With the Galaxy M21, Samsung is launching a phone that has a very different course than the Galaxy Folds and Flips. A Galaxy phone with features that you cannot get on smartphones at prices of € 1000 or more. Such a large battery capacity. Below you can read our Samsung Galaxy M21 review, but first we reveal the main conclusions.
- Impressive battery life
- Beautiful AMOLED screen
- Excellent performance
- Fast fingerprint sensor
- Friendly price
- Fewer features in One UI
- Camera performance in low light
Those are a lot of pros, and a few negatives. And we must point out that we have hesitated to mention the camera performance in low light as a downside at all.
Want to know more than just this point-by-point summary? Then read on!
Samsung Galaxy M21 Review
Samsung Galaxy M21 is the first Galaxy that appears in our country with a battery with a capacity of 6000 mAh. Also, this battery comes with complete features around it, including a triple camera and a large display. And then the question quickly arises: is the Galaxy M21 more than just a large battery? I can now answer that question.
Compared to many other devices, the M21 is clearly thicker. With the M series, Samsung shows that it has listened to anyone who does not want a thinner phone but a larger battery. Furthermore, the M21 does not differ much in terms of design and build-in quality from devices such as the Galaxy A50 and A51. Although the body is made of plastic but feels sturdy.
The edges of the screen are not as thin as more expensive devices. That makes it easier to manage, especially if you use it without a protective cover.
The placement of the fingerprint sensor on the back is familiar. It’s easily accessible for the majority of users. All physical buttons – on / off and volume – are on the right side. On the left is only the tray for two SIM cards and a memory card. And at the bottom you will find the USB Type-C connector, and the connection for headphones with a 3.5 mm port.
Like all non-top models of Samsung in 2020, the Galaxy M21 is neither water-resistant nor dust-proof. This is not very striking in this price range, but you should know.
Display | Full HD AMOLED display
In the past, Samsung often saved on this part, to keep the cheaper devices cheaper. Fortunately, this is not the case with the Galaxy M21. You get a 6.5 inch AMOLED display with a Full HD resolution of 2340 by 1080 pixels.
In bright sunlight it can become quite bright, so that everything remains legible enough. You have to let the device adjust the auto-brightness – in manual mode it doesn’t get that bright.
The screen of the Galaxy M21 is also a pleasure to look at. You can choose between a natural display mode and a mode that makes everything more lively – but you can also adjust settings to your own taste. Especially given the friendly price, the display is sharp and with the AMOLED contrast.
Hardware | Exynos 9611 chipset
Internally, the Galaxy M21 borrows some features from the more expensive Galaxy A51. Samsung put its own Exynos 9611 processor in M21. Exynos 9611 is a variant of the Exynos 9610 that was already in the Galaxy A50 in 2019. And just like these devices, the M21 also has 4GB of RAM. That is more than enough for everything you normally do with your smartphone.
In daily life, the Galaxy M21 is proof that you do not need a high-end phone for pleasant user experience. Switching between apps is fast, but when installing or removing large apps you sometimes have to be patient. Of course, the Galaxy M21 isn’t superior in terms of performance, but for 90% of the applications it’s fine.
Battery life | the large 6000 mAh battery
The Galaxy M21 is energy efficient. In combination with the large 6000 mAh battery, this provides the longest battery life that we have ever encountered in a Samsung phone. Only a few days after we received the device here, we did not use it full-time, but we did a lot with it – installing apps, running a few benchmarks, taking photos, checking features, etc.
To empty a fully charged Galaxy M21 in the evening you will have to work really hard. With less game use, you can easily get two working days. Are you a modest user? Then you get three days without charging.
Of course, charging such a large battery also takes extra long time. Fortunately, Samsung has equipped the Galaxy M21 with a fast charger, which charges it with 15 watts. That is not super fast, and you still need about two and a half hours to charge it from zero to 100%.
We expected the Galaxy M21 to be Samsung’s battery king with some ease, and the device doesn’t disappoint. For little money you will never worry about your battery again.
Camera | Galaxy M21 review
Let’s get straight to the point: the cameras of the Galaxy M21 are fine, for their price, and as long as you shoot in bright daylight. The main lens takes sharp snaps, thanks to the 48-megapixel sensor. This does not automatically take 48-megapixel photos. In normal mode, the device uses four pixels to compose one pixel of the 12-megapixel photos.
