Between the Pixel 3, Pixel 4A, Pixel 5 and Pixel 5A, which Google phone makes sense to buy now?
This summer I faced a dilemma: My Google Pixel 3 XL was on its last legs. Its battery was a pale shadow of its former self. Its USB-C port failed to carry a charge half the time. Both sides of the phone, screen and glass back, were a spiderwebbed mess of cracks and chips. And according to Google, the phone wouldn’t be guaranteed more Android updates after October. I needed a new phone, pronto.At the time, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with Google’s new Tensor chip were months away. However, I didn’t really want to wait. And even with Google’s fall launch event behind us, there are always price cuts that draw people to older models. A few months back, my options looked straightforward. Long ago, I’d thrown in my lot with Google’s pure Android platform back in the days of the Nexus 5. Since then I’ve moved on to the original Pixel XL and the Pixel 3 XL. So the thought of switching to an iPhone like the new iPhone 13 was ludicrous. And the idea of using a Samsung Galaxy phone was equally alien.Read more: CNET’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro reviewsMy plan was to go with another Pixel — the problem was choosing which one. Scoring a refurb Pixel 3 XL was one way to go. But there were also the Pixel 4A and Pixel 5. The Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5A with 5G were also interesting options. Confused yet? I don’t blame you. Ultimately though, I settled on the right Pixel for me. If you’re like me and need a Google handset right now, read on. The phone I chose (and why I picked it) may make sense to you, too.Current Pixel phones should get the latest software first.
Straight Android, no chaserAfter I went pure Android, the way Google intended, I could never go back. Duplicate apps and tons of nonremovable bloatware are but a distant memory. Pixel phones are also the first to get Android OS and security updates. That’s not usually the case with Samsung or OnePlus devices. And the fact that I’m a Google Fi cellular subscriber often narrows my phone replacement options. All that makes getting a Pixel, any Pixel, my chosen path.Read more: Google Pixel 6 vs. 6 Pro vs. Pixel 5 vs. 5A and what’s Pixel Pass?It’s time for me to move on from the Pixel 3.
Choice 1: Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XLGoogle no longer officially sells the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL. That said, you can find both models on Amazon. To replace my (then) current Pixel 3 XL (128GB) though, I would have had to shell out $470. Now it costs $452. Regardless, that’s too much to pay for an older processor (Snapdragon 845) and a measly 4GB of RAM. More importantly, Google will end guaranteed software updates soon. That’s why this phone isn’t worth it no matter how much the price has dropped since or may drop in the future.Read more: Google Pixel 3 vs. 3 XLThe Google Pixel 4A.
Choice 2: Pixel 4AThe Pixel 4A comes with the Snapdragon 730G, a better processor than the 3 XL. You also get 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal memory and promised software updates from Google up until August 2023. Not a bad deal for $349 — it’s a compelling option. Still, I could do better.The Google Pixel 5
Choice 3: Pixel 5Representing last year’s ultimate Google-branded Android phone is the Pixel 5. It’s powered by a respectably muscular Snapdragon 765G processor alongside a robust 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. Google will also keep the device’s software fresh until October 2023. Other welcome features include wireless and reverse wireless charging, plus IP68 water and dust protection. The Pixel 5 links to 5G cellular networks, too.Over the summer the cost was $699, which was way too pricey. Now with the arrival of the Pixel 6, the Pixel 5 is priced at an agreeable $449. By comparison the Pixel 6 starts at $599 while the Pixel 6 Pro costs a least $899. Still, paying top dollar last June for the 2020 model would not have been a shrewd move. That’s why I passed on the Pixel 5 back then. At its new lower price though it’s a lot more tempting.The Pixel 4A 5G offers a nice compromise between price, power and potential.
Pixel 4A 5G
Choice 4: Pixel 4A 5GThis is the phone I ultimately selected because it was then a perfect compromise of price, performance and potential. I ordered my Pixel 4A 5G back in June 2021. With the recent launch of the Pixel 6 and price drop of the Pixel 5A, however, all bets are off. More on that below). At the time I was able to snatch a Pixel 4A 5G for $500 through Google Fi. With the same Snapdragon 765G processor as the Pixel 5, 128GB storage and 6GB of RAM, the Pixel 4A 5G also packs a punch. It supports 5G wireless and has a bigger battery than the classic Pixel 4A, too.Google expects to provide Pixel 4A 5G software updates until November 2023. All that made this phone the clear choice for me — until recently. Google has now officially discontinued the 4A 5G and not longer sells the handset.The Google Pixel 5A is a great Android deal.
