Tech Bytes: September 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.

Stories about Apple’s newest devices typically dominate September, but other notable nuggets of news have also come out during the month. Check out what they are with September 2021’s Tech Bytes!

Jabra refreshes their wireless earbuds line with the new Elite series

Tech Bytes September 2021: Jabra Elite Series

Jabra is re-establishing their wireless earbuds product line under a slightly different moniker with the launch of their new devices — now known simply as the Elite 3, Elite 7 Active, and Elite 7 Pro.

The Elite 3 is their new entry point wireless earbuds. It comes in four colour schemes, including a special lilac finish for both the earbuds and charging case. Jabra still claims to offer quality audio performance with its 6mm speaker driver and clear call quality from its 4-microphone system despite the lower price point. Additionally, Jabra promises a long 7 hours of battery life and a total of 28 hours with the case, ensuring that the Elite 3 is always at the ready for you.

Jabra’s Elite 7 Active is geared towards sporty individuals. It comes with a new ShakeGrip coating that is designed to give a secure fit during workouts even without the use of wing-tips. The Elite 7 Active also includes an adjustable ANC (active noise cancellation ) that blocks out sound from the gym to keep you in the zone with your music during fitness sessions. Even with ANC, the earbuds are also touted to have a playtime of 9 hours; with 35 hours including the case. Among the three colours, it is launching with is a green mint variation.

Finally, the Elite 7 Pro is Jabra’s absolute best in class device. At the heart of the earbuds is the new MultiSensor Voice feature, delivering what the company defines as ‘ultimate call clarity’ using a combination of a bone conduction sensor, four microphones and algorithms from Jabra. They are set to be the smallest wireless earbuds from Jabra as well, being 16% smaller than the current titleholder, the Jabra Elite 75t — allowing for discreet wearing comfort. It too will feature ANC, with an identical 9 hours battery life and a 35 hours total with the case.

The Elite 3 is currently available for S$128, while the Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro are set to come out on October 15, retailing at S$268 and S$318, respectively.

Sony’s PlayStation Showcase surprises

Tech Bytes September 2021: Wolverine PlayStation

After silence during this year’s E3, Sony finally has come out of the shadows with an online showcase event detailing the big games that will be arriving to the PlayStation 5.

Chief among them is the long-awaited reveal of footage for the sequel to 2018’s God of War, which now confirms the God of War: Ragnarok title and showcases the return of the father-son duo in the icy setting of Fimbulwinter as they face off against Thor. Star Wars fans can also rejoice at the unveiling of Knights of the Old Republic, which is getting a remake for the PS5 by developer Aspyr.

There were also updates for hotly-anticipated games like Ghostwire: Tokyo and Forspoken, but in terms of updates from PlayStation Studios, Insomniac Games had the biggest surprises of the show; not only showing off a look at Spider-Man 2 with the tease of Venom, but also revealing that they are working on another Marvel game — Wolverine. Spider-Man 2 is currently slated to launch in 2023, while Wolverine will ostensibly release after with it still being in early development. 

It was an event that delivered a lot of excitement, but one that still felt like Sony was holding back with the curious absences of some studios from the first-party lineup. There’s no confirmation that there will be another showcase like this for the rest of 2021, but with notable developers from PlayStation Studios yet to show their cards, there is a chance that something might pop up before 2022.

Apple lifts the lid on their new iPhone 13 line

Another year, another iPhone. This time it’s the iPhone 13 — consisting of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini for their regular line, while the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up the prosumer versions.

The regular iPhone 13 line has a slight design tweak compared to its predecessor, going for a diagonal placement for the primary camera, and the front notch has been made smaller. It now comes with the new A15 Bionic chip, which is purported to be faster and more power-efficient than the previous A14. Bigger batteries have also been added, with the Mini garnering an additional 1.5 hours battery life while the iPhone 13 can last 2.5 hours longer. 

The cameras have been included with a larger sensor for the wide camera and now also has the sensor-shift stabilisation technology from last year’s 12 Pro Max. Macro photography is now a feature available for the iPhone 13 lineup, allowing users to get as close as two centimetres away for a detailed focus on a particular subject. Video also receives a new Cinematic Mode feature that enables users to mimic the rack focus effect — that is, to transition focus on the foreground and background seamlessly. 

The Pro lineup has all of the above features from iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini, like better battery life and macro-photography and Cinematic Mode for video. What separates the higher-end iPhone is the long-awaited inclusion of ProMotion for the displays, which give a high 120Hz refresh rate. Depending on what you are viewing, it will intelligently vary its refresh rate to as low as 10Hz to save battery life. The 3-camera system has better zoom capabilities, with a 3x telephoto zoom and a maximum of 6x optical zoom.

