Common Samsung Galaxy S21 Problems and How to Solve Them

The Galaxy S21, S21+, or S21 Ultra are all fantastic phones to own, but even the best handsets can experience problems, and there’s nothing more frustrating than bugs or issues that you just can’t figure out how to solve. If your Galaxy S21 isn’t functioning as expected and you’re close to tearing your hair out, don’t worry. We’ve gathered together some of the most common problems you might experience with the latest Galaxy phones and found simple fixes for them.

Want to find out more about the S21 range? Check out our Samsung Galaxy S21 review.

Issue: Reduced camera performance and lag zooming or switching between modes

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

It seems like reduced camera performance was an issue for many Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra users out of the box, and for some users after a recent update — although the problem doesn’t seem to have affected everyone. Reports seem to indicate issues when switching between camera modes or zooming, with significant lag experienced by some users. Samsung confirmed the problem at the end of May, months after it was first reported.

Solution

A firmware update fixing the issue is now rolling out for U.S. users. Early reports suggest camera performance has certainly improved following the update, but things aren’t quite perfect just yet.

Problem: Poor signal on the S21 Ultra

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You’d think upgrading to a phone with 5G connectivity would ensure you always had excellent signal, but over on the Samsung forums, some S21 Ultra owners have been complaining about a poor signal. Posts suggest that for some users, the signal is poor even in areas where it used to be fine on their older phones.

Solution

Although this problem doesn’t seem to be widespread, there are a few things you can try if this is affecting you.

It may be your carrier has put you on their “expanded network” which means, in some areas — particularly more rural ones — your phone may not have much of a signal and you may need to use Wi-Fi for calls and texts. Of course, the issue could also be a network issue with your carrier, so it’s worth checking if there are any known issues in your area.

You could also try turning on Data Roaming, which allows you to use other carrier’s connections to make and receive calls if you don’t have a good signal with your usual carrier. Note that you may be charged by your carrier for doing this.

It’s also worth trying the below steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Tap Connections > Mobile Networks and ensures that your Network Mode is set to 5G/LTE/3G/2G. This should already be the default, but it’s worth checking, as it allows your S21 Ultra to use any available connectivity.

One final note: there are some phone cases out there that can affect signal strength. It’s definitely worth taking your phone out of its case and seeing if your signal problem persists.

If after all this you are still experiencing issues, it may be worth considering switching to another carrier, contacting Samsung for support, or returning your handset for a replacement.

Issue: Battery life depletes faster than expected

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

With the Galaxy S21 sporting a 4,000mAh battery, a 4,800mAh battery on board the S21 Plus, and the Ultra packing a 5,000mAh battery, it seems like Samsung’s latest smartphones are prepared for anything the day can throw at them. But some users are reporting issues with the S21 battery draining faster than expected. Most reports suggest that this is caused by the camera app draining the battery when the phone is idle — and Samsung has yet to provide a fix for the problem. You can check your battery’s status by going to Settings > Device Maintenance > Battery and viewing the Battery Usage graph. Here, you’ll be able to see if your camera or any of your other apps are draining an abnormal amount of your battery.

Solution

Always check that you have the latest firmware installed on your phone, and try turning off location services via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The S21 range features an adaptive refresh rate, which may mean that it’s using more battery life when it’s set to 120Hz. You can reduce the refresh rate manually to 60Hz, but you’ll sacrifice smoother animations. Just follow the below steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Scroll down to Display.
  3. Select Motion Smoothness.
  4. Select 60Hz Refresh Rate.
  5. Tap Apply.

You could also try reducing the screen resolution to give your battery a bit of a boost. Decreasing your resolution will make buttons and other items larger, but beware of venturing into blurry territory and ensure you find the sweet spot between detail and battery life. Just follow the below steps to reduce your screen resolution:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select the Display option.
  3. Scroll down and click on Screen Resolution.
  4. Adjust the slider to the resolution you wish to use.
  5. Click Apply.

If you find you are losing a lot of battery due to the Always On Display, follow the steps below to disable it:

  1. Open the Settings app on your device.
  2. Scroll down to Lock Screen.
  3. Tap to disable Always On Display.

If you still find you are only getting a few hours of screen-on time from your new handset, you may need to wait for Samsung to acknowledge the problem and release a fix, or consider contacting the manufacturer or returning it for a replacement.

