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.
For gaming, gamescom is one event that is high up on the minds of people. But August 2021 brings with it other nifty bits of info for the tech and gaming community as well! And you can find all the biggest news from the month right here in Tech Bytes.
The ultimate 1080p gaming experience with AMD’s new Radeon RX 6600 XT Graphics Card
Right at the tail end of July, AMD revealed their newest graphics card: the Radeon RX 6600 XT Graphics Card. With 1080p gaming still prevalent, this new GPU aims to deliver the most comprehensive experience for gamers in that resolution.
Utilising AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, the Radeon RX 6600 XT offers 32MB of AMD Infinity Cache and 8GB of GDDR6 memory. With those specs, it promises over 2x the performance over the popular NVIDIA GTX 1060 on some of the biggest gaming titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
The Radeon RX 6600 XT also gives users access to the AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution feature, which helps upscale select game titles to improve performance without sacrificing visual fidelity.
It was officially launched on August 11 for the price of US$379, with ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI, PowerColor, SAPPHIRE, XFX, and Yeston all partnering to provide the graphics card. If you’re looking to push your 1090p gaming experience to the next level, the Radeon RX 6600 XT can be your next upgrade.
Google formally unveils their new Pixel 6 line
Typically, Google is in the habit of announcing a new Pixel phone around October, but they’ve ahead and surprised everyone by revealing the next one a couple of months early.
Enter the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro, the new Pixel lineup from Google. There are some differences between the two phones, with the regular Pixel 6 having a 6.4-inch screen that has a 90Hz refresh rate, while the Pro version uses a 6.7-inch display with a higher 120Hz refresh rate. Plus, the Pixel 6 Pro’s screen is slightly curved at the sides compared to the regular, which is flat.
What these two phones have in common is the new Google Tensor chip inside that powers them. This new chipset will provide advancements to A.I. and Machine Learning, with new features including improvements to photos and videos and subtler details like faster auto-caption and translating speech to text without the internet.
No other details were provided about other specs for the phones, with October ostensibly being the period for that, but Google did showcase what the phones will look like. They will have a new design at the back with a bar housing the cameras stretching along the entire width, and new quirky colour schemes now adorn the phones.
Google has certainly provided some talking points ahead of October, and now we will eagerly await more news when the month arrives.
Samsung unpacks the new Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 foldable phones
Google isn’t the only company making smartphone announcements this month. Samsung revealed the latest devices heading up their foldable phone series — the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy Z Flip3.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 is the flagship between the two, providing the smartphone lifestyle alongside a tablet-like experience. Among the improvements made to the device include the cover screen now running at a refresh rate of 120Hz and IPX8 water resistance being added. A new under-display front camera has been implemented into the Z Fold3 to provide a more immersive big-screen experience as well. Intriguingly, S Pen support has also been added, with a specific version for the phone also created alongside the Z Fold3. It all but confirms the end of Samsung’s Note series.
For the Galaxy Z Flip3, Samsung has seemingly skipped the 2nd generation and has gone straight to 3. It has similar features to its big brother, such as the 120Hz refresh rate for its screen and IPX8 water resistance. When folded, the mini-screen on the front of the phone is now also larger to allow more usability out of it.
Both phones will be available in Singapore come 10 September, with the Galaxy Z Fold3 starting at S$2,398 while Galaxy Z Flip3 has lowered its starting price to S$1,398. Buyers who want the phones a week early can look to telco operators like M1, Singtel and StarHub to pre-order the phones or through consumer electronics stores (Best Denki, Challenger-Hachi, Courts, Gain City and Harvey Norman). Alternatively, you can buy directly from Samsung at the physical Samsung Experience Stores, through their online webstore, or from Lazada and Shopee.
Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Buds2 join the Samsung accessory family
Samsung had more to show beyond their foldable phones. Both the Galaxy Watch4 series and Galaxy Buds2 were announced as the newest additions to Samsung’s smartwatch and wireless earbuds family.
