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Google and Samsung are working together on a new version of Wear OS.
The new software should enable better performance and a bigger selection of apps.
But most of all, it could make the user experience more consistent for Android buyers.
Google is finally taking smartwatches seriously again. During the 2021 Google I/O developer conference, the company announced that it’s partnering with Samsung to create a revamped version of its Wear OS platform.
The new software should give Google-powered smartwatches longer battery life, faster performance, and more apps. It also leverages some of Fitbit’s health-oriented features, coming after the search giant acquired the digital health company earlier this year.
In other words, Google and Samsung are teaming up to compete with the Apple Watch, the world’s most popular smartwatch. Apple accounted for 40% of smartwatch shipments in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Counterpoint Research, far outpacing Samsung, Huawei, and Fitbit.
Although there are few details about when the software will launch and which watches will be the first to get it, the update is a welcome sign for Android users in the market for a smartwatch.
Google hasn’t meaningfully updated its smartwatch platform in years. But this new partnership with Samsung and its acquisition of Fitbit prove that Google is still committed to wearable devices.
Release date and supported smartwatches
Google hasn’t provided many specifics, but did say the Wear OS updates will begin rolling out later this year.
We don’t know exactly which watches will get it, but Samsung did say during the keynote that the next Galaxy Watch will run on the new version of Wear OS.
More features and better performance
Google and Samsung’s new software should make apps run 30% faster on smartwatches powered by the latest chipsets, Google said in a blog post. That last part is crucial, considering slow processors have been partially to blame for hampering the success of Wear OS smartwatches in the past.
Google also says that smartwatches running on the new software should be able to last more than a day on a single charge while offering features like continuous heart rate and sleep tracking.
Wear OS will also get interface improvements that make it easier to switch between apps and customize the home screen with Tiles, which are essentially widgets. Fitbit features, like health tracking and goal celebrations, are also coming to Wear OS, and Google says apps like the Google Assistant and Google Maps will get updates for Wear OS as well.
The Apple Watch’s ease of use is one of the main reasons we’ve chosen it as our favorite smartwatch, so hopefully the new interface will allow for a similarly intuitive experience for Android fans.
More apps, and catching up to the Apple Watch
As part of the collaboration, Samsung is pivoting away from its current smartwatch software and combining it with Google’s to create the new version of Wear OS.
That’s a good thing for smartwatch shoppers. Developers can build apps that will work across Samsung and Wear OS watches rather than having to choose between the two.
Google already operates one of the largest mobile app stores in the world, and Samsung is the second-largest smartwatch maker behind Apple. So developers have plenty of motivation to optimize their apps for the new platform. Google says a new watch face design editor made by Samsung will be among the new tools available for developers.
But above all else, the update could give Wear OS the most important element it’s been missing: consistency. The biggest benefit Apple has always had over Google has been that no matter which iPhone you buy, the software feels the same. That concept translates to the Apple Watch as well since all models run on the same watchOS software.
Now, Google is seemingly trying to bring that level of consistency to its smartwatch platform, which will hopefully result in a much more compelling experience for Android fans.
OLED TVs have become popular among home theater enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to some key perks, OLED displays offer several benefits over traditional LCD TVs (including those branded as LED and QLED). Though they tend to be pricier, there’s no substitute for an OLED if you want the best home theater experience for movies, streaming, and gaming.
OLED stands for “organic light-emitting diode.” Instead of using a traditional LED backlight like those found on an LCD TV, OLED screens are self-illuminating. This means that each pixel on an OLED can emit its own light or turn off completely, enabling an infinite contrast ratio.
As a result, OLED TVs are capable of true black levels – something even the best LCDs have a hard time producing. Viewing angles are also much better than typical LCD displays, making OLEDs a great fit for rooms where people need to sit off to the side of their TV. On the downside, OLEDs can’t get as bright as flagship LCD TVs, which makes OLED displays less ideal for living rooms that let in a lot of sunlight.
LG, Sony, and Vizio all sell OLED TVs in the US. While image quality does vary a bit between the displays, the TVs’ physical design, connectivity, and software are actually the most telling differences. With that in mind, we’ve tested and researched several OLED displays in order to select the best models for a variety of needs and budgets.
The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any OLED TV you can buy.
Pros: Solid brightness for an OLED, HDMI 2.1 with next-gen gaming features, voice remote, lots of screen sizes
Cons: Processing and image accuracy aren’t as good as Sony OLEDs, HBO Max app missing
When it comes to balancing image quality and smart features, the CX remains the best OLED TV you can buy. Though LG recently released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, we think the CX presents a better value since it costs less and offers very similar performance.
Like all OLED TVs, the CX provides pixel-level contrast with deep black levels and precise highlights. Peak brightness is also high for an OLED panel, edging out similarly priced models from Sony and Vizio with a max of around 700 to 800 nits.
Thanks to the α9 Gen 3 Intelligent Processor, the CX is capable of advanced upscaling. This feature can make lower-quality video content, like Full HD (1080p), look cleaner and sharper. That said, Sony’s OLED offerings are still known for slightly better processing.
The CX is powered by LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms, enabling extensive streaming app support and voice control. The magic remote also features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor.
The best OLED TV for picture quality
Sony’s A8H is a premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it lacks HDMI 2.1 for future-proof connectivity.
Pros: Advanced processing powered by Sony’s X1 Ultimate processor, superior image accuracy, Android TV with Google Assistant, acoustic surface audio technology
Cons: Can’t get as bright as LG’s CX, no HDMI 2.1 ports
The A8H has an edge on other OLED models thanks to Sony’s advanced X1 Ultimate Processor. Don’t get me wrong, LG’s processors are no slouch, but Sony’s solution offers a slightly better image. The A8H delivers the same inky black level performance that LG’s OLED TVs provide, and it takes things one step further with improved color accuracy. That said, the A8H can’t get quite as bright as the CX.
Based on side-by-side demos of Sony and LG OLEDs I’ve attended over the last few years, Sony’s models consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors. This means that, when calibrated, the A8H allows movies to appear closer to how directors intend for them to look.
Unlike traditional TVs, the A8H also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process creates sound from the screen itself.
The A8H runs the Android TV platform for simple and responsive access to apps. AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and integrated Google Assistant voice control are all featured as well. Unlike LG’s OLED models, Amazon Alexa isn’t built-in, but you can still pair the TV with a separate Alexa device if you’d like to use Amazon’s assistant.
On the downside, the A8H lacks HDMI 2.1 so it doesn’t offer next-gen gaming capabilities. Sony’s new 2021 A80J OLED does offer HDMI 2.1, however, so it’s a better choice for buyers willing to a pay a couple hundred bucks more for that feature.
The best premium design OLED TV
With a display so thin it can hang flush on your wall like a piece of art, the LG GX is one of the prettiest OLED TVs to look at — whether it’s turned on or off.
Pros: Same great image performance as the LG CX, thin design lets you mount it flush to a wall
Cons: Expensive compared to OLED models with standard designs
Beyond impressive picture performance, the GX boasts an exceptionally thin profile, enabling the display to be mounted like a piece of art hanging flush on your wall. At just 0.79 inches deep, the 65-inch GX Gallery TV isn’t quite as razor-thin as LG’s more expensive WX OLED, but it still offers an incredibly narrow design.
