Even though Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy S22 series has landed, the Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra are still 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.
Problem: Reduced camera performance and lag zooming or switching between modes
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 months after it was first reported.
A firmware update fixing the issue rolled out last June. Reports suggest camera performance has certainly improved following the update, which seems to have solved the issue for most users, although some are still reporting issues.
Problem: Battery life depletes faster than expected
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 S21 series 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, particularly after a recent update. 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.
Always check that you have the latest firmware installed on your phone, and try turning off location services via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Not surprisingly, many of the recommended battery fixes pertain to the screen. There are three settings you can change to help with battery life, and all of them are located in Settings. You’re welcome to adjust or not adjust these settings as you see fit. You may start with one setting, and if that doesn’t help, try the next, etc.
The three features are adaptive refresh rate, screen resolution, and Always On Display. Adaptive refresh rate allows your phone to refresh its screen at speeds of up to 120 times per second (Hz), which gives you smoother interactions when scrolling through menus. Screen resolution controls the number of pixels per inch (PPI) that your screen can use. The S21 Ultra can switch between WQHD+, FHD+, and HD+, the latter of which is more battery-friendly. Finally, there’s Always On Display, which will show you notifications and time even when your screen is off.
Step 1: Open Settings.
Step 2: Tap Display.
Step 3: Tap Motion smoothness.
Step 4: Select 60Hz refresh rate and tap Apply.
Step 5: While in the Display settings, tap Screen resolution.
Step 6: Adjust the slider to where you want it and tap Apply.
Step 7: Tap the Back arrow to get back to the main settings.
Step 8: Tap Lock screen.
Step 9: Tap the toggle next to Always on display.
Note: If you still find you are only getting a few hours of screen-on time from your new handset, you may also want to try clearing the cache. If this is still an issue, we’d recommend contacting Samsung for a repair or returning your phone for a replacement.
Problem: Galaxy S21 overheats when multitasking
Alarmingly, many users on the XDA developer forums and Samsung Forums have reported issues with the Galaxy S21 overheating while multitasking or downloading system updates. The issue seems to be cropping up even with light 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.
Samsung released a fix for this last June, 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
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.
If this is happening to you, then it’s definitely worth bearing in mind that the phone comes with a preinstalled 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 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.
Also, try turning on Touch Sensitivity.
Step 1: Open Settings.
Step 2: Tap Display.
Step 3: If it’s not already toggled no, tap Touch sensitivity to toggle it on.
Problem: Fingerprint sensor is not working
Sometimes the fingerprint sensor on a Samsung Galaxy S21 can become unresponsive. You might find that multiple fingerprint scans fail or that you have a particularly slow fingerprint reader. In-screen fingerprint sensors have a bad reputation, but they’ve gotten consistently better over the years.
First, check if you have a screen protector installed, as that could be causing the problem. If you suspect your screen protector is at fault, try removing it and testing the fingerprint sensor. Some screen protectors are more compatible with fingerprint sensors than others.
As always, it’s important to make sure your fingers are clean and dry. Also, make sure the area of the screen is free of dirt and dry. That will always give you the best chance for success. If that doesn’t do the trick, consider reprogramming your fingerprints into the phone.
Step 1: Open the Settings app.
Step 2: Tap Biometrics and security.
Step 3: Tap Fingerprints.
Step 4: Enter your current security code.
Step 5: Delete any old fingerprints.
Step 6: Reregister your fingerprints by tapping Add fingerprint.
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.
Samsung built software to help alleviate this issue.
Step 1: Open Settings.
Step 2: Tap Display.
Step 3: Enable the toggle for Accidental touch protection.
Problem: Samsung Pay isn’t working, and the phone doesn’t receive updates
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 were initially experiencing issues using Samsung Pay on their new devices, and those affected also hadn’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 and 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 also not work.
Some S21 Ultra users also reported that Samsung Pay was unavailable on their phones. This, again, mostly seems to have affected users in the U.K. who installed the app only to find it not working or were 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.
Samsung still 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:
Step 1: Open Settings.
Step 2: Tap Apps.
Step 3: Tap Samsung Pay.
Step 4: Tap Storage.
Step 5: Tap Clear cache and Clear data.
Step 6: Restart your device.
Problem: S21 freezes and restarts
You want your phone to be responsive when you need it, so it’s pretty annoying if it keeps freezing while you’re trying to text or make a payment, or worse, restarts completely when you’re on an important call. Some users over at the Samsung Forum have reported this issue, with phones freezing then restarting in safe mode. There are also reports this is happening to more users following the latest Android 12 update, as well as apps randomly crashing.
If this is affecting you, you could try wiping the cache partition, which doesn’t delete any of your data. Just follow the steps below:
Step 1: Turn off your phone.
Step 2: Press and hold the Volume key and the Side key until the Android logo appears, then release both keys.
Step 3: You should see the Android Recovery Menu options, so press the Volume down key to highlight Wipe cache partition, then select with the Side key.
Step 4: Press the Volume down key to highlight Yes, then select with the Side key.
Step 5: Once the cache partition has been wiped, you’ll see Reboot system now highlighted.
Step 6: Press the Side key to restart your phone.
Step 7: If you’re still experiencing the issue after this, you might want to try to back up your data and do a factory reset. If this still doesn’t resolve the problem, your next step is to contact Samsung for a repair or replacement, as this may be a hardware or OS issue.
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.