The Samsung Galaxy M21 is a budget phone with a large battery, the same chipset as that of the popular Galaxy A51, and three cameras on the back. Read our findings here.
Samsung Galaxy M21
The Galaxy M series bets on bargain price tags in exchange for the phones you get. The Samsung Galaxy M21 (219 euros) is in particular a model that catches the eye because of its large 6000 mAh battery. Still, Samsung promises more than just a large battery, because the phone comes with the same Exynos 9611 processor that is in the more expensive Samsung Galaxy A51 (389 euros).
Arno is a new tester of our techlargest Team and he uses a Pixel 4 XL of which he spontaneously shared his review with tech largest. “My first Android phone was an HTC Hero and after that, I always preferred Nexus devices and Pixels with an occasional trip to LG or Samsung. I’ve been following tech largest since the start,” he explains. Arno is a narrative accountant for healthcare organizations by profession, but he also ventures long-distance walks, cycling, and sailing with the catamaran. Here you can read his findings.
The Samsung Galaxy M21 comes with a borderless screen with a U-shaped screen notch and a small ‘chin’ at the bottom. The back and frame of the phone are further finished with plastic and the housing has to space for a dual SIM slot, a microSD card, and the 3.5 mm audio jack. At the bottom is a single speaker.
“The phone is made of shiny plastic, which looks cheap, but the phone is firmly in the hand. The M21 is relatively thick due to the large battery, with its 8.9 mm, but that is less striking than I expected”, Arno tells our editorial staff. The weight of the phone is also relatively limited at 188 grams due to the choice of plastic, and given the low price of the device, that choice for the cheaper material is certainly well-founded. Our tester also notes that the buttons don’t feel high-quality.
“The catch of this phone is the AMOLED screen. It is just as bright as the panel on my Pixel 4 XL, and the lack of the top edge makes the screen seem a bit bigger than it really is. That’s very fine “, Arno comments enthusiastically. He is less enthusiastic about the blue hue and the color saturation of the screen, which makes the display more unnatural.
Samsung uses a 6.4-inch screen with a resolution of 2340 by 1080 pixels. So you not only get an AMOLED panel, but also a Full HD resolution for the low price. The panel is also protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. “For a phone in this price range, it is special that Samsung chooses AMOLED instead of LCD. The advantage is that there is an always-on function, but you have to turn it on manually “, explains our tester.
In terms of performance, the A51 mirrors the popular Galaxy A51, which was the world’s best-selling phone in the first quarter of 2020. So you get the 2.3 GHz Exynos 9611 processor and also 4 GB of RAM. We have to admit we weren’t blown over by the performance of the A51, but in exchange for this lower price tag, the choice for this chipset and amount of RAM is strong. You also get 64 GB of UFS 2.1 storage, which is faster than EMMC memory.
Still, Arno remains cool with the performance of the Galaxy M21, and he makes it clear that you should not be under any illusions. “The phone works really smoothly with standard tasks, such as using the browser, but it is not recommended for gaming,” he explains. In games that require a bit more graphics power, you will have to deal with frame drops.
Until now, this Samsung Galaxy M21 has already done nicely, but this is the point where you automatically get the highest expectations. You don’t see a phone with a 6000 mAh battery every day, but the M21 still only partially meets those high expectations.
Arno notes that the phone excels mainly in standby time and for light use when the screen is usually off because then it lasts about four days. If you use the phone more intensively and often use apps or play a game, the battery life is still good, but not astronomically good either. The M21 lasts about a day and a half and that is comparable to what the Motorola Moto G8 Power showed with its 5000 mAh battery. Of course, the efficiency of the processor and the screen also plays a role.
Nevertheless, Arno decides that the large battery capacity is still a handy comfort item. “The phone has a gigantic battery of 6000 mAh and it was very nice to never have to fear with this phone because of the battery life. That is something I cannot say about my Pixel 4 XL.” The Galaxy M21 comes with a 15-watt fast charger.
Samsung uses a 48 MP main sensor with an f / 2.0 aperture, an 8 MP wide-angle camera, 5 MP depth camera for portrait photos, and a 20 MP selfie camera on the front. “The colors of the photos are too bright for my taste and therefore too little natural. If you zoom in on photos, you will notice that there are few details and that objects are distorted by ‘oversharpening’,” explains our tester.
Arno is more satisfied with the general performance in good lighting conditions and the HDR function also performs well in backlighting. The wide-angle camera is also a nice addition, but the depth camera brings a little less value according to our AW Beta tester because the phone also delivers good portrait photos with its single selfie camera. “The camera suffices to take a quick snapshot every now and then, but to capture your important holiday photos, the camera falls short for me personally,” he summarizes.
Below you see first a photo taken on the left, with the main camera of the Samsung Galaxy M21, and on the right a photo of the Google Pixel 4 XL. Then you see a photo on the left with the wide-angle camera of the M21 and on the right a photo taken with backlight.
The Samsung Galaxy M21 runs on Android 10 and the One UI 2.0 software shell, although Samsung does use a bare variant of One UI. As a Pixel user, Arno was of course rather enthusiastic about that choice of Samsung. “The software shell that the M21 uses are a somewhat stripped-down version of the One UI that is also used on the S20.
I did not miss the extra functions and the menu structure is clear and you are presented with useful suggestions when you search for something on your phone. The phone also comes out of the box with Android 10, which is also a plus, so you can turn on gesture navigation instead of the three-button control, especially with a large phone like this, which works much nicer. “
Still, Arno had to make relatively many changes to get the phone to his liking, but he was able to adjust most things to his preference. Except for the large folders and horizontal scrolling in the app drawer. The M21 receives quarterly security updates, which is normal given the price range.
“For 219 euros you get a striking amount of phone and the screen and the software – after some adjustments – were the biggest surprises for me”, Arno makes clear. Although the strong battery life is of course an argument that you cannot ignore because you never have to worry about not reaching the end of the day. If you forget to charge at night, you can still continue the next day.
“The phone seems to be best suited for those who want to consume a lot of news and videos on their phone without worrying about the battery. For people who have a phone with large edges, it is really an upgrade. I would buy it a second phone or as a backup. ”
The Samsung Galaxy M21 is much more than just a cheap phone with a large battery because that proves the strong screen, the performance, and the camera setup with wide-angle camera. Samsung’s device is exceptionally competitive and the South Korean brand gives a sneer to the usually cheaper Chinese brands with this device.
Buy Samsung Galaxy M21
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy M21 in the colors black and blue for a suggested retail price of 219 euros. It is available from Samsung, Bol.com, and Coolblue.