Welcome to our recap of the top news articles of 2021. We’ll start with the main events of the first three months of the year and we’ll cover the next quarters in the following episodes of the series.
The first quarter of the year was transformative and shaped a lot of 2021. Qualcomm had just announced its Snapdragon 888 in the last month of 2020, and the first phones with the new flagship chipset came out at the turn of 2021.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 pioneered the SD888, but notable phones with Qualcomm’s new silicon included the Mi 11 Pro, the Redmi K40 Pro+, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Mi Mix Fold, vivo’s X60 Pro+, Oppo’s Find X3 Pro, the Asus Rog Phone 5, 5 Pro and 5 Ultimate, the nubia Red Magic 6 and the Realme GT.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra made big waves thanks to a new design that featured a massive camera bump on the rear. It turned out the size was warranted by the imaging hardware Xiaomi crammed in – the largest sensor used in a smartphone (to this day), as well as capable 5x zoom and ultrawide cameras.
Samsung’s flagship chip came out in Q1 as well and powered some of the regional versions of the Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra, which were also officialized in this quarter. The Ultra brought refinement to the Galaxy Ultra formula with an LTPO AMOLED that was able to dynamically change screen refresh rates, ultimately leading to stellar battery performance.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra also more than doubled the optical zoom reach of its predecessor with a 10x periscope.
Samsung’s extremely-popular Galaxy A52, A52 5G, and A72 were all unveiled in Q1, bringing high refresh rate displays (120Hz for the 5G, 90Hz for the others), a colorful and simple matte design, big batteries, and solid cameras.
Xiaomi’s sub-brands Poco and Redmi had popular releases in Q1 – the Poco X3 Pro and F3 came out with Snapdragon 860 and 870, respectively, while the Redmi Note 10 series were popular throughout 2021.
Xiaomi’s first foldable, the Mi Mix Fold was very promising, but ultimately never made it out of China. Huawei also revealed its second foldable – the Mate X2 combined a fresh new in-folding design with powerful cameras, but ultimately its lack of Google apps made it a poor showing outside China.
OnePlus stuck to a single flagship for the entire year. The OnePlus 9 Pro and 9 arrived in Q1 with Hasselblad-branded cameras. But despite the strong name recognition that came with the new cameras, their performance was at the time subpar to the competition from Samsung and Apple. OnePlus has made strides in image quality through firmware updates in the months since.
While Q1 was early for iPhone 13 solid rumors, there was one that aged like wine – brought on by Japanese blog MacOtakara, it said that the iPhone 13 Pro would have the same design as the 12, but be thicker (thanks to larger batteries) and have a smaller notch. That rumor materialized in Q3.
Those were the key stories of Q1. Below you can find the entire list of major announcements, rumors, and other articles. Next up – Q2.
The phone features 67W wireless fast charging developed in house, which can fully fill the battery in 36 minutes.
The display can do 120Hz at the full 1440p+ resolution for the first time on a Samsung phone. The two tele cams are 10x periscope and 3x lens.
The three phones have the same display – a 6.7″ Samsung E4 AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate.
The internal OLED display measures 8″ in size (4:3), the external display is 6.5″ (27:9). The phone is powered by the S888 and has a desktop mode.
The CPU promises a 30% boost in multi-core performance compared to the Exynos 990, 40% on the GPU and a more efficient NPU.
The phone also has two telephoto lenses – a 5x periscope and a 2x portrait lens. Also, new image processing algorithms to run on the S888 chipset.
The 1200 runs its Cortex-A78 core at 3.0 GHz, which promises a solid single-core performance upgrade over the Dimensity 1000+.
The sensor can output 12-bit HDR, has a low-noise mode, which boosts sensitivity in low light, and an improved autofocus system.
And it has a mid-range 3x telephoto lens as well. The two screens have 90 Hz refresh rate, the inner one is almost square, the outer one is 21:9.
The Ultimate is one of the first smartphone to be loaded with 18 GB of RAM. It and the Pro have secondary displays on the back.
This is builds on ISOCELL Plus, which Samsung calls Phase 1. ISOCELL 2.0 is Phase 2 and will allow smaller pixels to perform better.
The two phones are quite similar to the Realme 7 and 7 Pro. The 8 Pro has a far better camera, but little else has changed (not even the chipset).
The 9 Pro flaunts a bespoke Sony sensor, Fluid Display 2.0 and support for the new Warp Charge 50 Wireless charger.
The Pro+ is nowhere to be seen yet. As for the other two, there are changes to the chipset, OS and camera.
Concise lists of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the three new flagships compared against each other.
It has a triple ISP and an NPU that is almost as fast as that in the 865/870. It features Kryo 670 CPU and Adreno 642 GPU.
The P50 series will have a characteristic camera bump with two prominent circles – but what is inside those circles? These renders purport to show that.
Looking for a webcam for video calls? You can probably skip that and get a better experience if you just use your smartphone.
OnwardMobility is working with Foxconn to develop and build the phones. The primary focus will be on security.
After looking into the performance of the two chipsets, we decided to move on to some differential battery comparisons, as well.
Looking at the features and the performance of the PlayStation 5, and how it compares to its extremely successful predecessor