This story was originally published and last updated .
RedMagic isn't a big name in the US, but it's been busy carving out a niche for budget gaming phones. Gaming phones almost always come with compromises, and a budget option even more so. Still, for $600, the RedMagic 6 is killer on paper with a Snapdragon 888, 12GB of RAM, and a 165Hz display, but prodigious specs aren't always enough when poor support is on the table. Still, some mobile gamers might make that trade-off for super-smooth gameplay when the RedMagic 6 launches later this month.
I've been using the Pixel 5 I bought for myself for about half a year now. I'm kind of in love with it. Which is weird, because I'm in a definite minority among the Android Police staff. I'm going to take a few minutes to completely disagree with my editor-in-chief's assessment of the latest Google hardware… it's not like it would be the first time.
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.
OnePlus has been hugely successful in 2020. It's the only company in the US that managed to grow during the pandemic and decline of smartphone sales. Clearly, it's doing a lot of things right, but that doesn't mean its products are perfect. Performance, battery life, and software features have always impressed, but photo quality has always been behind the curve, and its update policy falls behind its competitors now, as does the quality of those updates over time. Will the nearly $1,000 OnePlus 9 Pro fix these last two lingering issues?
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.
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.
It’s no secret that Chrome OS has been improving over the lastseveralmonths. With skyrocketing sales contributing to increased polish into Google’s operating system, 2021 is shaping to be a good year for Chromebooks — and Chromeboxes, too. CTL’s CBx2 impressed us when we reviewed it, nailing the basics down at a reasonable price. That’s not the only new Chromebox in town. Asus has an updated Chromebox 4 hitting the market, offering a wicked-fast processor, ample storage, and killer networking performance. It’s a great follow-up to the popular Chromebox 3 for anyone who needs a powerful Chrome OS desktop for business and personal use.
OnePlus smartwatch rumors are almost as old as OnePlus smartphones themselves, but any full-fledged smartwatch that might exist is still in the offing. The first OnePlus wearable is an inexpensive fitness band for the Indian market. The OnePlus Band is priced to compete with the bestselling Mi Band 5 in India, but some of its glaring shortcomings at the basic level keep the OnePlus Band from realizing its full potential.