"Good" and "bad" smartphones can have qualifiers — as in, "good but too expensive" or "bad but so cheap it doesn't really matter." After all, everything is worth something to someone. But Samsung's recent Galaxy S21 isn't just a good phone, now that we're starting to see the rest of what 2021 has to offer, it comes in at a good price, too. In fact, the more I use it, the more I like it. So, we're taking the rare step of giving the Galaxy S21 our Most Wanted award.
Samsung's wearables are some of the best on the market, mixing high-end hardware with exceptionally smooth and reliable software. Last year's Galaxy Watch3 represents the latest in what Samsung has to offer, and a new software update now arriving for Verizon models delivers some "handy" new features.
The Galaxy Wearable app has been the hub for all of Samsung's wearable hardware, going back the past few years now. And that means that every time a new device is released, Samsung has to add support for it within that app. Sometimes, if we look really closely, we end up lucky enough to spot the changes Samsung makes in anticipation of a still-unannounced device. Sure enough, Samsung's latest Galaxy Wearable update has dropped, and we've managed to spot some references to the upcoming Galaxy Buds2.
We've clearly got a little bias on the subject, but Android has a long and storied history filled with its own triumphs and pitfalls. It's been well over a decade now since that first HTC G1 landed, the inaugural Android smartphone, and things have changed drastically since then. Being "first" might make you think the G1 was the most influential Android phone — but was it, really?
Last year's Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition blew us away: for $599 (it's hardly ever sold for its $699 MSRP), it offered performance nearly identical to that of phones that cost twice as much thanks to its Snapdragon 865 chipset. It was also among the first phones to offer a 120Hz display at a mid-range price. But it was released in October, which means it's coming up on six months old. So, is it still worth buying in 2021? Let's discuss.
Samsung has really been owning it when it comes to the Android security patch game. Continuing that impressive track record, Samsung is already releasing the March 2021 update for several devices, even though we're still in February. As well as keeping our devices secure, we're also seeing some new features land, as the Galaxy Tab S7 picks up some new iPad-inspired capabilities.
Podcasts have been the "next big thing" in content for a while now, with every tech, media, and venture capital firm looking to get involved. Given how many apps Samsung includes pre-installed on its phones, it's always been surprising that a podcast app wasn't among them. With a new update to its entertainment-focused Free app (previously Samsung Daily), the company's flagship devices will now natively support podcasts out of the box.
Last year, Samsung released its most ambitious (non-folding) phone to date: the Galaxy S20 Ultra. It didn't go over especially well. A sky-high $1400 price tag and unremarkable camera performance torpedoed the phone outright in our final assessment, a rare miss for Samsung in the premium smartphone segment.
In 2021, Samsung is trying to reboot the Galaxy S20 Ultra formula with the S21 Ultra. And while the differences on paper (and often in practice) aren't what you'd call huge, the end result is a more palatably priced phone with a much-improved camera system — notably addressing our two biggest gripes.
Pentastic is one of the newer Good Lock modules, allowing users to customize their S-Pen experience. The latest update adds some custom backgrounds to Air Command, as well as brightness and blur control.
Samsung's Galaxy Buds Live pack a handful of features in a small form factor, including active noise cancellation, an innovative bean-like design, great audio quality, wireless charging, and more. Their initial $170 price tag was acceptable given what they offer, but you can get a certified refurbished pair from Best Buy for much less at just $60.