Choice 5: Pixel 5AWhat a difference a few months makes. Now that Google has unveiled the Pixel 5A and the Pixel 6, my calculus has shifted big time. If I had to choose today, I might get the Pixel 5A 5G. It’s the clear budget Pixel choice. Priced at $449, this new phone is essentially about $50 less than what I paid for the Pixel 4A 5G. Even so, like the Pixel 4A 5G, the 5A comes with a beefy Snapdragon 765G processor. Likewise it’s decked out with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. You also get 5G cellular comparability with the Pixel 5A.What really sets the Pixel 5A apart, at least for now, is its 4,680-mAh battery and 6.34-inch display (2,400×1,080-pixel resolution). Both are bigger than what either the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G offer. Better yet, Google plans to supply the phone with software updates until August 2024. All that currently makes the Pixel 5A the best Pixel deal around.Of course I’m sorely tempted by the new Pixel 6 phones. The $599 starting price for the basic Pixel 6 is more expensive. That said everything about it is superior to the Pixel 5G. Perhaps if I take advantage of Google’s new Pixel Pass and trade in my current Pixel 4A 5G, I could swing it. And boy, that’s a complex topic best left to an entirely new post.
Pixel 5A with 5G: Google surprises us yet again
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For more, here’s how to decide between a Pixel 5, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL, the Pixel 5 vs. the Pixel 4A 5G and the Pixel 5 vs. the iPhone 11, Galaxy S20 FE and OnePlus 8. Plus, six reasons to buy a Pixel and how the Pixel 6 compares to the Pixel 5.
The pandemic changed our relationship with our phones and Samsung’s upgrading accordingly – CNET
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra. Sarah Tew/CNET The COVID-19 pandemic required us to to work, attend school and socialize from home — meaning our tech reached a new level of importance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, the time we spent at home in 2020 gave Samsung plenty of ideas…
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 (left) and Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The COVID-19 pandemic required us to to work, attend school and socialize from home — meaning our tech reached a new level of importance in our lives. Although the lockdowns are over, the time we spent at home in 2020 gave Samsung plenty of ideas for how the smartphone experience could be improved.Those takeaways surface in One UI 4, Samsung’s next major software update, which rolled out earlier this month starting with the Galaxy S21 series.
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“We looked at preexisting features and understood what was receiving more usage because of the pandemic and we reinforced that,” Hyesoon Sally Jeong, Samsung’s vice president and head of framework research and development, told CNET via a translator. The update largely focuses on improving areas like privacy, ease of use, personalization and communication, elements that Samsung noticed had become particularly important as many people began spending more time on their phones during the shutdown period. It’s another example of the broader shift that’s occurred across the tech industry as companies began tailoring their products to facilitate remote work and socialization.Read more: Apple iPhone 14 Max, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and other exciting phones to look out for
One such feature in Samsung’s update is the ability to record audio and video during conference calls, an addition that was inspired by remote learning. “We realized that our users might want to record the audio or video while they have remote interactions with their teachers or students,” Jeong said. “So teachers might want to record the audio or video conference to monitor the lessons or sessions they had taught to students.” But perhaps the biggest change that influenced Samsung’s strategy when designing One UI 4 was the increased amount of time we’ve spent on our smartphones. A recent study published in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal found that screen time doubled among teenagers during the pandemic, not including virtual learning. As such, Samsung is trying to make its smartphones easier to look at for long periods of time with cosmetic updates coming in One UI 4. “In terms of visual design, we made a lot of design-related decisions based on the key principle of comfort,” Hyun Kim, head of Samsung’s core user experience group, also said to CNET via a translator. “Because screen time increased, comfort for your eyes [and] reducing eye fatigue has become more important than ever before.”The company made aesthetic changes to its software such as reducing the number of colors in the user interface and adjusting the size and layout of fonts. It also worked with Google to enable screen dimming that’s darker than what was previously possible when using the phone in low light environments. Samsung’s emoji pair feature — which lets you send two emojis at once — was also sparked by the way we relied on our phones for communicating and socializing in 2020. Read more: Google is still no Samsung, but the Pixel 6 might change everythingSamsung’s software update is just one example of the pandemic’s lasting impact on the way tech companies design and develop their products. That influence can be seen in Apple’s iOS 15 software, too. One of the update’s headlining features is SharePlay, which lets you easily watch movies and TV or listen to music with others over FaceTime. Such functionality would have been particularly handy during the shutdown period when many people were seeking ways to hold virtual movie nights over Zoom. CES 2021 also showcased the best efforts of tech companies to make products that reflected lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic. In addition to Razer’s high-tech face mask and a temperature-taking doorbell, we also saw laptops with better cameras that were seemingly designed for remote work.
