Samsung Galaxy S21 rumor roundup: Exynos vs. Snapdragon, no chargers, S Pen support
Coming early in January!
Is it too early for a Samsung Galaxy S21 rumor roundup? Normally, Samsung’s next flagship gets its time under the spotlight starting sometime in January. However, according to some recent eager-beaver news, Samsung isn’t wasting precious time next year, potentially launching the Galaxy S21 earlier than usual. Now, besides the earlier debut, we have a charitable bag of Galaxy S21 rumors and leaks.
Here are the juiciest Galaxy S21 details you absolutely have to know:
What’s in a name?
Revealed in August, one of the earliest details about next year’s flagship revolved around the Galaxy S21’s name. For the second time in a row, Samsung is ditching the contiguous naming scheme of the previous year.
Last year, the Galaxy S20 series skipped ten numbers from the Galaxy S10 from two years ago. Before that, Samsung had always used a plus-one naming scheme for the flagship series. Now, the company is returning to the plus-one scheme, ditching a Galaxy S30 (for now).
Though the name doesn’t reveal anything about the phone’s insides, it sets a nice precedent and sets the stage for any forthcoming reports.
Exynos versus Snapdragon
Separated by months, the Galaxy S21’s processor didn’t pop up immediately after the new naming scheme’s reveal. However, because of the long-standing feud between the Exynos and Snapdragon camps, it’s important to mention the processor early.
Without the actual processors in our hands, no one knows how the two chipsets will perform in real life yet. However, early reports are presenting conflicting results. The earliest of which, coming from constant Samsung leaker Ice Universe, foretells the next Exynos falling to Snapdragon once again. As it is, it looks like business as usual for Samsung.
Strangely, the same leaker backtracked soon afterward. Now, Ice Universe claims that the Exynos 2100 will tower over the Snapdragon 875 next year. To their credit, the most recent report explicitly names the two chipsets. The previous, contrary report only mentions “next year’s Exynos 1000.”
Funny enough, the strange conundrum resolves itself. Recently, Samsung launched the Exynos 1080 chipset, a processor positioned for the midrange segment. The midrange Exynos 1080 will almost certainly fall to the Snapdragon 875’s performance. Meanwhile, the (still-unconfirmed) Exynos 2100 can still outperform Qualcomm’s chipset.
To the left, to the left
Despite its size, the Galaxy S20’s camera island is inoffensive. It’s big, but it’s fine. However, as teased by a few renders and case leaks, the Galaxy S21 is taking a completely different route. Instead of a slightly offset camera island, the upcoming flagship’s camera will flow almost seamlessly from the top-left corner.
To say the least, the new design looks… different. Current reception is mixed. While some are more welcoming toward the new design, a sizable number are decrying the size and the case’s glaring top-left vulnerability.
One of the most controversial decisions this year, Apple recently decided to ditch the free charging adapters starting with the iPhone 12. As expected, the decision met with a lot of derision from both iPhone and Android fans. However, Apple isn’t alone in the decision.
According to some expert analysts, Samsung is following Apple’s lead this time around. Despite mocking Apple for eliminating free chargers, the company is reportedly removing their own chargers from the Galaxy S21 series.
As of the latest report, Samsung is mulling over critical decisions over its free chargers and wired earphones. The Galaxy S21 can potentially lose one or both.
The irony is strong. Further, it’s unknown how Samsung intends to defend a potential removal. For its part, Apple included its decision in its carbon-neutral plan, adding a tinge of environmental ethics to the cost-cutting measure. Samsung can always declare the same. However, the company will likely run into a lot of difficulties defending the removal if it does the same.
Another fairly reliable rumor involves the Galaxy Note’s S Pen. Supposedly, the Galaxy S21 series will feature one variant with an included S Pen. For the first time ever, the flagship series will steal a feature usually exclusive for the premium Galaxy Note series. Out of the project four Galaxy S21 variants, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will offer the stylus (or support for it, at least).
Though relatively harmless on its own, the rumor coexists with another blockbuster rumor going into 2021: the supposed exit of the Galaxy Note series.
As early as September last year, Samsung had already hinted at a potential merging between the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Note lineups. At the time, the fusion made only little sense. The Galaxy Z series, which was poised to take over as the second main series, was only starting to grow.
Now, Samsung’s foldable segment has already grown into its own niche. Samsung can realistically merge its flat slab phones into one segment and establish a dedicated foldable lineup. Although, doing so will naturally eliminate the long-standing Galaxy Note series. But that’s another story for another time.
Early bird gets the Galaxy S21
As the roundup first starts with, the Galaxy S21 series will reportedly launch earlier than usual. For years, the Galaxy S series debuted between late February and early April. Last year’s Galaxy S20 was the earliest launch date in a while: early February.
