Samsung Unpacked: S21 Ultra 5G

At the start of every year, Samsung always brings the goods and this year is no different. Samsung’s Unpacked event revealed a number of products but the pinnacle is the S21 Ultra 5G.

Off the bat, Samsung has followed Apple’s lead and will not include charging brick with their phones. So if you don’t already have one, you will need to fork out extra. And for the first time the S21 Ultra 5G is bringing S-pen functionality.

The phone is one of the largest, coming in at 6.8-inches with an AMOLED 2X display running at QuadHD+ with 120Hz refresh rate, now available at the same time. Brightness tops out at 1,500 nits which should never let you down, no matter how bright the sun is.

Such a big screen needs a big battery and Samsung delivered there too with a 5,000mAh capable of fast wireless charging as well as speedy wired charging. Onto the cameras and it has a quad rear camera (ultra-wide, wide and dual tele-lenses) that features a new 108MP pro sensor. This set up will allow for 4K 60fps video across any of the lenses including the selfie camera. Similar to last year’s S20 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G features 100x Space Zoom which is powered by Samsung’s first-ever Dual-tele lens system – one optical 3x and one optical 10x both equipped Dual Photodiode(2PD)– so you can capture crystal-clear shots no matter how far you are from the action.

As we said earlier on, Samsung is bringing the fan favorite S Pen experience to the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. From drawing to note-taking to editing photos and signing documents, now you can unlock the power of the S Pen on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. Use an existing S Pen from a Galaxy Note or Galaxy Tab or purchase an S Pen separately on its own or with a compatible case.

The S21 Ultra 5G will be readily available in the UK from January 29th in two distinct colours – Phantom Black or Phantom Silver or if you purchase online there will be three additional colours – Phantom Titanium, Phantom Blue and Phantom Brown.

Each of these phones will be available in three RAM and memory formats – 12GB/128GB for £1149, 16GB/256GB for £1199 and finally the ultimate 16GB/512GB for £1329.

Xiaomi launches Mi 11 flagship phone for 2021

Xiaomi, a Chinese home electronics company that creates anything from mobile phones at any price point, to electric scooters and smart home technology. However, it released its flagship phone just ahead of 2021 to start the year off right.

The Mi 11 is the first smartphone in the world to boast Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, it is also fitted with a 2k AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh rate, a 108MP main camera and speakers by Harman Kardon.

The 2K screen is 6.81-inches and quad curved making this quite a large phone. With 120Hz refresh rate and an ultra-high touch sampling rate of 480Hz, this phone will feel fast for years to come. It is capable of 1,500 nits brightness, so it will be remain clear even in the brightest of sunlight.

Round the back, the camera module features a standard triple camera layout – something we are used to seeing – but it has a 108MP 8K main camera featuring a 1/1.33” large image sensor with OIS support partnering alongside the 123° ultra-wide angle camera and 50mm telephoto macro lenses.

The body of the phone is a miniscule 8.06mm thick, yet fits a large 4,600mAh battery capable of Mi TurboCharge 55W wired flash charging and 50W wireless charging. That means you can fully charge your device either wired or wireless in under 55 minutes. And if your friends need a top up of juice, the Mi 11 is capable of offering 10W wireless reverse charging.

The Mi 11 is available in a choice of colours – Midnight Gray, Horizon Blue and Frost White in anti-glare frosted glass, as well as Lilac Purple and Honey Beige in vegan leather. The glass version is 8.06mm thick and weighs 196g, while the leatherback device is 8.56mm thick but weighs only 194g. Both styles of phones will be offered in three variants – 8GB +128GB, 8GB +256GB and 12GB +256GB. Prices in China start around £450 so expect them to be a little when it gets to Europe.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro – The best phone you shouldn’t buy

Huawei, the smartphone manufacturer that has unfortunately been added to Trump’s USA ban keep pulling out all the stops to show that their phones are technically advanced than everything else on the market and now they have released their latest model – the new Huawei Mate 40 Pro 5G.

Fitted with a 6.76-inch OLED 90Hz refresh rate edge to edge display, the screen seems like it wraps all the way around the frame. In fact, it curves so much that the buttons for the lock screen and volume have been moved further back too. It has two selfie cameras, a 13MP wide angle selfie camera and a 3D depth sensing camera used for 3D Face Unlock and also has an optical in-display fingerprint sensor for additional security options, especially as this is the year of the facemask.