And unlike the WX model, LG has been able to keep all of the TV’s components within the panel. This means that GX TVs don’t need to use an external box or soundbar unit as a connection hub. Instead, you can simply hook up all your devices directly to the display.
When it comes to actual image quality, the GX OLED TV offers very similar performance to the rest of the displays on our list. Since those TVs are among the best you can buy, that’s not a bad thing at all.
At the end of the day, you’re paying extra purely for style perks with this model, but if you plan to mount your TV on a wall, the GX can double as a genuine design piece for your living room.
That said, LG has a new 2021 version of the GX available, called the G1. The updated model has a new “OLED evo” panel which promises improved brightness. It’s more expensive than the 2020 model, however, so we still recommend the GX for most buyers.
The best budget OLED TV
Vizio’s 65-inch 4K OLED TV offers all the OLED picture quality benefits that home theater fans love for less than the competition.
Pros: Unbeatable image performance for the price, only OLED model in the US with HDR10+, HDMI 2.1 ports
Cons: Glitches, HDMI signal problems, on-screen app selection is limited, no voice remote
In the US, OLED TV models have primarily been limited to high-end offerings from LG and Sony. Though these TVs have been undeniably gorgeous, they’ve also been expensive. Thanks to Vizio’s OLED, however, that high cost barrier is starting to disappear.
Just like Sony and LG’s OLEDs, Vizio’s model offers pixel-level contrast with true black levels. The display can’t get quite as bright as LG’s OLEDs, but it can get close with a max of around 700 nits.
Vizio’s OLED has comprehensive HDR support and it’s the only model on our list with HDR10+ playback. It also supports HDMI 2.1, which is something Sony’s 2020 models lack. On the downside, the TV is missing a voice remote. You can still pair it with a separate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device, however.
Though image quality is nearly identical to more expensive OLEDs, the Vizio does lose some points when it comes to general stability. I encountered glitches and compatibility issues when reviewing the TV. Thankfully, most of these problems have been fixed through firmware updates, but it’s a shame the display’s software isn’t more reliable.
Still, there’s no denying the incredible value this OLED offers. When it’s on sale it delivers unbeatable picture quality for the price. In fact, if it wasn’t for those glitches, Vizio’s OLED might even edge out the CX for the top spot on this list. As it stands, it’s not quite there, but it’s a fantastic option for budget-conscious buyers.
Should you worry about burn-in on an OLED TV?
Like plasma TVs of yesteryear, OLED panels are susceptible to a problem known as burn-in. This means that if a static image is left on the screen for hours on end — the CNN or ESPN logo in the corner, for example — a faint, ghostly image can be left permanently stuck on the TV.
Though OLED owners should be aware of this risk, OLED TVs feature special measures to help prevent burn-in, including pixel-refreshers and pixel-shift modes. Websites like Rtings have conducted long-term tests with OLEDs, and while their results do prove that burn-in is possible, their tests show that buyers with regular viewing habits really shouldn’t worry about it.
You’re more likely to notice temporary image retention, which is when a ghost image faintly lingers on the screen and then fades away over time. Though true burn-in is really only a risk in extreme situations, it is worth pointing out that LCD TV owners don’t have to worry about burn-in at all.
If you really only plan on watching content with the same static logos all day long, you’re better off with an LCD (also branded as LED or QLED). Buyers with regular viewing habits, however, shouldn’t be put off from buying an OLED TV because of burn-in.
What we look forward to testing
Since our last round of testing, several new OLED TVs have been released. LG and Sony, in particular, have new flagship models that promise improved brightness over previous OLED displays.
Here’s a rundown of 2021 OLED models we look forward to testing over the coming months for consideration on this guide.
LG G1 OLED 4K TV: The G1 is the successor to last year’s GX OLED. It features a similar ultra-thin design and improves upon the GX with a brand-new “OLED evo” panel. The updated screen promises improved brightness which could justify its higher price. We got a first look at the G1 back in January and were impressed with what we saw.
Sony A80J OLED 4K TV: This display is designed to replace the A8H OLED and it carries over a lot of what we loved about that 2020 model while adding a few key improvements. Most notably, the A80J includes HDMI 2.1 ports for next-gen gaming features, along with upgraded processing and the new Google TV OS for streaming apps.
Sony A90J OLED 4K TV: Like the LG G1, Sony’s new flagship A90J promises higher brightness than any OLED the company has released before. It also boasts HDMI 2.1, Google TV, and new cognitive image processing. Though it’s the most expensive OLED released in 2021, the A90J’s impressive specifications could make it the new high-end TV to beat.
If you have a Samsung phone, there’s no need to be jealous; every Android phone has a screen recorder, too. You can use it to make video recordings of nearly any app – though some apps like Netflix will just give you a black screen – and then share or edit the videos later.
Here’s how to enable the screen recorder and use it on your Samsung phone, whether it’s a Galaxy, Note, or otherwise.
How to screen record on any Samsung phone
To take a screen recording, you’ll need to enable your Samsung’s recording feature.
1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to open the notification panel, and then swipe down again to open the “Quick Settings” screen. If the screen recorder has already been enabled, you’ll find it on this page.
2. If it’s not there, tap the pencil icon in the bottom-left corner. This will let you customize which icons are on the page. (Note that on some Samsung phones, you may instead have to tap a three-dot icon, and then “Button Order.”)
3. In the menu that appears, tap and drag the “Screen Record” option to the top of the screen. This way, it’ll appear in your Quick Settings.
4. Once the Screen Record option is there, just tap it. You’ll be asked if you want to include audio and if you want your taps to be highlighted – once you make your choice and tap “Start,” the recording will start.
When you’re done recording, pull down the notification panel again and tap the “Tap to stop” option.
Where to find your screen recordings on a Samsung phone
Your videos will be saved in whatever the default location for photos and videos is on your phone. Depending on your settings and Samsung model, this can be Google Photos, the Gallery app, or the My Files app.
Through these apps, you can then edit or share the screen recordings like you would any other video. For example, you can trim off the start and end of the clip so viewers don’t see you fiddling around in the notifications panel.
But the cheaper Amazon Fire HD is worth considering for those mostly interested in watching video.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 is a great choice for Android users, as it comes with the excellent S Pen.
There aren’t nearly as many tablet options as there are smartphones, but there’s a tablet for pretty much anyone.
You’ll hear it from us, and you’ll hear it from most tech authorities – the most highly recommended tablet for most people is almost always going to be Apple’s standard iPad. At its $329.00 full retail price, it’s affordable enough while offering the best set of features and apps. And if there’s ever a deal on Apple’s standard iPad, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for anyone in the market for a tablet.
Still, there are other worthwhile options, especially when it comes to lower price ranges that might be more suitable for certain users, like kids, or using a tablet exclusively as a video streaming device where power and features don’t really matter.
