Samsung Galaxy A21s review: a lot for little

In the Samsung Galaxy A21s review below, you can read everything you need to know about this affordable smartphone. The device in fact offers a lot of camera, a lot of screen, and a lot of battery, for not that much money. But of course there are also savings. But on what? As you are used to from us, you will immediately get the quick conclusions.

The Galaxy A21s is good, because …

the battery is large and the battery life excellent,
especially the 48MP main camera is actually fine,
the build quality is solid,
and the fingerprint sensor is very fast and accurate.

Being less good …

the performance of the hardware,
the choice for the One UI Core interface,
and the LCD screen, which does not match Samsung's AMOLED screens in other devices.

The Galaxy A21s is truly a device for simple, everyday smartphone work. Communicating, social media, navigating, music, photos here and / or there – you know it, and it works fine. Gaming, except sudoku's? No, it is not made for that. And of course you can watch a movie, but it is nicer on a phone with an AMOLED screen. Despite the friendly price, you do get two major Android upgrades on the device.

Knowing more? Then read on in our extensive Samsung Galaxy A21s review.

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Samsung Galaxy A21s review

Also in 2020, Samsung's Galaxy A series will again be quite densely populated. Recently you could read our Galaxy A51 review and our Galaxy A41 review. And now it's time for the cheapest phone in the series, the Galaxy A21s. Last year, Samsung did not release the A20 in the Netherlands, but the Galaxy A20e, a lot of which went over the counter. This year the A21 will not come out of here either – but the A21s will. The logic behind all these names is not under discussion here – but the question is what you currently buy from Samsung for just under € 200.

Design, build quality

samsung galaxy a21s back coverThe Galaxy A21s fits in well with the rest of the A-series in terms of design and build quality. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. Sturdy plastic materials with pleasantly rounded edges lie well in the hand, but do little to mask fingerprints. The positioning of the buttons – on / off, volume in the right side – is fine, and the fingerprint sensor on the back of the body is also at the right height. Fortunately, there is a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the bottom, next to the USB-C connector and speaker.

Because the Galaxy A21s has a rather large battery, the device also carries quite a bit of weight. This, along with the solid construction, is why the phone doesn't feel cheap. Only the wide bezels around the screens reveal that the A21s is one of Samsung's cheapest smartphones at the moment. The front camera sits in a hole in the corner of the screen. The only phone that Samsung released in the Netherlands with this design gimmick was the Galaxy S10. To be honest, this is not the optimal location in practical terms – it is in the middle anyway – but it makes the phone more recognizable than the other Galaxy A phones.

samsung galaxy a21s build qualityThe Galaxy A21s is of course just a classic smartphone, and therefore looks pretty boring. But the build quality is fine, it feels good in the hand and comfortable to use. Exciting? No. Everything you need? Certainly.

Hardware

Although the Galaxy A21s is not inferior in build quality to the more expensive devices in the A-series, the picture on the inside is different. It is Samsung's first phone with the new Exynos 850 processor. We saw what it has to offer a while ago when we benchmarked the Galaxy A21s with the Exynos 850. The conclusions were clear: it is fast enough for everyday smartphone activities. But do not expect to play nice games, or that installing or starting apps is very fast.

Fast enough is the motto here. If you mainly use your phone to communicate, you will have no problems with the Galaxy A21s. For more intensive applications, a Galaxy M21 or Galaxy A51 is really more useful.

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Display

The hardware is therefore not fast, but when we arrive at the screen of the Galaxy A21s, we see where Samsung has really saved. As one of the few Samsung phones, the A21s does not have an AMOLED screen, but a TFT LCD panel. It works fine, the viewing angles are acceptable, and it is bright enough.

But compared to devices like the M21, A31, A41 or A51, the screen of the A21s is simply less beautiful. And yes, you can see that, especially if you place it next to a phone with an AMOLED screen. The contrast is less, the colors (slightly) paler, black is not really black. In addition, the HD resolution is also not very high for a screen with a 6.5 inch diagonal. No, the A21s should not have the screen.

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Software and updates

The Galaxy A21s runs on Android 10 as standard. What surprised us is the presence of the "Core" version of Samsung's One UI interface. That is the stripped-down version of Samsung's own software that we first encountered on the Galaxy M21 in the Netherlands. Apparently One UI Core isn't just for the M-series. For the record: the Galaxy A31 and A41 do have the full One UI interface.

What do you miss in the One UI Core interface? The most important lack we find the integrated cloud synchronization in the Gallery. Samsung Pass – with which you store login details so that you can authenticate with your fingerprint – and Secure Folder – an extra secure environment for private files, apps, and accounts – are also missing.

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All in all, the lack of these functions is a bit of a shame. Or maybe we should rephrase it: it would have been clearer if One UI Core is for the M-series, with the full One UI on A-series phones.

In terms of update, Samsung will support the Galaxy A21s just like other devices in the affordable mid-range segment. The phone will receive two major Android upgrades in the future. So in 2021 you will get Android 11, in 2022 Android 12. Furthermore, an update with new security patches arrives every quarter on average. These will come at least two years after the first release, so until the summer of 2022. They will probably continue for a while after that, but less regularly.

