This week on The Wrap, we’ll learn about what’s new in headphones as high-priced as near a thousand, plus a pair to let you hear the world. And what’s happening in cameras, plus what’s Samsung’s “fan edition” S21 phone like? All that in five.
Near the end of February 2022, almost done with the second month of the year, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with only a few days until the first mobile phone show of the year, it’s not all that surprising to see all kinds of things launching.
Yes, technology releases are in full swing, with plenty happening. New cameras and headphones and media players – because they’re still a thing – and we even know a little of what’s coming in phones, as well.
So let’s get stuck in, starting with headphones, because for some reason this week, there are a bunch of those, and Sony gets the starting position with one of the more curious pairs yet.
While we’re beginning to see a few rumours trickle in for the next model in its 1000XM noise cancelling headphone line, this week Sony launched something entirely different, with a pair of earphones designed to let you hear the open world and your sounds at the same time.
It’s not an entirely new idea from Sony, because it had one of these a few years ago in the Ear Duo, but Sony’s LinkBuds are a refreshed take on that, featuring a much smaller design and a new ring-shaped driver that allows you to hear audio but also through the earphones. Sony has brought in some of the features from those noise cancelling XM4 headphones, including 360 Reality Audio and speak-to-chat, which will stop the music when you chat, but the idea is to listen to your music and still be able to listen to the world.
They’ll cost $300 in Australia, and while that might sound a little pricey, they’re not even the most exy headphones we’ve heard of this week.
Bose’s $500 noise cancelling QuietComfort 45 headphones got an update this week with customisable equaliser settings, while Bang & Olufsen has a pair of $900 noise cancelling headphones for gamers in the Portal, which look a lot like B&O’s H9, but with a focus for gamers.
And not to be outdone, what used to be the Sennheiser headphone brand for the office, EPOS, has a pair of Formula 1 connected headphones in the Adapt 660 AMC, an almost one thousand dollar pair of headphones for working in.
That’s pricey, but Sony also has a couple of high-res media players on the way for folks with deep pockets and a love of FLAC, ALAC, and MQA, coming in the nearly $2K WM1AM2 and the five thousand dollar WM1ZM2. Crazy.
Elsewhere in tech this week, there’s news in cameras, as the Olympus brand is largely reborn, revived from O-M in the O-M 1. It’s a camera that looks a lot like a classic Olympus camera, using a 20 megapixel sensor with support for 4K, and even carrying the Olympus name. That may be the last time it does, but it will support Micro Four Thirds lenses just like the older cameras.
Speaking of older cameras, an older camera brand is joining forces with a recent phone brand, as Oppo and Hasselblad team up for a few years. Essentially, the two will work together on camera tech, likely appearing in whatever Oppo launches next, which will probably be launched in a few days at Mobile World Congress.
We’re expecting it in the Find X4 Pro, unless Oppo suffers a bout of tetra-phobia and it comes in the Find X5 Pro, because that sometimes happens.
Hasselblad’s involvement in phones isn’t entirely unheard of, working with Motorola in a camera accessory a few years ago. However it’s a development that could mean better glass and camera tech for Oppo, which was already doing a pretty solid job.
We were fans of what the company tried in the Find X2 Pro in 2020, and the X3 Pro was pretty solid, too. In fact, in the mid-range, Oppo’s cameras put up a solid fight for folks keen to save a few bucks here and there.
However the fight is pretty clear in phone cameras, and in phones in general.
You can spend a lot these days, but if you don’t want to, waiting until near the end of the year is an option, when phone companies often package up a new model with similar tech.
Last year, Samsung might have waited a touch too long with its Galaxy S21 F-E, a repackaged “fan edition” of favourite features, which is basically a standard S21, but with a camera more like the bigger model. You’ll get a little closer in zoom in a very similar design, with Bluetooth, WiFi, 5G, water resistance, and wireless charging.
And it is for the most part a nice phone, even though the camera can be a little slow to fire at times, and the camera quality doesn’t quite match last year’s iPhone.
Our biggest problem is the release window, because this is out now right before the S22 is due for release. That’s too close, and at a starting price of a grand in Australia, you may as well wait for either the new model, the S22, to get whizz bang features, or just look for one of last year’s S21 models at a lower price.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode appears every week on LiSTNR, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but otherwise, have a great week. We’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.