Samsung Galaxy A21s Review – The S Made a Difference

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

At first I was thinking why the heck would Samsung add the “S” letter in the model name. They already have the Galaxy A21 but why have another one with the “S”? It is as though Samsung was building and marketing the A21 halfway through and then decided to just go the heck with it and add in a few upgrades into the device and put in the letter S just to tell the difference. Why I have this theory? They were both announced at almost the same time.

So are the upgrades worth it for the A21s? Initially, the A21 is going to be focused on the entry level market segment alongside the A11 but after they added the “S” version, they are more likely to aim the semi mid-range market segment instead. At the moment, I’m in the dark on how the A21 market acceptance status in Malaysia is like. But I reckon the A21s is going to be a better hit than the A21.

But before we find out about the market acceptance, this will be my honest review on the new Samsung Galaxy A21s for your reading pleasure. Be mindful that I am having trouble keeping up with the A series because they (Samsung) have been releasing tons of them this year. Not forgetting the M series as well.

First Look & Design

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

Just like the recently reviewed Galaxy A11 and Galaxy A31, the Samsung Galaxy A21s has the same look and feel to it. Both of them have identical body and probably made out of the same mold and material. I’m not complaining because it is easy to find the buttons and functions in the A series since I am so used to it now.

At the front, we have the large 6.5″ PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen at 720×1600 pixels resolution, 20:9 ratio (~270 ppi density). Good thing to note that the A21s (and A11) doesn’t come with a notch but instead we have a punch-hole located on top left for the front selfie camera. Thank you for not creating another notched device. It is also a wonder to me on why they have the notch on the higher end A31, not a punch hole.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

The rear side of the A21s is pretty similar to A31 where the camera modules are placed on a “platform” to accommodate all in one place. The only obvious difference here is the rear fingerprint sensor. Like I said in my previous reviews, I prefer to have a rear fingerprint sensor and I’m glad this A21s has that.

On the right side of the phone is where the volume rocker and power button is located, while the Dual SIM/MicroSD expansion slot is located on the left side. Also to note that the A21s supports dual SIM + MicroSD card at once, unlike in the older versions of A series that was using a hybrid SIM slot instead.

At the top is where you’ll see the usual tiny mic hole, similar hole can also be found at the bottom. Also, the USB type-C port, audio jack and bottom firing speakers are located at the bottom. Question: Do you prefer to have your smartphone to still come with an audio jack? Let me know in the comment section.

Back to the A21s. The device feels a little plasticky in my hands and the rear side is shiny, making it a fingerprint magnet. But I like the colour. You can see different colour tones when you tilt it at different angles.

Now here are the full specification of the new Samsung Galaxy A21s:

  • SoC: Exynos 850 (8nm), Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Mali-G52
  • OS: Android 10, One UI 2
  • Memory: 32GB 3GB RAM, 64GB 4GB RAM, 64GB 6GB RAM
  • Display:
    PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
    6.5 inches, 102.0 cm2 (~82.8% screen-to-body ratio)
    720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 ratio (~270 ppi density)
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh battery
  • Camera:
    48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    8 MP, f/2.2, 123˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Selfie Camera: 13 MP, f/2.2, (wide)
  • Sensors: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • Colours: Black, White, Blue, Red

Performance & Usage

First of all, the higher version A31 is using a MediaTek SoC and it performs well in gaming. I really enjoyed my time with the A31 playing PUBG Mobile so I am hope that this A21s will either match or be better than the former. This is because the A31 is using a 12nm processor while the A21s is using an 8nm processor. In this case, the lower number is better, faster and lesser power consumption. This is a good way for me to gauge which phone is actually better in performance.

So in my full performance test, I have spent a few hours playing PUBG on each device. I was amazed by the smooth graphic rendering in the A31 but I can’t bump up the in-game GPU setting to max. On the A21s, surprisingly I can bump up the in-game graphic setting to the max and using 60fps GPU render. This was my first “ooooh”.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

After setting up and syncing my layouts and data, the moment of truth is how the overall gaming experience feels like. At the initial start of the game (in the lobby), the phone was showing tons of stutter and lags. I was thinking, was it the graphic settings? Did I went overboard and use the max settings too quickly? It was lagging, and like having problems with the graphic renders. But….

When the game actually starts (in plane ready to jump), everything was very smooth. Like suddenly. From the moment I landed on the ground to my one and only chicken dinner with the A21s, the gameplay was smooth. The touches were responsive, the graphic rendered quickly and my overall experience was actually not bad. And that was my second “oooooh”.

But it is still not like using the flagship devices. A21s produced good graphics for heavy gaming but it is just average. It is definitely better than the A31 but far cry from the flagships like the S20 Ultra. However, the device doesn’t heat up on heavy use. So that’s a good point to remember. After a few games, I set the graphics to run at medium 30fps settings. It runs better this time.

