Galaxy S21 vs. Pixel 5: Which Android phone should you buy? – CNET

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy S21 is here, and it's a solid all-round Android device. But the S21 is isn't the only phone around with excellent cameras, a crisp display and dependable batteries. The S21 has joined the likes of the iPhone 12, Mi 11, and the Pixel 5 in an increasingly crowded playing field. 

For the purposes of this article, I'll pit the S21 against the Pixel, but you can read CNET's comparisons between the S21 and iPhone 12 and our coverage of Xiaomi's Mi 11, if you're interested. Here are the key differences to factor into your buying decision if you've been eyeing the Pixel 5 and the S21.

Samsung and Google dropped prices of their phones

Samsung and Google have both figured out that selling $1,000 phones is more challenging in this pandemic-ravaged global economy. And both companies have rightly slashed prices. 

The Galaxy S21 starts at $800 (£769, about AU$1,030), allowing you to buy into the popular Galaxy S line at $300 less than last year's S20 line. Google, for its part, dropped the Pixel 5's price by $100 to $699 (£599, AU$999). It also scaled back on some features, marking a departure from the pricier Pixel phones of years past.

Does the S21 have a better camera than the Pixel 5? 

I can't make an outright call on which device has the better camera since CNET hasn't done a shootout comparing the two. What I can say is that you'll get a more versatile range of shots with the S21. That's because the S21 has three lenses: a telephoto lens for zooming in to faraway subjects, an ultrawide lens for capturing sweeping landscapes and a third standard lens for pretty much everything else. 

Google got rid of the telephoto lens that we saw on the Pixel 4, replacing it with an ultrawide camera on the Pixel 5, which is accompanied by a standard lens. Because of that, the 21 lacks optical zoom, and instead depends on digital zoom that maxes out at 7x. For specific numbers on the camera, scroll down to the specs chart. 

Does the S21 have a faster processor than the Pixel 5?

Yes. The S21 runs on Qualcomm's newest and fastest Snapdragon 888, which features a 5G modem on the same chip as the brains along with blazing-fast performance. As mentioned earlier, Google took a midrange approach to 2020's Pixel 5, and one way it did that was via the chipset. The Pixel 5 runs on a midrange chipset known as the Snapdragon 765G (the G stands for gaming). Last year's fastest Qualcomm processor is the Snapdragon 865. Although you might notice a difference in performance between the two processors, the Snapdragon 765G is still powerful enough that'll you'll sail through everyday tasks without a hitch.

Any other differences I should know?

The Pixel 5 is a lighter phone and it has a USB-C connector, a feature that's absent on the S21. The S21 no longer has a charging brick either, as Samsung urges its customers to reuse older accessories in the name of the environment. For the rest of the specs, take a look at the chart below.

Google's Pixel 5 vs. Samsung's Galaxy S21

Pixel 5 Galaxy S21
Display size, resolution 6-inch FHD Plus OLED (2,340x1,080 pixels) 6.2-inch FHD Plus AMOLED  (2,400x1,080 pixels)
Pixel density 432ppi 421ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.7x2.8x0.3 in 2.80x5.97x0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 144.7x70.4x8.0 mm 71.2x151.7x7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.33 oz; 151g 6.03 oz; 171g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 11
Camera 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video capture 4K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 765G Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit Octa-Core Processor 2.8GHz (Max 2.4GHz and 1.8GHz)
Storage 128GB 128GB/256GB
Expandable storage None None
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Rear In-screen
Headphone jack USB-C No
Special features 5G enabled; water resistant (IP68); 90Hz refresh rate display; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); reverse wireless charging; fast charging IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30X Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging
Price off-contract (USD) $699 $800 (128GB)
Price (GBP) £599 £769
Price (AUD) AU$999 Converts to ~AU$1,030 from USD

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Huawei’s new Mate X2 foldable has Galaxy Fold-style screen – CNET


Huawei unveils the Chinese version of its foldable Mate X2. 

Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Huawei showed off its third-gen foldable, the Mate X2, on Monday in its native China, setting up a head-to-head battle with Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 2 there. The launch comes as the future of Huawei's smartphone business hangs in the balance amid tough US sanctions.

As rumoured, the Mate X2 has an inward-folding screen that opens and shuts like a book, extending into an 8-inch screen when unfurled. It diverges from the original design of the Mate X, which has a front-facing single screen that folds outward. The Mate X2 also has four rear cameras, a 4,500-mAh battery, a 55-watt fast charger and a dual stereo speaker system that promises better bass. 

Huawei's signature chipset, the Kirin 9000 5G, (surprisingly) appears in its newest flagship amid toughened US sanctions. The round of sanctions, leveled by the Trump administration last March, took aim at Huawei's global chip supply, eventually leaving the Chinese telecom with limited inventory of its self-designed chipset. Last year's Mate 40 series was reported to be the last of Huawei's flagship phones to run on the Kirin lineup of processors, which are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co using the cutting-edge 5-nanometer process. 