Aside from the additions mentioned above, One UI 4 also brings features like a new privacy dashboard, the ability to choose whether to share your precise location with apps, more uniform widgets with rounded corners and more color palettes for customizing your phone’s theme. The software is now available for the Galaxy S21 lineup and will be coming soon to older Galaxy S phones, Galaxy A phones and Samsung’s foldable devices and tablets.
Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21 FE: What we’re expecting from Samsung’s next Galaxy phones – CNET
The Galaxy S21. The rumored Galaxy S22 is expected to be its successor, while the Galaxy S21 FE would be a budget version of the S21. Sarah Tew/CNET It’s been almost a year since Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 lineup, which means it’s likely almost time to see what’s next. Samsung typically announces its main…
The Galaxy S21. The rumored Galaxy S22 is expected to be its successor, while the Galaxy S21 FE would be a budget version of the S21.
It’s been almost a year since Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 lineup, which means it’s likely almost time to see what’s next. Samsung typically announces its main Galaxy S devices in the early part of the year, and we’re also expecting to see another new Galaxy phone in early 2022: the Galaxy S21 FE.If you’re a Samsung fan looking to buy a new phone next year, there’s a good reason why you might find yourself deciding between two devices. The Galaxy S22 is expected to be the successor to the Galaxy S21, meaning it’ll be the least expensive model in Samsung’s new Galaxy S family. And the Galaxy S21 FE will likely be a more budget-friendly version of the Galaxy S21. So both the S22 and the S21 FE are expected to be on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to price.
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There’s likely to be a notable cost difference between them, though. The Galaxy S22 will probably be a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the Galaxy S21 FE, and rumors suggest it’ll include a sharper camera and faster processor to justify that difference. Still, the Galaxy S21 FE might have an edge when it comes to screen size and battery life.Here’s a closer look at what we’re expecting to see based on the rumors. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (rumored) vs. Galaxy S22 (rumored)
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE (rumored)
Samsung Galaxy S22 (rumored)
6.4 AMOLED 2,340 x 1,080; 120Hz refresh rate
6.06 AMOLED FHD+; 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
Qualcomm Snapdragon 898 5G
32-megapixel, 12-megapixel, 8-megapixel
50-megapixel, 12-megapixel, 12-megapixel
Battery and charging
4,3720 mAh capacitiy; fast charging
3,700 mAh capacity; fast charging
128GB or 256GB
6GB or 8GB RAM
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
The Galaxy S22’s screen may be smaller The Galaxy S22 is shaping up to be Samsung’s option for those who prefer a compact phone, similar to the Galaxy S10e. The Galaxy S22 may come with a 6.06-inch screen, according to specifications published by prominent leaker Ice Universe. The Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, is expected to feature a 6.4-inch display, according to information posted on China’s TENAA certification website spotted by MyFixGuide. Both phones are expected to come with display refresh rates that can reach up to 120Hz. If the leaks turn out to be true, the Galaxy S22 will be smaller than both the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20, while the Galaxy S21 FE will fall between the sizes of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus. But the Galaxy S22 could have a higher-resolution main camera The Galaxy S22 is expected to come with a 50-megapixel wide lens, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. That’s according to Twitter leaker Tron, who has a mixed track record when it comes to reporting on unreleased Samsung products. (He correctly said the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would be slimmer than its predecessor, but he also said the Galaxy Z Flip 3 would cost $1,249 even though it starts at $999.99). The Dutch website Galaxy Club, which has been posting a lot of leaks that have yet to be confirmed about the Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy S21 FE, also says the Galaxy S22 will have a 50-megapixel main sensor and a 12-megapixel wide sensor. It also suggests the phone could come with a 10-megapixel front camera.If these rumors turn out to be true, the Galaxy S22 will have a much sharper main sensor than the Galaxy S21 FE, but a slightly less sharp selfie camera. Samsung’s rumored budget phone will reportedly come with a triple-lens camera that includes 32-megapixel, 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel sensors, according to MyFixGuide, which also suggests the Galaxy S21 FE will have a 12-megapixel front camera.
