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🥪 Good morning! Busy end to the week but I have time to tell you apparently mayonnaise on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich makes it exponentially better. TIL.
January 22, 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 reviews are out
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra next to S20 Ultra
David Imel / Android Authority

Reviews of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the base Galaxy S21 dropped yesterday, with reviewers spilling their thoughts on the S21 series.

Our team had the S21 Ultra and the base S21 on-hand for reviews, with the S21 Plus coming once the review team catch a breath.

The good news if you already bought one: the S21 Ultra is the real deal, and the base S21 is easily sufficient for most people.

  • Galaxy S21 Ultra review: The headline here is that the S21 fixes the mistakes of the S20, including the camera which is again the leading Android option for most people, with the zoom function the best it’s been. It’s the real McCoy, cheaper, and better; great display, and extended battery life. 
  • That said, it’s still $1200, and the loss of the microSD card may have some enthusiasts looking around for other options. The idea of shooting 8K at 24FPS sounds fun until you remember two minutes of 8K footage will need 1.2GB of storage, and you don’t have expandable storage.
  • (You’ll also see David Imel’s detailed S21 Ultra video review, explaining the autofocus problems of the S20 in his last review for Android Authority!)
  • And there’s also theGalaxy S21 review, with a great line that sums it up: “Power users will think it’s anemic, but the average smartphone buyer will find everything they need at a very reasonable cost.”

S20 Ultra shade:

  • In some ways, this all makes the Galaxy S20 one of Samsung’s more problematic releases. The S21 series is now more durable, focus is fixed especially on the Ultra, and images are sharper and more balanced. The zoom, now with two telephoto cameras, makes long-range zoom less of a gimmick and more a real feature.
  • The fine-tuning of the S21 and S21 Ultra is a credit to Samsung but you feel that this comes at the expense of Galaxy S20 Ultra owners who paid more and got less phone. 
  • It’s not just typical generational improvements we see; it’s that the S20 looks half-baked. 

And, Pixel problems:

Galaxy S21 reviews from around the web did plenty of camera comparisons, against the likes of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the S20, and so on. 

And the Pixel line, including the latest Pixel 5. 

  • Here’s The Verge’s Dieter Bohn on Twitter talking about his S21 Ultra review: “Didn’t really bother posting any head-to-head with the Pixel 5 because the S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max are definitively better in almost all shooting conditions. Google’s insistence on using the same old camera sensor every single year has finally caught up to it.”
  • Ouch. Not even worthy of comparison is tough.
  • Still, the Pixel 5 (or 4a 5G) can be had at half the price of the Ultra depending on your local options, so is it valid criticism?
Roundup

⚡ Speed Test G: Galaxy S21 Ultra Snapdragon 888 vs Exynos 2100. Finally, the Qualcomm Snapdragon vs new Samsung Exynos showdown, and good news on the CPU front for Samsung, but the less said about the GPU fight the better (Android Authority).

🆕 Honor announced its first post-Huawei phone: the V40, an affordable flagship that ditches Kirin chipsets for Mediatek (Android Authority).

🎢 Uh-oh: The fate of LG’s rollable phone is apparently now ‘undecided’ (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple VR headset details: plans for a high-end, pricey and niche device ahead of its future AR glasses, and coming sometime in 2022? Reportedly codenamed N301, and not billed as a major seller, but a first entry (Bloomberg).

🔎 Google and Facebook are fighting with Australia’s government over a proposed code that would force them to pay publishers for linked news content in Google News or on Facebook’s NewsFeed. In a statement by Google’s local managing director today (blog.google), Google Australia threatened that it could close off its search engine to Australians, which has created massive news. The idea of my home country losing access to Google Search is pretty out there, and while there’s plenty of grandstanding around “finally making Big Tech pay up,” it all comes down to advertising, which Google and Facebook won with better products and better ability to target desired consumers. “[W]e don’t respond to threats,” was the Australian Prime Minister’s response to the threats (ABC). No one really thinks this will happen with all the chest-beating likely for nothing, because meanwhile in France: Google agrees to pay French publishers for news(CNBC).

🎈 Alphabet is shutting down Project Loon, its hot air balloon moonshot to beam speedy internet into remote parts of the world (TechCrunch). Some indications are it ran out of money; the general consensus is that once SpaceX put satellites for internet into space on reusable rockets, Project Loon was effectively second-best. Innovations out of the Loon project are in use in other ideas to get more remotely situated people online.

📈 Intel’s PC business is up 33 percent thanks to cheap notebooks, but Intel is firmly in the woods with a new CEO hoping to turn it around (Engadget).

💎 Elon Musk announces $100 million prize for new carbon capture tech, details next week. X Prize offered $20M for similar in 2018, awarding five winners (Engadget).

🤖 NASA has discovered dozens of fresh craters on Mars, using a new AI-based method that offers new ways to study planets in our solar system (Wired).

🎤 ELI5: “Why are voices so unique and distinguishable? Even a single word can let you recognize someone.” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Friday Fun

The usual fun Reddit question topic is the Fun Friday this week, and this is a curler: “What is the equivalent of “Apple removed the 3.5mm jack” of your favorite products?” (r/askreddit).

  • So many in here, including in tech, like pay-once apps switching to pay-monthly subscriptions, Xbox 360 taking away the option to watch Netflix with your friends with chat enabled, and so on.
  • There’s also this: “In Australia, Heinz removed the classic 420g can of baked beans and replaced it with three different sizes, none of which are the appropriate amount of beans. I no longer eat Heinz beans.”
bernie meme

Bonus: He made a viral Bernie meme site. Now he has to keep it going: “If I had known this was going to be the traffic, I would have made every single decision completely differently.” (Wired).

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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