This week on The Wrap, we’re packing in plenty, with news on big cameras, inexpensive phones, a few wearables, and one of Australia’s first Galaxy S21 reviews. All in five.
It’s the last few days of January 2021, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and we’re already through the first month of the year.
That might sound crazy, but what might be a little crazier is the year’s first phones are out. It doesn’t seem like so long that we saw some new phones from Apple and Google, and yet here we are ready to talk about phones, and other new gadgets.
So let’s talk about it, because that’s what this week has largely been about, starting with some pretty sizeable ones.
There’s a 50 megapixel camera on the way from Sony that can capture 8K, coming in the A1, a meaty camera that’ll set Australians back a solid ten grand, and that’s without the lens.
It joins another 10K camera, the 102 megapixel 4K Fujifilm GFX100S, because why announce one ten grand camera this week when you can have two.
While both of those gadgets announced this week will be out of reach for most people, hardly a surprise given the price tags, much of what we did hear about and played with could be bought by really anyone.
For instance, there’s a new video doorbell this week from Ring, and it’s one that’s a little less exy than previous models, but because of one reason: you have to physically wire it in. That’s fine for homeowners, but less so for renters, with the $119 Wired Video Doorbell shedding some of the dollars and cents provided you don’t mind forgoing the battery.
Apple launched a new part of its Fitness Plus program this week, allowing people to go for walks with the likes of Shawn Mendes and Dolly Parton, kinda, sorta. You’ll need an Apple Watch and access to Apple Fitness Plus, and the whole thing kind of sounds like podcasts where you listen to celebrities talk and play music while you walk. It’s a walk and talk. But it’s something that could be handy if you’re not a fan of intensive workouts, and just need a nice stroll.
Realme rocked up with both a pair of earphones and a smartwatch this week, the former having noise cancellation and the latter fitness tracking, both coming in under $200. Xiaomi also has a smartwatch, because why not. Both will expand your choices in each category a little more, and they’re not the only gadgets you’ll see more to choose from. Phones are getting that, too, as mobile options begin to open up.
Take what Oppo launched, which this week added a three camera budget phone sporting a big screen and battery, but no support for Google Pay. It’s arriving in the A15 for under $250 in Australia.
It’ll likely be a fairly ordinary big budget phone, but one at a decent price, and it’s joined by one from Nokia, as the Nokia 5.4 rocks up with a big screen, one more camera bringing it to four, and a price tag around the $330 mark.
Finally, there’s a big one on its way out, and it’s the first properly big phone of the year. It’s Samsung’s Galaxy S21 5G, the first of a three-prong range for Samsung, which itself was announced at the end of CES a couple of weeks ago.
Two are quite similar, the S21 and S21 Plus, which are basically regular and slightly bigger versions of the same device, while the S21 Ultra ups the capabilities a bit. We don’t have that “Ultra” model just yet, but we have been spending time with the standard S21, a phone that starts at $1249 for a 128GB 5G phone with most of the fix-ins you might expect.
There are three cameras ranging from ultra wide to standard wide to a little closer than other phones, and the phone handles 4K and 8K video, too. Samsung has also thrown in a director’s view mode, which lets you watch yourself and switch between all four cameras in video quickly, but it can be a little buggy at times.
You’ll find a bright and vivid 6.2 inch screen that takes up most of the front and shows how well Samsung does screens, plus a design that’s really quite nice.
There’s also a new chip, with Australians getting the fast Samsung Exynos 2100, compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 in America. That difference is one that delivers heaps of speed, but also comes with a bit of heat.
In our time with the Galaxy S21, we found the phone could get mighty toasty, and sometimes would be uncomfy to hold, thanks to how the metal frame and camera bump dealt with the heat, which basically was to not deal with it at all.
The heat’s just one issue, but the battery is another. There’s a big 4000mAh battery here, but hitting beyond a work day is difficult at best. Even amidst working from home, the S21 feels like it has a battery life from two or three years ago, and is hardly deserving of a phone of today.
Samsung also has a slightly aggressive camera that over-emphasises the colour of pictures, and it’s taken out the microSD slot from its phone, something people liked.
All up, it’s a good phone, but not a great phone, and it’s the year’s first big phone release, so I think we were hoping for just a little bit more. There’s definitely room for improvement, starting with the battery.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at PodcastOne, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but for now, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.