According to substantial rumors, next year’s flagship will launch even earlier. The most reliable report pegs a January announcement for the series. However, some reports have even claimed a December date. Regardless of when exactly, it’s almost certain that the series will launch much earlier than historical expectations.
At the moment, no one knows exactly why it’s coming out early. Some pundits, especially Samsung fans, think that introducing the Galaxy S21 will space out the year for more launch events spread throughout. Others, including a notable source, think that it aims to capitalize on market share lost by Huawei.
Regardless, we still have a little less than two months for more information to inevitably leak out. Tune in for more information ahead of the launch early next year!
How well do PlayStation games run on the ROG Ally?
Spoiler: Pretty good
The ROG Ally has caused quite a buzz in the gaming community at large. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospect of owning a handheld gaming PC/console to play games I otherwise would not have access to. I mainly play on my PlayStation 5 (PS5). Naturally, I was curious how some of my favorite games will run on the ROG Ally.
Things are promising on paper. The ROG Ally is built to be able to run AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at the specs of the unit we had for recap:
|CPU||AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor
|GPU||With AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Config:
|Panel||Full HD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz / 7 ms eDP1.4b, 500 nits, IPS-panel, 100% sRGB, FreeSync™ Premium, Gorilla® Glass Victus™ and Gorilla® Glass DXC, 10-point Touchscreen
|Memory||16GB (LPDDR5 6400Mhz) dual channel LPDDR5 8GBx2 on board memory|
|Audio||2 x 1W speakers with smart amp technology, Dolby Atmos®, Hi-Res Audio, AI Noise Cancellation|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||WiFi 6E (802.11ax) / Bluetooth® v5.2|
|Storage||512GB (for Z1 Extreme config)
+SD card slot UHS-2
|I/O PORT||ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes) and USB Type-C combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, DP 1.4 support) — (1x)
3.5mm Audio jack — (1x)
Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0) — (1x)
|Adapter||65W PD adapter, supports pass through charging|
|Dimensions||280.44 * 111.18 * 21.22 mm
PlayStation Studios on PC
PlayStation, in the past couple of years, has decided to spread the love and let PC players experience some of the best they have to offer. Currently, there are 12 PlayStation exclusive titles playable on PC. And they’re available on either Steam or the Epic Games Store.
In case you’re curious the available games are as follows:
- Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- God of War (2018)
- Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection
- Destiny 2: Lightfall
- Horizon: Zero Dawn
- Days Gone
- Predator Hunting Grounds
- Sackboy: A big Adventure
- The Last of Us Part 1
PlayStation Asia was kind enough to give us codes for three of the 12 titles now available on PC. Here’s how they ran on the ROG Ally.
Quick note: I played on Performance mode with brightness hovering at around 50-55% indoors in an air conditioned room.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with NBA 2K, is my comfort game. Whenever I feel frustrated or just having a bad day, I fire up either game. On Spider-Man, I just swing aimlessly around the digital Manhattan that Insomniac built.
It was such a delight to learn that I can do this on the go now too with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered playing pretty darn well on the ROG Ally.
I had the framerate limiter turned on, maxing out at 60. Despite that, I only reached a max of 31 fps with dips to as low as 15. It looks bad on paper, but is much more tolerable during actual gameplay. The dips usually happened during cutscenes. Majority of the gameplay hovered around 25-30 fps.
I knew it was never gonna reach the level of detail and smoothness that I get on the PS5 and LG C2 combo that I usually play on. There was plenty of noticeable stuttering especially during the busier sections of the game. But I didn’t think any of it was game breaking.
Audio wasn’t as loud as I hoped it would be despite me playing in a pretty quiet room. I opted to pair it with Bluetooth earbuds (OnePlus Buds Pro 2) to get the most of the audio. There were no audio delays whatsoever which was a very welcome development.
My average play time was about one hour and 20 minutes. That’s with the battery going from 100% to 20% each time.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Coming from the same Studio and pretty much being essentially the same game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales didn’t run too differently from Spider-Man Remastered.
I played in the exact same conditions: Indoor room, AC on, started at 100%, performance mode, and medium brightness settings. Curiously, the frame dips happened more during open-world swinging and not as much during cutscenes. This could be because of the busier version of New York due to the events of the game being set during the Christmas season.
But the numbers weren’t too different. I still maxed at 31 fps, with most of the gameplay hovering around 25-30 fps, and the lowest dip coming in at 16fps.
Again, nothing game breaking and it is much more tolerable during gameplay. Naturally, you have to have your expectations set properly. The ROG Ally is, after all, a handheld gaming PC.
