Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s only hope to reverse the declining sales of Galaxy S phones since Galaxy S10. But it seems Samsung lost the opportunity due to the numerous disappointments of Galaxy S21 Ultra.
This post summarizes the top 6 disappointments of Galaxy S21 Ultra: curved screen, no micro SD card support, lack of essential accessories, no 45W superfast charging, with S Pen support but without an S Pen, inferior under-display fingerprint sensor.
Curved screen: the No.1 disappointment of Galaxy S21 Ultra
Since Galaxy S6 Edge (or even Galaxy Note Edge), Samsung tried hard to sell the curved screen. It is unique.
But most Galaxy phone owners don’t like it. Very few Galaxy phone owners bought the phone because of the curved screen.
Initially, Samsung told us they would add some new and innovative features like Edge screen. Now, it is purely cosmetic (infinity display).
If Samsung had listened to customers, they should have stopped using the curved screen on any mainstream phones 3 or 4 years ago.
Unfortunately, Samsung is too stubborn and try luck on the most important flagship phones.
On the three Galaxy S21 models, Galaxy S21 Ultra is the only one with a curved screen.
So, Samsung is still trying to fool new buyers of how unique the Galaxy S21 Ultra is.
But surely, more and more existing Galaxy S phone owners will be disappointed. They want the top model of the latest Galaxy S phone for better cameras and more RAM. But only the “cheaper” models (Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+) finally switched back to a flat (normal) screen.
If you compare Galaxy S21+ and S21Ultra side by side, you may notice the 6.7″ Galaxy S21+ has a larger usable screen and is easier to use.
So, the curved screen is the No.1 disappointment of Galaxy S21 Ultra.
On Galaxy S21, the Edge screen is purely a software feature. It does not require a curved screen.
No micro SD card support
Samsung nixed micro SD card support in Galaxy S6 (and Galaxy Note 5), citing the “low usage” excuse. But they retreated in Galaxy S7.
Now, Samsung uses the same excuse to remove the micro SD card support on all Galaxy S21 phones.
It is a stupid move. It will only shrink, not expand, the user base.
Supporting a micro SD card will never stop people from buying the phone, even most Galaxy S phone owners seldom use a micro SD card.
But removing the micro SD card support will surely stop some people from buying Galaxy S21. Some smartphone users may rely on the micro SD card to transfer and consume music or videos that bought before. You can also use a micro SD card as a cheap and convenient offline backup.
The base storage of Galaxy S21 is128GB, which is enough for most users. But if you prefer keeping a copy of your past photos and videos on the device, then you will find the storage may be quite limited. At least, the micro SD card support can address the concern of some users, although they may not use a micro SD card in the end.
Very likely, the coming Galaxy Note 21 will not have micro SD card support. But Samsung will add it as a “new” feature next year.
So, for a lot of Galaxy S21 Ultra potential buyers, this can be one of the major disappointments of Galaxy S21 Ultra.
A minor inconvenience of lacking micro SD card support is you cannot migrate to Galaxy S21 through backups in the micro SD card.
If you are using two SIM cards on Galaxy S21, you can now use two physical cards if your carrier does not support eSIM on Galaxy S21.
Lack of essential accessories in the box
The tech companies now speak loudly on environmental protection (reuse and recycle).
But most of the time, it is lip service. Greedy capitalism always tries to squeeze more profit from such movements.
Apple started it by removing the wall chargers and headphones in the iPhone 12 box. They boasted about the reduction of carbon emission in transporting a smaller box.
The reality is that it is merely a cost-saving tactic. Apple can increase its profit margin (and it does). While many consumers have to pay more to source these items somewhere.
Overall, it does not help protect our environment.
Samsung sneezed and followed. And very likely, they will fail.
So, in the Galaxy S21 box, there is no wall charger, there is no headphone, there is no USB connector.
Basically, you cannot get Galaxy S21 work out of the box.
For Apple, removing essential accessories means more profits. For example, earbuds (Airpods) now are a steady revenue source for Apple after they removed the 3.5mm headphone jack. By removing the wired headphone in iPhone 12, Apple will get more sales of Airpods. Now, they can even sell more “official” wall chargers.
Unfortunately, Samsung is not able to reproduce Apple’s success.
Remember the first Android phone removing the 3.5mm headphone jack? The company (HTC) was removed from the market!
Samsung started to remove the headphone jack in Galaxy S10. How many Galaxy Buds (Buds+, Buds Live, and now Buds Pro) were sold (not as a free gift bundle)? At least, the revenue is too small and Samsung does not report it at all.
Now, how many people will go to a shop and ask for a Samsung wall charger? Roughly, about 20-30% of iPhone 12 owners will consider an Apple charger. For Galaxy S21 owners, probably less than 0.1% will consider a Samsung branded wall charger.
So, removing wall chargers and other essential accessories only irritates buyers.
In the short term, Samsung may increase its profit margin. But the cost is high: they will gradually lose sales of the phone.
Some may argue that Samsung reduced the price tag for Galaxy S21 (compared to Galaxy S20) in most regions. The fact is the street price of Galaxy S (and Note) phones is always far lower than the price tag (MSRP). The $100-$200 price reduction is only a correction for the street price.
With S Pen support but without an S Pen
The weirdest thing about Galaxy S21 Ultra is the S Pen support.
