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🎄 Good morning! It’s our final Daily Authority newsletter of 2020, unless something crazy happens like ...a Google Car being released? Apple launching satellites? Tesla making a smartphone? Short of any of that, I'll be back in your inboxes January 4th, as we get straight into pre-CES times.

December 22, 2020
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE rear and center
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

The annual winner of smartphone of the year is always important: a crowning moment, a guide for people looking to buy a new phone, and a topic of hot debate. What makes a winner?

The year’s best has been decided again, and the Android Authority team once again filtered the value from the budget, the top-tier from the mid-range, the overall best. First came a suite of objective tests, with seasoned, subjective analysis out of the results.

From there, the editorial team stepped in to offer a balanced view of specs vs price tags, features, performance, and quality. The Editor’s Choice!

The team split a tight vote down to five clear winners, ranked five-to-one. Two Google phones in the top three, while Sony sneaks in for the first time in years to a Best list.

Here’s four of the final five:

  • Fifth place: Sony Xperia 5 II
  • Fourth place: Oppo Find X2 Pro
  • Third place: Google Pixel 4a
  • Second place: Google Pixel 4a 5G*

(*this was my vote!)

But to the winner go the spoils. Android Authority’s Editor’s Choice 2020 winner: the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G.

  • The Galaxy S20 FE doesn’t necessarily win in any one area, but it smashed expectations across all of them.
  • It’s a good old-fashioned flagship killer: no heavy compromises, $699 price tag. No, that’s not a veritable bargain, but that’s the market now, and it’s both dramatically cheaper than the Galaxy S20 and the Note, and alongside OnePlus pricing.
  • The triple camera is punchy and versatile. The “glasstic” build is durable, too.
  • Quotes: “The Galaxy S20 FE is blazing fast, too. The Snapdragon 765G may have risen to prominence in 2020, but the Snapdragon 865 is still where it’s at if you want true top-tier performance. Samsung’s display pedigree is on show with its impeccable 120Hz panel … topped off with competitive battery life, wireless and reverse wireless charging, 5G mmWave support, UFS 3.0 storage, a microSD slot, an IP68 rating, and Samsung’s One UI skin that continues to mature over time.”
  • “The few trade-offs that the Galaxy S20 FE makes are exquisitely balanced against its approachable retail price. While it doesn’t truly excel beyond the elite devices of 2020 in any one area, it meets and surpasses expectations in all of them.”
  • “In a year where many phones seemed laser-targeted on a specific audience — be it frugal buyers, early adopters, or power users — the Galaxy S20 FE was the phone for everyone.”

Your chance:

  • Want to be involved?
  • You can vote on four Android smartphones that have emerged out of the Reader’s Choice voting.
  • As of right now, a different Samsung smartphone is winning.

📺 Samsung has announced a First Look 2021 event for January 6, promising to show the “future of the display,” and it looks like more than just TVs — MicroLED and Mini-LED? (Android Authority).

🍎 The Apple car is back on. A Reuters report cites several anonymous sources that say Apple is targeting car production by 2024, may use self-driving technology developed by Apple, and it may involve a “breakthrough” battery design, including lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry, which Tesla said it would use in Chinese-made Tesla Model 3s, and a design that “bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials.” This is a much better report than the one suggesting an Apple car in 2021 from yesterday, and it more closely follows the rumors that have swirled around Apple’s Project Titan since 2014. However, Apple reportedly scaled back those efforts and reshuffled employees(CNBC). Any development still targeting a date three-plus years away probably shouldn’t make you change plans today (Tesla stock dropped on the news!), but like the Arm-based M1 chip Macs, when change does come, it comes all at once.

📆 Xiaomi announces Mi 11, with Snapdragon 888, launch date: December 28 (Android Authority).

💙 OnePlus 8T Concept announced: A phone with electrochromic glass on the back for color-shifting highlights and notifications. Kinda cool? (Android Authority).

💻 Galaxy Chromebook 2 leak hints Samsung will stick to its design guns (Android Authority).

🕴 OnePlus Nord SE might just be the current Nord with new clothes(Android Authority).

🛋 Stardew Valley adds couch co-op in its biggest update ever (Engadget).

🎶 Barack Obama has shared his annual list of top songs in 2020 and there’s plenty to like, I’m told. Informed (Twitter). I’m not exactly keeping up, still unearthing music that I think is new and that comes from 2018. Anyway, it’s here on Spotify too

📚 26 of “the most fascinating books Wired read in 2020.” I have some catching up to do. (Wired).

💡 Eagle-eyed turn signal enthusiasts note a new detail about some modern blinkers on new cars. This is as fringe as it gets and I’m here for it (Jalopnik).

🤔 “What are some interesting or fun Christmas traditions you follow?” (r/askreddit). Some things are just hilarious across cultures: “We eat rice porridge and hide a peeled almond in it. The person finding it is the winner, and the price is a marzipan pig. (Norway)”

Chart Tuesday

The last chart of the year, and it’s the RNA sequence of COVID19. This data represents the novel coronavirus, and the data used for an mRNA vaccine:

rna
  • A ton of information in the r/dataisbeautiful post, including scientists patiently explaining and debunking, but this was just a few months into the pandemic.
  • From the original poster: “I got the RNA sequence (after it has been processed) and color coded each of the base pair to a color. A – purple, G – Red, T – Orange, C -Yellow. There are 29903 base pairs.”
  • (The bottom right is the PolyA chain, not a bug in the data.)

All the best – see you in 2021!

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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