At the back of the phone, the user is treated to an array of cameras in what Huawei calls a Space Ring formation as an homage to balance and symmetry. There is a 50MP ultravision wide angle camera, a 20MP ultra wide camera and a 12MP Telephoto camera.

The new phone is powered by the Kirin 5nm 9000 chipset, a first in a smartphone with 5G connectivity, meaning it is FAST. It is IP68 dust and water resistant and if you can’t put it down long enough to charge, the 4400mAh battery can be charged via 66W ultrafast wired charging or 50W wireless charging. The screen also has a new feature that makes always-on display look dated. This is ‘eyes on display’ meaning it will light up and show notifications when you look at it.

Gaming or watching films has got that much better with true stereo speakers, a downward facing speaker at the bottom and another speaker at the top which is separate from the earpiece.

However, there is one major caveat that needs to be added in whenever talking about Huawei phones outside of China – there are no Google applications – meaning no Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Uber or anything that uses a Google component in the app. As much as it is one of the best phones on the market, it isn’t one that can be recommended. But if that doesn’t phase you, the Mate 40 Pro will be available in Black or Mystic Silver with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £1,099.99.

OnePlus launches new 8T – 120Hz and 5G connectivity

Another day, another new phone. We have had some heavy hitters so far; Samsung Galaxy Note Series, Google Pixel 5 and 4A 5G and the myriad of iPhone 12s but now it’s turn of OnePlus to reveal its mid-year update in the form of a T series. This year fall to the 8T but unfortunately we aren’t to see the 8T Pro.

The OnePlus 8T is a powerhouse of sorts when you look at the spec sheet – 120Hz refresh rate 6.55-inch AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset with 5G connectivity, 8GB RAM with 128GB UFS3.1 storage or 12GB of RAM with 256GB of UFS3.1 storage, 4500mAh battery capable of getting a days worth of charge in 15 mins thanks to the new Warp Charge 65, Quad camera set up and Oxygen OS 11 which is a form of Android 11 but with Samsung UI design cues – all for the price of £549 or £649 respectively here in the UK.

The cameras have been updated slightly, now featuring a 123-degree ultra-wide angle 16MP camera, 48MP main camera, a Macro lens and a Monochrome lens. Up front, there is a 16MP camera that has been shifted from the centre on the 7T to the left corner.

With companies like Apple removing the charger from the packaging, it is interesting to see OnePlus go the opposite direction. Not only will they ship the fast charger in the box, but it is also compatible with other USB-C devices so it could technically charge up your laptop, headphone or handheld console. The focus is on the extremely fast and powerful wired charging which means yet again, OnePlus has not added wireless charging to its phone.

The space of what is called mid-tier phones is hotting up and if you are an Android fan and looking for a new phone, the OnePlus 8T is one that will be in the mix.

Apple reveals four new iPhones

There is no need to beat around the bush, those that know will have watched the event live. If you didn’t, this is for you. Apple has released four new iPhones – iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

The key takeaways from it is 5G connectivity for all phones, the design harks back to the iPhone 4 with stainless steel frame but with a 2020 form factor and four sizes and prices.

iPhone 12 and 12 Mini
So let’s get to the 12 Mini -it is 5.4-inch iPhone, suitable for those you truly dislike the massive screen craze. It doesn’t lose out on any of the larger phones, still getting 5G connectivity, IP68 rating and the Super-Retina XDR display. The iPhone 12 is the same but in a larger 6.1-inch format fitted with the same A14 Bionic chip, the double rear cameras and a new Ceramic Shield front cover, said to provide the biggest jump in durability for an iPhone. The phones also introduce MagSafe, high-powered wireless charging using magnets that opens up to a new world of accessories that can easily attach to the iPhone.

Both phones will be available in five aluminum finishes, including blue, green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED with either 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage. The iPhone 12 starts at $799 and the 12 Mini starts at $699 with deliveries starting October 23rd and November 13th respectively.

iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max
If those phones didn’t really take your fancy, the 12 Pro and Pro Max are those targeting the serious photographers and videographers. Offered as a 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch Super-Retina XDR screen with 1200 nits of brightness. As with the other 12s, the Pros come with IP68 rating, Ceramic Shield front cover, 5G connectivity, A14 Bionic chips and MagSafe. What makes these the Pro versions are the camera systems.

