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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra teardown just revealed bad news

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra teardown
(Image credit: Future)

Earlier this week we saw one of the first teardowns of the Samsung Galaxy S21 from PBKreviews, who gave the phone a 7.5/10 review score. Unfortunately the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t perform so well.

PBKreviews took apart the largest Galaxy S21 model and found it’s not nearly as easy to disassemble, giving it a 6/10 reparability score.

While the teardown of the S21 Ultra isn’t quite so different from the smaller S21, there are a few details that complicate the disassembly and repairs process. The first is the glass back, which is slightly harder to remove safely than the more flexible plastic one used on the back of the S21.

The battery is also a lot more difficult to remove, thanks to the continued lack of pull tabs and the fact it’s held down with an adhesive. It got to the point where PBKreviews had to use some isopropyl alcohol to help get it away from the phone.

The main reason, however, is that the display cable is fixed to the screen isn’t detachable like it is on the Galaxy S21. PBK notes that a screen replacement is going to require disassembling the phone from the back, then disconnecting the cable from the main board, and only then can you remove the screen from the front.

samsung galaxy s21 ultra teardown

(Image credit: PBKreviews)

The teardown's more positive finds include the fact the metal camera module can be detached from the backplate, and each lens’ glass cover can be replaced since everything is held in place by glue. This means any individual piece of broken glass could theoretically be removed and replaced without having to replace the entire cover.

For the most part, the interior of the phone is much the same as the Galaxy S21, as expected. But this being an international model, powered by the Exynos 2100, it’s missing the mmWave 5G antennae you’d get if you bought the Snapdragon 888 variant in the U.S.

It’s also missing the white foam balls on the top speaker, which help increase the volume, suggesting that the S21 Ultra’s secondary speaker is powerful enough not to need it.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra teardown

(Image credit: PBKreviews)

The Galaxy S21 Ultra even has the same dual-SIM reader inside, even though this is a single-SIM phone. It’s not clear why this is, though PBK has previously speculated that dual-SIM functionality is locked by the phone’s software regardless of how many SIM cards you manage to get inside.

However, despite all the advantages of buying a Galaxy S21 Ultra, like the larger battery and dual 3x and 10x zooming lenses, it’s going to be a lot harder to repair. If you value that above all else, we’d recommend buying the standard Galaxy S21 instead. Or, if you have your heart set on this, make sure to get a solid case.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.