Should you get the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus over the base S21?

Gelo Gonzales
Should you get the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus over the base S21?

S21. The base Samsung Galaxy S21 (left) and the S21 Plus (right).

Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

Unlike the base S21, the S21 Plus is more expensive than last year's S20 Plus at launch

When the S21 phones were released back in January, we nodded approvingly at the base model for cutting its price compared to last year’s base S20 while doubling its storage, and liked its contour cut camera design as well. 

The S21 Plus is pretty much the same phone as the base S21 with a bigger screen, a bigger battery, and Gorilla Glass Victus on the back making the Plus more durable. Unlike the base S21, the S21 Plus is a little more expensive than its equivalent model last year, the S20 Plus. 

The S20 Plus was launched at P55,990 with 128GB of memory. The S21 Plus is priced at P57,990, although like the base S21 finds its memory doubled at 256GB. If you’re looking for a price cut, you’ll only get that with the base S21. 

What the S21 Plus has over the base S21, really, is the screen. At 6.7 inches compared to the 6.2 inches of the S21, it’s much more enjoyable to watch videos on the Plus for longer periods of time, although there is indeed a reduction in pixels-per-inch because of the larger screen. Nevertheless, the beauty of an AMOLED screen is better appreciated on a bigger screen such as this. 

SIZE COMPARISON. The S21 (left) has a 6.2-inch screen while the S21 Plus (right) has a 6.7-inch screen

Like the base S21, the S21 Plus features an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. The screen is bright, and the colors have that signature Samsung saturation, while the text remains sharp. 

The camera array is exactly the same as the base S21: a 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and a 64MP tele (3x hybrid optical zoom), and a 10MP selfie camera. Beyond the software tricks including simultaneous use of the front and back cameras, and improved simultaneous multi-angle photos called Single Take, the 3x hybrid optical zoom is a joy to use, letting you get to subjects close.

It’s not the highest level of zoom available on phones, granted. But 3x is more than usable, and on the S21 Plus, the results are sharp, and stable thanks to its AI that allows you to lock onto a subject and minimize hand shake. 

With a bigger screen comes a bigger battery at 4,800 mAh, but time-to-empty is pretty mcuh comparable with the base S21 with the smaller screen and a 4,000 mAh battery. 

Like all the S21 phones, there is no charger included with the S21 Plus. 

So with all things almost being equal, get the S21 Plus if watching videos is the priority and get the base S21 for portability. But remember, there’s a 10,000-peso premium to get the larger screen. Last year, going from the base S20 to the bigger S20 Plus only cost P6,000 more, so that screen upgrade is slightly more expensive this year.

Unless screen size is truly that important to you, the more compact but just-as-capable S21 is the better value-for-money choice if you’re in the market for a flagship phone. –

Don’t forget this Shopee promo code when you purchase your phone. 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.