ICYMI: We test the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphones


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Now that CES is over, we can really start the New Year. At Engadget, that means reviewing all the latest technology as it becomes available, from smartphones to smart scales. Last week Unpacked Eventually, Samsung announced two smartphones, the Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra, and a new set of headphones, the Galaxy Buds Pro. We spent the last week putting them to the test, and for the most part we were impressed. We also tested and reviewed other niche products: the Hatch Grow Smart Scale for Infants, an editable arcade stick from 8BitDo, and a tracker from Polyend.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

According to Cherlynn Low, the smallest – and cheapest – of Samsung’s latest flagships, the Galaxy s21, offers a compelling feature set for its reasonable price of $ 800. With an attractive and user-friendly design, a 6.2-inch display, and high-end specs, the S21 gives up the superfluous things while still retaining what users want most. Cherlynn was thrilled to see that the phone still has a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 processor, 120Hz display, long battery life, useful software, and versatile cameras.

Lacking features of the S21 are a high-resolution display (its resolution of 2400 x 1800 is lower than that of the more expensive S21 Ultra), the support for the S Pen and the “Space Zoom” found on the S21 Ultra. . However, Cherlynn didn’t miss these features in light of everything the S21 had going for it: a rugged, premium feel and a host of camera and software additions like the Qualcomm 3D sonic sensor, which recognizes two fingers. both on the screen. . The photos and videos looked vibrant and she appreciated the capabilities of the triple camera put in place during testing. In Cherlynn’s opinion, the fast processor and advanced photo features help the S21 stand out Pixel 5 when it comes to Android handsets that offer the best value for money.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Chris Velazco / Engadget

the Galaxy S21 Ultra offers excellent performance, valuable software and neat cameras – everything we expect from a high-end Samsung smartphone. But none of those features make it a particularly dramatic departure from its predecessor, the S20 Ultra. The large 6.8-inch size and the starting price of $ 1,200 that comes with it will keep some from choosing this phone, but Chris Velazco still felt that the S21 Ultra was a polite power of a smartphone that demonstrated competence in several areas.

The handset display is a big selling point. Chris said the S21 Ultra has one of the prettiest displays he’s ever seen on a smartphone, and performance doesn’t lag a bit thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chipset. Combine that with solid battery life and a grip. support for 5G, and you get a high-performance smartphone worth recommending.

But even when you’re spending $ 1,200 on a phone, you’ll have to live with some drawbacks – the S21 Ultra doesn’t have expandable storage, which could be a deal breaker for power users. Also, the S Pen experience is not as good as that of the Note series: there is a slight latency when using the stylus on the S21 Ultra. And Chris found some of the camera’s features to be a bit fluffy, although he still enjoyed shooting with the five-camera array more than he thought he would.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Billy Steele / Engadget

Billy Steele has reviewed many headsets and headphones, so when he claims the new Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung’s best headphones yet, that says a lot. The Galaxy Buds Pro have a unique design that allows them to sit securely in the curves of your ear without actually entering the ear canal itself, which Billy found quite comfortable. They also offer a number of features, including active noise cancellation (ANC) and 360 audio that uses Dolby Head Tracking technology to create more immersive sound.

However, this 360 Audio feature was not yet ready to be tested by Billy, so he could not comment on how it worked. It was able to test battery life, which matched Samsung’s estimate of five hours with ANC enabled. He was impressed with the companion app, touch gestures, and ANC capability. As for the sound quality, he found it crisp and punchy thanks to the 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter. Then you get what you pay for: premium Galaxy Buds Pro are priced at $ 200.

Hatch Grow

the hatch

the hatch has made a name for itself producing minimalist and clean sound devices and night lights for babies and adults. They are even popular with some relatives of Engadget staff. But the Develop a smart scale is a departure from the company’s usual lineup, and unfortunately we found it difficult to recommend.

The Grow scale has a lot of potential – it’s simple and straightforward to use, easy to clean, and has a companion app that tracks many of your baby’s daily details. However, the scale will not work without the app and the app will not import data from other tracking programs you are using. While we’ve found that the scale is primarily accurate at measuring a child’s weight, you can get inconsistent readings if the positioning is even a bit off. And the “save a meal” feature, which would make the Grow particularly useful for breastfeeding parents, has never delivered accurate results. At $ 149, it’s also a lot more expensive than a standard scale.

8BitDo Arcade Stick

Engadget

Nick Summers has a special place in his heart for retro-style gaming devices, which is why he was the perfect person to test out The new arcade stick from 8BitDo. The device clearly resembles the original Nintendo Controller: square and gray with a black panel and red circular buttons. The Arcade Stick is designed to work with PC, Nintendo Switch, or Raspberry Pi and can be changed by changing buttons or joystick (although Nick found the latter to be a bit trickier). Using 8BitDo Ultimate software, it could also remap any of the 10 circular buttons.

8BitDo already has a solid reputation for making nostalgia-inspired accessories and it’s easy to see why. Nick said the device was durable, the joystick was large enough to fit in different grip styles, and the buttons were extremely fun to mash. Another bonus: The Arcade Stick supports Bluetooth and a 2.4G wireless receiver so it can be used without the included cable. While there are more expensive competitors, Nick found the arcade stick to be a good option for most people, especially those who appreciate the retro design.

Polyend Tracking

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

When Terrence O’Brien first sat down to experiment Polyend Tracking he found himself somewhat lost. He wasn’t sure what to think of the groovebox, despite its impressive array of features. The Tracker is able to sample, cut, sequence and synthesize a track from start to finish, and the interface and shortcuts have been carefully designed. Terrence wasn’t complaining about the build quality either, claiming that the click wheel was satisfactory and the mechanical keys won him over quickly. On top of that, he also thought the $ 599 price tag made the Tracker incredible value.

But it was the workflow that baffled him when using the machine. It seemed archaic and is a common complaint from trackers as they can make users feel like they are producing music in a spreadsheet. Notes, instruments, effects and more are all represented by a combination of numbers and / or letters in a cell, which took a while for Terrence to adjust. While he acknowledges that the workflow might not be right for everyone, he always felt that the price, power, and many capabilities of the Tracker make it a fascinating and impressive instrument.

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