The Galaxy S21 Ultra is interesting in many ways and actually not because of its specs. Of course, it has the latest and greatest that Samsung can offer but the new design and the surprisingly lower price tag make it even more unlike its predecessors. New designs, however, may sometimes bring some unforeseen consequences when it comes to structural integrity, and, fortunately for us, we have JerryRigEverything putting Samsung’s latest flagship through the usual rigors to check if that is indeed the case here.
Scratch tests are getting almost boring these days as most smartphones use the same materials, especially Gorilla Glass. Unlike the burn test, however, it’s still a useful metric and, to Samsung’s credit, it seems to have actually stepped up its game.
Noteworthy is the back of the phone that uses a matte glass material that is amusingly actually tougher than most sharp objects you might have in your bag or pocket. This means that coins, keys, and pocket knives are more likely to wear off as the back glass acts like sandpaper on the softer metals. Unfortunately, the large “Contour” camera bump, the part that will actually make direct contact with surfaces most of the time, is still scratchable metal. Fortunately, the glass over the camera lenses isn’t.
JerryRigEverything’s Zack Nelson also scratches the area of the screen on top of the fingerprint sensor. Despite the damage, he reports that the scanner still functions just as well. Samsung and Qualcomm may have finally fixed the sensor’s biggest problems with the next-gen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. We’ll have to wait, though, if simple screen protectors will still be able to thwart all that innovation.
While the Galaxy S21 Ultra passes his tests with flying colors, Nelson tries to make one point against the phone that is unrelated to durability. He shows the camera output of the Galaxy Note 4 from 2014, suggesting that it’s quite good enough. Then again, some professional mobile photographers might disagree but they will still have to think hard if the $1,200 phone is worth the upgrade.