Mobile Phones

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus vs. Galaxy S20 Plus: what's new in the Plus?

A sibling showdown, like the one in Galaxy S21 Plus vs. Galaxy S20 Plus, it is not something that is solved in a single round .

First, some context. Samsung's new line of phones for 2021 debuted with the Galaxy S21, and while both the standard model and the S21 Ultra are getting all the attention, there is one model that falls right between the two in terms of size and price. It is the S21 Plus, which has the same processor as the other two S21s, but with a larger screen and battery than the base model. Ideal for everyone who keeps the normal S21 a little too small.

However, and assuming people want a big phone, the 2020 Galaxy S20 Plus proposal continues. That model has a great screen, a powerful processor, a very good camera, and a MicroSD card slot, something the recently announced model doesn't feature.

And if the above was not enough, the S20 Plus comes with a charger included in the box, something that the S21 Plus lacks. Therefore, some might say that the old phone is better than the newer. However, to draw conclusions, it is best to make a comparison between the S21 Plus and the S20 Plus and review its main aspects: specifications, screens, design, performance, extra features and of course, prices.

Specifications: Galaxy S20 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Size 161.9 × 73.7 × 7.8mm (6.37 × 2.9 × 0.3 inches) 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm (6.36 x 2.98 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 186 grams (6.56 oz) 202 grams (7.2 ounces)
Screen size
6.7-inch AMOLED 2X dynamic 6.7-inch AMOLED 2X dynamic
Screen resolution
3200 x 1440 pixels (525 ppi) 2400 x 1080 pixels (394 ppi)
OS
Android 11 (OneUI 3.1) Android 11 (OneUI 3.1)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB
Micro SD Yes No
Wireless payment services Samsung Pay, Google Pay Samsung Pay, Google Pay
Processor Exynos 990 (global)

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (US)

Exynos 2100 (global) Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (US)
RAM 12GB 8GB
Camera 12MP triple lens, 64MB telephoto, 12MP ultrawide lens

10 MP front lens

12MP triple lens, 64MB telephoto, 12MP ultrawide lens

10 MP front lens

Video 8K at 24 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps 8K at 30 fps, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps
Bluetooth
5.0 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint reader
Yes, on the screen (ultrasonic) Yes, on the screen (ultrasonic)
Waterproof
IP68 IP68
Drums 4,500mAh, fast charge (25W, charger not included)

Qi wireless charging

4,800mAh, fast charge (25W, charger not included)

Qi wireless charging

App store Google Play Store Google Play Store
Support for telephone companies
All major All major
Colors Cosmic Gray, Cloud Blue, Cosmic Black, Cloud White, Aura Red, Aura Blue Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, Phantom Gold, Phantom Red
Price $ 1,200 dollars $ 1,000 dollars

Design, display and durability

Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

The 2020 S20 Plus didn't leave us particularly impressed with its design. Instead, the S21 Plus arrives with some changes, especially in the rear camera module that now integrates more naturally into the structure of the phone. This not only makes it look a little better, but also makes the camera less bulky around the rig. Also, the S21 has smaller bezels, so it's fair to say that the new design is a bit more attractive than its predecessor.

On the other hand, it can also be said that the screen of the S20 Plus is more interesting than that of the S21 Plus. With a resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels, the dynamic AMOLED display delivers 525 pixels per inch. In contrast, the S21 Plus has a 6.8-inch screen (also AMOLED) with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, which translates to 394 pixels per inch. And the difference in sharpness and clarity is noticeable, beyond the fact that both share other characteristics such as 120 Hz refreshment and HDR10 +.

Both phones come with IP68 water protection, but since the S21 Plus has a slightly more refined design and the S20 Plus has a better screen, we will declare a tie in this regard.

Winner: tie

Performance, battery and charging

Comparing the performance of these phones can be tricky. The Galaxy S21 Plus has a newer and therefore more powerful processor: the Snapdragon 888. In contrast, the S20 Plus has the older but still powerful Snapdragon 865. However, the S20 Plus also has 12 GB of RAM (only in the US version, yes), while the S21 Plus is only 8 GB. This difference in memory can compensate for the distance between the processors, but the truth is that in daily use, both processors (and therefore phones) have a similar behavior.

Now, the situation for the S21 Plus changes if we talk about external storage, since the new model does not have a MicroSD slot, while the old model does. Both launch with 128GB of internal storage, but the S20 Plus supports MicroSD cards of up to 1TB of space.

An advantage of the S21 Plus is that its battery is larger: 4,800mAh compared to 4,500mAh in the S20 Plus. The battery in last year's phone offered good runtime (more than a day), so we expect that to increase in the new model. However, we cannot assure anything without testing the S21 Plus, but the fact of including a MicroSD slot gives the triumph to the older phone in this section.

Winner: S20 Plus

Camera

John Velasco / Digital Trends

If you look only at the specs, the Galaxy S21 Plus and the Galaxy S20 have the exact same camera. The S20 Plus has a 12-megapixel main lens, a 64-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens. The same is repeated in the S21 Plus.

In the review of the S20 Plus we mentioned that the camera captures very good photos in the vast majority of situations. That said, there are also some inconsistencies in the software that would need to be corrected, such as edge and boundary detection in portrait mode or the tendency to oversaturate images in general. According to Samsung, the promise is to correct these details in the new software, but as long as we cannot test it in the real world, we will close it in a tie.

Winner: tie

Software and updates

John Velasco / Digital Trends

The S20 Plus and S21 Plus use Android 11, plus the One UI 3.0 interface. This interface customization simplifies the use of Android a bit, as well as bringing some changes and usability improvements over One UI 2.0.

Both phones receive updates at the same time and this is something to mention: Samsung does not have the best reputation in terms of the speed of updates, although everything indicates that this has been changing since the S20 line of phones received Android 11 just three months after the operating system was officially released.

Winner: tie

Special features

The S20 Plus and S21 Plus have support for 5G, including the wwWave band which is the fastest. This is good for those who have access to 5G networks, as well as being phones that are ready for the future.

Unfortunately, the S21 Plus does not have support for the S Pen, unlike the more expensive version of the S21 – the S21 Ultra. Instead, it has some extra in-camera features like Vlogger View and Director's View modes. The first mode allows you to record video from the front and rear cameras at the same time, while the second mode allows you to see thumbnails of what the lenses that are not being used are capturing at any given moment.

Beyond these additions, the S21 Plus has an important disadvantage: that it does not go on sale with a charger, unlike the S20 Plus that did include it. This is not a problem if you already have a charger on hand, but if not, you will have to spend extra to buy one.

Winner: tie

Price and availability

The Galaxy S21 Plus is currently available for pre-order and will initially launch on January 29 for a price of $ 1,000.

The S20 Plus was originally launched for $ 1,200, although it is no longer for sale at the official Samsung store. Anyway, it can still be found in stores like Amazon or Best Buy and at a lower price than in 2020.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

It may look a bit more modern, but the Galaxy S21 Plus is not as complete as its big brother, the S20 Plus. Last year's phone has a much more vivid screen, it comes with the exact same camera, its battery offers very good usage time, and it adds a MicroSD card slot. Taking into account that the S21 Plus does not introduce major advances beyond a more powerful processor (something that most surely will not notice), it is difficult to justify its purchase over the S20 Plus, which also can still be found for sale.

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