And there’s the opposite end of the spectrum: powerful tablets that are better suited for professional users who can justify paying a premium for better performance. For example, the newly announced iPad Pros offer the same M1 processor found in Apple’s newest MacBooks, but most people probably don’t need laptop-grade performance in their tablet.
Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, great screen, supports the Apple Pencil
Cons: Light on entry-level storage, no expandable storage
Apple’s standard 10.2-inch iPad offers the best balance of price, performance, and features out of any other tablet we’ve tried.
Starting at $330, the 10.2-inch iPad is a great inexpensive option as a general purpose tablet for running normal apps, streaming videos, playing games, and browsing the web. It runs on the same A12 processor that spun the wheels in the 2018 iPhone XS series, but it’s still a very capable processor.
The 10.2-inch iPad is also perfectly suitable as a lightweight productivity tablet. It can be paired with a Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case to type up documents, messages, and emails without any issue. For more intense productivity where you think a mouse would be beneficial, your best bet will be a tablet with mouse support, like Apple’s iPad Air or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7.
If taking notes or drawing is a criteria, the 10.2-inch iPad supports the first generation of the Apple Pencil, which is fine for general use. If note-taking or drawing is a primary driver for getting a tablet, however, we’d recommend again looking at the iPad Air that supports the second generation Apple Pencil for a more precise and responsive feel, or Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 that includes the excellent S Pen.
And finally, Apple’s iPads are generally the best tablets to buy in general largely because of the wider availability of apps that are specifically designed for iPads. On top of that, as with any Apple product, Apple’s physical stores are good resources for repairs, and users have a clear idea of where to bring their iPad if something goes wrong.
The best budget tablet
The latest Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is super affordable, but it still delivers a good set of features that you’ll enjoy using for watching videos and running simple apps.
Pros: Low price point, performs basic functions of a tablet well, offers expandable storage with a memory card slot, good for kids, works especially well for those with Amazon Prime accounts
Cons: Not a high performer, slow at charging, restricted to Amazon’s app store, no access to Google Play Store
Based on our own experience with previous generations of Amazon’s Fire HD 10, as well as reviews of the current model from PCMag and Tom’s Guide, Amazon’s Fire HD 10 is an ideal and inexpensive tablet for simple video streaming and browsing the web. It has a 10-inch screen with 1080p resolution and a decent processor for running basic apps.
Amazon’s tablets are also excellent options for kids due to their extensive parental controls, and features and apps for kids. The Fire HD 10 is a good option, but the smaller and cheaper Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 7 may better suit smaller children.
Note that Amazon’s tablets are restricted to Amazon’s own app store and don’t support Google’s Play Store, which means app selection will be more limited than a typical Android tablet or iPad. Most popular streaming apps can be found in Amazon’s app store, except for YouTube’s dedicated app. There’s a workaround where you can watch YouTube videos from the web browser, however.
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 is as stylish as it is powerful, you can use it as a laptop in a pinch, and it comes with the superb S Pen stylus.
Pros: Gorgeous screen, fast processor, S-Pen stylus is included, and powerful speakers
Cons: Expensive compared to most Android tablets
Samsung has been making excellent Android tablets for years, and its recently launched Galaxy Tab S7 continues that tradition. It’s a high-end Android tablet that can compete with Apple’s iPad Pro on nearly every level.
The Tab S7 is a stylish, well-made tablet with a metal frame and back. The keyboard case is sturdy and it turns your tablet into a quasi-laptop. Although this tablet doubles as a laptop, it is a tablet first and foremost.
Samsung sure knows how to make astonishingly beautiful screens. The Tab S7 has a gorgeous 10.5-inch Super AMOLED screen. I watched lots of Netflix and Prime Video on the tablet, and I was really impressed by the clarity, color reproduction, and intensity of the brilliant screen. The tablet’s 128GB of storage gives you ample space for downloads, and it’s expandable with a microSD card.
Every Tab S7 comes with Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, which is great for drawing and feels like a real pen. I love to draw on tablets, and I was impressed by the lack of lag on the Tab S7. Palm rejection works well, and it’s a great tablet for drawing or note-taking.
It is an expensive price to pay — especially for an Android tablet, but if you want the best iPad Pro alternative, this is it.
The best tablet for professionals
Apple’s iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes with specs that are so high-end they surpass some laptops.
Pros: Gorgeous screens, new design with smaller bezels, excellent specs, high-end performance, Pencil is superb for drawing, two screen sizes, now comes with mouse support
Cons: Very expensive, accessories are extra
Apple recently announced updated iPad Pros that are the first to include its M1 processor. This is the same chip that runs Apple’s newest MacBook computers, bringing big gains in power and battery life.
Additionally, the new iPad Pros come equipped with a Thunderbolt connector for more accessory compatibility, optional 5G connectivity, and up to 2TB of storage. The 12.9-inch model also features a Liquid Retina XDR display powered by mini-LED technology for enhanced brightness and clarity. The iPad Pro is available for preorder on April 30, with shipping expected in mid-May.
We look forward to reviewing the 2021 iPad Pro. But in the meantime, we still like that the 2020 iPad Pro has slim bezels, a stunning sharp screen in two sizes, and a powerful processor.
You can get it in 11- and 12.9-inch screen sizes to suit your preferences. The 12.9-inch screen is great for digital artists who need room to roam, while the 11-inch model offers a little more portability.
Regardless of the model, the 2020 iPad Pro is a powerhouse. The A12Z Bionic processor is so high-powered it can surpass some laptops. Apple’s entry-level model comes with 128GB of storage, but you can get up to 1TB if you want to spend a whole lot of money. Apple no longer sells the 2020 iPad Pro, but you can still find it through retailers like Amazon.
We recommend picking up the new Apple Pencil if you like to take notes or draw. It may cost $129, but the new version charges wirelessly and magnetically attaches to your iPad for easy storage.
Apple’s Keyboard will also cost you a pretty penny, so we recommend going for a third-party case and keyboard. — Malarie Gokey
The best tablet for kids
If you feel a little nervous handing your mobile devices to your kids, the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet comes with a tough case to keep it safe.
Pros: Great price for a tablet designed for kids, includes a tough exterior case that will protect the tablet if the child drops it, includes a two-year replacement warranty for any damage that occurs
Cons: Doesn’t contain powerful components, tablet runs slower than most models
The Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition provides a tough case that will protect the tablet, even if the child drops the tablet (as long as it’s not dropped in a toilet). Laptop Mag says parents can feel comfortable allowing their children to use the Fire 7 because of the two-year accidental-damage warranty it comes with.
Although the sound quality of the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is below average, Wired says the small size of this tablet with a 7-inch screen works great for young children.
There’s a lot of children’s content on the Amazon tablet, along with several features for setting up parental controls, which is great. You will have to download the content through apps before accessing the content, but the tablet’s simple interface works great for kids to operate on their own.
This admittedly isn’t the most powerful tablet, as it features below-average processor speed and less-than HD resolution on the screen. But, kids aren’t likely to complain, or even notice.
The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a slightly bigger option with better performance, and it’s barely more expensive at $140. Still the Fire 7 Kids Edition is more portable and its performance is just fine for kids while costing $40 less.
