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Disassembly: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone

Refinement at the top of the range.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone will cost you between £1,149 and £1,329 to buy altogether, depending on what you choose from storage/RAM options from 128GB/12GB to 512GB/16GB.

On contract, the monthly cost is between £60 and £80 over a two-year period assuming unlimited data. It helps if you have something to trade in (worth up to €450).Despite a 5G premium, what you get for this kind of spending may not be as big a leap forward for handsets as has been seen before.

Those are becoming rarer, although new AI-powered features and durable flexible displays are on the way.

Instead, the S21 Ultra underscores the growing importance of refining designs across generations. It’s still a powerful and richly featured phone.

The iFixit teardown used an Ultra equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform. However, in the British model, the engine room is Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 platform, which runs the Korean company’s Kryo configurations of eight ARM cores with Mali GPUs.

The important point is that independent benchmarks rated the two as nearly identical in performance, with each outperforming the other in certain tests.

The larger size of the Ultra models makes for one of the best displays on the market, at 6.8 inches diagonal with a 3200 x 1440 AMOLED display at 515 ppi and refresh rates up to 120 Hz.

There are then five cameras, led by Samsung, following the trend towards a mega-megapixel unit (108 MP) and a periscope-telephoto unit for extreme close-up photography.

Aside from the camera resolution, the real meat is in the adjustments. For many of its teardowns, iFixit works with X-ray specialists at Creative Electron. CE took a closer look at the new unit before taking it apart. So from the get-go, iFixit was able to notice three major layout changes from the previous Galaxy generation.

“The vibration motor and SIM card tray have taken place at both ends of the phone. This seems to make room for a slightly larger earpiece speaker,” the team reports. zoom levels.”Finally, the wireless charging coils have been given a little makeover. The outer charging coils are thinner, elongated and have a few extra wraps.

This can help with better efficiency over a larger charging area. The inner coils now have a two gauge setup – the fine windings can help charge smaller items (like Galaxy Buds) more efficiently.” Entering the S21 Ultra, as the X-ray noted, there have been some major camera rethinks, including a redesign of the periscope unit.

“The resolution [has] dropped from 48 MP to 10 MP; focal length increased from 103 to 240mm (from 4x to 10x optical zoom); the sensor area shrank (1/2.0 in. to 1/3.24 in.) but the pixels increased in size (0.8 to 1.22 m); finally (drum roll), a slower aperture, from ƒ/3.5 to ƒ/4.9,” notes iFixit.

Sticking with the camera, Samsung also appears to have dropped the DepthVision technology used in the S20 family. This used the speed of light to measure distance, counting the time it takes for a reflected beam of light to return to the camera sensor.

While it claimed to improve both video and photos, giving users more creative options for things like backgrounds and foregrounds, not all critics were convinced. For the S21, the company has switched to a laser autofocus module.

Along with measures such as a 77 percent increase in the size of the on-screen fingerprint sensor (making it easier to position your finger while still recording more information) and an increase in battery capacity from 17.46 Wh to 19.40 Wh On the S20 Edition , the story of the S21 Ultra is one of sophistication over revolution.

What unfortunately has not changed much is the repairability of the device. The display and battery are glued and therefore difficult to replace. Modular cables have been replaced by proprietary cables. Even the first access through the rear panel is a challenge.

The iFixit score is only 3 out of 10. We’ll start with some numbers, but here’s another one that might be helpful: Samsung Care costs £7.49 per month for up to two years, or £159 as a prepayment. It is good that Samsung does not provide a charger with the phone.

That helps to reduce e-waste. But you can’t help but notice – as this column has done many times before – that making consumer products easier to repair would also help a lot.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: key components

Exploded view

1. Battery

2. Periscope camera

3. Standard camera

4. Main assembly

5. Laser auto-focus

6. Daughterboard

7. Motherboard

8. SIM tray/USB port

9. Rear camera frame

10. Rear panel