Average play time is around one hour and 25 minutes with about 75% to 80% of the battery life being consumed.
Returnal is one of the titles I was most excited to try. I was curious about how the audio and controller rumble would translate to the ROG Ally. On the PS5, Audio and DualSense implementation are two of the game’s many strengths.
Due to audio cues on enemies’ locations, this game is best played with earbuds/headphones on. The experience on the ROG Ally isn’t quite 3D Audio on PS5 levels, but it’s as close as it gets.
The same can be said for the controller rumble. It’s not as precise nor finely implemented as the DualSense – that’s a unique feature after all. However, I was still thoroughly impressed with how the ROG Ally implemented rumble in certain sections of the game. The rumble effect is also a testament to how well-built the Ally is. Despite the internals shaking, the Ally never felt brittle nor that it would suddenly come apart.
Knowing this is a shooter game, I turned the framerate limiter off and reached highs of 115 fps. The framerate did dip to as low as 15 fps which is about the widest variance I got from any game I played using the Ally. This did affect gameplay especially during sections where I had to deal with multiple enemies.
I did experience plenty of crashes which isn’t ideal for a game like Returnal whose progress relies on you surviving as long as you can on a single run through. But this only happened during the first few minutes. After a while, it seemed like the ROG Ally had adjusted to the performance-demands of the game.
It took about an hour and 10 minutes before I had to plug-in the Ally to not lose a playthrough.
Since the ROG Ally is essentially a handheld gaming PC, you can certainly install the Remote Play app on it. However, you can’t just immediately use the gamepad. To play Horizon: Forbidden West, and generally just run the app, I had to pair the Ally with my DualSense controller.
You can map the gamepad so that it works but mapping isn’t an activity I enjoy nor did I have the time (I had to return the review unit) to do it. Other reviewers pointed to using a third-party app called Chiaki. But again, I didn’t have time to test it. I did see gameplay of it though so it seems to be working just fine.
Knowing that you can do all these on the Ally actually makes you question the upcoming PlayStation Q handheld. Sure, the integration will likely be seamless. But its core function can already be replicated on other handhelds and handheld-like devices. I digress.
It’s worth noting that the relatively smooth experience I had with the ROG Ally was also aided by an internet connection that constantly hovers in the 250+ mbps range along with a Wi-Fi 6 router.
The ROG Ally is PlayStation friendly
If you want to know what it’s like playing PlayStation 5 games on a handheld device, the ROG Ally is easily one of the best devices to play with. The gameplay isn’t quite as smooth but you shouldn’t expect it to be. And yes, you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after a little over an hour of playthrough. But being able to play AAA titles on a handheld device still feels crazy to me.
Having started gaming on a family computer and covering tech for a living, it’s still mind-blowing to me how far technology has come. The stuff I only dreamed of as a little fat gamer is coming true thanks to the ROG Ally and its contemporaries.
The ROG Ally Z1 Extreme retails for US$ 699. The ROG Ally Z1 variant retails for US$ 599. Pre-orders begin on May 11. It will be available for sale worldwide on June 13, 2023.
Final Cut Pro for iPad Hands-on: Game Changer!
But is it worth the subscription?
Ever since Apple launched iPads running the ever-powerful Silicon chips like on the M1 and M2 MacBook Pros, many have wondered when will Apple put macOS onto the iPad.
While we don’t have anything like that until today, the closest thing we can have is the Final Cut Pro made specifically for the iPads.
Now, it’s finally available for download on the iPad App Store.
Starting at US$ 4.99 per month and US$ 49 annually, is it actually worth the subscription?
In this video we’ll show you all the features and tools exclusive to the new and game-changing Final Cut Pro for iPad!
HONOR Magic5 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Camera Shootout
Which camera delivers a 5-star quality?
2023 is a year where phone brands focus their flagship smartphones towards professional photography — Samsung and HONOR are no exceptions.
Samsung headlines the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its astronomic 200MP camera. That’s with the inclusion of three more cameras. On the other hand, HONOR offers a completely different setup for the Magic5 Pro: triple 50MP cameras to be exact.
While the phone’s naming superlatives don’t actually feel like they are the direct competitors of one another (as HONOR also has the Magic5 Ultimate), this is still the best comparison we can deliver to you because the latter is China-exclusive.