The wide-angle lens is fun. The 8 MP resolution is not that high, so this camera is suitable for group portraits that everyone should be on. In addition, the dynamic range of the wide-angle camera is somewhat more limited, so you can take overexposed photos even in bright sunlight. The Scene optimization and the real-time HDR function do not help, although they are present on the M21.
Finally, the Galaxy M21’s camera is not as good as the Galaxy A51’s camera, but not much. And thanks to the different lenses you can have a lot of fun.
On the other hand you will find features such as Live Focus (not very good, despite the special 5MP depth sensor), AR Emoji (a few times nice), and Pro and Night modes that you should try out yourself.
One of the “hidden” points plus of the Galaxy M21 is in the fingerprint sensor mentioned above. Since 2019, Samsung has switched from sensors in the back case to sensors that are on the screen on most devices. In terms of placement, it works very well, but even in 2020 these sensors are not yet as fast and accurate as of the ‘old’ scanners.
And yes, the Galaxy M21 has an “old” capacitive scanner. By getting used to a bit, the placement on the back is fine, and it almost always works. And lightning fast. And that’s nice, as far as we’re concerned. Of course you can also choose face recognition to protect your phone. Face recognition is ultimately not as secure as fingerprint security.
What you also have to keep in mind is that the finger scanner on the Galaxy M21, however good it is, is unfortunately not as functional as on more expensive Galaxy devices.
Software | One UI 2.0
The One UI on Galaxy M21 is minus some familiar features. Unfortunately, Samsung removed some useful features that give that little bit of extra functionality to the fingerprint scanner. You will not find a Samsung Pass or a Safe Folder on the M21. So you can’t save the password to log in to sites and apps with your fingerprint. Moreover, without the Secure Folder, you don’t have an extra, protected environment to store files and apps.
Okay, but what does the One UI 2.0 interface have? Most functions by far, fortunately. There’s the much-loved Dark Mode, plus everything else you need for average smartphone use. You can trade in the navigation bar for gesture control, and you can use Dual Messenger to install two separate versions of – for example – Whatsapp. One for work, one private. We already mentioned that the Galaxy M21 is a dual SIM phone.
Of course, you also get all the handy management functions, such as Device Maintenance, Digital Wellbeing, and Parental Control. Surprisingly, the Galaxy M21 also has the Always On Display, so you can see notifications despite the lack of notification LED.
However, we can say that in addition to the cameras, Samsung also saved on the software by keeping the functionality a bit more limited, as it is of course not a real saving here. From the A51, we know that the M21’s hardware can handle its features without a hitch, after all. There must be a difference between the M and A-series.
We previously wrote which updates we expect for the Galaxy M21, so now we keep it short. We assume that the M21 will get an update to Android 11 in 2021, and an upgrade to Android 12 in 2022. The security updates will come every quarter and will do so until at least the spring of 2022 – perhaps longer, but that is more difficult to predict.
Samsung may offer a bit less software with the One UI interface, but in terms of hardware the M21 is quite complete. The device has NFC, an FM radio, and a gyroscope. The internal storage capacity – 64GB, of which 50GB is free for the user – can be expanded with a maximum of 512GB. By default, you get four Microsoft apps included: LinkedIn, Office, OneDrive, and Outlook. These are simply removable if you don’t want to.
We had no problems with call quality during our review period. The Galaxy M21 did not stand out in a negative or positive sense in these areas. Functional is the motto.
The Main Specification of Galaxy M21
|Specification||Samsung Galaxy M21|
|Display||6.4 inch Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2340 pixels|
|Chipset||Exynos 9611 (10nm), Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)|
|RAM||4 GB, 6 GB|
|Storage||64 GB, 128 GB|
|Rear Camera||48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF|
|8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm|
|5 MP, f/2.2, (depth)|
|Front Camera||16 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/3.1″, 1.0µm|
|Color||Opal Black, Sapphire Blue, Pearl White|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 6000 mAh, Fast battery charging 15W|
|Sensor||Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
Conclusions | Samsung Galaxy M21 Review
With the Galaxy M21, Samsung launches a very interesting phone. The device does the basics absolutely fine, especially at this price. The hardware is fast enough, the screen very nice, the battery life incomparable, the fingerprint scanner reliable, and even the cameras do not disappoint. And that for a fifth of the price of a Galaxy S20.