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Samsung Galaxy M21 First Impressions: A No-Nonsense Mid-Ranger

Things I Like

  • Super AMOLED display is impressive
  • Huge battery
  • Versatile camera setup
  • Good performance

Potential Weakness

  • The plastic build doesn’t inspire confidence in me. I have been very careful about where to place it so that it doesn’t scratch.

Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy M21 and M31 last month. They are the upgrade to older M-series smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy M21
Samsung Galaxy M21

These phones look to build upon the success of their previous M series smartphones. While M21 and M31 share similar specifications, Samsung Galaxy M21 looks like more of an upgrade from its predecessor Samsung Galaxy M20.

Samsung M21 Specifications

  • Body: 159.2 x 75.1 x 8.9 mm, 188 g, Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
  • Display: 6.4 inches Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2340 Resolution, 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio, 403 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Chipset: Exynos 9611 (10nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • GPU: Mali-G72 MP3
  • Memory: 64GB ROM 4GB RAM, 128GB ROM 6GB RAM, UFS 2.1
  • OS: Android 10, One UI 2.0
  • Rear Camera: 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (Wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (Ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 5 MP, f/2.2 (Depth)
    • Video: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS
  • Front Camera: 20 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (Wide)
    • Video: 1080p@30fps
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 6000 mAh battery, Fast charging 15W
  • USB: 2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
  • Misc: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • Colors: Midnight Blue, Raven Black

Samsung M21 Price in Nepal: Rs. 22,999 (4GB/64GB) / Rs. 27,499 (6GB/128GB)

Samsung M21 First Impressions

Samsung M21 is an affordable version of the Samsung M31. They have similar hardware and the main difference is their camera module. M21 has a triple camera setup with a 48MP main sensor whereas M31 rocks quad-camera setup with 64MP main sensor.

But, the thing is M21 looks more of a value phone than the M31 on paper. Let’s see why.


Samsung M21 is an M31 but with some changes. You can’t tell apart the Samsung M31 and M21 from the front. M21 has the same waterdrop design and it is identical in size as well.

M21 also uses the same plastic build as the M31 so it is pride to scratches and smudges as well. The fingerprint sensor is also in the same position but M21 has a smaller camera module as it only has 3 camera sensors compared to M31’s 4 camera sensors.

Everything else from the button layout to speaker placement is exactly the same.

Speaker is on the bottom. The 3.5mm headphone jack is right beside the Type-C port. And, it supports the same 15W fast charging.

Then there are microphones on the top and bottom sides. Also, the earpiece is tucked away neatly right on the top on the notch.

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Regarding one-hand usability, it’s quite comfortable for someone with big hands like me. I can totally use it single-handedly.

Super AMOLED Display

Samsung uses the same display as the Samsung M31. Meaning, it’s a 6.4 inch Full HD Super AMOLED display.

Samsung Galaxy M21 Display
Samsung Galaxy M21 Display

The color looks impressive and of course saturated. But you can change your display profile to neutral for more natural color.

I’ve really enjoyed watching YouTube videos on the Samsung M21. Talking about the brightness, it’s quite good as well. It’s not hard to use the screen under the sunlight.

Basically, it”s the same panel as the M31’s, so it’s impressive.

Triple Camera Setup With 48MP Main Sensor

While the M31 gets a 64MP sensor, M21 gets Samsungs 48MP ISOCELL GM2 sensor. It’s the same sensor found on the new Redmi Note 9 Pro.

Samsung Galaxy M21 Camera
Samsung Galaxy M21 Camera

Along with this, Samsung M21 boasts an impressive 8MP ultrawide-angle sensor and a 5MP depth sensor. However, you will miss out on the macro sensor with the Samsung M21.

On the front, Samsung M21 gets a massive 20MP selfie camera.

So far, what I will say is the colors are really appealing. Of course, it’s saturated but I like the color. 48MP images look sharp and the dynamic range also looks good.

About the ultrawide angle sensor, the images have a consistent color profile as the main sensor and so far I like its ultrawide angle camera.

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About the depth sensor, I haven’t captured portrait images as of now so we’ll take a look at those during our full review.

The front camera also looks decent so far. The color profile tends to lean towards warmer tone but the selfies look appealing.


Talking about videos, it can capture up to 4k 30fps but there is no 60fps option just like the M31. Digital stabilization is available at 1080p and there’s a super steady feature as well. I will test out the videos in our full review.

Good Performance

Samsung Galaxy M21 uses the same processor as the Samsung M30s and Samsung M31; the Exynos 9611.

Exynos 9611 is definitely not the best performing processor in the mid-range category. It is made in a 10nm process and has Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.7 GHz Cortex-A53) CPU along with Mali-G72 MP3 GPU.

But, Exynos 9611 is a good chipset for the price. At a similar price tag, you can mostly get phones with chipset like Snapdragon 665. If we compare these two chipsets then they mostly perform at a similar level.

Exynos 9611 combined with 4GB RAM performs pretty smoothly when browsing the internet, opening apps, and switching between apps. The experience has been pretty smooth and I haven’t noticed any major lags.

About games, I played Dead Trigger 2 at ultra-high graphics and 60fps. The game runs smoothly without any lags. Well, we’ll play more games and test its gaming potential for the full review.

Huge Battery

Samsung Galaxy M21 has a huge 6000 mAh battery. That is one of the biggest you can find in any phone. Samsung claims 21hrs of internet usage time with WiFi. But we will have to wait and see if that holds true.

Samsung Galaxy M21 USB
Samsung Galaxy M21 USB

We will test the full capacity of this battery in our full review. Now, regarding the charging. It still uses 15W charging whereas some devices in the same price range now come with 18W fast charging.

Given the battery capacity, it needs a faster charging as it takes almost 2 and a half hours to fully charge it from 0 to 100.

Android 10 with OneUI 2.0

On software sides of things, it has Android 10 along with OneUi 2.0. OneUI is definitely one of the good UI out there right now. I mean after the One UI update, Samsung’s phone just feels much better.

We get new gesture-based navigation, new volume control styles, and some settings page are also updated. Also, with the Android 10, we get Google’s digital wellbeing.

So far, I haven’t had an issue with the software. I’ll report if I get any issues in my full review.

Fingerprint and Face Unlock

For security, it has a fingerprint sensor and face unlock feature. The fingerprint sensor is quite fast and is consistent. I have had no issues with the fingerprint sensor so far.

Samsung Galaxy M21 Notch
Samsung Galaxy M21 Notch

Face unlock also works well. It is fast but not as fast as some other mid-range phones. There’s a slight animation in the notch when using face unlock and it makes the whole process slightly slow.

Follow Up

Samsung Galaxy M21 feels excellent. Even though it uses plastic the phone feels robust and durable. Its design is not unique and Samsung should really try something different in its upcoming M series smartphones.

So far, I like how the phone performs, the images from its main sensor also look good and its battery is excellent. To top it off, it has an FHD AMOLED display. This is possibly the best phone for 23k. But, I really don’t like the plastic back that is used on this phone.

This is just an initial impressions article about a few days of using the M21, I’ll revisit what I talked about here in my full review.

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