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Galaxy A21s camera review

Until now, it has become clear that Samsung has turned the Galaxy A21s into a sturdy phone, with modest computing power and a not-so-elaborate interface. One part where you definitely get value for money with the Galaxy A21s is the camera. Excuse me, cameras. There are five of them – four with which you can actually take pictures.

In addition, you have to rely mainly on the 48 megapixel main camera. We already know the sensor from the Galaxy M21, and it takes excellent photos – especially for this price. The exposure is good, and even in less light it continues to shoot beautiful pictures for a long time. The wide-angle lens is especially good for group photos, but lacks the resolution (8MP) to capture a lot of detail. This applies even more to the macro camera. It's a nice gimmick, but with the 2MP sensor you don't quickly take nice pictures.

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Main

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Wide angle

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Main

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Wide angle

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Main

The front camera is a 13MP copy, which is more than enough for 95% of your selfies. The exposure is surprisingly good, with a – for a phone in this price range – acceptable, but not that great dynamic range. It can automatically switch between a normal perspective and a slightly wider angle. This is useful if you take selfies that you are not alone on.

The cameras of the Galaxy A21s offer a lot of frills, but in practice you will stick to the main camera and the front cam. And that's fine, because that's where you take the best photos. Even in less light, this goes well for quite a long time.

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Live focus

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Front camera

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Macro

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Macro

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Macro

Galaxy A21s battery life

After the cameras of the Galaxy A21s, we come to the part where the device really shines: the battery. The modest hardware and large 5000 mAh capacity provide a battery life that is comparable to or even better than the Galaxy M21 and Galaxy M31. And that does mean something.

With somewhat average smartphone use, you cannot empty the Galaxy A21s in a day. For most it will therefore not be necessary to charge the device every day. When you do have to charge, the A21s supports fast charging with a capacity of 15 Watt. With that you get an empty battery completely full in two hours.

We suspect that the Galaxy A21s is the Samsung phone of 2020 with the best battery life – at least until the Galaxy M51 makes its appearance with a battery capacity of 7000 mAh.

Security

samsung galaxy a21s cameraThe fact that you encounter the best battery life in the cheapest phones is a fairly normal paradox. Another is that it is the capacitive fingerprint sensor on the back of the Galaxy A21s' case, which is unsurpassed in terms of speed and accuracy. The more expensive Galaxy devices often have the scanner in the display. That is very handy in terms of placement, but even in 2020 these sensors are not yet as fast and precise as the old, trusted models. The gap is certainly not as big as it was about a year ago, but it is not completely gone.

The finger scanner is therefore fast and reliable to use, and the placement on the back is not so inconvenient that you suffer from it. Register different fingers, matching the different ways you sometimes hold your phones, and you're always on the right track.

The fact that thanks to the One UI Core software you do not have any further security functions such as Samsung Pass or the Secure Folder is a bit of a shame. But the device itself is well protected.

And further?

galaxy a21s sim trayImagine you also want to make calls with the Galaxy A21s. We have not found any problems in this area in our weeks with the device. Reception was good and the call quality fine. The supplied headphones are not very good, but will suffice if you don't have one yourself. The A21s has a tray – in the side – where you can place two SIM cards and a memory card.

Furthermore, the Galaxy A21s has an FM radio, and depending on which version you purchase 32GB or 64GB storage. By default, 9.5GB of this is taken up by the system, so that as a user you have 22.5GB or 54.5GB respectively free.

Despite the somewhat stripped down One UI Core interface, the functions Digital Wellbeing and Parental Control are still present. Is the Galaxy A21s intended for one of the children? Then as a parent you can set all kinds of management options. Tired of the look of the interface? Then you can adjust themes, backgrounds and icons to your own taste.

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Samsung Galaxy A21s review: conclusions

At the end of our Galaxy A21s review, we have some mixed feelings. With the Galaxy A21s, Samsung brings a phone on the market with an excellent battery life, fast fingerprint scanner, and a good camera. Savings are made on the screen and on the hardware itself. Depending on what is important to you, you can then say whether it is an interesting phone for you – or not.

However, in Samsung's own phone range alone, we come across devices with the same price tag. The Galaxy M21 is faster and has a much nicer screen, while battery and cameras are comparable. Compared to this M21, the advantages of the A21s are few and far between – it is a bit thinner, if you like. Moreover, for the Galaxy A21s you have a more extensive choice of offers in combination with a subscription. After all, the M21 is only available through a limited number of stores.

Samsung Galaxy A21s

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7.4

Performance

6.0 / 10

Screen

6.5 / 10

Battery life

9.5 / 10

Software

7.0 / 10

Cameras

8.0 / 10

Pros

Dyke of a battery life
Main camera is fine
Fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate
Solid build quality

Negatives

Hardware is not fast
LCD screen is not an AMOLED screen
One UI Core interface has less functions

Offers

You can compare all offers for the Galaxy A21s with a subscription, quickly check the prices for a single device, or immediately see the best deals per provider below:

Read more…

Upcoming Galaxy A21s equipped with still unknown Samsung processor
This is the Samsung Galaxy A21s on press images
Samsung Galaxy A21s will be released in the Netherlands in June, pre-ordering is already possible
Buying a Samsung Galaxy M21 in the Netherlands: it is finally possible
Samsung will soon also release the Galaxy A21s in the Netherlands and Belgium

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