The Galaxy S22 will likely run on a newer and faster processor Performance appears to be one area where the Galaxy S22 could shine over the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung’s next major Galaxy S entry will likely run on the newest Qualcomm smartphone processor. Since the chipmaker is expected to unveil its next-generation smartphone processor during its Snapdragon Summit on Nov. 30, there’s a chance we’ll see this new chip arrive in the Galaxy S22 family. Samsung also makes its own line of Exynos processors, but those chips are usually available only in certain markets — not including the US. And that’s a shame, because the next version of Samsung’s Exynos chip sounds like it could potentially bring a big leap forward in graphics performance. Samsung and AMD are collaborating on a future Exynos chip, which will bring high-end gaming features like ray tracing to Samsung phones. But Samsung and AMD haven’t revealed further details about the chip, such as when it’ll launch or which products it’ll be in.The Galaxy S21 FE, by comparison, is expected to run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, according to MyFixGuide, the same processor that powers the Galaxy S21. That means we can probably expect performance that’s similar to the Galaxy S21, which’ll likely be considered a previous-generation product in the not too distant future.But the Galaxy S21 FE is expected to have a bigger batterySamsung is seemingly focusing on screen size and battery life with its next budget phone. The Galaxy S21 FE is rumored to have a 4,370 mAh battery capacity, according to the MyFixGuide leak. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, is expected to come with only a 3,700 mAh battery, according to leaks from Ice Universe and Galaxy Club. That would make it smaller than the Galaxy S21’s 4,000 mAh battery. But keep in mind that the Galaxy S22 is also rumored to be smaller.In terms of memory and storage, we’re expecting to see 8GB of RAM and 256GB of space. That’s according to a YouTuber called Super Roader, who claims to be a former employee of Samsung’s wireless division. The amount of RAM we could see in the Galaxy S21 FE is less clear. The previously referenced MyFixGuide report suggests it’ll include 8GB of RAM, while a separate report from the same website, based on details that appeared on the Google Play Console, indicate 6GB of RAM. It’s possible the phone will come in two variants, since both MyFixGuide reports say the phone will come in 128GB or 256GB storage options.
The Galaxy S22 will likely be more expensive than the Galaxy S21 FEWe don’t know how much these phones will cost, and we haven’t seen any reports or rumors that provide an indication of price. But based on last year’s pricing pattern, the Galaxy S22 would be about $800 if Samsung takes the same approach as it did with the Galaxy S21 lineup. The Galaxy S20 FE, on the other hand, was priced at $700 at launch, while the standard Galaxy S20 began at $1,000. So the Galaxy S21 FE should be around $300 less expensive than the standard Galaxy S21, which starts at $800. Of course, that’s assuming Samsung retains the same pricing structure as it did with the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 FE.Should you buy the Galaxy S22 or the Galaxy S21 FE?Before a product is actually announced, it’s impossible to know whether you should buy it. Based on the rumors, though, it sounds like the Galaxy S21 FE is ideal for those who prioritize screen size and battery life and staying well below the $1,000 threshold. The Galaxy S22 will likely be better suited for those who want a more premium device with a sharper camera, faster performance and a more pocket-friendly design.
Smart home holiday vacation checklist: Prep your house to be home alone – CNET
The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips…
The appeal of the smart home is, in part, the management and monitoring that can happen while you’re out running errands or at work. Your smart home can perform just as well if you’re gone for days or even weeks, with the right setup.If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, we have the tips you need to leave your smart home home alone with confidence. Read more: The best travel gifts | Best DIY home security systems to buy in 2021The new Amazon Smart Thermostat is currently our top pick for smart home climate control.