The best small tablet
The iPad Mini is essentially a smaller replica of the standard 10.2-inch iPad. Just watch out for its higher price tag.
Pros: Compact, good performance, sharp screen, works with the Apple Pencil
Cons: Dated design, expensive for what it is
The 2019 iPad Mini is Apple’s small tablet that’s powered by the capable A12 Bionic chip, and it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, which makes the Mini a great tablet for note taking or drawing.
The Mini‘s 7.9-inch Retina display has a sharp 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution, too, so you can really enjoy watching videos, reading, and creating on the screen.
You can choose between 64GB or 256GB of storage and three color options: Silver, Space Gray, or Gold). If you want to keep the price down, you can get the Wi-Fi-only version, but there is also a Mini with both cellular and Wi-Fi connections.
Our main gripe with the iPad Mini is that it’s a smaller version of the $330 10.2-inch iPad with nearly the same specs, and yet it costs $70 more. That higher price casts a shadow over the iPad Mini, as it’s hard to justify paying extra for something smaller, especially if it’s a year old already. Still, it’s the best small tablet there is.
How to pick the right tablet for you
Operating systems for tablets
As with smartphones and laptops, you can choose among a few different types of operating systems with tablets. Picking the right OS will enhance your enjoyment of the tablet you select.
Apple’s iOS: For many people, the name iPad is synonymous with tablets. Although the iPad wasn’t the first tablet on the market, it’s credited with making tablets popular and invigorating the tablet market in 2010. The iPad runs Apple’s iOS operating system, which also powers the iPhone. iOS has a great interface and works equally well on a smartphone or tablet screen. There are tons of special apps made for the iPad, which makes it an excellent investment. However, because only Apple-branded iPads can run iOS, you’ll pay more for them versus tablets with other operating systems.
Google’s Android: You also may be familiar with the Android operating system, managed by Google. Android powers many different kinds of smartphones. It’s also very user-friendly and offers tons of apps. There are numerous Android tablets to choose from, and they range in price from under $10 to around $600 and up.
Amazon’s Fire OS: Fire OS is a special ecosystem, rather than an operating system, as it runs on top of Android. Basically, it brings Amazon’s services to the forefront of the OS and you download apps from Amazon’s app store. Amazon also has special software for kids on its kid-friendly tablets. These Fire tablets are much more affordable than any other kind of tablet.
Microsoft’s Windows: Microsoft has tweaked the Windows operating system to make it far more user-friendly than older versions of Windows, meaning it works equally well with a traditional desktop computer or a touchscreen tablet. When running Windows on a tablet, you’ll have access to a lot of traditional software, but you’ll find a significant lack of apps compared to Apple or Android. However, since these tablets run Windows, they can be used as full laptops.
What to look for in a tablet
Tablets have a lot of different strengths, depending on the one you choose. Think about what you want to do with the tablet, and you’ll be able to find one that’ll perfectly meet your needs.
Battery Life: Completing a really long car trip in successful silence may depend on whether your tablet has a long battery life. Battery life typically can range anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the tablet model and screen size. Seven hours is about average.
Connectivity: Different tablets allow you to make a connection to the Internet in a few different ways. Most will offer Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to connect to your home or work network. Others also include the ability to connect to a cellular network, much like a smartphone, and access the Internet through the cell network. However, you must have a cellular account with a monthly fee to use it.
Fast Processor: Look at the CPU and GPU chips included in your tablet. Newer, more powerful chips will give you faster performance levels. Some Windows tablets even have laptop-level processors inside, so you can use them as portable PCs. However, you will pay more for more power.
Keyboard: Most tablets are able to connect to a physical keyboard for typing, making it easier to input data into the tablet versus using the digital keyboard on the screen. Some tablets are 2-in-1 devices, meaning the keyboard/screen configuration looks more like a laptop because the two are connected. You then can fold up the keyboard to make it work like a tablet.
RAM: RAM is the amount of memory used to operate software and apps. This is different from the type of memory used for data storage. The more RAM you have available on the tablet, the better it will perform, but the more you’ll have to pay.
Screen Resolution: Tablets that can display more pixels will have a sharper image that looks great. If you want to watch movies on the tablets, having a resolution of at least full HD quality (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) will be very desirable.
Screen Size: The size of the tablet’s screen marks the most important feature for most people. Larger screens work better for things like watching movies, drawing, or playing games. Of course, screen size plays a direct role in the size of the tablet, too. So if you want a smaller tablet, you’ll want a smaller screen.
Storage: Tablets have an interior solid state drive (or SSD) for storing apps, movies, games, and more. You may be able to add more storage through a Micro SD memory card, although not all tablets have a memory card slot. Some tablets rely on cloud storage for extra storage. You may want extra storage for movies, books, and games.
Stylus: Some people love having a stylus for working with the tablet, especially if they’re drawing by freehand. Not every tablet can make use of a stylus, and some stylus pens don’t work as well as others. So if you need one, do your homework to find a tablet that can take full advantage of the features of the stylus.
Both models feature premium sound, noise cancellation, good battery life, and wireless charging cases. They’re ideal alternatives for larger headphones, like over-ear models, that aren’t nearly as portable.
While both sets of wireless earbuds are specifically designed for their respective mobile platforms, they can be used with any Bluetooth phone, tablet, or computer.
That said, neither of these earbuds offer their full functionality if you use them outside the ecosystem they were designed for. You’ll lose the ability to control certain key features, like noise cancellation, built-in controls, and voice assistants. That’s because, unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor Samsung have made the necessary apps for finer controls on their rival platforms.
As a result, iPhone users shouldn’t really consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and likewise, Android users shouldn’t buy the Apple AirPods Pro. Still, it’s worth comparing these flagship earbuds to see how headphones from two of the biggest names in tech stack up. Here’s how the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro compare across several key categories.
Apple AirPods Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Custom high-excursion Apple driver
11mm woofer, 6.5mm tweeter
SBC, AAC, Samsung proprietary Scalable
Four and a half hours with noise cancellation on, five with noise cancellation and Transparency mode off, 24 hours total with wireless charging case included
Five hours for earbuds, 13 hours for the charging case, 18 hours total including battery from charging case
Five-minute quick charge for an hour of playback; Qi wireless charging support; Lightning cable
Three-minute quick-charge for 30 minutes of music playback, two hours for full earbud charge; wireless charging support; USB-C charging
Built-in settings in iOS
Galaxy Wear for Android
Design and comfort
The stem design of the white AirPods Pro is now iconic and immediately recognizable. Even with their stem, the AirPods Pro are incredibly compact and lightweight.
They’re also supremely comfortable, even for users who don’t typically like the in-ear fit the AirPods Pro employ. Instead of fitting like a pair of earplugs, like many in-ear earphones, the AirPods Pro rest comfortably and securely in your ear canal’s opening.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have a more discreet design that few would recognize, and they’re available in silver, black, and violet colors. They’re equally compact as the AirPods Pro, and they’re barely visible when you’re wearing them.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are almost as comfortable as the AirPods Pro, except they feel more like earplugs with a deeper fit and a bit more pressure. As a result, they’re very secure in your ear.