Best of both worlds
Just like in other camera shootouts, it would be amiss not to talk about the specific camera hardware these two smartphones possess.
|HONOR Magic5 Pro||Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra|
1/1.12” sensor size
OIS + Laser AF + Multi-directional PDAF
1/1.3” sensor size
OIS + Laser AF + Multi-directional PDAF
3x optical zoom
3.5x optical zoom
10x optical zoom
|Selfie||12MP f/2.4 100º
ToF 3D (depth + biometrics)
|Others||Rear ToF 3D (depth)
Up to 4K/60fps
Up to 8K/30fps
Aside from the obvious difference in megapixel count, the wide camera of the HONOR Magic5 Pro is slightly brighter at f/1.6 (versus f/1.7). Moreover, the Magic5 Pro has an overall bigger pixel count in its ultra-wide and periscope lenses.
I just find it weird how HONOR decided to choose a “periscope” camera that only zooms in optically at 3.5x. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 10x periscope zoom lens with a separate 3x telephoto zoom shooter. Of course, both phones are capable of up to 100x digital zoom.
Lastly, the HONOR contender is equipped with a ToF 3D sensor on its front and back for depth (plus biometric scanning through Face Unlock). While the Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t have one, it can record videos up to 8K/30fps whereas the HONOR maxes out at 4K/60fps.
There are four sections (plus a bonus segment) in this special smackdown. To make it equally distributed, I’ve carefully picked five (5) photos for each category (except for the bonus part).
This is in favor of HONOR’s Magic “5” naming. And coincidentally, by adding the two digits in the S23 naming scheme also gives us a total of 5 (2+3 = 5 💀)
Disclaimer: Just like other camera shootouts, photos were all taken straight using Auto or Night Mode. These images were collaged, resized, and labeled for faster loading and preview. No other manipulations were applied.
On paper, their main cameras seems like a day and night difference — but is that actually the case when they almost share the same lens opening minus the inclusion of 1-inch camera sensors?
Choose your weapon: 122-degree + f/2.0 aperture or a 120-degree Field of View + f/2.2 ultra-wide camera?
Lastly, 50MP versus 12MP?
As already stated, the HONOR Magic5 Pro rocks a 3.5x periscope shooter while Samsung is equipped with a telephoto lens that zooms in to 3x. But which is actually the better deal?
Farther Zoom (10x)
As previously mentioned, HONOR markets its 3.5x lens as “periscope”. Meanwhile, Samsung’s periscope is rather farther at 10x. While having that huge optical zoom gap, this doesn’t mean we can’t do a comparison as the HONOR can do its “Magic” using its periscope shooter.
Shooting low-light photos using Night Mode is and will always be the dealbreaker in every camera shootout we make. Proven over many write-ups, Samsung is notorious for its bright night AI algorithm and post-processing techniques. But can you even tell which is which?
The closest camera spec we could have are the selfie cameras of each phone. But actually, one has the advantage of having an ultra-wide angle lens. Also, there’s a lone comparison which showcases how each phone shoots portrait subjects.
BONUS: Farthest Zoom (Day)
In this comparison we’re going past 10x to actually know how each model performs when it comes to digital zoom.
BONUS: Farthest Zoom (Night)
I also did the same comparison during the night to actually test out how each phone can withstand the lack of ample light when taking zoomed shots.
Confused with your picks? Well, you’re not alone. Even I had a hard time determining photos side by side.
Photo A – HONOR Magic5 Pro
Photo B – Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
For the most part, you would barely distinguish the differences between each phone’s camera quality since they both looked similar. But in other shots, the Galaxy S23 Ultra still has that distinct saturation-boosting among its samples that Samsung always does in its phones (refer to W5 / U3 / U5 / Z5 / P5 / N2 / B5).
But to my surprise, the HONOR Magic5 Pro also delivered an almost equal ratio of photos that lean more towards the warmer and more saturated spectrum (W1 / U2 / Z1 / Z2 / Z4 / N1 / N4 / B6).
When it comes to HDR, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has the obvious advantage by not bumping up the shadows too much while still preserving the highlights of each photo taken. On the other hand, the Magic5 Pro delivered photos that has an overall brighter exposure — which honestly isn’t my cup of tea (W1 / W2 / W3 / W4 / U2 / U4 / P5 / B4 / B5). It’s either caused by the larger f/1.6 aperture or just HONOR’s HDR algorithm.
Zoomed shots in 3-3.5x look crisp and clear on both phones but if you go past the 10x mark, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra easily beats the HONOR Magic5 Pro with its dedicated 10x periscope zoom lens. With the provided moon shots, well, Samsung isn’t safe from the previous fake moon AI controversy so I’ll leave the judgments to you.
Lastly, selfies are down to your personal preference. In my opinion, the HONOR Magic5 Pro overtakes the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra especially because it has an even wider lens plus a ToF 3D sensor for both portrait depth and biometric scanning (or Face Unlock). The compromise is just the longer pill-shaped cutout instead of the Galaxy’s cleaner punch hole camera.
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