Are you hunting for a new Samsung smartphone and confused by all the numerous options available? Why don’t you try the Samsung Galaxy A21 – read this Samsung Galaxy A21 review to find out why I recommended it.
Itechguides' Take on Samsung Galaxy A21
At a current price of $138.42, we expect the Samsung Galaxy A21 to pack a lot of compromises, but surprisingly it positively exceeds our expectations. Its selling points are its big screen, quadruple camera, NFC, and decent battery life.
- Value for money
- Long-lasting battery life
- Decent quadruple-camera
- 6.5-inch display
- Only 720p resolution display
- Not water-resistant
- Comes loaded with bloatware
- No corning gorilla glass
- Does not support wireless charging
In this review, I will provide a simple breakdown of the specs and features of the Samsung Galaxy A21. Speaking of which, I will discuss its design, display, camera, storage, sensors, and battery.
To round up each section of this review, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 over ten in each category. Finally, this review will help you make up your mind if the Samsung A21 is worth being your next phone.
My Initial Thoughts
Samsung is a leading smartphone brand with a wide portfolio of products ranging from affordable to luxury. The brand’s leading range of affordable smartphones is the famous A series which has seen several releases to date.
In April 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, Samsung released another smartphone to the A series – the Samsung Galaxy A21. The A21 is an upgrade of the A20 which bagged a seventh position among the best-selling phones of 2019.
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Just like every member of the A-series, the Samsung Galaxy A21 goes for an affordable price. Therefore, when we published this review in October 2021, the Samsung Galaxy A21 sells for $138.45 on Amazon.
One of the reasons I recommended the Samsung Galaxy A21 is its affordability but that is not all it offers. Therefore, let us proceed to the specs and features of the Samsung Galaxy A21
Samsung Galaxy A21 Design, Dimension & Weight Review
The Samsung Galaxy A21 is built from plastic but that does not mean it looks shabby. As a matter of fact, the Samsung Galaxy A21 looks better than other phones in its price category.
It is available in a single color scheme which is black. Sadly, this is a limited choice of color, and lovers of color will be disappointed.
However, the black chassis of the Samsung Galaxy A21 looks good and sleek.
Design-wise, the Samsung Galaxy A21 looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy A11. Speaking of the size, the Samsung Galaxy A21 measures 167.8 x 76.7 x 8.1 mm and weighs 193 g.
Consequently, the Samsung Galaxy A21 is quite bulky and definitely a two-handed phone. Comparatively, it is bigger than the Samsung Galaxy A11 which measures 161.4 x 76.3 x 8 mm.
Additionally, the Samsung Galaxy A21 is also bigger than the Samsung Galaxy A20 which weighs 169 g.
The front view of the Samsung Galaxy A21 is dominated by its 6.5-inch multitouch responsive display. The screen looks modern without an obstructive notch or top bezel to worry about.
The front camera is located unobtrusively by the top-left corner of the screen.
Meanwhile, the bottom of the screen has a slim black bezel for aesthetic purposes. The three navigational controls are located on the screen just above the bottom bezel.
Moving on to the back view, it is made of glossy plastic with an iridescent finish. When hit by light, the back of the Samsung Galaxy A21 creates a rainbow-like effect which is very beautiful.
The back is slightly curved which makes it sit comfortably in the hands. Located at the top-left corner of the back panel is a rectangular layout housing the quadruple-lens camera.
Also, there is an Led flash by its right-hand side of the camera layout.
Somewhere close to the top, there is a fingerprint scanner. Due to the bulky size of the Samsung Galaxy A11, reaching for the fingerprint scanner is quite a struggle for small-handed peeps.
Therefore, it requires a long index finger to feel the fingerprint scanner while it is held in a natural position.
There is also an NFC area at the back of the Samsung Galaxy A21. Near Field Communication (NFC) is a feature that allows contactless data transfer between NFC-enabled devices that are in close proximity.
Additionally, NFC is useful for making contactless payments via platforms like Android Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. Another usefulness of the feature is for scanning NFC tags
Another feature of the back panel is a Samsung branding close to the bottom. This brings us to the end of the back view analysis.