There’s no competition here – Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro sound noticeably better than the AirPods Pro. It’s not that the AirPods Pro sound bad, it’s just that Samsung really demonstrates what’s possible at the $200 price point.
The Galaxy Buds Pro have a rich, full, clear, and dynamic sound that makes the AirPods Pro seem thin and flat by comparison. I enjoy my music far more with the Galaxy Buds Pro than I do with AirPods Pro.
I tried all the different ear tips that come included with the AirPods Pro to make sure it wasn’t a fit issue, and I ensured that I had a good fit using the built-in Ear Tip Test in the iOS settings.
Apple doesn’t include an equalizer for the AirPods Pro, but it does implement its own Adaptive EQ feature that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience.” Consistent it is, rich it is not. Unfortunately, there’s no option to disable Adaptive EQ to see if it could make any difference. Spotify has its own built-in equalizer settings, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the AirPods Pro to sound any better.
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro also outdo the AirPods Pro with their noise-cancelling performance. Again, it’s not that the AirPods Pro have poor noise cancellation, it’s just that Samsung shows that it’s possible to get better performance at $200.
To be sure, the AirPods Pro work just fine in an office/home office environment, where low hums and minor ambient sound are well muffled. Once you bring them to a noisier environment, however, like on a plane or outside in a city, the Galaxy Buds Pro show the AirPods Pro how it’s done.
Both sets of wireless earbuds deliver similar battery life, with the AirPods Pro edging out the Galaxy Buds Pro in the wireless charging case capacity.
The Galaxy Buds Pro themselves can play music for up to five hours with active noise cancellation enabled, and eight hours with noise cancellation off, per Samsung’s claim. The wireless charging case can hold up to 13 hours of charge, which sums up to a total of 18 hours of music playback. A quick three-minute charge in the case will give 30 minutes of battery life – something we tested and proved when the buds were accidentally left out of their case to discharge.
Apple claims the AirPods Pro can last four and a half hours with noise cancellation turned on, and five hours with it turned off. With a full charge on the buds and a full battery in the case, the AirPods Pro are capable of up to 24 hours of playback. A five-minute charge gives an extra hour of battery life to the buds themselves.
Apps, features, and controls
Apple offers minimalist options for the AirPods Pro in the built-in iOS settings, at least when compared with the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Galaxy Wear Android app.
AirPods Pro app
For the AirPods Pro, you get noise control that lets you choose between noise cancellation enabled or disabled, and a transparency mode that amplifies ambient noise for awareness and quick conversations.
You can customize whether pressing and holding the AirPods Pro stems activates Siri or toggles through the noise control settings. You also get Apple’s “Spatial Audio” feature, which is basically Apple’s version of surround sound. The built-in demo in the iOS settings is impressive, but it only works with compatible videos, and I’ve never encountered a video that supports Spatial Audio yet.
Galaxy Buds Pro app
For the Galaxy Buds Pro, you get significantly more control and options. Like the AirPods Pro, you get noise controls that enable/disable noise cancellation and toggle an Ambient Sound mode.
The Galaxy Buds Pro also have a Voice Detect feature that automatically enables Ambient Sound mode and pauses your music when you start talking. It works surprisingly well for engaging in quick conversations while you’re listening to music, and it’s nice that it’s automatic.
You can also manage what touching and holding the sensors on the buds do, whether it’s switching through noise controls, enabling Bixby (Samsung’s version of Siri), adjusting volume, or opening the Spotify app on your phone.
There’s also a built-in equalizer and an option for 360 audio, which is surround sound for video. Unlike Apple’s Spatial Audio, this feature isn’t dependent on whether a video supports 360 or not.
Multiple device connections
Both earbuds can connect to multiple devices simultaneously within their respective ecosystems. For example, you can listen to music or watch a video on your Mac and pick up a phone call on your iPhone, and the AirPods Pro connection will switch automatically. Likewise, the Galaxy Buds Pro automatically switch between other Samsung Galaxy products, but this feature doesn’t work with all Android devices.
It’s unfortunate that this feature is restricted to specific ecosystems, as some over-ear headphones can maintain multiple device connections across platforms with Multipoint Bluetooth technology. That said, there are a few wireless earbuds that don’t even come with automatic switching at all.
Another important feature is water resistance, which mostly applies for sweat during workouts, or rain. The Galaxy Buds Pro are rated at an IPX7 water resistance, while the AirPods Pro are rated at IPX4. Technically, IPX7 is better, but IPX4 shouldn’t pose a problem for rain splashes or sweat.
Which should you buy?
iPhone owners who value a compact design, wireless charging case, Siri capabilities, and support for connecting to other Apple devices with automatic switching, should go for the AirPods Pro.
But if you’re not in a rush, it might be worth waiting since Apple is expected to release new versions of the AirPods and AirPods Pro this year, according to Bloomberg.
Both models will reportedly come with a new Apple wireless chip, and the Pro earbuds are expected to feature a sleeker design. The entry-level AirPods will also get a slimmer look, longer battery life, and swappable ear tips, according to the report, but no noise cancellation.
It’s unclear exactly when the new AirPods Pro will launch, but the report says the cheaper version could debut in the first half of 2021.
For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can get. The best alternative in the $200 range is the Sony WF-1000XM3, but you’d be missing out on a wireless charging case, and the Sony case is rather large compared to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s.
Product Card (small, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (small)
If it came with your Galaxy device, you won’t need to connect it, but there are still a few steps needed to use it. And the newer your device, the more features you’ll have access to with the S Pen.
How to use S Pen on Samsung Galaxy
You can start using the S Pen by pressing on the end of it to release it from your Galaxy device. Your Galaxy will vibrate to let you know that it recognizes you’ve released it.
Your S Pen should start working immediately. If it doesn’t, hover the S Pen over the screen and quickly double-press the button in the middle of the stylus.
Ways to use the S Pen
You can use the S Pen to do anything that you could normally do with your finger. And depending on the Galaxy Note or Tab model you have, you may be able to use some or all of the following useful features. Test them all out and see which ones you like.
Take notes on the lock screen. Simply take out your S Pen and write on the locked screen.
Customize the pen button. Press and hold the pen button. Go into your settings’ advanced features section for the S Pen and select “S Pen remote” or “Air actions.” Then tap “Hold down Pen button to” and select the desired option.
Annotate a PDF. Open the desired PDF file in the Samsung Notes app and write your notes on it with the S Pen as you read.
Automatically change your handwriting to text. Turn on your S Pen and open the Samsung Notes app. Create your handwritten note and hit save, then tap the handwriting-to-text icon in the lower toolbar.
Turn your stylus into a remote. Go into your settings, then select “Advanced Features,” and then “S Pen,” followed by “Air Actions.” Then tap the toggle to turn on the “S Pen remote” option.
Remotely take photos and videos. Follow the steps above to use the stylus as a remote. Then, when you have the camera open and ready, simply tap the end of the stylus once to take a photo or begin a video. Tapping twice will switch between the front and rear cameras. This works when the stylus is less than 10 meters away from the device.