As for daily use, the A21s is something I would recommend over the A31. It is cheaper and almost identical to each other. But if you love the AMOLED display and higher resolution display, A31 should be your choice instead.

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I should thank Samsung for using a 5000mAh battery in the A21s too. The large capacity made the phone last close to 2 days++ on normal use for me. When I use it for games, it can last me about 1 full day before I had to recharge it. But when I don’t use it for gaming, it actually lasted 2 days++, around 55 hours or so.

Charging it up from 10% takes about 70 minutes by my count. Maybe I wasn’t using a fast charger or something but 70 minutes is not bad even when it’s not fast charging.

The rear fingerprint sensor works really fast. When setting it up, I don’t have to touch and lift many times like it was before. I simply swipe my downwards and it captured by fingerprint immediately Now I don’t have to feel annoyed with it asking me to touch and lift and touch and lift many times over. Thanks for the upgrade, Samsung.

Just like the A31, I set up this A21s to navigate using gestures only. So I don’t have the back, home and multitasking button at the bottom of the screen. The gestures works fast and it’s quite easy to get used to. Swipe up to get back to home screen, swipe left to right to go back, swipe up and hold to trigger the multitasking window. Simple.

Camera & Photography

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

Let’s recap on the camera specifications before I show some photos:

  • Camera:
    48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    8 MP, f/2.2, 123˚ (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
    2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Selfie Camera: 13 MP, f/2.2, (wide)

The A21s has a much better camera compared to the A11. But my overall experience with the camera is just shy of it being on par with the mid-range siblings. Don’t let it disappoint you. Most of the shots that I got turns out good, given the right lighting and focus. And it is well detailed and good focus. So now we shall see how those photos turns out.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

With the normal main shooter, I managed this decent shot in one go. So out-of-focus edges and the photo turns out to be nice. Colours are better and details are there.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

Shooting with the ultrawide angle from the same spot, it turns out good as well. The only obvious matter is the warping effect around the edges.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

Again, the normal shooter got the details just right. I was satisfied with the result.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

And the obvious warping around the edges can be seen but kept to a minimal.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

To shoot a close-up image with the main camera resulting a clear and focused center while the bokeh effect can be seen on the background.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

Trying on the macro mode, the details are good in the middle part.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

Still images are definitely good withe the A21s. Colours are good and the sharpening is just right.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

More landscape photos. Depending on the lighting, sometimes I get a little washed out photos.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

Getting close to the ground is always fun with the bokeh effect comes into play.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

Indoor shots are good too. The main subject are in good focus while the background is slightly blurred. Colours are a little washed out though.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review - The S Made a Difference

When it comes to food, the A21s shoots much better than the A11. Subject has very good focus in the middle while the bokeh effect can be seen on the outside area. Need more punchier colours.

I am quite happy with the selfie camera. It needs a little more colour pop to make it look better but otherwise it turns out good. I can shoot with the Live Focus mode on the selfie camera. The bokeh effects are good and smooth. Facial details are good but can be better focused.

I am liking the cameras on this Samsung Galaxy A21s. The quad camera setup is good especially on the main shooter. And at least the ultrawide angle camera doesn’t disappoint at all. It is not the best camera setup on an A series but at least I got tons of decent photos that I can keep. I would like to have a brighter and with punchier colours after the post-processing. So with the A21s, I will have a photo editing app such as Snapseed on standby.


As you noticed, I only compare the A21s with the A31 instead of A21. The reason is because the “S” made a very big difference in terms of specifications. Aside from the display and resolution, the performance of the A21s is almost identical to A31. So to compare it to the A21 is like night and day. That is just my opinion.

The Samsung Galaxy A21s is probably something made in haste, just to have that upgrade but it actually turns out okay. Battery life is great, gaming is good too. This is a good daily driver for the middle market segment and at the same time it is suitable for those who needs simplicity. But to me it is a tad overpriced for the lack of AMOLED display or the low 720p resolution, whichever matters.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Review

But for the overall usage, I really enjoyed using it. It handles my usual daily tasks and social media with ease. The phone unlocks quickly with the accurate fingerprint sensor at the back. Gaming is fun and it’s good enough to play for a few hours. And the front selfie camera doesn’t sit in a notch, which I’m thankful for. The camera takes decent photos too.

There are some areas that needs improvements. More storage space options would be nice instead of capping it at 64GB. But at least it comes with larger RAM options up to 6GB. And perhaps to have at least 1080p resolution would also be great, that way I can still accept the PLS TFT screen on the A21s.

This new Samsung Galaxy A21s is available for purchase now at Samsung’s official website and it retails for RM889.

Samsung Galaxy A21s






Camera Quality







  • Large battery capacity
  • Decent camera
  • Large display
  • Good enough for gaming


  • Lack of storage space options
  • Slightly overpriced
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