Samsung Galaxy A21S review: How low can you go?

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The Samsung Galaxy A devices cover a broad range, often pushing experimental new ideas at the top-end and dropping all the way down to entry-level devices – the latter being exactly where the A21S sits. 

At this entry level Samsung aims to offer some of the great things the company is known for – like the comprehensive software solution in One UI – alongside plenty of camera tech.

But when it comes to Samsung phones, how low can you really go?

Design and build

  • Dimensions: 163.7 x 75.3 x 8.9mm / Weight: 192g
  • Plastic rear casing
  • Punch-hole display

Long gone are the days when entry-level devices offered a poor build quality. The Samsung Galaxy A21S is a plastic-bodied device, but it still carries hallmarks of Samsung design, mocking the style of the camera block in the left-hand corner of the rear through to the notch-free design of the display, using a punch-hole instead. 

There’s some shimmer and depth to the rear of the phone, while the screen surround’s bezels are kept to something of a minimum – so this a modern looking phone. It also feels solid and somewhat weighty – thanks to the substantial battery – so there’s no danger of this coming across as a flimsy device.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone socket, the favoured option for those holding onto existing headphones or wanting to avoid another wireless device to charge. That socket sits alongside the USB-C for charging and single speaker all on the bottom of the phone.

That loudspeaker isn’t very substantial and if you care about sound then we’d recommend using headphones to get a better experience. 

Display

  • Flat 6.5-inch LCD display
  • 1600 x 720 pixels
  • 60Hz refresh

The display on the Galaxy A21S is a good size. At 6.5-inches there’s no avoiding that it’s large and, as we mentioned above, using a punch-hole where the front-facing camera lives means it’s free from in-your-eyeline notches, with bezels kept to a reasonable size. 

But this display loses much of what Samsung is known for. It’s an LCD type for starters – which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but the colour tuning isn’t that great, so the colours don’t really pop off this display like they would from an AMOLED panel (which Samsung is renowned for). 

Samsung Galaxy A21s review - PhoneArena

When you look at photos taken on this phone, they’re not as rich as they are in real life – something to bear in mind before you start trying to edit them to perfection. That screen also isn’t hugely bright, which reinforces this problem – especially on bright days outdoors.

The display problems run a little deeper too: the resolution is fairly low for this size and we could see the striations in the graphics, so things like app icons look slightly stripy. It’s not the end of the world, because this is a low-priced phone, but a smaller display or a higher resolution would give a better experience – and many rivals do just that. 

A minor point is that the polarising layer on this phone runs on the landscape plane, so if you have fancy polarising sunglasses, when you rotate the phone into landscape to take a photo, for example, the display will go completely black. 

So the A21S is not the strongest performer when it comes to the display. 

Hardware and performance

  • Exynos 850 processor, 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage + microSD card
  • 5,000mAh battery

The Samsung Galaxy A21S is a budget device, sitting in an entry-level position, and that’s reflected the in the Exynos 850 hardware that powers this phone, supported by 3GB of RAM.

This is mid-range hardware and it delivers mid-range performance, meaning it’s far from smooth. While day-to-day things like social media and browsing are fine, there’s an inescapable slowness to navigating and using the phone. You can’t smoothly scroll through long social feeds because they catch and stutter because there’s not a huge amount of power. 

The A21S will attempt to open demanding games and give them a go, but it’s not a great experience so it soon becomes frustrating. Thinking you might want to run Call of Duty Mobile? You should really look elsewhere, because you’ll soon be put off. 

For simple and casual games, streaming movies or music, this phone has no problems at all – and in fact, it has quite a significant advantage over some rivals. 

We’ve always raved about phones like the Moto G8 Power, because of the huge battery life. Well Samsung is repeating that performance in the Galaxy A21A with a huge battery capacity that will last you beyond two days.

With the low power hardware and the low demands on the battery, endurance is something that this phone does well – and you don’t even need to turn on any sort of power saving mode to make that happen.

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