Samsung Galaxy A21s test : the entry-level device that has all the makings of a great one?

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On a testé le Samsung Galaxy A21s, un smartphone entrée de gamme, aux faux airs de “grand”.

Amongst the plethora of Samsung smartphones currently available under the Galaxy label, a certain Galaxy A21s has been in shops for a few weeks now. The latter is the direct descendant of the Galaxy A21e, and is the Korean giant’s entry-level device, with a retail price of ‘only’ 239 euros. With its flagship look, is the Samsung Galaxy A21s worth a look? Find out in our full review !

Samsung Galaxy A21s put to the test !
Priced at £239 from Samsung (and under £200 from some retailers), the Galaxy A21s is an entry-level smartphone, built around a large 6.5″ IPS panel, in 720p quality. It looks like a Galaxy S20, with a punchy front camera and a quad-camera at the back, and is powered by an Exynos 850 processor, coupled with 3GB of RAM, all under Android 10.

Once out of its packaging, the Galaxy A21s makes a good impression, with a very successful design, a “Prismatic Blue” colour that makes an impression, and the impression of holding in your hands a smartphone that is excellent value for money.

If you are at all used to “modern” (either “giant”) smartphones, the general ergonomics of the smartphone are up to date.

Screen and performance of the Galaxy A21s
Once powered up, the Samsung Galaxy A21s continues to perform well, with a screen that is admittedly a little thin (720 x 1600 pixels), but which nevertheless proves to be very correct in terms of responsiveness and brightness. Of course, those used to OLED panels will be horrified by the inevitably lower contrast, but the main flaw of the display remains the impossibility of making any adjustments. So there are no good or bad surprises here, with a screen that is very much in line with what you would expect from an entry-level smartphone.

As for performance, the Samsung Galaxy A21s was not designed to compete with the top of the line, and this can be felt quite quickly. In the context of a classic use (SMS, phone, web…), the smartphone does very well, with a very fluid interface and not the slightest weakness to report. However, there are a few slowdowns when you want to juggle between various applications that are a bit more demanding. The same applies when the smartphone is performing updates or installations from the PlayStore.

The same is true for games, with the possibility of enjoying many mobile titles, but the most technically advanced games will have a hard time getting through in a decent way here. If you don’t ask too much of it, the Galaxy A21s performs well, even if you’ll often see some jerks and other weaknesses.

On top of that, the storage space is really too limited. Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy A21s comes with a storage space (on paper) of only 32 GB, and 19.5 GB actually usable by the user. That’s not much… too little, and it forces the user to turn to a microSD card if he wants to store some applications and some photos/videos.

Galaxy A21s camera
As far as the camera section is concerned, the Samsung Galaxy A21s is equipped with a module consisting of four sensors. There is a 48-megapixel wide-angle main sensor, followed by 8-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 2-megapixel (macro) and a depth sensor (2-megapixel).

In theory, the Samsung Galaxy A21s should offer a photo section worthy of the name. In practice, if the shots are rather successful in good light conditions, the observation tends to be reversed as soon as the light conditions tend to weaken.

A quadruple photo sensor, just like the big boys !

At night, photos lose a lot of detail and tend to be blurred, with a serious lack of sharpness. While during the day, most photos are captured in a more decent quality, at night, the result is often much less flattering, with some photos being totally messed up and just sent to the bin.

In “wide-angle” mode (80°), the shots remain very acceptable overall, even if the experienced eye will quickly see some minor defects on the edges of the image. In “ultra wide-angle” mode (123°), one will “enjoy” a rather marked fisheye mode.

When light is scarce, the Galaxy A21s quickly shows its limitations

So of course, it allows you to stand back a bit, but the image quality suffers quite a bit, with a distortion effect that is sometimes quite marked. As for video, there’s no 4K here, so you’ll have to make do with the good old Full HD resolution, for the front camera as well as for the main sensor.

A smartphone that is pleasant to use on a daily basis, and enduring
As mentioned above, as long as you’re not totally closed to smartphones larger than 6″, the Samsung Galaxy A21s offers a very acceptable ergonomics, with buttons (volume and sleep) that fall perfectly under the fingers, and a very responsive screen.

Despite the XXL size of the smartphone, the standby and volume keys are easily accessible when handling the Galaxy A21s with one hand

It’s true that the smartphone can quickly become awkward and distort more than one jeans pocket, but that’s the price we’ve had to pay for a few years now to take advantage of such a large screen. We can also complain (a little) about the fingerprint sensor located (at the back) a little too high.

The fingerprint sensor is quite effective, but it is positioned a little too high

As far as the interface is concerned, there are no nasty surprises here, with the OneUI 2.1 overlay based on Android 10. Apart from a few small Samsung (and Microsoft) applications that are installed as standard and a few aesthetic tweaks here and there, the whole thing remains very close to a pure Android, as is now the case on many smartphones.

At the bottom of the device, the 3.5 mm jack, the USB Type-C port and the speaker

The Samsung Galaxy A21s comes with an impressive 5000 mAh battery. With such an impressive battery and a rather modest technical file, the smartphone is supposed to offer an autonomy worthy of the greatest. In this respect, the Samsung Galaxy A21s proves to be quite enduring, and manages without batting an eyelid to last for more than 48 hours, before having to recharge (via its USB Type-C socket).

It’s a pity, however, that charging is not a bit faster, as it will take a little more than 2 hours before the battery is fully charged again.

My opinion after testing the Samsung Galaxy A21s
The Galaxy A21s is designed for those looking for an entry-level smartphone (with a Samsung label). It has a neat look, a decent screen (despite its limited resolution) and a photo section that, far from being extraordinary, will suit all those who want to capture a few moments of life without any great pretensions. The whole thing lacks a bit of performance, however, and a lot of storage. A relatively attractive Samsung Galaxy A21s overall, but which must now face particularly fierce competition in the ruthless entry-level market.

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