it. You can buy an adapter, but the wireless buds are your only option. You can also check other devices if you're willing to forget about them. The Sony Xperia 1 II can give you a headphone jack.

They both run on (LTE and) 5G networks.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Network 5G 5G
Bluetooth 5.0
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
4.6
4.6
0.0

Which is more affordable?

Here are their recently updated prices:

Samsung Galaxy S21

Reference: $798

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

Reference: $999

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus VS
Amazon 0.82 1.00 0.17
eBay 1.02 1.25 0.23
Best Buy 1.14 0.93 -0.21
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

So, what about that global score? We'll get there. Let me point out the average of its competitors. They aren't that far from 7.0 for these two.

Verdict: Does any of them really stand out?

These two aren't that far apart. The Galaxy S21 is lighter, but its sibling is 0.5-inches bigger. Aside from that, it also has the glass back that the Galaxy S21 lacks.

The Galaxy S21 Plus also has a better battery life but because they share the same display resolution, it "only" has 393 DPIs, in contrast to its smaller sibling, which has 424 DPIs.

And that's about it.

Pros Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
#1 Performance Performance
#2 AMOLED AMOLED
#3 Always-On-Display Always-On-Display
#4 Cameras Cameras
#5 Fast Charging Battery Life
#6 Wireless Charging Fast Charging
#7 Glass Protection Wireless Charging
#8 Glass Protection
Cons Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
#1 MicroSD Slot MicroSD Slot
#2 3.5mm Jack Weight
#3 Price 3.5mm Jack
#4 Price
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21 Plus
Gaming Score
7.6
7.6
0.0
Tek-Score
7.42
7.47
0.05
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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Samsung Galaxy S21 Related Comparisons


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 Samsung Galaxy S21 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 U.EX
    $789
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $780
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Ultra
    $809
  • HuaweirivalMate 30 Pro
    $849
  • HuaweirivalP40 Pro
    $799
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • OnePlusrival8 Pro
    $799
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Ultra
    $846
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $600
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698

 Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12
    $689
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10+
    $565
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $575
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $684
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $650
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e SD
    $499
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $535
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 SD
    $499
  • OnePlusrival7T Pro
    $503
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $599
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $600
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $580
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $549
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • SonyrivalXperia 1 II
    $650
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
  • OnePlusrival9
    $551
  • OpporivalFind X3 Lite
    $554
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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