GPU Performance

We’re shortly also recapping the GPU and gaming performance of the new S21 Ultras. We investigate that this new generation of SoCs isn’t quite as power efficient as we would have hoped for, meaning the increased peak performance the new chips are advertising comes at a great cost in power consumption.

Generally, any contemporary phone is only able to continuously dissipate between 4 and 5W of power through radiation and convection (42 to 50°C peak skin temperatures at 22°C ambient), and once it reaches that peak thermal envelope, it will have to throttle performance.

Basemark GPU 1.2 - Medium 1440p - Off-Screen / Blit GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

A Stand-Still Year for GPU Performance

This year’s Galaxy S21 devices look quite unimpressive when it comes to their gaming performance.

For the Snapdragon S21, I think Samsung here can do better in terms of thermal management, as the phones currently throttle down to 3W even though the device could in theory supports more. Xiaomi’s Mi 11 with the same chip showcases much better performance (we’ll have a review of that device soon), so it’s an area of improvement which could very well be achieved with future firmware updates.

For the Exynos S21, it’s a large generational boost for Samsung, however the absolute numbers are still lagging behind Snapdragon 865 devices. This is important to note for devices such as the S21+ - the S20 FE 5G actually features a Snapdragon 865 SoC in traditional Exynos markets, and if gaming performance is an important aspect for your, that device might be the more interesting purchase.

System Performance Display Measurement
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  • eastcoast_pete - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link

    While I haven't used it on an S20/21 or Ultra, maybe the Open Camera app will give you more control over the camera selection and exposure?
    Andrei, I know you (have to) test any Smartphone's camera with the manufacturer's own software, but I often wonder if Open Camera or a similar 3rd party software isn't better at using a given device's hardware capabilities? Might be worth an article down the road.
  • Sharma_Ji - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link

    Obviously not
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link

    You can do that, minimal focus distance is about 20cm, but the quality really isn't great.
  • Kangal - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    " I think what Samsung should do in the future is create four models of the S series, three being the same as the current line-up but renaming the Ultra to Ultra+ ”

    ...urgh, no thanks!
    Why can't we drop those monikers, don't have different variants, drop all these storage options, have only flagships, clean up the lineup like: Samsung 22-S, Samsung 22-M, Samsung 22-L, Samsung 22-XL.

  • Sharma_Ji - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link

    It might be true for an actual camera, but you can go much closer and nearer to subject if you use ultrawide on a smartphone camera compared to telephoto.
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - link

    "or the flowers are trampled"

    not to mention distorted into a guppy's mouth.
  • CrazyElf - Monday, February 22, 2021 - link

    I really like the direction Samsung is taking with updates too. 4 years of security and 3 years of Android updates.

    I feel like overall, although the devices have some flaws (no SD Card, IR Blaster, and MST are the big ones), the S21 Ultra represents as step in the right direction.

    The 100x zoom is still a gimmick, but the 3x and 10x cameras are decent. I bought the 512 GB and so far it's been pretty good. With these updates, I'd be more willing to consider Samsung over the competition, unless of course they step up their game.
  • Psyside - Monday, February 22, 2021 - link

    1. The 100 x is not gimmick, but it should not be used for photos, but to orient into into the enviorment or to locate very distant objects.

    2. The larest feb 15+ updates made the zoom and the overall quality of the zoom shots much better

    3. The 10x zoom shotsof exynos version in this review are cropped main/3x sensor shots,not f/4.9
  • sonny73n - Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - link

    Who cares about BS "security" updates. All you'll get is more spywares from the ad company and your government.
  • Tunnah - Monday, February 22, 2021 - link

    Got a double paragraph:

    The camera island on the S21 is brilliant in its design. Much like on the S21 Ultra, this is an aluminium cover that protects individual recessed glass elements for the three main camera modules. Samsung harmonised the camera design between the S21 and S21+ by dropping the ToF sensor from the latter in comparison to the S20+ - which is fine by me as frankly I never really used it even though it was my daily driver for the past year.

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