Moving on, while looking through the front view, the left side houses the SIM card and memory card tray. The card tray can be ejected using a pin-like ejector tool.
Meanwhile, the right side houses the volume and power buttons, and similarly to the fingerprint scanner, they seem out of reach. The volume and power buttons have a textured feel that distinguishes them from the rest of the edge.
Furthermore, the top of the Samsung Galaxy A21 houses one microphone while the bottom houses another one. Additionally, the bottom also houses a USB Type-C charging port, a 3.5 mm audio jack, and a speaker.
Unfortunately, one important feature that the Samsung Galaxy A21 lacks due to its price is an IP68 rating. This implies that it is not waterproof.
However, if you must take your phone swimming, you can buy a 1P68 waterproof case which currently sells for $13.99 on Amazon.
Finally, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 a nine in this design and dimension review section.
Samsung Galaxy A21 Display Features Review
The Samsung Galaxy A21 has a 6.5-inch IPS LCD with an HD+ (720 x 1600) pixels resolution. The 6.5-inch screen size is obviously big and will be enjoyable for watching videos, playing games, or just browsing.
However, research shows that most users prefer a phone with a screen size between 5 and 5.5-inch. Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy A21 falls outside this range.
Therefore, if you are not a fan of big-screen phones, the Samsung Galaxy A21 is clearly not for you.
On a more positive note, the Samsung Galaxy A21 has an aspect ratio of 20:9. This is longer than the fullscreen standard of 16:9.
This implies that you will enjoy a cinematic view of videos and other media.
Another advantage of the 20:9 aspect ratio is that you will be able to view more content on your screen at once without scrolling. Also, when using the keyboard, there will be fewer contents getting obstructed by it.
With a pixel density of 270 PPI, the Samsung Galaxy A21 will display fairly sharp content. Although this is lower than the standard pixel density of 300 PPI, we can call it fair at this price.
By modern standard, an HD+ resolution is not suitable for a screen of this size. However, considering the price category of the Samsung Galaxy A21, we can not really complain.
For color reproduction, the Samsung Galaxy A21’s screen covered 73% (a higher percentage is better) of the sRGB color gamut. Meanwhile, for color accuracy, the screen recorded a Delta E score of 4.23 (a closer number to 0 is better).
The screen measures a maximum screen brightness of 553 nits on adaptive brightness settings. However, the screen is barely legible under direct sunlight.
Additionally, the screen has a good contrast ratio of 1,267:1. This implies that black colors will appear as true black and not a shade of gray.
The viewing angles are also fair at best. There is a noticeable drop in brightness when you view the screen from acute angles.
However, the screen content is still readable.
Overall, the screen of the Samsung Galaxy A21 is responsive and multitouch capable. Also, it is fairly vivid and sharp.
Unfortunately, the screen is not coated with corning gorilla glass which increases its risk of getting broken. However, you can employ the use of a tempered glass screen protector to reduce its likelihood of cracking.
Finally, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 a seven in this display review section.
Samsung Galaxy A21 Camera Features Review
The camera feature of the Samsung Galaxy A21 is one of its strong selling points. Recently, phone brands have been adding multiple rear cameras but most times the cameras end up with disappointing performances.
The Samsung Galaxy A21 has a 4 lens rear camera arranged in a horizontal layout. We strongly hope they will not disappoint us.
The first camera lens is a 2MP depth camera with an aperture size of f/2.4.The depth camera is useful for taking pictures with background blur.
The depth camera is followed by the 16MP main camera. The main camera has an aperture size of f/1.8 and a pixel size of 1.0-micron pixel.
Pictures taken with the main camera tend to be a bit blurry but the color accuracy is impressive.
Next, there is an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera with an aperture size of f/2.2 and a pixel size of 1.1-micron pixel. The wide-angle lens is also fair, it produces decent snapshots by capturing more objects in a single shot.
The wide-angle lens is followed by a 2MP macro camera with an aperture size of f/2.4. The macro camera lens is useful for capturing all the beautiful details in a close-up shot.