The new iPhone 13 lineup is set to launch on September 24 this year. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini will start at S$1,299 and S$1,299, respectively, both having their entry storage capacity bumped up to 128GB. The iPhone 13 Pro begins at S$1,649, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s starting price is S$1,799. Among the colour options for both is the blue colour scheme, with the regular line sporting a navy-like look, while the Pro’s Sierra Blue option is more lighter-toned.

New additions to the Apple Watch Series and iPad family

Tech Bytes September 2021: iPad Mini

Smartphones weren’t the only things on the agenda from Apple. They also unveiled new devices for the Apple Watch Series and iPad.

The new Apple Watch Series 7 comes slightly larger at 41mm and 45mm, and the bezels on the watch face have been slimmed down, which gives the appearance of an edge-to-edge display, allowing for elements on the screen to appear more clearly. An IP6X rating has also been added, meaning that it should be more durable at places like the beach.

The standard iPad is also getting a new 9th generation version, equipped with the A13 Bionic processor, which improves its performance by 20%. It also comes with a new 12MP front camera, which supports the cool Center Stage feature from the iPad Pro.

But the big star is the new iPad Mini. Apple has made it slightly bigger with an 8.3-inch display panel and features rounded corners and smaller bezels from the iPad Air and iPad Pro. The A15 Bionic chip, which grants 40% better CPU performance and 80% faster GPU performance, also has a new 12MP front camera that supports Center Stage. This iPad Mini finally gets USB-C charging, and Touch ID is now done with the top button (since there is no longer a home button). Finally, the second-gen Apple Pencil is supported, and it easily attaches magnetically to the device for safekeeping and charging.

There’s currently no set date for the release of the Apple Watch Series 7, but it will be priced starting at US$399. Both the iPad and iPad Mini have a launch date of 24 September and will be available to purchase at S$499 and S$749, respectively.

Xiaomi adds to their Xiaomi 11 smartphone line

Tech Bytes September 2021: Xiaomi 11 Family

Xiaomi was another company that had something new to say about their smartphones. They introduced three new devices, the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE, Xiaomi 11T, and Xiaomi 11T Pro.

The Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE is about giving users a phone that is ultra-thin and lightweight, but stylish as well through its four colour options — While Truffle Black, Bubblegum Blue, Peach Pink, and Snowflake White. It measures at just 6.81mm in thickness and weighs only 158g, lighter than the upcoming iPhone 13 despite having a larger screen. The 6.55-inch display uses AMOLED and has a 90Hz refresh rate. There’s a triple-camera system at the back, consisting of a 64MP primary camera, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 5MP telemacro camera. Finally, it is equipped with a Snapdragon 778G, which allows 5G connectivity. 

The Xiaomi 11T is geared towards delivering powerhouse camera features. It has a slightly larger 6.67-inch display that does a refresh rate of 120Hz. The camera system uses a whopping 108MP high-resolution wide-angle camera. And it is joined by a 120° ultra-wide-angle and 2x telemacro camera. It however does not have a Qualcomm processor but instead uses a MediaTek Dimensity 1200-Ultra chipset to power it, which Xiaomi claims to be power-efficient. With the 5000mAh battery and the fast 67W turbocharging, battery life looks to be a non-issue as well.

Last but not least, the Xiaomi 11T Pro. It has everything that comes with the Xiaomi 11T and includes its proprietary 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge technology. With it, you can fully charge the phone in just 17 minutes. Qualcomm does return for this phone as well; it comes equipped with the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 processor. The Xiaomi 11T Pro and the 11T have three colour variations: Meteorite Gray, Moonlight White, and Celestial Blue.

The Xiaomi 11T Pro and Xiaomi 11T will be priced at EUR 649 and EUR 499 respectively, while the Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE costs EUR 369. No release date has been announced, but you can expect updates soon for local availability via Xiaomi’s social media channel on Facebook.

Xiaomi returns to tablets with Xiaomi Pad 5

Tech Bytes September 2021: Xiaomi Pad 5

On the larger side of screens, Xiaomi also presented their new Xiaomi Pad 5, their latest tablet device since their last one a few years ago.

It has an 11-inch display that goes up to 120Hz in refresh rate for a silky smooth viewing experience. There’s a quad stereo speaker system with Dolby Atmos support implemented into the tablet to enable louder and crisper audio on the device. It is also powered by the Snapdragon 860, making it more than capable of keeping up with your work or gaming habits. You can combine the Xiaomi Smart Pen for sketching and note-taking in classes, and the 8,720mAh ensures that you don’t have to worry about it dying mid-way when you are out and about.

The Xiaomi Pad 5 has two storage capacities available, 128GB and 256GB. The 128GB version is slated to launch at EUR 349, while the 256GB version will come in at EUR 399. It likewise has no set release date, so do keep an eye out for Xiaomi Singapore’s Facebook page to be updated on when it comes to our shores.

This marks 2021 September’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 October 2021, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Jabra, PlayStation, Apple and Xiaomi.

Russell Matthew Loh

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

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