The Galaxy Watch4 series is made out of two smartwatch modes — the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic. The Classic separates itself as the premium option, using better build materials and being a bit larger in watch face size. Samsung proudly reveals that both will be the first smartwatches to feature the new Wear OS made in partnership with Google. That means that popular Google apps like Google Maps are now easily accessible on the watches. Among the new health features is a BioActive Sensor, which detects an irregular heartbeat, blood oxygen levels, and body composition.
The Galaxy Buds2 replaces the Galaxy Buds+ as Samsung’s entry-level wireless earbuds. The big selling point for the earbuds is the inclusion of active noise cancellation (ANC), which used to be only available on the Galaxy Buds Pro. The Galaxy Buds2 also boasts the title of being the smallest and lightest among the wireless earbuds lineup from Samsung. Finally, the earbuds will also come in new colours to best match your style.
Like the foldable phones, the Galaxy Watch4 series and Galaxy Buds2 will be made widely available in Singapore on 10 September. The regular Galaxy Watch4 will start at S$398, while the Classic version will start at S$548. The Galaxy Buds2 will cost S$248. Both devices are available to pre-order for early collection (2 September) at consumer electronics stores (Best Denki, Challenger-Hachi, Courts, Gain City and Harvey Norman) or from Samsung’s physical Experience stores or online (webstore, Lazada and Shopee).
Microsoft brings xCloud to consoles
Before the beginning of gamescom 2021, Microsoft held a special livestream to give updates on everything surrounding Xbox. While there was information on new games and updates to existing and upcoming game titles, the biggest news was perhaps about xCloud.
xCloud is Xbox’s cloud gaming service that allows gamers to stream games to play. Thus far, the service has only been available for mobile devices and PC, but Microsoft has announced that it will finally be arriving for the Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles near the end of the year.
Microsoft is framing this as a service for you to try games before you download. Over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles will be available during the initial stages, and gamers can immediately jump in to try them out without needing to wait for it to download and install onto their systems. But perhaps its best selling point is that you can now play new-gen-only titles on the older Xbox One through streaming.
The Xbox dashboard will be updated to include a cloud icon, and the service will support up to 1080p and 60fps as with the other platforms. If you are an Xbox Insider, you can expect to test out the feature in a few months, with more details to be provided soon.
The biggest announcements from gamescom Opening Night Live
And now to the main event itself. Gamescom opened with a live showing hosted by Geoff Keighley showcasing brand-new reveals and trailers.
Starting off the show was the announcement of a new game in the Saints Row series, which will be a reboot. Simply called Saints Row, it retains the over-the-top nature of the franchise but introduces a new cast of characters that includes your customisable protagonist. The game is set in the fictional Santo Ileso, and you’ll be battling for control of the city as you build your criminal empire. It is currently set to be released on February 25 2022, for current and last-gen console systems in addition to PC.
Following that, there was a reveal of a new Marvel game — Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Made by the developers behind the recent XCOM games, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a tactical RPG in the same vein. It is a game that explores the darker side of the Marvel Universe, and players will take on the role as a customisable original hero in the Marvel Universe called The Hunter, where you’ll teaming up with iconic Marvel characters like Wolverine, Blade and Ghost Rider to fight against the supernatural foe named Lilith, Mother of Demons. It is slated to appear on current and last-gen systems as well as PC, with a release period of March 2022.
Big upcoming game titles also had updates at the show. Xbox’s Halo Infinite has finally gotten a release date, and it is set to come out on December 8 this year. The Xbox Series X and Elite Series 2 controller will also get limited edition designs in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the series and will both launch on November 15.
PlayStation’s big exclusive Horizon Forbidden West also revealed a release date for the game. It will come out on February 18 2022, slightly delayed from its previously planned 2021 release period. To mitigate some disappointment, the original game — Horizon Zero Dawn — has received a patch to allow players to enjoy it at 60fps when they play it on PlayStation 5.
That marks the end of the big announcements from gamescom Opening Night Live, but the event is still set to provide more news throughout its 25 August to 27 August duration. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out.
This marks 2021 August’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 September 2021, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!
Photos of Samsung devices done by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of AMD, Google, Microsoft, and Marvel Games.