News

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series now official

A few new improvements and features here and there

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We knew it was coming, and like its predecessors, the leaks came flooding. Now, the Samsung Galaxy S21 is official. The series, like last year’s S20 is composed of three phones — the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Like the series that came before it, the Galaxy S21 series follows much of the same hierarchy in terms of size and performance. Here’s a quick look at the three phones by the numbers to get you acquainted.

Galaxy S21 Series Specs

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S21+ Galaxy S21 Ultra
Display 6.2”

Dynamic AMOLED

120Hz

6.7”

Dynamic AMOLED

120Hz

6.8”

Dynamic AMOLED

120Hz/4K

Processor Snapdragon 888/ Exynos 2100

*Depending on the region

Build Polycarbonate Plastic Gorilla Glass Victus Gorilla Glass Victus
RAM + ROM Up to 8GB + 256GB Up to 8GB + 256GB Up to 16GB + 512GB
Battery Capacity 4000mAh

25W wired charging

15W wireless charging

4800mAh

25W wired charging

15W wireless charging

5000mAh

25W wired charging

15W wireless charging

Rear cameras 12MP Ultra Wide f/2.2

12MP Wide f/1.8

64MP Telephoto f/2.0

12MP Ultra Wide f/2.2

12MP Wide f/1.8

64MP Telephoto f/2.0

12MP Ultra wide f/2.2

108MP Wide f/1.8

10MP Telephoto1 f/2.4

10MP Telephoto2 f/4.9

Laser AF

Selfie camera 10MP f/2.2 40MP f/2.2
S Pen support No No Yes

*Sold separately

*No slot for storage

Colors Phantom Violet

Phantom Pink

Phantom Grey

Phantom White

*Varies depending on market

Phantom Violet

Phantom Grey

Phanton Silver

Phantom Black

*Varies depending on market

Phantom Silver

Phantom Black

Improve Camera features

The megapixel numbers on the phones have largely stayed the same from the Galaxy S20 series. However, Samsung said the improvements they made will largely come in the software department.

Other than improving their computational photography, they have also improved and added upon features that were introduced in the Galaxy S20 series. AI has been applied to Portrait Mode — and nope, it’s no longer called Live Focus.

When shooting using the telephoto lenses, there’s now ZoomLock to aid people with shaky hands. It uses AI to help keep the shot steady and the subject in frame.

Samsung took time to develop the video taking capabilities of the Galaxy S21 series. For instance, Single Take Mode now uses AI to analyze more frames per second.

There’s 8K video recording that lets you take a high resolution photo while you’re recording. Then, there’s the Director’s View Mode that lets you do a number of things. It lets you shoot from both the front and rear cameras at the same time. It also shows you the view from the other cameras and lets you switch between them as you please.

Performance

Jury’s still out on this aspect but it should be no different than the flagships of the past. It’ll be interesting to see how the benchmarks compare between the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 units and those that are equipped with the Samsung Exynos 2100 which is promising to be the largest step up for Exynos to date.

As stated on the specs sheet above, all three models have Dynamic AMOLED Display with support for 120Hz screen refresh rate for that oh so smooth viewing and scrolling experience.

S Pen support

As rumored, the Galaxy S21 Ultra will have support for the S Pen. However, unlike the Galaxy Note series, it doesn’t come bundled and does not the smartphone doesn’t have a slot to keep the S Pen tucked in. The S Pen can be bought separately for US$ 39.99.

If you’re keen on getting the S Pen, Samsung has first party cases that have a provision for the S Pen. The cases start at US$ 69.99.

No charger in the box, other things to note

After mocking Apple for removing power bricks, Samsung is doing the exact same thing. The Samsung Galaxy S21 series will also not come with power adapters.

The entire Galaxy S21 series also has UWB or Ultra Wide Band. It lets users point their phone at another Galaxy phone to send files. The feature set has been expanded to include unlocking your car with your phone.

Samsung is also launching an accessory called Smart Tags. These are trackers you can attach to your keys or your backpack. You can then use these to locate your items using the SmartThings Find App.

