Fake Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Real Galaxy S21 Ultra

Fake Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Real Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is arguably the best smartphone in the world right now — in fact, we have it topping our Best Android and Best smartphone camera lists. But due to its relatively high four-digit price tag, the phone is out of reach for many consumers. That has opened up the door for dishonest manufacturers to make fakes.

Seeing as how it’s a slow month for phone releases and all, XDA TV decided to pick one of these clones up to see how close (or not close) they compare to the real thing.

We came across this S21 Ultra ripoff earlier in the week while browsing through Facebook Marketplace and saw a “Galaxy S21 Ultra” listed for 800 Hong Kong dollars — equivalent to about $102 US.

A fake Galaxy S21 Ultra next to the real Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Fake S21 Ultra (left) and the real S21 Ultra.

Even considering the low price, the phone is an absolute scam. While the back of the phone looks nice — the plastic is coated to give off a convincing brushed metallic feel — and close enough to the real thing to potentially fool the average consumer. flipping the phone over makes it obvious that this is a budget phone and not Samsung’s premium flagship.

Fake S21 Ultra and real S21 Ultra

The fake S21 Ultra (left) has a flat LCD panel while the real S21 Ultra has a curved OLED panel.

For one there’s a waterdrop notch and a sizable chin bezel, and the screen is clearly not an OLED panel. Booting up the phone brings more deception — whoever made this went through the hassle of aping Samsung’s boot-up animation, and once started up, the phone uses one of Samsung’s default wallpapers and has app icons that are similar to One UI. Even the on-screen navigation buttons resemble Samsung’s, down to the weird (wrong) placement of the back button on the right side of the home button.

The clone even went ahead and created a fake Bixby Home screen that sits on the left of the home screen. But the page is clearly fake and tapping on it does nothing.

Fake Bixby Home screen on a fake Galaxy S21 Ultra.

While the fake S21 Ultra can make phone calls, has functional WiFi and Bluetooth, and a working single bottom-firing speaker, everything else about it is faked. The phone’s settings page claims to have 6GB of RAM with 256GB of internal storage, for example, but that’s a blatant lie because the phone is ridiculously slow. Booting up YouTube took 40 seconds and there’s keyboard input lag when you type.

We downloaded third-party apps to check the real components used and it shows the clone phone has only 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM and 2GB of internal storage. The latter meant only one to two apps can be installed out of the box, any more and the phone will be out of storage.

At least the clone phone does not claim to be powered by the Snapdragon 888 anywhere in the packaging or in settings, because the SoC here is a MediaTek MT6782, a 28nm SoC produced in 2013. It doesn’t even support 4G networks.

Even that good-looking back compromises of a bunch of lies. The camera module looks relatively close to the real S21 Ultra’s camera module, but it only houses one 3MP camera, the rest of the “lenses” are fake. In fact, look closely at the supposedly ultra-wide camera and you can see the lens is just a piece of cardboard that has shifted inside and looks crooked.

the fake S21 Ultra's camera module

The upper left camera module has a “lens” that’s made of cardboard and is about to fall out of place.

The 3MP camera sucks, of course. Below are some samples captured by the fake S21 Ultra and the real S21 Ultra.

With just 1GB of RAM and 2GB of storage and only 3G connectivity, this phone is unusable for most people. The way we see it, this ripoff fake Galaxy S21 Ultra has two intended audiences: people who bought this knowing it’s fake (maybe they were just curious like us or wanted a laugh); or people who unfortunately can’t tell it’s a fake and thought they’re getting a steal of a deal. We really hope most people are in the former camp because anyone who paid for this thinking it’s a real Samsung device will have been majorly scammed.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.