May 18, 2024

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. S20 Ultra: What’s the Difference and Should You Upgrade?

In the ever-evolving world of smartphones Samsung consistently stands out as a front-runner with its flagship Galaxy S series. The release of each new model generates excitement and anticipation among tech enthusiasts. This comprehensive review will delve into the Galaxy S21 Ultra and its predecessor  the Galaxy S20 Ultra  to uncover the differences, improvements and whether it’s worth leaping the latest and greatest.

Design and Build

The Galaxy S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra share some similarities but exhibit significant distinctions. The S21 Ultra boasts a refined design with its Phantom Black and Phantom Silver color options  giving it a sleek and premium appearance. The camera bump on the rear is integrated more seamlessly into the body  enhancing aesthetics and ergonomics.

On the other hand  the S20 Ultra  while not lacking in elegance had a more prominent camera module that protruded noticeably.The S21 Ultra features a matte finish on the back which feels great in hand and is less prone to fingerprints, a common complaint with the S20 Ultra’s glossy back.

In terms of build  both devices offer a robust construction with Gorilla Glass on the front and back. However  the S21 Ultra takes the lead with its more durable Victus glass  providing better protection against drops and scratches.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra wins in design and build  offering a more refined and durable exterior.


Samsung is renowned for its exceptional displays and the battle between the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra is no different. The S21 Ultra features a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with a Quad HD+ resolution and an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. This display is incredibly sharp and adaptive  meaning it can adjust the refresh rate based on the displayed content  preserving battery life.

The S20 Ultra sports a 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with similar resolution and refresh rate capabilities. However  it lacks the adaptive refresh rate feature  which means it operates at a fixed 120Hz or 60Hz leading to potential battery drain in specific scenarios.

The S21 Ultra offers improved brightness levels and enhanced outdoor visibility making it a standout choice for users who often find themselves in bright sunlight.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra excels in display technology offering a more versatile and brighter screen than the S20 Ultra.


Regarding raw performance  both the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra are powerhouses. They are equipped with top-of-the-line processors – the S21 Ultra featuring the latest Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888 chipset depending on the region and the S20 Ultra boasting the Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865  depending on the model.

The S21 Ultra takes a significant step forward regarding CPU and GPU performance  delivering smoother multitasking, faster app launches  and superior gaming experiences. The S21 Ultra offers improved AI capabilities  enhancing tasks like image processing and voice recognition.

The S20 Ultra, while still capable of handling most tasks with ease, may show signs of aging compared to the S21 Ultra’s more advanced hardware.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra leads the race in performance thanks to its more powerful chipset and improved AI capabilities.


Samsung has consistently pushed the boundaries of smartphone photography with its Galaxy S series, and the S21 Ultra continues this trend. It features a quad-camera setup with a 108MP primary sensor, two telephoto lenses (3x and 10x optical zoom) and an ultra-wide-angle lens. This setup allows incredible zoom capabilities,improved low-light performance  and enhanced image quality.

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. S20 Ultra

The S20 Ultra offers a quad-camera system, including a 108MP primary sensor and a periscope telephoto lens with 4x optical zoom. While the S20 Ultra’s camera system was groundbreaking then  the S21 Ultra takes it further with its additional telephoto lens and improved image processing algorithms.

The S21 Ultra’s camera also excels in features like 100x Space Zoom, improved night mode and enhanced Pro Mode controls  making it a versatile tool for photography enthusiasts.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra triumphs in the camera department offering more advanced features and better image quality than the S20 Ultra.

Battery Life

Battery life is crucial for any smartphone user, and both the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra deliver impressive endurance. The S21 Ultra has a 5,000mAh battery while the S20 Ultra features a slightly larger 5,000mAh unit.

However, the S21 Ultra’s more efficient processor and adaptive display technology improve battery life overall. The adaptive refresh rate ensures that the screen only consumes power when needed  which can result in noticeable battery savings during everyday usage.

In practical terms  the S21 Ultra comfortably lasts a full day of heavy usage including video streaming  gaming and productivity tasks. The S20 Ultra also offers respectable battery life but may require more frequent top-ups during intensive use.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers superior battery life thanks to its efficient processor and adaptive display.


Both the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra run on Samsung’s One UI  which is built on top of Android. The S21 Ultra ships with One UI 3.1, while the S20 Ultra originally ran on One UI 2.1 but has received updates to 3.1 as well.

One UI brings various features and customization options  making it a user-friendly interface. Samsung has consistently provided software updates and security patches for its flagship devices  ensuring longevity and a consistent user experience.

However, the S21 Ultra benefits from its newer software version including performance security and feature enhancements. It also has a longer promised support cycle guaranteeing more years of updates compared to the S20 Ultra.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra has the edge in software offering a newer version of One UI and a more extended support period.


Both the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra support 5G connectivity, future-proofing your device for faster data speeds as 5G networks continue to roll out worldwide. They also come with Wi-Fi 6E support  providing quicker and more stable Wi-Fi connections where available.

However, the S21 Ultra goes further by offering S Pen compatibility, allowing users to purchase and use the S Pen for enhanced productivity and creativity. This feature was not available on the S20 Ultra  making the S21 Ultra a more versatile device for those who appreciate stylus input.

Verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers enhanced connectivity options  including 5G and S Pen support  giving it an edge in versatility.

Price and Value

Price is often a deciding factor when considering an upgrade and here’s where the S21 Ultra and S20 Ultra differ. The S21 Ultra  being the newer model  initially came with a higher price tag. However prices tend to drop over time  and you may find more attractive deals and promotions for the S21 Ultra.

The S20 Ultra  being the predecessor  is generally available at a more budget-friendly price point  making it an enticing option for users who want flagship features without breaking the bank.

Value  in this context  largely depends on your budget and the specific features that matter most to you. If you prioritize having the latest technology and can afford it, the S21 Ultra offers a better long-term investment due to its improved hardware and software.

Verdict: The Galaxy S20 Ultra offers better value for budget-conscious users  while the S21 Ultra excels in the latest features and long-term value.

Final Thoughts

After a detailed comparison between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the S20 Ultra  it’s evident that the S21 Ultra is the superior device in many aspects. From its refined design and improved build quality to its outstanding display  enhanced performance  and excellent camera capabilities  the S21 Ultra offers a compelling package.

However, whether you should upgrade or not depends on your specific needs and budget. If you currently use the S20 Ultra and are content with its performance and features  there may not be a pressing need to upgrade immediately. The S20 Ultra remains a capable device that can serve you well for years.

On the other hand  if you are an enthusiast who craves the latest technology, enjoys photography  values, software support or wants the best of the best  the Galaxy S21 Ultra is a worthy investment.