Control your music and other media with the S Pen. Once you’ve set up your S Pen as a remote, you’ll also have the ability to start and stop your media by tapping the end of the stylus while watching a video or listening to music.
Customize air actions. Swipe down on your device, and on the notification panel, select “S Pen air actions.” Under “App actions,” select the app you want to customize. Tap the item you want to customize and select either “Pen button” or “Gestures.”
Use direct pen input. This is turned on by default and allows you to write in text boxes, like in the Messages, Internet, or Phone app, and also converts your handwriting to text.
Advance through a slide deck. Open a presentation on your phone, then pull down your notification menu and choose to use your phone as a touchpad. Go into presentation mode and click your pen once to go to the next slide, or twice to go back a slide.
A quality TV is the centerpiece of any home entertainment system, but finding the right display for your needs and the right price for your wallet can be challenging. When shopping for a TV, there are many different aspects to consider, including size, panel type, resolution, HDR support, smart TV platform, and more.
If you’re looking for a display with genuine home theater performance in mind, then you’ll likely want to opt for a 65-inch- or- larger premium 4K TV. The best 4K TVs typically use an OLED panel, or a high-end LED panel with quantum dots and local dimming. These display types will provide you with the best contrast, black levels, and brightness performance for dazzling high dynamic range (HDR) images.
For buyers who simply want a reliable TV for casual viewing, however, a smaller screen and a more budget-friendly LED panel should get the job done just fine. Though picture quality won’t be quite as impressive as more expensive display types, there are many affordable LED TVs out there with solid performance. And, while 4K resolution and built-in smart TV interfaces were once thought of as premium features, nowadays even entry-level TVs come with 4K panels and smart TV capabilities as default features.
Once you’ve settled on the basics for what you’re looking for in a new display, there are plenty of deals readily available from all of the major TV manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio, TCL, and Hisense. To help narrow things down, we’ve rounded up all of the best TV deals available right now.
Here are the best TV deals in March 2021:
65-inch P-Series Quantum X 4K TV (P65Qx-H1) (small)X750H 75-inch 4K Ultra HD LED TV (medium, Preferred: Amazon)70-inch M-Series Quantum 4K TV (M706x-H3) (small, Preferred: Best Buy)24-inch HD Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
Best OLED TV deals
When it comes to picture quality, no other display type offers better overall performance than an OLED TV. Unlike traditional LED TVs (which use LCD panels), OLED TVs don’t require a backlight. Instead, every pixel is able to produce its own light or shut off completely. This enables OLED displays to produce superior black levels, contrast, and viewing angles compared to regular LED models. With that said, OLED panels can’t get as bright as LED TVs, and they can be susceptible to burn-in if you leave a static image on the screen for hours on end.
For most buyers, however, the pros of OLED tech far outweigh the cons. Of course, the high-end picture performance of an OLED TV typically comes with a high price tag. Thankfully, OLED TVs from LG and Vizio often go on sale.
55-inch CX 4K Smart OLED TV (medium, Preferred: Amazon)65-inch OLED 4K TV (small, Preferred: Best Buy)55-inch OLED 4K TV (small)
Best premium LED TV deals
Unlike OLED displays, LED TVs still use traditional LCD panels with backlights to produce their images. Though this tech does have some drawbacks when it comes to black levels and viewing angles, high-end LED TVs are still capable of very impressive picture quality with industry-leading brightness. High brightness is particularly desirable for the best HDR performance, allowing highlights to really pop from the screen.
Many high-end LED TVs are branded as QLED TVs since they include quantum dot technology. This feature allows the displays to achieve a wide color gamut for more accurate and rich colors. Premium LED TVs typically include full-array local dimming as well, enabling the backlight to dim in specific zones across the screen. This enables the display to achieve much better contrast and black levels compared to LED TV models without local dimming.
65-inch P-Series Quantum X 4K TV (P65Qx-H1) (small)75-inch P-Series Quantum X 4K TV (P75Qx-H1) (small)Product Card (medium)85-inch QLED Q80T 4K Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Best midrange LED TV deals
Like premium LED TVs, the best midrange LED TV models also offer many impressive picture quality features, including quantum dots or other wide color gamut technologies. Brightness levels aren’t quite as high as more expensive models, however, and contrast isn’t as precise since there are typically fewer dimming zones or no dimming zones at all.
Still, if you’re a buyer who wants to save a bit without losing support for the latest display technologies, like HDR, then a midrange LED TV model will likely be a good fit.
75-inch P-Series Quantum 4K TV (2020) (small)70-inch M-Series Quantum 4K TV (M706x-H3) (small, Preferred: Best Buy)X750H 75-inch 4K Ultra HD LED TV (medium, Preferred: Amazon)
Best budget LED TV deals
For buyers who are less concerned about picture quality and more interested in simply finding an affordable display with reliable smart TV connectivity, there are plenty of budget-friendly options to consider. These models don’t include advanced image features like local dimming or quantum dots, but you can find some entry-level models with basic 4K HDR playback capabilities.
Budget LED TVs can also be found in smaller screen sizes for people who want to purchase a TV that’s suitable for a smaller living room or bedroom. And, while 4K is pretty much the standard for most new TV models, you can still save some money by opting for a lower resolution HDTV.
24-inch HD Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)Product Card (medium)
The new Switch model is capable of producing 4K visuals on a TV, according to the report, and has a larger screen that uses OLED technology.
Moreover, it could be available as soon as this fall: Manufacturers are reportedly scheduled to begin production this July. According to the report, Nintendo is working with Samsung to source the OLED screens that will go into the new version of the Switch.
Currently, there are two models of Nintendo Switch: The original version that launched in March 2017, and a less expensive Switch “Lite” that launched in September 2019. Both consoles have sold briskly since launch – as of December 31, 2020, just shy of 80 million Nintendo Switch units have been sold, according to Nintendo.
Rumors of a new, more powerful version of the Nintendo Switch have been circulating for years.
Initially, those rumors were paired with word of a less expensive, handheld-only version of the Switch. That eventually came to fruition as the Nintendo Switch Lite.
Thus far, Nintendo hasn’t confirmed the existence or development of a more powerful Switch – a Switch “Pro” model, if you will. Both Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furakawa and Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser have said the Nintendo Switch, as a platform, is “at the midpoint” of its life cycle, which leaves the door open for new versions of the popular console.
One thing is clear: It’s unlikely that a more powerful Switch would power games that couldn’t run on the original Switch that launched in 2017.
Nintendo has a vested interest in catering to its massive market of Switch owners, and the company’s leadership has repeatedly said it expects several more years of life for the Switch as an overall platform.
Given that it’s been two years since the last iteration of the Switch, and Nintendo’s now competing with graphical powerhouses from Sony and Microsoft, 2021 would be a smart time for Nintendo to launch a more powerful version of its very popular console.
Nintendo representatives did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.
Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyGalaxy S20 FE (small)Galaxy S21 (small)Galaxy S21 Plus (small)
When Samsung released its Galaxy S21 flagship line in January 2021, it stopped selling the previous Galaxy S20 series, save for the more affordable Galaxy S20 FE that you can still buy today.