Galaxy Note series is on the death spiral, due to Samsung’s short-sight. They offer a unique S Pen, but removed the unique app (S Note) for it! The “new” features of S Pen are just jokes.
This makes Galaxy Note merely a Galaxy S with a useless S Pen.
Instead of finding the root cause of losing the identity in the Galaxy Note series, Samsung now wants to use Galaxy S21 Ultra to compete against its own Galaxy Note 20 or the coming (if coming eventually) Galaxy Note 21.
The loser: both Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy Note 20.
When Samsung removed the wall charger, you should not expect they offer the S Pen.
So, Galaxy S21 supports S Pen, but there is no S Pen in the box. You have to “reuse” your S Pen. The problem is how many Galaxy S21 owners have a spare S Pen lying around.
Based on Samsung’s logic, the S Pen will be removed in the next Galaxy S phones because the usage of S Pen on Galaxy S21 Ultra will be close to 0.
You may check this guide on S Pen features on Galaxy S21 Ultra.
No 45W superfast charging
Samsung dialled back on superfast charging on Galaxy S21. The superfast charging is capped at 25W on Galaxy S21 Ultra. Please read this guide on how to charge Galaxy S21 battery properly.
45W superfast charging was first introduced on Galaxy Note 10+. Galaxy S20 Ultra got this feature as well.
Samsung used to tout the 45W fast charging as a “flag” ship feature.
Although the actual charging time improvement with a 45W wall charger is marginal, if you need to charge from 0% to 20~30%, the 45W charger can offer far faster charging.
It is unclear why Samsung removed the 45W fast charging on Galaxy S21 Ultra.
In-display fingerprint sensor
First, Samsung NEVER gets a fingerprint scanner right on Galaxy S phones.
Initially, Samsung integrated the fingerprint sensor on the Home button (as in Galaxy S5). It works well. But the rectangular shape is a bit awkward.
When Samsung ditched the physical Home button on Galaxy S8, they could not figure out how to place the fingerprint sensor. Eventually, on Galaxy S8, Note 8, S9, and Note 9, the rectangular fingerprint sensor was placed next to the camera modules. Many owners never used it because it is hard to locate the sensor without looking at the back of the phone.
From Galaxy S8 and Note 9, thanks to the iris scanner, many owners can survive without using the fingerprint scanner.
But since Galaxy S10, Samsung ditched the iris scanner to make the phone look better (with less bezel on the top). The importance of the fingerprint scanner surfaces.
On Galaxy S10, Samsung introduced the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor to replace the rectangular one. The concept is good. It is new and innovative. But it does NOT improve user experiences. It is slow, it is inconvenient (you have to look at the screen to locate it) to use.
Admittedly, Samsung improved the in-display fingerprint sensor on Galaxy Note 10, S20, Note 20 and the latest S21. For example, the “touchable” area increases. The recognization becomes faster.
But overall, after these improvements, the in-display fingerprint sensor on Galaxy S21 is still inferior to the traditional capacitive fingerprint sensors found in many old Android phones like LG G5 (2016, back) or Moto X4 (2017, front).
When wearing a mask during the pandemic, it is inconvenient to use face recognition to unlock Galaxy S21. The in-display fingerprint sensor on Galaxy S21 Ultra only deteriorates user experiences when you want to quickly unlock the phone.
Besides, Samsung imposes some laughable security features limiting the usage of the fingerprint reader on Galaxy S21.
What are your disappointments of Galaxy S21 Ultra?
Please let us know your thoughts on the Galaxy S21 Ultra or your disappointment with Galaxy S21 Ultra in the comments.
If you have any questions about using Galaxy S21, you may check our detailed step-by-step Galaxy S21 guides:
- Galaxy S21 new features guides.
- Galaxy S21 how-to guides.
- Galaxy S21 camera guides.
- Galaxy S21 accessories guides.
You can also post questions or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
The official Samsung Galaxy S21 user manual (PDF) in your local language can be read and downloaded here.
If you want, you can drop us an email at the contact us page.
Enjoy your Galaxy S21.
I can not use the stupid in-screen fingerprint sensor. It is wildly unreliable. It takes 3+ tries to unlock, often 5 tries will fail and I have to type in a password. I hate it!
Forget any type of screen protection, the scanner barely works without one.
I had an S9+ prior to this and it was perfect. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor was highly reliable and I could touch it while picking up the phone, so I never even thought about unlocking. In the rare instances I couldn’t get to the fingerprint sensor, such as when the phone is on a charging pad, the iris scanner worked fine. Iris scanning is much more secure than face recognition and it worked in the dark.
I don’t think I can live with this phone, it is that bad. I’ve only been using it for 24 hours and I have wanted to smash it numerous times.
For the amount of money this thing cost, not being able to unlock it reliably is totally unacceptable!!!
If you cannot return the phone, you may try to enable face unlock. It is less secure. But it at least works most of the time if the light condition is good. Of course, wearing a mask is an issue. Also, it will ask you for password/PIN quite often (every 8 hours???).
Yes, the iris scanner on S9 is very fast and reliable. Unfortunately, Samsung removed it since S10 to reduce the top bezel (or to save cost). The fingerprint on S9 works although it is a bit small and rectangular shaped. After stupidly putting the fingerprint sensor next to cameras on S8 and Note 8, Samsung corrected it by placing it under the camera in S9 and Note 9 (although the distance is a bit small).
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