Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 3 are the two high-end Samsung phones currently on sale in the market. Both occupy the premium segment of the brand, but there are significant differences between them, since the Fold is part of the line of foldable devices and, when opened, is almost the size of a tablet. Check out all the differences between the models below.
For the longest time on the market, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is currently available on Amazon for $986. The Z Fold 3, on the other hand, appeared on the national market in September, starting at $1,649.99 in three colors: black, green, or silver.
Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy S21 Ultra
|Galaxy Z Fold 3||Galaxy S21 Ultra|
|Launch||September 2021||February 2021|
|Current price||$1,649.99||from $986|
|Screen||6.2 inches (cover) and 7.6 inches (inner)||6.8 inches|
|Screen resolution||2268 x 832 pixels (cover) and 2208 x 1768 pixels (inner)||3200 x 1440 pixels|
|Processor||Snapdragon 888, up to 2.84GHz octa-core||Exynos 2100, octa-core up to 2.9GHz|
|RAM||12 GB||12 or 16 GB|
|Storage||256 GB||256 or 512 GB|
|Memory card||no support||no support|
|Main camera||triple, 12 MP||Quad Camera: 108, 10, 10, and 12 MP|
|Front Camera||4 and 10 MP||40 MP|
|Operating systems||Android 11 on One UI||Android 11 on One UI|
|Battery||4,400 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Dimensions and weight||158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 mm (extended) and 158.2 x 67.1 x 14.4-16 mm (folded); 271 grams||165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm; 227 gramas|
|Colors||Black, Green, or Silver||Black or Silver|
Screen and design
Leaving aside the Z Fold 3’s folding capability, its and the S21 Ultra’s screens are quite similar. All use Samsung’s 2X Dynamic AMOLED technology and have a refresh rate of 120 Hz. In resolution, the S21 Ultra comes out on top with a maximum of 3200 x 1440 pixels, while the flexible Galaxy has 2208 x 1768 on the foldable panel and 2268 x 832 on the screen located on the outside of the device.
The S21 Ultra, with 6.8 inches, is larger when compared to the closed Z Fold 3, which has 6.2″ on the external display. The foldable screen, on the other hand, is 7.6 inches when open, a size similar to that of a small tablet.
The foldable Z Fold 3 has a very particular design proposal that may not suit everyone: when closed, the cell phone is very thick and makes it difficult to fit in a pocket. Opened, the screen is large and contributes to enjoying content or to productivity, but it cancels out the portability of a smartphone. The S21 Ultra, with a 6.8-inch screen, is far from being a small phone but does not represent as many extremes as the Fold.
The devices follow the same current Samsung design line, with cameras located in the top corner of the rear panel and the front camera in a centered position on the screen. With an aluminum finish, both devices offer Gorilla Glass Victus in the coating of the glass panels. One caveat, of course, is the fact that the foldable screen of the Z Fold 3 is not made of glass, but of plastic.
They have a certification that guarantees protection against water. In the S21 Ultra, the certification is IP68 (30 minutes in up to 1.5 meters deep), while in the Z Fold 3 Samsung comes with the same promise, although the rating is IPX8 due to design restrictions with moving parts and hinges.
The camera system of the S21 Ultra is more complete and has the advantage of offering greater lens diversity and superior zoom: by combining the periscopic and telephoto lens, Samsung’s phone can zoom images up to 100 times by bringing lenses and software together, an ability lacking in the Z Fold 3.
What is similar between the two devices are the software technologies, responsible for extra features such as the ability to extract photos from videos recorded by the phone, special filters, and image enhancement by artificial intelligence.
The cameras are as follows on the S21 Ultra:
- 108 MP with f/1.8 wide lens
- 10 MP with f/4.9 periscopic lens and 10x optical zoom
- 10 MP with f/2.4 telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom
- 12 MP ultra-wide with f/2.2 lens
On the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the system has three cameras and the resolution is the same for all of them:
- 12 MP and f/1.8 wide lens
- 12 MP and f/2.4 telephoto lens
- 12 MP and f/2.2 ultra-wide
Both devices feature optical image stabilization (OIS) on some lenses and promise blur-free videos. In this regard, the S21 Ultra has another advantage: the phone is capable of recording content in 8K, while the foldable Galaxy records in 4K.
There are some differences in the field of selfies. On the S21 Ultra, the camera is 40 MP, while the Z Fold 3 comes with two sensors intended for the task: one of them, 4 MP, is hidden under the internal screen, while the 10 MP sensor is allocated in a notch on the external display and takes care of selfies with the phone in folded mode.
Performance and Storage
When it comes to performance, the two devices found in the market use different technologies. The national S21 Ultra runs on the Exynos 2100 processor, an octa-core of up to 2.9 GHz developed by Samsung, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is marketed with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, with eight cores and speeds of up to 2.84 GHz.
Performance comparisons show that the Exynos 2100 and Snapdragon 888 are very similar across the board. The one advantage that remains in favor of the Snapdragon is graphics processing, something that may be more evident in more demanding games, for example.
In RAM, the S21 Ultra can add up to 12 or 16 GB total, while the Galaxy with the foldable screen always comes with 12 GB. As for storage, the Z Fold has versions with 256 and 512 GB, while the S21 Ultra comes with 128, 256, and 512 GB in the market. Neither of the two devices offers a microSD card slot.
The battery installed in the Galaxy S21 Ultra is larger, with 5,000 mAh of capacity versus 4,400 mAh of the unit used in the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This difference in raw capacity translates into autonomy: the S21 Ultra can work for up to 18 hours with 4G on or 22 hours in video playback, according to Samsung’s accounts.
The ranges are longer than what is possible on the Z Fold. The flexible phone allows 14 hours of 4G/Wi-Fi or up to 18 hours of video playback. Both devices support charging up to 25 watts, although neither comes out of the factory with a charger in the box.
Both devices hit the market with Android 11 and One UI 3.1, Samsung’s graphical user interface. Both are confirmed to receive Android 12 – the S21 Ultra is already being updated, including – plus three more years of guaranteed system updates, plus two extra years with seasonal security fixes.
Both Samsung phones are compatible with the S Pen, although the accessory is sold separately. Another similarity that brings the devices closer together is support for 5G connections, an option that may be interesting for the consumer with an eye on buying a cell phone and keeping it for a longer term.
In biometrics, both read fingerprints, although this is performed by different methods: in the Z Fold 3, the process is performed through a sensor on the power button, located on the side of the phone. The S21 Ultra, on the other hand, offers a hidden sensor under the screen.
The consumer finds NFC technology in both phones, enough to allow the devices to perform payment by proximity without the need for a card nearby. With USB-C and no headphone output, both offer Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6e (802.11ax)
Pricing and Availabillity
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is available for purchase on Amazon for $1,499.99 while the S21 Ultra, on the other hand, is also available on Amazon for $1,199.