Xiaomi's phones have long been known for their exceptional value proposition. You can always find the latest specs and features in a Xiaomi flagship phone, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. It's something you don't often see these days when $1,000 has become the standard price for high-end hardware. That's not how Xiaomi rolls, though. With the Mi 11, Xiaomi has one of the best flagship phones on the market, offering killer specs and a great value, unless you happen to be in the US.
"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.
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.
For the last several years, Samsung's flagship Galaxy S phones have been split into three variants: a kitchen sink smartphone at the high-end, an entry-level device, and that phone in the middle you probably don't think about. This cycle, I've spent some time with Samsung's middle child, the Galaxy S21+, and I came away impressed. It's not as capable as the S21 Ultra, of course, but the form factor, build-quality, and features carve out a niche in the saturated smartphone market. I'd even go so far as to say the Galaxy S21+ is worth the $1,000 asking price for some people.
For the last couple years, Xiaomi’s been releasing its flagships lineup on a tic-toc cycle, with a volley early in the year, and another round — the T models — later that same year. For example, the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro landed in February 2020, followed by the Mi 10T and Mi 10T Pro in September 2020. So far this year, we got the Mi 11 in January, with a rumored Mi 11 Ultra coming soon. And that’s not including the “Lite” models.
There's something about using a stylus that's just incredibly compelling. Sure, touchscreen hardware and finger-tracking algorithms are so good that few of us really need a stylus to successfully interact with mobile screens, but that hasn't stopped a few select handsets from bundling one in — and those have become some of the most popular models you'll find. While Samsung's Note range sits comfortably at the top of the food chain with its active tracking and Bluetooth features, there's also a lot of demand for budget-friendly stylus phones like the LG Stylo series. Now Motorola's back with another of its own, upgrading the Moto G Stylus for 2021.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Electronic waste is an increasingly salient issue. As more and more of our stuff comes with processors and batteries, and as we're pressured to upgrade it sooner and sooner, we're racking up a whole lot of difficult-to-recycle crap. Fledgling companies like Fairphone and Teracube, aware of this problem and the potential business opportunity to be seized in solving it, offer devices that are positioned as less environmentally taxing. The latter's newest phone, the Teracube 2e, costs just $199 and will last you all of four years — at least that's what the company says. After using the phone for a few weeks, though, I can't help but be skeptical.
You could argue that Motorola made budget phones worth buying when it launched the original Moto G in 2013. That device was a marvel at the time—for under $200, you could get a smartphone that didn't suck. Suddenly, everyone was making $200-300 phones that also mostly didn't suck. Today, the mid-range space is much more crowded, and Moto has sometimes failed to make a splash with the annual Moto G revamp. This year there are three new G-series phones, including the Moto G Power. Arguably, this is the device with the widest appeal. There's no stylus included, but it's got more muscle than the G Play, and it has a big honkin' battery.
Every budget phone has its own mix of features and compromises, and this difference in the cocktail from model to model and brand to brand makes them unique. Some combinations are better than others, though, and the Moto G Play comes very near striking an ideal blend. It has good performance (for the price), pleasant software, fantastic battery life, and a big screen, all for just $170. But there is one big drawback: Motorola can't even keep up with Google's minimum requirements for updates a mere two months after the phone's release.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Carriers and manufacturers are super excited to sell you a 5G phone, even if there's very little benefit to buying one in 2021. The feature has slowly trickled down to sub-flagship phones, and Motorola recently started selling its cheapest 5G device yet: the Motorola One 5G Ace. At a price of $400, it's competing directly with phones like the Galaxy A71 5G, Pixel 4a, and Pixel 4a 5G.
The Motorola One 5G Ace isn't a terrible phone, but it does fall behind the competition in many areas, all in pursuit of 5G connectivity — something that just isn't that important right now.