The iPhone 12 Pro features the new seven-element lens Wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture, with a 27 percent improved low-light performance in photo and video; the Ultra Wide camera with a 120-degree field of view, perfect for capturing more scene in tight spots; and a 52 mm focal length Telephoto camera, bringing the optical zoom range to 4x. iPhone 12 Pro Max takes the pro camera experience even further – the ƒ/1.6 aperture Wide camera sensor has 1.7μm pixels for a massive 87 percent improvement in low-light conditions. It also includes the expansive Ultra Wide camera and a 65 mm focal length Telephoto camera for increased flexibility with closer shots and tighter crops. Combined, this system offers 5x optical zoom range. And then there is Apple ProRAW which allows users to shoot in RAW but also keep the computational functionality of using an iPhone giving full creative control over color, detail, and dynamic range natively.

If that wasn’t enough, Apple has added LiDAR to the Pro line. This allows the camera system to measure light distance and use pixel depth information to create a better image or scene. This is great for AR and greatly improves autofocus in low-light.

Then onto video. The Pro series is said to be the first and only devices that enable end-to-end HDR video with Dolby Vision, up to 60fps. This allows users to grade live and then can be sustained during editing straight from the Photos app.

Both of the Pro series will be made available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models in graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue starting at $999 for the 12 Pro and $1,099 for the 12 Pro Max delivered from October 23rd and November 13th respectively.

Google Pixel 5 is here

Some of you may know this already, but, Google had its Launch Night In a few days ago and we have already discussed the Nest Audio Speaker but I wanted to turn your attention to the Pixel 5.

The Google Pixel series has had a tough time in its previous generations – it lacked key components that users were asking for. Take a decent sized battery, a screen to body to ratio that resembled other flagship phones etc, etc.

Well with the Google Pixel 5, the team realised that battling for the top spot with the likes of Samsung and Apple wasn’t always going to cut it and it would affect sales in the long run. The software and the camera is what sold Google phones and at that price point, the hardware didn’t warrant the price tag.

So now, that the price has dropped to £599 it makes a lot easier to justify. The same is said with the chipset – previous generations ran the best that Qualcomm could offer but it also put it in the crosshairs of those other top tier phones. The Pixel 5 has got a Snapdragon 765G chip which is 5G enabled and probably won’t be noticeable when using it everyday. It is fitted with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The phone itself has 6-inch OLED display at 90Hz with a punch-hole cutout for the selfie camera replacing the massive forehead that was on the Pixel 4. Project Soli is no more but this gives the phone a cleaner look. It is aluminium bodied and capable of reverse wireless charging, fingerprint scanner is still round the back. The camera module has been changed slightly, with the standard 12.2 MP camera and now a 16MP ultrawide lens.

The battery has swelled to a reasonable 4080mAh which is a godsend from the 2800mAh battery seen on the Pixel 4. It now comes in two colours, Just Black and Sorta Sage and is available to pre-order for £599 or £24.96 per month on 0% APR for 24 months with deliveries starting October 5th.

Samsung Galaxy Note Ultra 5G – The most powerful Note yet

Samsung recently held its Galaxy unpacked event where it revealed five products – Galaxy Note 20, Note 20 Ultra, two tablets – in the S7 and S7+, Galaxy Watch 3, Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Z Fold2.

For now, let’s talk about the most powerful Note to date – the Note 20 Ultra 5G. As some of you may know the Note Series has always been for the power users, those that want work and play on their phones, fitted with the S-Pen.

The Note 20 Ultra is fitted with a 6.9-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120Hz refresh rate delivering buttery smooth visuals. It is fitted with a 4,500mAh battery that is said to last all day, but if you find yourself running out of juice, the super fast charging and wireless capabilities, getting 50% in 30 minutes should see you through.

The S-Pen has been updated, to have more ‘lifelike precision’ as well as five new anywhere actions meaning you will users wielding their S-Pens as if they are extras in a Harry Potter film.

There is also a stronger Microsoft connection with the Note Series this year so that users can easily access their mobile apps on Windows 10 without disruption. But on that, Xbox integration means over 100 Xbox titles will be available to play on the Note, with 240Hz touch latency and an AI game booster.

You don’t necessarily buy the Note for its camera but if you did Samsung kitted it out with a 108mp Wide-angle, 12mp Ultra-wide angle, 12mp telephoto, laser AF sensor and 50x Space zoom. It is available in three colours, – Mystic Bronze, Mystic Black and Mystic White in either 256gb or 512gb starting from £1,179.