Issue: Galaxy S21 overheats when multitasking

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Alarmingly, many users on the Samsung forums and XDA developer forums have reported issues with the Galaxy S21 overheating while multitasking or downloading system updates. The issue seems to be cropping up even with minimal multitasking, such as watching a YouTube video while browsing the web. It initially looked like the issue may be 5G connectivity, but users are reporting the problem persists even with cellular data turned off.

Solution

It looks like Samsung has released a fix for this in the most recent update, which also addresses the camera lag issue. This should resolve the issue, but if you find your phone is still overheating following the update, we recommend ensuring you don’t leave it plugged in and charging unattended or overnight. If you’re concerned, you could contact Samsung or consider returning your handset for a replacement.

Problem: Galaxy S21 Ultra touchscreen doesn’t always register input

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you are having issues with the S21 Ultra touchscreen registering input — as some users have reported — it can be incredibly frustrating. Double or triple tapping to get the phone to respond can leave you wondering what’s going wrong — and users have reported issues with the fingerprint sensor, too.

Solution

If this is happening to you, then it’s definitely worth bearing in mind that the phone comes with a pre-installed screen protector. Some users have reported issues when installing a new screen protector without realizing one was already applied to the phone. If you’re planning on installing — or have already installed — a new screen protector, ensure you remove the one that’s on the phone out of the box.

It’s also worth going to Settings > Display > Touch Sensitivity. Ensure Touch Sensitivity is toggled on, and see if this fixes the problem.

If the fingerprint scanner isn’t registering your fingerprint, you can try re-registering it by following the below steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your device.
  2. Scroll down to Biometrics and Security.
  3. Select Fingerprints.
  4. Enter your current security code.
  5. Next, delete any old fingerprints.
  6. Re-register your fingerprints with Add Fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea to ensure your phone has the latest updates installed, and ensuring you’re not in a too hot or too cold environment, as this may impact the fingerprint scanner sensitivity.

If you’re still experiencing issues, you can contact Samsung support.

Problem: Accidental screen touches

The Galaxy S21 phones all sport expansive screens, and all that screen real estate means you may find yourself touching your phone screen accidentally. Samsung provides a quick and easy way to prevent yourself from sending text messages full of gibberish or accidentally launching apps.

Solution

Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Display.
  3. Enable the toggle for Accidental Touch Protection.

Issue: Samsung Pay isn’t working, and the phone doesn’t receive updates

Samsung Galaxy S21
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

If you’re in the U.S. and reading this, the good news is that this issue is unlikely to have affected you. But reports on Samsung’s forums suggest some users in the U.K. and Italy are experiencing issues using Samsung Pay on their new devices, and those affected also haven’t received software updates. The issue seems to be caused by having the incorrect CSC set up on the phone.

The CSC is a code that’s region- or country-specific, which enables certain features for your phone. So, if your phone has the CSC for one region and you set it up in an entirely different region or country, you’re going to experience issues such as not receiving official software updates — and some features on the phone may not work.

Some S21 Ultra users have also reported that Samsung Pay is unavailable on their phones. This, again, mostly seems to be affecting users in the U.K. who have installed the app only to find it’s not working, or are unable to find the app in the Galaxy Store at all.  Other users have reported trying to install the app only to be told they must wait for it to be available for their handset.

Solution

Samsung has yet to acknowledge the issue, but a user in the U.K. reportedly received a fix, and reports from Italy suggest the company is rolling out a fix there, too. If you’re experiencing this issue with your phone, you can try the steps suggested in this thread.

If you’re experiencing issues with Samsung Pay not working, you could also try the below steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Scroll down to Apps.
  3. Select Samsung Pay.
  4. Click on Storage > Clear Cache > Clear Data.
  5. Restart your device.

If this still isn’t working for you, we’d recommend contacting Samsung for support.

Problem: Bluetooth devices not connecting properly

Bluetooth can have its hiccups no matter which phone you’re using. If you’re experiencing Bluetooth issues on your Galaxy S21, try toggling the setting off, then back on again.

Solution

Still a problem? You can follow these steps to reset your Bluetooth cache and clear out any existing devices.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap Apps.
  3. Select Bluetooth.
  4. Tap Clear Cache.

Anything else?

No matter how much you think you know about your phone, it never hurts to ask for help. If your specific problem isn’t on our list or the provided solutions didn’t work for you, it might be best to contact the manufacturer. You can reach out to Samsung via online chat or telephone — or in person at a Samsung store if stores are currently open in your area.

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