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Should you upgrade from the Galaxy S9+ to the Galaxy S21+?


Last updated: February 8th, 2021 at 15:21 UTC+02:00

Samsung recently unveiled its next-generation flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. They bring a brand new design and improvements in camera quality, performance, and battery life compared to the Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

However, if you have an older Galaxy smartphone that was launched 2-3 years ago, like the Galaxy S9+, should you upgrade to the new phones? Well, the answer is not that simple because Samsung has removed a few features that are extremely important to some consumers.

Let’s find out why you should upgrade from the Galaxy S9+ to the Galaxy S21+ and why you shouldn’t.

Reasons to upgrade from the Galaxy S9+ to the Galaxy S21+

Bigger, better, faster screen

The Galaxy S9+’s 6.2-inch Super AMOLED screen was the absolute best when the phone was released three years ago. Since then, Samsung has brought important improvements in terms of screen technology. The Galaxy S21+’s 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display has extremely thin bezels all around. Yes, its resolution has been dropped to Full HD+ (from Galaxy S9+’s QHD+), but it has higher brightness, more accurate colors, and a much higher refresh rate at 120Hz. Whether you are browsing the web, playing high-end games, or just scrolling through the UI, everything feels more fluid and smooth. The Galaxy S21+’s HDR10+ certification also means a more immersive HDR experience.

Huge performance gains

The Galaxy S21+ is equipped with the 5nm Exynos 2100 processor (Snapdragon 888 in China and the US), which is faster and more power-efficient than the Galaxy S9+’s 10nm Exynos 9810 SoC. The new processor is more than twice as fast as the Exynos 9810 in terms of CPU and GPU performance. And you’ll definitely feel the additional speed while launching apps, gaming, and multitasking. The Exynos 2100’s dedicated NPU (used for AI processing) also means a faster camera and better images and videos.

Guaranteed software updates for 3 years

The Galaxy S9+ was launched with Android 8 onboard, and it received two major software updates (Android 9 and Android 10). Since last year, the phone has just been receiving security patches. In comparison, the Galaxy S21+ was launched with Android 11 (with One UI 3.1), and it will receive three major Android updates and at least one additional year of security patches. One UI 3.x brings massive UI design improvements over One UI. Knowing how important software updates and security patches are, you might want to upgrade to the Galaxy S21+.

Better front & rear cameras

The Galaxy S21+ features a 10MP selfie camera and a 12MP+12MP+64MP triple-rear-facing camera setup. All four cameras on the Galaxy S21+ perform better than the cameras on the Galaxy S9+. The new phone captures brighter images with higher detail and a wider dynamic range. It can also record 4K 60fps videos using the front and rear-facing cameras and 8K 24fps videos using the rear-facing camera. The phone has an ultra-wide camera, something that is lacking on the Galaxy S9+, and you get up to 30x digital zoom capabilities with massively better quality compared to what you get on the Galaxy S9+.

Faster connectivity

The Galaxy S21+ also brings faster wireless connectivity in the form of 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Even while using an LTE network, the Galaxy S21+ offers faster upload and download speeds compared to the Galaxy S9+, thanks to improved carrier aggregation (CA).

Longer battery life, faster charging

The Galaxy S9+ is powered by a 3,500mAh battery, while the Galaxy S21+ uses a 4,800mAh cell. Sure, the Galaxy S21+ has to power a bigger and brighter screen and a bunch of cameras and latch on to 5G networks, but it will still last longer compared to the Galaxy S9+, thanks to the more power-efficient 5nm processor, a variable refresh rate screen (that can drop to as low as 48Hz in certain conditions), and optimized software.

The Galaxy S21+ charges fast, too, thanks to its 25W fast charging technology. If you are in a hurry and find that your phone is almost out of charge, you will want the Galaxy S21+ rather than the Galaxy S9+ with its 15W fast charging.

