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⚡ Welcome back to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority series that recaps the top Android and tech news from the week. We're back from holidays fresh and ready to go, just as CES 2021 starts to heat up again.
🏃♂️ Tristan Rayner back on deck, working off the Christmas excess by ...typing!
- Samsung. A big week for the South Korean maker of many things. First, it confirmed the January 14th launch of the Galaxy S21, which you already pre-pre-order. Most of the S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra details are out now, with all-but official looks at the S Pen, camera systems, and specs. Samsung’s new TVs in 2021 also emerged via its The First Look 2021 presentation, including the new Neo QLED TVs, which add a bunch of features, and a solar-powered remote control, interestingly. MicroLED TVs are getting slightly closer to buyable too but I wouldn’t be waiting around for them to fall below $5,000 any time soon. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro were unpacked on video ahead of the official launch, too, as Samsung leaks continued.
- Finally, Samsung debuts a less expensive QLED-based Galaxy Chromebook 2, switching from 4K to a Full HD, QLED display, and likely better battery life. It now starts at $549/$699, a huge drop from the previous and still relevant Galaxy Chromebook, that launched at a $999 price point. Here’s our hands on with the new Galaxy Chromebook 2, too.
- CES 2021 smartphones: Motorola launched three 2021 Moto G phones, including Play, Power, and Stylus, plus the Moto One 5G Ace, a cheap 5G phone with big ol’ battery.
- CES 2021 gadgets: This list is about to grow so I’ll just mention a few early important devices: LG has a bendable LED gaming TV that curves on demand, Sony has new Bravia XR TVs in 2021, JBL has a huge range of speakers and headphones plus Virtual Dolby Atmos for a soundbar, and Acer’s new Chromebook Spin 514 is an AMD-powered option starting at $480.
- Google, and Apple removed Parler from their respective app stores, and Amazon AWS stopped hosting the backend.
- Hyundai publicly announced Apple had approached it about developing a car, something it later backtracked on. Hyundai probably shouldn’t have admitted that if it wants to do business with Apple. Ouch.
- And the ghost of 2020, Quibi, will rise from the grave as 75 of the original Quibi titles will be streamed on Roku Channel, coming sometime in 2021.
- Redmi Note 9T review: Cheap battery champ with 5G.
- Xiaomi Mi 10i review: Taking the fight to the OnePlus Nord
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II review: Great headphones, but still great in 2021? Good news: yes!
- Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 review: No. If you want eyeglasses with Bluetooth and built-in speakers, but just buy Bose Frames if you really, really want.
Features & opinion
The team put on some thinking caps and channeled our annual requests and wishlists for some of the biggest smartphone makers in the world:
Five things we want to see from these makers in 2021:
- Samsung — More value, a compact flagship, and what about Exynos?
- Google — Fix Wear OS, sort out its media variety, a new Pixelbook, and what about a high-end Pixel? (I’m not sure I want the last from Google, what do you think?)
- Xiaomi — Put together a more cohesive brand identity with an understandable variant scheme, and how about a foldable in 2021?
- Apple — Open the Apple Watch, and the end of the Lightning port are just two requests.
- OnePlus — Trend-setting not trend-following please, and can the Nord line do something more?
- Huawei — The return of Google apps, and a HarmonyOS smartphone please.
- LG — Competitive budget phones, top-tier camera quality, and more Explorer Project ideas would be very welcome.
- Sony — A polished Xperia 5 II, PS Now for Android, and more.
And as a bonus: 6 things we want to see from the Nintendo Switch in 2021 — A Nintendo Switch Pro, streaming apps, more games, and how about new Joycons?
Our 10 best-performing articles of 2020
Here’s a look back at our 10 best ideas, best features, and popular posts — as decided by you, our audience, and your reading habits.
Executive Editor Kris Carlon passed on this list for Weekly Authority readers to get a look at the top posts written in 2020 by Android Authority’s talented crew.
And, you might be a little surprised by what topped the list. What would you have guessed?
- Some breaking news about Samsung, OnePlus, or Google Pixel?
- A review of a major device?
- A technical deep dive?
Something important to remember is that the biggest tech news in our Android-focused world rarely emerges as a single moment that has everyone reading the same news.
Loads of news in this space comes out in pieces as the OnePlus Nord overplayed last year. Also, factor in the leak game being so strong that it’s rare for a new device from a big player to drop out of nowhere. The final aspect is the event cycle: tracking launch date rumors, official invitation, the event itself, confirmed information and specs, hands-on articles, and finally a full review. Chances are you that spectacle doesn’t keep you gripped across what could be months of dripped out news.
That makes our biggest pieces a little more encompassing or intriguing in different ways.
With all that in mind, here are the top 10 pieces:
- Did you know: The most popular music streaming platform isn’t Spotify
- 8 new features WhatsApp should add from other messaging apps
- Camera shootout: Google Pixel 5 tested vs the best Android camera phones
- US-China trade war: Why every Chinese phone maker should prepare for the worst
- Why Google chose the Snapdragon 765G for the Pixel 5
- Tested: How much does Bluetooth actually drain your phone battery?
- Compact camera vs smartphone shootout: It’s not even close
- Did you know: The Samsung Galaxy Note was mocked and predicted to flop at launch
- Android 11 on OnePlus 8: Hands-on with all the new Oxygen OS 11 features
- Tested: The Google Pixel series has a serious USB-C transfer problem
What a great list! Funnily enough, the top post won by a huge margin after it went viral all across the globe. It was the perfect headline to inspire intrigue (“There’s a better Spotify that everyone knows about except me??”), and the punchline that it’s YouTube still makes sense and makes you wonder.
Other notables here: just exactly what Google is doing with the Pixel line had some big wins: camera comparisons, why Google went with the Snapdragon 765G, and the USB-C transfer problems with the phone are all important considerations.
As a bonus, here’s a couple of others that just missed the top ten but are still awesome reads:
- Who is the next OnePlus? (I like that it could still be OnePlus)
- What would a custom Samsung-made Google Pixel 6 processor actually look like?
- Tested: Is the Google Pixel 4a powerful enough for a budget phone in 2020?
I get it. These are three pretty much instant reads. Not just because they’re from my colleagues (like technical wunderkind Rob Triggs, or ridiculous instant-recall-on-all-things-Android-dating-back-as-far-as-you-like, Hadlee Simons) but because they satisfy big Android questions we want to know.
my 11 year ban from yahoo chess expires today pic.twitter.com/ISQkAiJYze— rev. dylan (@DylanRoss) January 1, 2021
Coming up this week:
- CES 2021 — pre-briefings happening right now, and the event from Jan. 11th through to Jan 14th.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 launch — Thursday, Jan 14th.
This January, we’re giving away three prize packs. Enter the first heavily Samsung-themed giveaway of 2021 for your chance to win.