Pricing and availability 

Starting prices are as follows:

US Philippines
Galaxy S21 US$ 799.99 PhP 47,990
Galaxy S21+ US$ 999.99 PhP 57,990
Galaxy S21 US$ 1,199.99 PhP 69,990

More US pricing and availability details here.

More Philippine pricing and availability details here.

News

Facebook is working on a smartwatch with two cameras

The company has ambitious goals

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Facebook Reality Labs

Reports emerged earlier this year that Facebook is planning to launch a smartwatch next summer. The watch will have a display and two cameras that can be detached to take photos and video like you would on a smartphone or GoPro camera.

According to The Verge, one camera on the front of the watch display will be used for video calling. In contrast, the other 1080p camera with auto-focusing will be detachable for capturing pictures and videos. The content could then be shared on Facebook and Instagram and other apps owned by the company.

Facebook is working with third-party companies to create accessories attached to the camera, such as backpacks. It is also working with wireless carriers in the US to support wireless connectivity.

With a camera system designed in-house, Facebook could offer a new feature that’s not usually found on a smartwatch. The wearable segment is already very saturated, making it quite difficult for newcomers to justify their existence. Backed by Android’s custom version, the wearable will feature a heart rate monitor and other features that have become standard across the segment.

The Verge also notes that future iterations of the smartwatch could “serve as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses.” It’ll be available in three colors: white, black, and gold.

In terms of pricing, Facebook has reportedly “discussed pricing the device at roughly US$ 400,” which will put it up against offerings from other established makers such as Apple and Samsung. Facebook is working on second and third generations and plans to use technology it acquired from CTRL-labs to achieve its vision.

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Apps

The US revokes Trump’s executive order that banned TikTok

A level-playing field for everyone

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that sets criteria for the government to evaluate the risk of apps connected to foreign adversaries. It’s specifically meant for apps like TikTok and WeChat, which President Trump banned.

It should use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they pose a risk to US national security, said Biden. If apps are found violating fundamental laws, a ban can be imposed. The task of identifying threats has been given to the US Commerce Department.

Trump’s executive order particularly targeted TikTok and WeChat. Instead, Biden is opting for a level-playing field for everyone. Biden shares the same concerns as Trump, but their approach is vastly different.

Under the previous administration, TikTok remained in a precarious position as Trump sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company. A proposal was produced that would have seen Oracle and Walmart owning a US entity of the service and taking responsibility for handling TikTok’s US user data and content moderation.

But there were numerous legal challenges, and before they could be ironed out, Trump lost the election. The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process. The order also calls upon federal agencies to develop recommendations – for future executive actions or legislation — on how to protect the data of US citizens.

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Computers

AMD unveils new Radeon PRO workstation GPUs

Based on the same architecture as the next-gen consoles

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PRO W6000

AMD may be facing some shortages in their chips for the remainder of this year, but it’s not stopping them just yet. Within their GPU lineup, Team Red looks to launch a more powerful AMD Radeon PRO W6000 series of workstation graphics. This time around, they’ve integrated a familiar and powerful type of RDNA architecture to boost your workstation’s graphical performance.

See, AMD designed the new Radeon PRO W6000 series of workstation GPUs for heavier, more complex workloads. From demanding architectural design to 4K video rendering, these new GPUs will ideally handle all of these with ease. One of the big reasons behind this is that these GPUs are built using the RDNA 2 architecture. Yes, it’s the same architecture behind the GPUs of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S!

Apart from graphical performance boosts, the Radeon PRO W6000 series also offers realtime ray-tracing for faster renders. Essentially, the GPU has more enhanced compute units that boost design renders by up to 46 percent compared to previous generations. Along with AMD’s Smart Access Memory, you can even unlock higher performance for supported AMD Ryzen CPUs.

AMD will roll out their Radeon PRO W6000 series of GPUs in this fashion, along with their SRPs:

  • Now Available: AMD Radeon PRO W6800 (US$ 2,249)
  • Starting July 2021: AMD Radeon PRO W6600M (in select countries and mobile workstations)
  • Q3 2021: AMD Radeon PRO W6600 (US$ 649)
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