However, the performance of the macro camera is very poor at taking closeups. In fact, you will get better closeups by cropping the images produced by the main camera.
The rear cameras have useful features like Pro mode. The Pro mode allows you to manually tweak the settings to get your desired result.
Also, the camera supports live focus. Live focus allows you to manually adjust the background blur before or after taking the shot.
Moving on, there is also a wide-angle 13 MP front camera. The front camera has an aperture size of f/2.0 and a pixel size of 1.12-micron pixel.
The front camera takes decently sharp selfies under proper lighting conditions. However, the front camera performance is not so impressive in low lights.
Additionally, the front camera supports facial recognition for unlocking the phone and this works pretty well.
For video recording, both front and rear cameras are capable of recording 1080p and 720p resolution videos at 30 fps. You can also change the video aspect ratio from 16:9 to 1:1.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy A21’s camera does not support Optical Image Stabilization( OIS). OIS is required to prevent jitters and shakes from videos.
Hence videos taken with the Samsung Galaxy A21 tend to be shaky.
Finally, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 a seven in this camera review section.
Samsung Galaxy A21 Battery Life and Talk Time Review
Battery power is a very important metric to consider when you decide to buy a phone. No matter how functional a phone is, if its battery is always flat when you need it, that is disappointing.
The Samsung Galaxy A21 uses a non-removable 4000 mAh Li-Po battery as its source of power. For a phone with a big screen size like this, the battery capacity is befitting.
It is important to note that a non-removable battery means that you cannot swap out the battery yourself when it is flat or damaged. However, a non-removable battery corresponds with the modern design patterns of phone manufacturers.
In terms of battery life, Samsung has promised up to 54 hours of 3G talk time and that is a very big claim. However, how long a battery lasts totally depends on the level of usage of each individual.
But, generally, the battery has a good backup. For instance, the battery can last up to 2 days under normal usage.
Even under heavier usage, you can still squeeze out a day of battery life.
Thankfully, charging the Samsung Galaxy A21 is such a relief because it has an adaptive fast charging capability. The 12W charger that comes with the phone ensures that it gets 26% charged in about 30 minutes.
Also, you will get the battery 100% charged in less than 2 hours.
Since I have not mentioned wireless charging, you may be wondering if Samsung Galaxy A21 supports this feature. I am sorry to disappoint you, but Samsung Galaxy A21 does not support wireless charging.
Finally, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 an eight in this battery review section.
Samsung Galaxy A21 Storage Options & Performance Review
For a phone whose selling point is its photo-taking ability, you will need enough storage spaces to store these photos. The Samsung Galaxy A21 has two storage options.
The first is with 32 GB internal storage while the second is with 64 GB. Both options are disappointing by modern standards, especially the 32 GB option.
More disappointingly, the phone comes with so many pre-installed apps occupying a significant portion of the storage space. Sadly, most of these applications cannot be uninstalled – you can only disable them.
However, disabling the apps does not stop them from taking up storage space. It only removes them from the app drawer.
In addition to the pre-installed apps, the operating system occupies a significant portion of the storage space as well. Hence, when you utilize the space you are left with especially the 32 GB models, it gets filled up quickly.
On a brighter note, it is possible to expand the storage capacity with the help of a microSD card. The dedicated microSD card slot can take up to a capacity of 512 GB.
Thankfully, 512 GB is more than enough storage space that you need. However, microSD cards come at a cost but they are relatively inexpensive.
Finally, I will rate the storage capacity of the Samsung Galaxy A21 an eight in this storage options review section.
Samsung Galaxy A21 Security Features & Sensors Review
Next up is the security and sensors review of the Samsung Galaxy A21.
Modern smartphones are usually loaded with a wealth of sensors and the Samsung Galaxy A21 is not an exception. These sensors provide apps with information about the activities happening around the phone and provide responses in return.
For instance, the Samsung Galaxy A21 supports an intuitive function that turns on the display when you pick up the phone. This is possible due to the presence of these sensors.
For security options, Samsung Galaxy A21 supports both fingerprint scanning and face recognition.
The facial recognition feature uses the front camera to unlock the phone. It works well without a major complaint but it is not as fast as the fingerprint unlock.