Launched with a $700 price tag in October 2020, the Galaxy S20 FE was a less expensive alternative to the regular Galaxy S20 series that started at $1,000. Despite its cheaper price, however, the Galaxy S20 FE maintained similar specs as the flagship Galaxy S20 phones, a triple lens camera, and a smooth 120Hz screen.
Overall, the Galaxy S20 FE presented a nearly identical experience as the regular Galaxy S20 series. And, without a doubt, the Galaxy S20 FE posed the best value, and we recommended the S20 FE over the more expensive Galaxy S20 phones whenever possible in 2020.
Now, Samsung sells the Galaxy S20 FE for $600, and it’s being sold alongside the new Galaxy S21 line that starts at $800.
Here, we’re comparing the Galaxy S20 FE with the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus. We’re not including the $1,200 Galaxy S21 Ultra, as that model is in a different league in terms of price and capabilities – someone who’s considering the Galaxy S20 FE isn’t likely to be looking at the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Spec for spec, the Galaxy S20 FE and its $600 price tag makes a very strong case for itself. It has the top-of-the-line processor from 2020, a great screen with a high 120Hz refresh rate, a good amount of memory and storage, a similar triple-lens camera setup, and a big battery.
The main things you’d be compromising on by going for the Galaxy S20 FE, technically, is a previous-generation processor, minor camera improvements that Samsung implemented in the Galaxy S21 series, and access to your carrier’s faster millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G networks.
Whether getting the latest processor, camera improvements, and access to mmWave 5G networks is worth the extra $200-$400 is largely going to be up to you. Let’s dig in a little deeper into some of the specifics.
The Galaxy S21 phones are undoubtedly more luxurious and sleek with their ultra-narrow bezels around the screen and flashy wrap-around camera module. The Galaxy S20 FE also has a plastic back with a matte finish, while the Galaxy S21 phones employ a frosted matte glass. That said, while the Galaxy S20 FE’s plastic back looks bad on paper, it’s almost imperceptible from glass – I actually forgot that its back is plastic until I re-read my own review.
Thankfully, the Galaxy S20 FE, S21, and S21 Plus all have flat screens rather than the curved edges you’d find on the Galaxy S21 Ultra and some previous Galaxy S models.
Speaking of the screen, there’s no noticeable difference between the screen on the Galaxy S20 FE and the Galaxy S21 phones. Both have the same resolution, refresh rate, and similar AMOLED technology that makes colors pop, and delivers perfect black color and high brightness that makes for unmatched contrast.
Hard benchmark numbers reveal the Galaxy S21 series is, indeed, more powerful. During a test designed to measure everyday performance using Geekbench 5’s central processing unit (CPU) benchmark, the Galaxy S21 scored an average of 1,098 on the single-core test and 3,259 on the multicore test. To compare, the Galaxy S20 FE measured a single-core score of 870 and a multi-core score of 2,955.
To test real-world performance, we ran a variety of popular apps and games with both phones in February 2021. During testing, there was little perceivable evidence that the Galaxy S21 series is faster during normal usage than the Galaxy S20 FE. Both phones, combined with their smooth 120Hz screen, are buttery smooth while swiping around the Android operating system and various apps.
That’s to be expected, as the Galaxy S20 FE isn’t even a year-old, and the Snapdragon 865 processor is only one generation behind the current Snapdragon 888 processor found in the Galaxy S21 series.
Both phones come with triple-lens camera systems, including a standard wide lens, an ultra-wide lens, and a 3x zoom lens that’s capable of digitally zooming up to 30x.
Both phones take similar quality photos overall, with the Galaxy S21 doing a slightly better job at managing HDR, contrast, and Samsung’s usual lust to overly boost brightness. Here’s a photo taken with the Galaxy S20 FE:
And here’s the same photo taken with the Galaxy 21, which has slightly richer colors, deeper contrast, and highlights aren’t as overblown as the Galaxy S20 FE’s photo:
Being a newer “full-fat” flagship model compared to the “skimmed” Galaxy S20 FE, the Galaxy S21 has better camera hardware and more features. Most notably, the Galaxy S21 has a 64-megapixel zoom lens that can also be used to take higher-resolution non-zoomed photos than the Galaxy S20 FE’s 12-megapixel lens. Here’s a photo taken with the Galaxy S20 FE 12-megapixel standard lens, which has been zoomed in on my computer after taking the photo:
And here’s the same photo taken with the Galaxy S21’s 64-megapixel lens, which shows significantly clearer detail when you zoom in after taking a photo:
Both phones have optical-image-stabilization (OIS) that help steady the shot when you take a zoomed photo, but it was clear during testing that the Galaxy S21 has a better implementation of OIS than the Galaxy S20 FE, especially when zooming in up to 30x. With that said, the Galaxy S21’s better OIS doesn’t produce better results. Here’s a photo taken with the Galaxy S20 FE’s zoom lens with 30x zoom:
And here’s the same photo taken with the Galaxy S21’s zoom lens at 30x zoom. Even though the viewscreen was more steady than the Galaxy S20 FE’s, the photo still comes out blurry and lacking detail:
In our battery life test, where we continuously play a YouTube video at 1080p resolution (the same resolution as the S20 FE’s screen) with dynamic drone footage until the battery dies, the Galaxy S20 FE and its 4,500mAh battery lasted 13 hours and 40 minutes.
In the same test, the Galaxy S21 and its 4,000mAh battery lasted 12 hours and 46 minutes. These results are as expected, seeing as the Galaxy S20 FE has a larger battery. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Galaxy S21 Plus on hand for battery testing. With that said, we can surmise that the Galaxy S21 Plus’ larger 4,800mAh battery will result in slightly longer battery life than the Galaxy S20 FE. However, we wouldn’t expect anything dramatic.
Both phone series support wireless charging up to 15W, as well as 25W wired charging. The Galaxy S20 FE comes with a 15W charger, which unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of its full charging speed. At the same time, the Galaxy S21 doesn’t come with any charger at all, so you’d have to buy your own if you don’t already have a decently fast charger. They also have Samsung’s Power Share reverse wireless charging that lets you charge small accessories, like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, from the back of the phone.
Should you buy the Galaxy S20 FE, the Galaxy S21, or the Galaxy S21 Plus?
Right off the bat, the Galaxy S20 FE is on the larger side with its 6.5-inch screen and overall size. If you prefer smaller phones, you’re unlikely to like the Galaxy S20 FE, and your best option is going to be the Galaxy S21.
If you like larger phones, the Galaxy S21 isn’t likely to be on your radar. So, it boils down to picking between the $600 Galaxy S20 FE and the $1,000 Galaxy S21 Plus.
Without a doubt, the Galaxy S20 FE poses the better value – you’re not getting $400-worth of extra perceivable performance, camera improvements, battery life, or anything else with the Galaxy S21 Plus. If you’re looking for excuses to buy the Galaxy S21 Plus and justify its $1,000 price, you’re not going to find them here.
To be sure, the Galaxy S21 Plus is the better phone with its newer processor and slightly better cameras, and it’ll likely run smoothly for a longer time than the Galaxy S20 FE and its one-year-old processor. Still, it’s not “$400” better.
