Android 13 update breathes new life into your Galaxy S21

Galaxy S21 FE
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is still a great Android phone. Despite being a generation old — and come February 2023 likely two generations old — a lot of users may find themselves reluctant to upgrade if their S21 still functions well. Now, Samsung is giving them another reason to hold off on a new phone.

First reported by Droid Life, Samsung is rolling out Android 13 to the Samsung S21 series as of November 30. The rollout is for Samsung’s One UI 5 version of Android 13 and is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. That’s another surprising boost for the Galaxy S21 Plus, which was just named the fourth-fastest 5G phone in the U.S. in terms of download speeds by Ookla.

The update is currently available for Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile customers. AT&T and T-Mobile customers already started getting the update as of November 15, though some customers are still waiting for their phones to update. These operating systems roll out based on IMEI number and can occasionally take some time. It took me a while to get the Android 13 update on my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, so don’t panic if you’re unable to update right away. 

One UI 5 Android 13: New features 

Back when Samsung announced the rollout of One UI 5 to the Samsung S22 lineup, we were able to get a look at some of the new features coming with this latest update. One UI 5 includes the ability to customize your lock screen further with more notification settings — even allowing you to get live previews of certain notifications. Another notification-adjacent feature is the ability to change your call background based on the contact who is calling.

Another upgrade is Maintenance Mode. This feature locks down a user’s personal data if they need to get their phone repaired, which is a huge win for Galaxy users. Photographers also got an upgrade just for them — you can now add watermarks to photos. That way you can protect your photos from being stolen by those with inferior phone cameras. 

A photo of a Samsung S21 in a persons hand displaying the Android 12 lock screen clock

(Image credit: mokjc / Shutterstock)

While the Samsung S21 isn’t the latest and greatest anymore, getting the upgrade to Android 13 is a huge boost. Plus, you can get some pretty good deals on one if you’re in need of an upgrade but don’t want to spend more for a Samsung Galaxy S22, especially if you are willing to get a renewed or refurbished phone. However, upgrading to the Galaxy S22 doesn’t have to be expensive, and you’re also guaranteed to get the latest version of Android. 

So check out our best Samsung Galaxy S22 deals if you want to find one at a bit of a discount. But if you decided to hold onto your S21, we don’t blame you. Now that it's getting Android 13, you have one more reason to keep using it. 

Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.