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.
Samsung announces Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G and Galaxy A72
The A52 5G has a 120Hz display, the other two get 90Hz ones.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra brings massive camera sensors and two screens, Mi 11i also announced
The phone features 67W wireless fast charging developed in house, which can fully fill the battery in 36 minutes.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra stars in a hands-on video: 120X zoom and secondary screen revealed
It’s powered by the Snapdragon 888 SoC, packs a 120Hz screen, and features a periscope camera.
Poco X3 Pro and Poco F3 debut with Snapdragon 860 and 870
Both phones come with 33W fast charging and the proprietary charger in the box.
Global Redmi Note 10 series debut – Note 10 Pro, Note 10, Note 10S and Note 10 5G
Three phones with AMOLED screens and one that makes 5G attainable.
Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+ bring new design, modest upgrades
Same between the two models that is, but not far from the S20 triple setup either.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra announced with S Pen support, dual telephoto lenses
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.
Xiaomi unveils Redmi K40 Pro+ with 108 MP camera and S888 chipset, K40 Pro and K40 follow
The three phones have the same display – a 6.7″ Samsung E4 AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sampling rate.
Xiaomi’s foldable Mi Mix Fold brings the first liquid lens with 3x magnification
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.
Oppo Reno5 Pro+ announced with SD865 and 50MP main camera
Hopefully, the handset will go outside of China because it looks really nice.
Xiaomi Mi 11 arrives as the first phone with Snapdragon 888
There is no charger in the retail box but Xiaomi will give one for free if you ask nicely.
Vivo X60 and X60 Pro announced with 5nm Exynos 1080 chipsets
The vivo X60 Pro offers better cameras, more RAM, but smaller battery.
Snapdragon 480 is the first 4-series 5G chipset from Qualcomm
It will power the budget 5G Androids of 2021.
Exynos 2100 unveiled with Cortex-X1 CPU, 40% faster Mali-G78 GPU and integrated 5G modem
The CPU promises a 30% boost in multi-core performance compared to the Exynos 990, 40% on the GPU and a more efficient NPU.
vivo X60 Pro+ unveiled: camera monster with 1/1.3″ main sensor, upgraded gimbal stabilization
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.
MediaTek unveils the Dimensity 1200 and 1100 – a pair of 6nm chipsets with Cortex-A78 CPU
The 1200 runs its Cortex-A78 core at 3.0 GHz, which promises a solid single-core performance upgrade over the Dimensity 1000+.
Samsung details the ISOCELL HM3 – the 108 MP sensor used in the Galaxy S21 Ultra
The sensor can output 12-bit HDR, has a low-noise mode, which boosts sensitivity in low light, and an improved autofocus system.
Huawei Mate X2 announced with in-folding design, periscope camera
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.
Oppo Find X3 is official in China – Snapdragon 870 and 8GB RAM
Otherwise it’s an identical phone to the Find X3 Pro.
Oppo Find X3 Pro is official with two 50MP cameras and unique design
The flagship has a Snapdragon 888 chipset and an LTPO display with 5-120Hz adaptive refresh rate.
Asus unveils ROG Phone 5, Pro and Ultimate with 6.78″ 144 Hz AMOLED displays, S888 chipsets
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.
Xiaomi Mi 10S debuts with Snapdragon 870, dual speakers and 108MP camera
Yet another Mi 10 member was announced in China.
Huawei Mate 40E 5G announced with Kirin 990E and 90Hz curved screen, Mate 40 RS Porsche Design gets a new variant
Both phones will go on sale in China next week.
nubia Red Magic 6 series announced with 165Hz display, Snapdragon 888
Up to 18GB RAM and 512GB storage on the Transparent Edition Red Magic 6 Pro.
Samsung announces ISOCELL 2.0 with improved light gathering abilities
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.
Realme GT unveiled: Snapdragon 888 and 120Hz AMOLED screen for just $430
The most surprising feature is the return of the 3.5mm audio jack.
Realme 8 Pro unveiled with 108 MP main camera, 50W dart charging, Realme 8 tags along
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).
OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro unveiled with Hasselblad cameras, 120Hz display, upgraded charging
The 9 Pro flaunts a bespoke Sony sensor, Fluid Display 2.0 and support for the new Warp Charge 50 Wireless charger.
vivo X60 and X60 Pro go international: Snapdragon 870 in, periscope out
The Pro+ is nowhere to be seen yet. As for the other two, there are changes to the chipset, OS and camera.
Xiaomi introduces Mi Air Charge, wireless charging from across the room
The company’s new technology would let you charge a device while you’re using it or walking around.
Xiaomi releases a list of 27 devices scheduled to get MIUI 12.5
The oldest phone on the list is the Redmi Note 7, introduced two years ago.
For non-EU users, it is either this or deleting your account.
OnePlus 7, 7 Pro, 7T, and 7T Pro Android 11 update seems to be rolling out now
That said, it’s not perfect, issues have been reported.
Apple iPhone 13 to retain design, but be thicker and with smaller notch
Also, a slight change in the camera bump is to be expected.
Xiaomi to introduce revolutionary battery for Mi 11 Ultra and all-new in-house chip on March 29
The power cell will be silicon-oxygen, while the chip is likely an ISP for the liquid lens.
Huawei P50 Pro leaked renders reveal striking design
Huawei’s next smartphone has a very interesting looking camera setup.
Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. S21+ vs. S21 Ultra – Pros and Cons
Concise lists of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the three new flagships compared against each other.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro leaked renders show massive, different camera island
It looks nothing like the Mi 11’s.
Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro debuts with Snapdragon 888 and Samsung’s GN2 50MP sensor
The middle child in the Mi 11 family is here.
The new Snapdragon 780G is a 5nm mid-range chip with flagship-grade modem
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.
Alleged Huawei P50 Pro+ images show wild penta-camera design
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.
Samsung brings One UI 3.1 for older Galaxy flagships and midranges
Update availability will vary depending on your region and carrier.
HOW-TO: Turn your Android phone into the best webcam for Zoom, Skype, Meet and Teams for free
Looking for a webcam for video calls? You can probably skip that and get a better experience if you just use your smartphone.
Xiaomi has suspended non-GMS phones from downloading Google Services
Users have to resort to third-party app distributors like CoolAPK or APKPure.
New BlackBerry phones with classic hardware keyboards and 5G are coming this year
OnwardMobility is working with Foxconn to develop and build the phones. The primary focus will be on security.
Xiaomi teases the Mi 11 Ultra with revolutionary cooling design
It uses all three states of the matter – solid, liquid and gas.
ECG and blood pressure monitoring finally live for Galaxy Watch Active2 and Galaxy Watch3
The rollout was announced last month, and is finally hitting 31 countries.
Poco X3 Pro price leaks
Unsurprisingly, it’s going to be very affordable.
Samsung Galaxy M62 gets FCC certified with 7,000 mAh battery
It’s expected to arrive as Galaxy F62 in some markets.
Samsung rolls back Android 11/One UI 3.0 update for the Galaxy S10 lineup
The reason is unclear for now.
OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro’s key specs tipped
Both are rumored to arrive in mid-March.
Samsung commits to 4 years of updates for its 2019 and later smartphones
The new policy includes the Z, S, Note, A, M, XCover and Tab series.
OnePlus Band is coming on January 11 with 14-day battery life and SpO2 sensor
It’s rumored to cost INR2,499 ($35/€30).
Exynos 2100 vs Snapdragon 888: Battery testing the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra versions
After looking into the performance of the two chipsets, we decided to move on to some differential battery comparisons, as well.
Here’s our first look at Windows 10X in use
Designed for use on tablets and notebooks.
OnePlus 9 series to arrive with LTPO screen, QHD+ resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate
That’s the very same panel, used on the Oppo Find X3 series.
Sony PlayStation 5 review
Looking at the features and the performance of the PlayStation 5, and how it compares to its extremely successful predecessor
James Bond film No Time to Die further delayed to reshoot Nokia product placements
The film has been delayed to almost two years after its original debut date.