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The best smartphones that launched at CES 2021
Every year CES brings a torrent of products across every niche imaginable, and this year’s virtual edition is not much different. Despite this exuberance, smartphone makers rarely use the Las Vegas show as the launchpad for their hot new products. Still, there have been a few noteworthy devices coming out during CES 2021 and we’re here to round up the very best.
TCL 20 5G and the TCL 20 SE
After years of licensing other companies’ brands, in 2020 TCL jumped into the fray with the titular TCL 10 series. The second generation takes things up a notch, while keeping the approachable price of the original.
TCL 20 5G brings a competent spec sheet, anchored by Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 690 processor, 6GB of RAM, and at least 128GB of expandable storage. With its 6.67-inch Full HD+ display with HDR10 support, 4,500mAh battery and triple camera setup, this phone won’t blow your socks off – but that’s alright, at €299 it’s not supposed to. The TCL 20 SE brings a similar experience, with some cutbacks needed to hit the €149 price tag.
More TCL 20-series models are coming soon and it’s clear TCL is looking to repeat the success of its TV strategy in the phone market.
Okay, we’re being generous here with the definitions of “product” and “launch,” but we’ll take what we get. LG’s rollable display device has been talked about for a while, but at CES LG has given us the best glimpse of it yet, as well as the first confirmation of its official name.
The LG Rollable sleekly transforms from phone to tablet at a touch of a button. Where Samsung is betting on foldables, LG seems to think “rollables” could bring the much-awaited paradigm shift in mobile technology.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know a ton about the LG Rollable, other than it’s coming and that it’s indisputably cool.
Samsung Galaxy S21 line
Technically launched outside the virtual confines of CES 2021, the Galaxy S21 series is the aging 800-pound gorilla of the Android world. Does it need any introduction? Certainly not, not after the leak-fest that preceded it. Is it still exciting? That’s debatable. Should you still pay attention to it? Absolutely.
The Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra are the epitome of modern Samsung product design, with their tasteful colors and smooth constructions. Their spec sheets are just as impressive, especially on the top-end Ultra model, which this year supports the S Pen – potentially heralding the end of the Note series.
Kyocera Duraforce Ultra 5G UW
The Galaxy S21 is a tough act to follow. Good thing the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra 5G UW is literally as tough as it gets. Designed for users who demand extreme durability, this beast can take a beating, a dunk, and probably a close encounter with a battle tank, and live to tell the tale.
As the clumsy name implies, this new Kyocera device works on Verizon’s mmWave (UWB) network, which is the blazing-fast version of 5G that depends on direct line of sight with the tower. In other words, coverage is limited and will remain so for years to come. Still, the Duraforce Ultra is worth your attention if you want a competent Android phone made to withstand the worst you can throw at it.
vivo X60 Pro
Launched in China just ahead of the new year, but technically falling in CES’ slipstream, the vivo X60 Pro refines the “gimbal” camera setup of its predecessor, adding optics from renowned lens maker ZEISS. The phone features an Exynos 1080 upper mid-range SoC from Samsung, 33W charging, and a 6.56-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED panel with a center-mounted punch-hole cutout (hosting a 32MP sensor).
You get a 48MP camera with a second-gen micro-gimbal setup, a 13MP 2x portrait lens, and a 13MP ultra-wide shooter, along an 8MP 5x periscope zoom lens capable of up to 60x digital zoom. Details about the gimbal tech are scarce, but in theory it should help with the all-important low-light imagery, as well as video stabilization. If the Pro model isn’t pro enough for you, the Pro Plus version coming in the next weeks promises to leave you suitably satisfied.
And that concludes another roundup of the best smartphones of CES. Want more CES goodness? Check out our CES 2021 Top Picks Awards below, as well as roundups for the best new wearables, smart home gadgets, and more.