The fingerprint sensor is located at the back of the phone, it is responsive and fast at unlocking the phone. In addition to unlocking the phone, you can also use the fingerprint sensor to authorize contactless payments.
Additionally, the fingerprint sensor supports gesture controls. For instance, swiping down on the fingerprint sensor will bring down the notification bar.
Other than the fingerprint sensor, the Samsung Galaxy A21 is loaded with several other important sensors. Speaking of which, there is an accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, light, hall, and compass sensor.
The accelerometer and gyroscope sensors work together, they are used for measuring tilt and motion. Consequently, they make it possible for the screen orientation to change automatically.
Meanwhile, the proximity sensor is located at the top of the screen. It is useful for detecting the closeness of the phone to the ears during a call.
Consequently, it switches off the display to prevent unwanted screen presses by the face. It is also beneficial in the sense that switching off the screen helps to preserve battery power.
Next is the light sensor, the function of this sensor is the detection of light in the surroundings. Consequently, it regulates the screen brightness accordingly which is beneficial for eyesight.
For instance, it reduces the screen brightness when viewing your phone screen in darkness. Likewise, it increases the brightness when viewing the screen under sunlight.
Another advantage of regulating the screen brightness by reducing it is minimal battery power consumption.
Moving on to the hall sensor, it is useful for measuring the magnetic field using the hall effect. Its importance can be seen when you use a magnetic flip cover case.
When you close the case, the hall sensor detects the magnetic field in the case cover and switches off the display. This is yet another power-saving mechanism of the Samsung Galaxy A21.
Lastly, the compass is useful for calculating direction and orientation. Consequently, the phone is able to detect the North and auto-rotate the map.
Finally, I will rate the Samsung Galaxy A21 a nine in this security features and sensors review section.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Samsung Galaxy A21 is an affordable smartphone but not the best performer in its category. However, it delivers some decent performance and enticing specs and features.
If you decide to buy the Samsung Galaxy A21, you will be getting a bunch of perks. Speaking of which, you will be getting a big screen, quadruple camera, NFC, and decent battery life.
Unfortunately, one important feature that the Samsung Galaxy A11 lacks due to its price is an IP68 rating. This implies that it is not waterproof.
However, if you must take your phone swimming, you can buy a 1P68 waterproof case. The case currently sells for $13.99 on Amazon.
The first difference between the Samsung Galaxy A20 and A21 is in their physical appearance. Firstly the A20 has a screen size of 6.4-inch while the A20 has a screen size of 6.5-inch.
Also, the A20 has a waterdrop notch at the top-center of the screen which houses the front camera. Meanwhile, the A21 uses a notch-less punch-hole design instead with the camera located on the top-left corner.
For the back view, the A20 has a horizontal dual-camera layout with the flash below it. Meanwhile, the A21 has a quadruple-camera layout with the flash by its right.
Additionally, the A20 has multiple color options to choose from such as blue, black, or red. Whereas, the Samsung Galaxy A21 is only available in black color.
Other than the physical differences between the Samsung Galaxy A20 and A21, there are also differences in the internal components.
The Samsung Galaxy A21 is equipped with an NFC chip. NFC is short for Near Field Communication.
It is a useful feature that allows contactless data transfer between NFC-enabled devices that are in close proximity. Additionally, NFC is useful for making contactless payments via platforms like Android Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.
Another usefulness of the feature is for scanning NFC tags
Unfortunately, the screen of the Samsung Galaxy A21 is not coated with corning gorilla glass. This increases its risk of getting a broken screen.
However, you can employ the use of a tempered glass screen protector to reduce its likelihood of cracking.
My Final Thoughts
At a current price of $138.42, we expect the Samsung Galaxy A21 to pack a lot of compromises. But, surprisingly it positively exceeds our expectations.
Its selling points are its big screen, quadruple camera, NFC, and decent battery life.
Its performance is not groundbreaking but it is passable considering its price comparison with flagships. I consider it a fair price for what you are getting.
Hence, if you are a lover of large-screen phones then the Samsung Galaxy A21 is a nice option.
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