Tech Bytes: April 2021

Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.

April marks the arrival of spring in many countries worldwide, but this month also sees several big reveals around the tech and gaming industry. See what has been announced right here!

Xiaomi unveils a huge launch lineup for its Mi devices

Tech Bytes: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Xiaomi had just about everything when they held their event right at the end of March. The company had a varied list of products that were set for a global launch, which included the MI Smart Band 6, the latest edition of their Mi Smart Band line with an upgraded 1.56-inch full-screen AMOLED touch display (available at S$65 on April 25) and a new projector system — the Mi Smart Projector 2 Pro — that has FHD and HDR10 support and adjusts up to 120-inches.

But the biggest announcement of the event was the reveal of their new Mi 11 smartphone series: the Mi 11 Ultra, Mi 11i and Mi 11 Lite.

The Mi 11 Ultra is their most powerful smartphone yet. It comes with the latest Snapdragon 888 processor and is equipped with the largest camera sensor on the market, the GN2, which helps bring night shots to another level. It comes as part of a triple-camera system that includes two 48MP lenses for zoom and ultra-wide shots. The most exciting feature yet is the secondary 1.1-inch AMOLED display on the camera module, which shows information like notifications and can also be used as a selfie mirror. 

The Mi 11i is very similar to the Ultra, equipped with the same processor and 120Hz display. Though it does not have a special camera module display or a large sensor, its cameras are still very capable. It also has a triple-camera setup, with the primary camera being 108MP and the ultra-wide comes in 8MP, with the last one being a 5MP telemacro camera.

Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Lite completes the set. The smartphone uses a Snapdragon 780G processor and is fitted with a 90Hz capable 6.55-inch AMOLED display. Another triple-camera system is used here: a 64MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP telemacro camera. The model has both a 5G and 4G option, with the 5G having an improved selfie camera over the 4G version. The Mi 11 Lite is available now in Singapore, coming in for $429.

Dell goes AMD for Alienware

Tech Bytes: Dell AMD

Alienware is recognised as a gaming powerhouse, and the name is also synonymous with the Intel brand. But that is set to change soon.

They have unveiled that their new laptop will be outfitted with an AMD processor, a first in over a decade. Dubbed the m15 Ryzen Edition R5, the laptop can be customised with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 mobile processors in addition to having the latest RTX 30-series GPUs. There are options for panels to support smooth gameplay as well, with a choice of a 1440p 240Hz panel or a 1080p 360Hz one. 

Alongside the new Alienware laptop, Dell also has their own AMD system. Likewise, the Dell G15 Ryzen Edition can be equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5000 mobile processor, which goes with an RTX 3060 GPU. You also have the choice of either a 120Hz or 165 Hz Full HD display, with a 360Hz variant coming later.

Both laptops will be making their way to Singapore in early May, with prices to be announced at a later date. Be sure to keep an eye out! 

LG closes shop on their phone business

Tech Bytes: LG Phone Concept CES

You may or may not have known or even cared about LG’s smartphone products, but this set of news is sad nonetheless.

LG has announced that its mobile business unit will be closing. It will exit the mobile phone sector, focusing its attention on other business areas such as their display, smart home and robotics divisions.

Consumers in Singapore will be unable to purchase an LG phone with authorised retailers because they no longer have inventory. Those who currently have an LG phone can still expect to receive service support by LG Singapore, but OS updates will no longer arrive.

With the wind-down expected to be completed to be by 31 July, it marks the end of an era for LG, who has been in the phone business for over a decade. Just a few months prior, the company teased a phone with a rollable display at CES 2021. Now, we’ll only be able to dream of the potential it might have had.

Samsung introduces a Galaxy Free Trial programme

Tech Bytes: Samsung Galaxy Trial

Foldable phones are still very much in the niche space, with their expensive price tag making it difficult to justify a purchase. Well, now Samsung is hoping to help make that decision process a little easier.

A Galaxy Free Trial programme has been launched by Samsung Singapore, where consumers interested in the company foldable devices can come and try them out before choosing whether to buy them.

For seven days, interested parties can get up close and personal with either the Galaxy Z Flip 5G or the Galaxy Z Fold2. All they have to do is book a slot online and collect the phone at a Samsung Experience Store on their selected date, returning the device at no cost once the trial period is over.

Should customers be satisfied with the product, they can choose to buy one upon the return date. As a special offer, Samsung is giving a free Galaxy Watch3 BT for every purchase of the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G.

So if you’ve been in two minds over Samsung’s foldable phones, you can now try them out for yourself and see if they are indeed worth the flex.

Sony reverses PS3 and PS Vita Online Store Closure

Sony PlayStation Logo

It’s been a month of ups and downs with PlayStation. As the PlayStation 5 rides high in the sales charts, its success has seemingly meant that its legacy devices are in the dirt in the eyes of Sony. And that was pretty much confirmed right as March was about to end.

On 29 March 2021, the company announced that the PlayStation Store for the PSP, PS3 and PS Vita were to be closed, with the PSP to do so on 2 July while PS3 and PS Vita will close later on 27 August this year.

This meant that users would be unable to make new purchases of games or in-game items on these online stores, though they still will be able to re-download any games that they have previously purchased online.

Fans became upset when news of this dropped, sparking debates on game preservation as certain games would become lost forever once the stores closed as they were only available digitally. Developers were also let down by this procedure as they were not informed of this beforehand, hampering plans to release their games on the platform.

Recently however, Sony has reversed the decision and will no longer be closing the stores down on those dates, at least for the PS3 and PS Vita. The PSP’s online store will still be saying goodbye on 2 July 2021. 

PS3 and PS Vita will no doubt eventually sail into the sunset, but for now, these devices will continue to live on. If this situation has shown anything, gaming fans do have the power to make a change. 

Apple announces their all-new iPad Pros with M1

Tech Bytes: 2021 iPad Pro

Apple’s made their first major appearance of the year with their Spring Loaded event, which had a slew of announcements come out of it. These included changes to the Podcast app, a new purple variant for the iPhone 12 and Mini, a refreshed Apple TV 4K  and a new Airtags product which helps you find the items you commonly misplace.

The two big reveals of the event were, however, the all-new iMacs and iPad Pro. First up was the iMacs, which have been given a new design. The iMacs are now in their thinnest form yet — measuring in at only 11.5-inches in thickness — and arrives with seven bright colour variants to choose from. 

Chief to making that form factor possible is the inclusion of Apple’s revolutionary M1 chip, which also brings more powerful performance to the all-in-one PC. Other changes implemented were narrower bezels to its 24-inch display in line with Apple’s other products and an upgraded 1080p camera and mic for better video calls. The magic keyboard will also feature Touch ID for the first time.

But the iMac isn’t the only one getting the M1 chip. The new iPad Pro is joining the party and will likewise receive improvements to their performance close to their laptop counterparts. The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro will also feature a new Mini LED display called Liquid Reina XDR, enabling a one million-to-one contrast ratio and up to 1,000 nits of brightness. 

Both devices are expected to release in the second half of May, with the iMacs starting at S$1,849 while the iPad Pros are priced starting at S$1,199 and S$1,649 for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch, respectively. 

This marks 2021 April’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundup gives you a little insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in May 2021, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Xiaomi Singapore, Dell SG, LG Singapore, Samsung Singapore, PlayStation Asia and Apple.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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