More striking design, stronger glass protection

The Galaxy S9+ was among the most polished phones of 2018, but the Galaxy S21+ is even better. It sports a more striking design, thanks to extremely thin bezels at the front and a camera housing that melts into the phone’s frame. Plus, it uses more durable Gorilla Glass Victus panels at the front and the rear.

Even the in-display fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S21+ is easier to reach compared to the rear-facing fingerprint reader on the Galaxy S9+. The unnecessary Bixby button has been removed as well. On the design front, the Galaxy S21+ is clearly a better choice compared to the Galaxy S9+.

Reasons not to upgrade from the Galaxy S9+ to the Galaxy S21+

The three-year-old Galaxy S9+ might not be as fast, as bright, as strong, or as smooth as the Galaxy S21+, but it still has some tricks up its sleeves. It has some features that are missing on the Galaxy S21+, making the new phone a deal-breaker for some consumers.

No microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack

The Galaxy S21+ is the first Galaxy S series smartphone in the past five years to lack a microSD card slot. And that means you can’t upgrade its storage space. If you are someone who stores a ton of photos, videos, files, and music, the Galaxy S21+ might not be a great choice for you. Yes, you can buy the new phone with up to 256GB of internal storage, but upgrading a microSD card is always cheaper, and you can use that card with other smartphones, tablets, and laptops or share it with friends or family.

The Galaxy S21+ also lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can’t use most wired earphones without a dongle. In this regard, the Galaxy S9+ is a better-equipped smartphone and you should stick to it if you are someone who still prefers wired earphones over wireless ones.

No iris scanner

Ever since Samsung introduced the iris scanner, some consumers have been fans of the biometric authentication system. However, the Galaxy S21+ lacks an iris scanner, so if you wear a mask, the fingerprint sensor is the only way you can unlock the phone (or remove your mask and use facial recognition, which is both more time consuming and less secure than iris scanning). If you are someone who wants an iris scanner on your smartphone, the Galaxy S21+ is not for you.

No heart rate & SpO2 sensors

The Galaxy S9+ features a heart rate monitor and an SpO2 sensor, both of which might come in handy during this COVID-19 pandemic. The Galaxy S21+ lacks both of those sensors as Samsung wants you to buy its smartwatches instead, and that might just be a reason to not upgrade from the Galaxy S9+.

No MST for Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is a unique mobile payment system among a bunch of rival mobile payment solutions due to its MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) feature. MST mimics a credit or debit card’s magnetic strip, tricking a PoS (Point of Sale) machine into thinking that a card has been swiped. This makes it compatible with PoS machines that have not been upgraded to support NFC payments. A lot of PoS systems around the world, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries, lack NFC, and the Galaxy S9+ can still make mobile payments there.

The Galaxy S21+, on the other hand, lacks MST in various markets. If you depend on Samsung Pay’s MST feature and leave your wallet at home, you should not upgrade from the Galaxy S9+ to the Galaxy S21+.

No charger and headphones in the box

With the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung has decided to not ship its flagship phones with chargers or headphones in the box. And that means you have to spend an extra $30 on the charging adapter, around $15 to $20 on comparable earphones from a decent brand, and an additional $15 on a USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone port adapter. That’s almost $60 more to spend just to get the phone up and running for daily use. In that case, you might not want to upgrade to the Galaxy S21+.

Galaxy S9+ or Galaxy S21+: The final decision rests on you

Even with a bunch of missing features such as the microSD card slot, headphone jack, iris scanner, and MST, we still feel that the Galaxy S21+ is a great upgrade from the Galaxy S9+. The new phone features a more futuristic and striking design, a brighter and smoother screen, much faster performance, improved cameras, longer battery life, faster charging, and guaranteed updates for three years. However, in the end, the final decision depends on you and what you think is important for your needs.

Have you decided to upgrade from the Galaxy S9+? Let us know your decision in the comments section below.

Phone Galaxy S21 PlusGalaxy S9 Plus
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