Buy the Galaxy S20 FE for a great phone and save $400. Or, buy the Galaxy S21 Plus for the latest and greatest – just make sure you can afford it.
Also note that Samsung and carriers often have deals and trade-in programs that can dramatically reduce the price of either phone. If you find a deal or trade-in that brings the Galaxy S21 Plus’ price closer to the Galaxy S20 FEs, then get the Galaxy S21 Plus. Likewise, a good deal on the Galaxy S20 FE can let you save a lot of money, and you’d be getting a great phone.
Galaxy S20 FE (small)Galaxy S21 (small)Galaxy S21 Plus (small)
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Samsung has revealed a new 110-inch TV model with an advanced Micro LED screen.
Micro LED is designed to compete with OLED, and it could offer even better performance.
We got to examine the display during a CES 2021 event, and the TV looks stunning in person.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Samsung has been showing off massive Micro LED displays at CES for the last few years, but the impressive technology has yet to hit the consumer market. This year, however, the company aims to change that.
For the first time, Samsung will be releasing 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED 4K TVs. There’s no word on pricing, but the 110-inch model is set to launch globally this spring.
Micro LED promises key improvements over other TV panel types, and it could even end up beating our current favorite TV technology, OLED. To help demonstrate what makes Micro LED so special, Samsung invited Insider Reviews to an in-person CES 2021 event.
The 110-inch Micro LED TV was on hand at the demo, and the gorgeous screen does not disappoint. It’s important to note, however, that Samsung described the model as a prototype, so the version we saw could still go through some changes before hitting the market.
That said, based on what we’ve seen, Samsung’s Micro LED shows incredible promise, and the technology could very well end up being the future of TV. It’s not perfect, but the overall picture quality is simply stunning.
Note: Samsung did not allow pictures of the Micro LED TV at the CES event, so all images included here are provided by the manufacturer.
What is Micro LED?
Micro LED is an advanced panel technology used for displays. The tech is designed to compete with other popular TV types, like LCD (often branded as LED or QLED) and OLED.
As the name implies, Micro LED screens are made up of millions of microscopic red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes. Micro LEDs are self-emissive, allowing them to dim, brighten, or turn off individually. This results in an infinite contrast ratio with true black levels and wide viewing angles – which are all areas where regular LCD TVs struggle.
Meanwhile, OLED TVs are capable of similar contrast, but that technology uses organic LEDs which can degrade over time. This leads to brightness limitations and the potential for burn-in. Since Micro LEDs are inorganic, however, Samsung says that they can get brighter and last longer than OLED TVs with virtually no risk of burn-in.
In other words, Micro LED has the potential to combine everything home theater fans love about OLED TVs while also offering similar brightness capabilities as an LCD TV. Basically, it could be the best of both worlds.
Unlike typical TVs which use one panel, Micro LED screens are actually constructed from multiple tiles that are aligned together. This creates the potential for modular screens, where you can add, remove, or shift tiles around to create different display sizes and orientations.
Samsung offers a modular Micro LED screen for business and luxury customers, called “The Wall,” that has this capability. That said, the upcoming 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED TVs will have fixed configurations and won’t be modular.
Samsung Micro LED TV picture impressions
For demo purposes, Samsung had a prototype of its 110-inch Micro LED TV set up in a dark room displaying a gorgeous reel of 4K HDR video.
As is typical with demonstrations like this, the footage featured a beautiful assortment of colorful images ranging from shining gem stones to towering cityscapes. The images dazzled no matter what was on the screen with rich saturation, precise highlights, and deep black levels that disappeared into the room.
Samsung didn’t offer a specific number in nits, but to my eyes the peak brightness was very impressive, offering a more punchy image than I’m used to seeing on a screen so large. One scene, featuring a starry night sky over mountains, was particularly striking as each star shined brilliantly from the screen against inky blacks.
It’s the type of infinite contrast that I’ve only ever seen on OLED TVs before, but the HDR effect was even more pronounced. Viewing angles were also essentially perfect, with no real color or contrast issues when viewing from the side.
An LCD TV this big, even with advanced local dimming, would still show signs of blooming, crushing, or off-angle fading. An OLED would likely look similarly impressive but not as bright. The Micro LED was able to demonstrate all the benefits of both of those technologies while offering no real signs of their flaws. That said, pixels were visible if you put your face right up to the screen, but that’s the case with any 4K TV this big.
Of course, demos like this only offer a limited view of what a TV can do, and it’s important to remember that the model on display is still a prototype. At the end of the day, though, the experience has only left me wanting more.
Problems with Micro LED TVs
As impressive as Micro LED is, no display technology is perfect. We’ll need to spend more in-depth time with a Micro LED TV to really evaluate it, but based on what we’ve seen so far there is one slight downside that’s already clear: seams are sometimes visible on the screen.
Since Micro LED TVs are constructed from several display tiles that are connected together, there are seams between each tile, creating the appearance of a grid. Thankfully, these seams are very faint and, during my demo time, I found them to be extremely hard to spot.
In fact, from a normal viewing distance and a centered angle, they are essentially invisible. It’s only when getting very close to the screen or watching the display from an off-angle that the seams faintly come into view. Even then, the seams generally only pop up when certain colors are on the screen. Likewise, you can see them when the TV is off.
It’s too early to say how much of a factor this will be when watching a Micro LED TV under normal viewing conditions, but I doubt it will end up being too much of a problem. Though LCD and OLED TVs don’t have this specific issue, they have their own uniformity quirks that can be just as distracting.
How much will Samsung’s Micro LED TV cost?
Samsung has not announced US pricing for its Micro LED TVs yet, but it’s safe to say that they will be very expensive when they hit the market. New panel technology always comes at a premium, and Micro LED has been particularly hard to scale down to a consumer level.
According to ZDNet, the 110-inch Micro LED TV model is launching in South Korea for 170 million won, which is around $156,000. A similar price is likely for the US.
The closest premium TV we can look to right now as a comparison is likely LG’s flagship 88-inch OLED 8K TV, which currently sells for $30,000. Samsung’s Micro LED TV is 4K rather than 8K, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar, if not higher, price tag for the 88-inch model.
Samsung Micro LED TV release dates
The 110- and 99-inch Micro LED TVs are set for release globally this spring, with expected availability starting in late March. The 88-inch model will then follow in the fall.
A 76-inch Micro LED TV has also been announced, but an estimated release window has not been confirmed yet.
The bottom line
Samsung’s Micro LED could very well be the future of TV, but like any display tech, it won’t be perfect. Still, based on what I’ve seen so far, the picture quality pros look like they will far outweigh the cons.
The real question will be how much these displays end up costing. I expect that this first wave of Micro LED TVs will be prohibitively expensive for regular buyers, but the 2021 lineup could help pave the way for more affordable Micro LED TVs in the (hopefully) not too distant future.
If you’re looking for a high-end Samsung TV at a more consumer-friendly price point, be sure to check out the company’s new lineup of Neo QLED 4K and 8K TVs. The 2021 collection starts at $1,600 and promises several improvements over last year’s models.