The Galaxy S21 5G is easy to repair, with superior sound, and big finger scanner

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Again first with a Galaxy S21 teardown review, PBK disassembled Samsung's newest phone to demonstrate what's inside and compare the innards to its predecessor, the Galaxy S20. Here are the main findings upon taking apart the Snapdragon 888 version that we get here in the States:

  • The Galaxy S21 is easy to disassemble and put back together, repairability score 7.5/10
  • The lighter, simpler graphite cooling is superior to copper tubes and vapor chambers, as it works just as well.
  • The fingerprint scanner is much larger than in the S20, boding well for its responsiveness.
  • Improved speaker assembly and circulation create louder, richer stereo sound chamber.
  • Both the main and the zoom camera have optical image stabilizers.
  • There is a dual-SIM reader at the bottom of single-SIM models but its functionality is software-dependant.
  • There are two tiny mmWave 5G antennas strategically placed on the sides of the phone to pick up Verizon's network signal.
  • There is a removable cable connecting the display to the compact multilayer motherboard at the top.
That last bit is what earned the phone a higher-than-usual repairability score, and explains how Samsung achieved the near-symmetrical bezel width with narrower chin, as usually the display controller cable is permanently attached. 

Overall, the Galaxy S21 seems one solid device in terms of modular construction and repairability, and the fact that the S21 costs $200 less than its predecessor makes you overlook the new inconveniences like a lack of microSD card slot, or a charger in the box.

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Galaxy S21

PhoneArena Score:

8.5

User Score:

10.0
  • Display 6.2 inches 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI

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