Thermostats If you have a smart thermostat, most types will detect that you’re away and offer a way to change the thermostat remotely. After all, that’s probably why you bought the thing in the first place. It’s a nice perk when you’re out for a few hours or a workday. For longer periods of time or for thermostats that include a vacation mode, it’s a good idea to check the threshold settings before an extended absence. These temperatures are the minimum and maximum your system will allow before it kicks in. To save energy, set them to a bit colder and warmer than you would if you were home.
4 ways to deter break-ins with your smart home
Sure, you can adjust the temperature remotely, but the whole idea here is to set it and go. So before you leave, set the temperature ranges on your thermostat so you can save money while keeping your home safe. Read more: Amazon Smart Thermostat review: A steal at $60High and low temperature thresholds save the most energy when they are set closer to the outside temperature than you would probably prefer when at home. However, they should still be safe enough for your home. If you have shades or window coverings, it’s best to lower them in your absence.
Lights and shadesMy parents always left the TV on when we were away so people would think we were home. I thought it was a weird game of pretend as a kid, but now as a homeowner it makes sense. Lighting isn’t a fail-safe protection against intruders, but having your lights or TV set to mimic human activity is a good start. Smart switches and schedules can do just that. Read more: Our review of the Lutron Serena Remote Controlled ShadesA good rule of thumb is that outdoor lights should be on at night and off during the day, while indoor lights should go on and off in different rooms. If you have smart switches, consider creating a schedule based on time of day that replicates what you’d typically do while home. You can also set smart light bulbs to power on and off intermittently. If you have automated window shades, consider setting them to stay down while you’re away. Keeping lights on might deter crime, but leaving your shades open could turn your living room into a window display for a burglar. The Ring Alarm Pro is our top pick for DIY smart home security.
Cameras, doorbells and security systems You have plenty of choices when it comes to both DIY smart home security systems and professionally monitored ones. While they do most of the work for you once they’re out of the box, it’s important to give them a quick status check before you leave. Security settings will differ depending on what products you have.Regardless of brand, it’s a good idea to make sure all the integrated motion sensors, cameras, locks and doorbells have fresh or fully charged batteries and notifications correctly enabled to reach the right emergency contacts. Read more: Our review of the Ring Video Doorbell 4When it comes to cameras and smart doorbells, be sure the lens is free of dirt, cobwebs or decor that might obstruct the view. If you’ve turned down motion sensitivity or set your camera to ignore motion in some areas around your home, now is a good time to put those features back to maximum vigilance. Finally, ensure all notification settings are set to notify the appropriate people at the appropriate times.Be sure detectors and sensors are powered up and ready to notify you in case of an incident.
Environment detectors Leak, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors offer peace of mind every day, and even more so when you’re out of town. Making sure all of these have fresh batteries, a solid Wi-Fi connection, updated apps or firmware and correct notification settings is worth a few minutes of your time before you hit the road. Read more: Smoke detector placement guide: Where and how to install sensorsIf your detectors aren’t connected to a live monitoring service, it’s even more important to get a notification sent to the right mobile device. That way, you can ask a friend or neighbor to check out any suspicious alerts. The iRobot Roomba S9 is our favorite robot helper.
Robot vacuums and other small appliances There are several robot vacuum cleaners out there with some version of a scheduling option. If that’s a feature you use often, turn it off while you’re away. If no one’s home to make messes, the vacuum doesn’t need to run. Plus, if you’ve enhanced the sensitivity of the motion detector portion of your security system, a robot vacuum could trigger false alarms.Read more: Our review of the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 ConnectedYou’ll save battery life and wear and tear on your vacuum by making sure it isn’t running when it doesn’t need to. The same goes for other small appliances that might run on a smart schedule or with smart switches. Run through your list of managed devices to be sure everything is on or off accordingly.
The human element Yes, smart homes are cool. They can do a lot for you on a daily basis, and they keep you connected to home when you’re hundreds of miles away. Still, smart homes aren’t perfect, and it’s a good idea to have one or two very trusted (and tech-savvy) humans keeping an eye on things. Whether it’s sharing a camera feed, security code or plain ol’ house key, knowing someone could physically check on your home if anything looked suspicious will help you travel happier.
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