The best tech of 2021 by Fru Glen and Jay

The best tech of 2021 by Fru Glen and Jay

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So here they are, the best products of 2021.

Phones, smartwatches, earbuds

The Galaxy S21 Ultra 

       The display is brighter and adds S-Pen support

      It has a Wide Quad HD resolution and a variable refresh rate between 10 and 120Hz, which is determined by what’s on the screen.

      The S21 Ultra has two telephoto cameras

       S21 Ultra has a Snapdragon 888 chip and 12 or 16GB of RAM

      Android 11 and 5G support

Pixel 6 Pro 

           The stepdown $599 (£599, AU$999) Pixel 6 packs the same Tensor processor and lovely Android 12 software for $300 less than the Pro,           but there are a few compromises it makes in order to come to that cheaper price.

           A fresh design that stands out

            Three excellent cameras

                       That big bar on the back hides three cameras: a 12-megapixel ultrawide; a 48-megapixel telephoto that offers 4x optical zoom; and a main camera that uses a larger 1/1.3-inch sensor, which Google says captures 2.5x more light than the Pixel 5. 

              Does Google’s Tensor processor make a difference?

                At the heart of the phone is Google’s first home-baked processor, named Tensor. It’s a significant move for Google to produce its own silicon and it shows a strong commitment to remain in the hardware game — after all, you don’t go to the effort of developing your own processors as a one-off experiment.  

               Vibrant display, solid battery life and fast charging


iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max 

           The iPhone 13 Pro gets beefier

The phones have the same squared off look as the 12 series. The stainless steel sides are glossy and the back has one of four matte finishes: graphite, gold, silver or Sierra blue. In some lighting, the Sierra blue iPhone reads as light gray and in other lighting it looks like the Carolina blue of the UNC Tarheels.

            ProMotion on the iPhone 13 Pro is stellar

The 13 Pro has a 6.1-inch screen and the 13 Pro Max a 6.7-inch one. In everyday use, the screens are noticeably brighter. The displays have what Apple calls ProMotion, meaning the iPhone, for the first time ever, supports a high refresh rate. 

            The iPhone 13 Pro has a longer telephoto camera

The main camera has a new sensor, the largest ever put into an iPhone. It has a faster f1.5 aperture lens, which equates to improved light gathering. 

            I’m all about Cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 Pro

All of the iPhones 13 get a new feature called Cinematic mode. It uses the rear cameras or the True Depth camera array to create a 1080p video at 30 frames per second. What makes the video compelling is that everything but your subject is out of focus. The iPhone can even execute a rack focus from one subject to another. The effect is dramatic and impressive. 

          The iPhone 13 Pro Max has the longest battery life of any phone we tested

Both the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max have a larger battery. I didn’t have any trouble getting through a day, even a hot and humid one where I captured a bunch of photos and videos. For me, the iPhone 13 Pro easily lasts a day on a single charge and the iPhone 13 Pro Max can go two days per charge.

Computers, laptops, gaming

Dell XPS 13 OLED (9310)

Nothing but screen and keyboard

With slim bezels on all four sides of the XPS 13’s 13.4-inch, 16:10-aspect-ratio display, Dell wasn’t left with a lot of room to play with for the keyboard and touchpad. Still, Dell managed to increase the size of the keycaps and touchpad. The keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to work all day on, especially given how little room there is for key travel. Dell even integrated a fingerprint reader into the power button in the top right corner of the keyboard. 

Growth potential

One of the few shortcomings of the XPS 13 is its webcam. While Dell moved it from below the display (boo!) to above the display (yay!), it had to use a tiny camera with a minuscule sensor. It really needs a lot of light to get a good image regardless of Dell’s advanced noise reduction. Also, although 720p is still the industry standard webcam resolution for video, on a premium laptop like this we’ve come to expect 1080p. 

Price as reviewed$1,570
Display size/resolution13.4-inch 3,456 x 2,160 OLED touch display
CPU3GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7
Memory16GB 4266MHz LPDDR4X (onboard)
Graphics128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage512GB NVMe PCIe SSD
Networking802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
ConnectionsThunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2), 3.5mm audio jack, microSD card slot
Operating systemWindows 10 Home 64-bit (21H2)

MacBook Pro 2021 16-inch

Big and bold  

The first thing you notice about the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is its build is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor. And unlike some earlier MacBooks, this version doesn’t try as hard to hide its size with curves and tapers. It’s proudly angular, with thicker sides for more ports and chunky rubber feet on the bottom. It’s also about a half-pound heavier, which ain’t peanuts. It embraces an almost retro style on the outside, while offering something new on the inside. 


14-inch MacBook Pro16-inch MacBook ProMacBook Air (13-inch, M1)13-inch MacBook Pro (M1)
CPUM1 Pro or M1 MaxM1 Pro or M1 MaxM1M1
No. of GPU cores14 or 16 (M1 Pro), 24 or 32 (M1 Max)16 (M1Pro), 24 or 32 (M1 Max)78
Screen size14.2-inch16.2-inch13.3-inch13.3-inch
Screen resolution3,024×1,964 pixels3,456×2,234 pixels2,560×1,600 pixels2,560×1,600 pixels
Starting storage512GB512GB256GB256GB
Starting RAM16GB16GB8GB8GB
Networking802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
ConnectionsThunderbolt USB-C x3, HDMI, SDXC card, MagSafe 3Thunderbolt USB-C x3, HDMI, SDXC card, MagSafe 3Thunderbolt USB-C x2Thunderbolt USB-C x2
Weight3.5 lbs4.7 lbs2.8 lbs3.0 lbs
Starting price$1,999$2,499$999$1,299