The Mate X2 will also be the first commercial phone to run on its own operating system, HarmonyOS, starting April as Huawei replaces the watered-down version of Google Mobile Services from its devices.

There's no word on whether the Mate X2 is slated for an international launch, but in China there will be two variants: a 256GB model and a 512GB model, which cost 17,999 yuan (converts to $2,780, £1,980, AU$3,525) and 18,999 yuan (converts to approximately $2,970, £2,090, AU$3,725) respectively.

Key Specs

Display: 6.45-inch OLED, 2,700x1,160 pixels (closed), 8-inch OLED, 2,480x2,200 pixels (open)
Rear Camera: 50-megapixel (main sensor), periscope telephoto, ultra-wide lens, telephoto lens
Front: Ultra-wide camera
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Aspect ratio: 8:7:1
Colors: Blue, pink, white, black
Special features: Dual sim, dual speakers, 10x optical zoom, foldable display 

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Oppo’s fancy Find X3 smartphone may have leaked online – CNET


A purported image of the Oppo Find X3 family leaked on Twitter.

Jon Prosser

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is gearing up for a March launch of its fancy next-generation flagship handset, according to noted leaker Jon Prosser.

Prosser posted an image Tuesday on Twitter of four phones, purporting to be Oppo's the Find X3, Find X3 Pro, Find X3 Neo, and Find X3 Lite, along with a caption revealing an apparent March 11 announcement date and April 14 shipment date. The Find X3's "squircle" camera bump, which appears to house four lenses, drew immediate comparisons to the pro models of Apple's iPhone 12 line.

"Everyone's gonna start with the iPhone copy comments now but at least it looks different and kinda cool. Definitely seems sleek as well," said leaker Ishan Agarwal.

"I like companies trying something new and different instead of just copying Apple," wrote another Twitter user.

Oppo isn't shy about releasing gadgets that draw heavy design inspiration from Apple's iconic products. Last year's Oppo Watch was all but a clone of the Apple Watch, from its gently curve display, removable silicone straps, and even its white packaging.


Last spring, Oppo launched its flagship Find X2 lineup.

Érika García / CNET

Oppo isn't a household name in the US, but the Chinese company is one of the largest smartphone makers in the world. It's emerged as a threat to Apple in recent years, offering features such as no-notch displays and under-the-glass sensors that aren't found on the iPhone. 

A spokesperson for Oppo didn't immediately respond to a CNET request for comment.

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Facebook accidentally blocks own page during Australian news takedown – CNET

Facebook social media app
James Martin/CNET

Facebook's sudden decision to restrict people in Australia from reading and sharing news on Thursday yielded an ironic consequence for the social media giant. 

According to multiple reports, Facebook accidentally restricted its own Facebook page on Thursday in Australia, before restoring it later in the day. An Australian journalist posted a screenshot on Twitter capturing the Facebook page in its limited state, showing a missing cover photo and a barren timeline with only the words "No posts yet." Facebook didn't respond to a CNET request for confirmation. 

Read more: Facebook pulled news in Australia. Here's why that matters everywhere.

But this wasn't the the only unintentional outcome that arose from Facebook's sweeping news restrictions. The social media giant inadvertently blocked several Australian government pages including two official health agencies, cutting access to this health information amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some publications are blank not just in Australia, but around the world. 


Facebook's page in Australia restored.

Screenshot by Nicole Archer/CNET

Facebook began restricting people in Australia from viewing and sharing news Thursday in response to the government's proposed legislation. Known as the News Media Bargaining Code, it requires Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for their content, to which the companies link on their respective platforms.

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iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra: Apple and Samsung’s luxe phones compared – CNET

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra have arrived, representing the crown jewels in Apple and Samsung's respective flagship lines. Each device is stacked with the top-of-the-line features reserved for smartphone royalty: blazing-fast processors, crystalline displays, versatile cameras and long-lasting batteries. 

As expected, neither comes cheap. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will set you back  $1,100 (£1,329, AU$1,849) and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is $1,200 (£1,099, AU$1,849). You won't find a bundled charger inside either box.

It's clear both Apple and Samsung have outdone themselves, but the phone that's best for you will depend on your individual wants and needs. Let's talk through the major features and compare the key specs. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Galaxy S21 Ultra has superior zoom, iPhone 12 Pro Max captures more true-to-life images

Both the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Galaxy S21 Ultra take some of the best mobile photographs that money can buy. Each boast excellent cameras capable of capturing sweeping landscapes, detailed faraway subjects and impossibly crisp images, even on dark nights. But the S21 Ultra produced superior zoomed-in shots, while the iPhone captured the most realistic images, according to CNET's Andrew Hoyle, a professional photographer who conducted a comprehensive shootout with both phones. When it came to night mode, his tests indicated no clear winner.

Keep in mind, the iPhone 12's Pro models also have lidar, a depth sensor that's useful for auto-focusing in low light for taking photos, videos and slow-motion footage, among other things. 


The Galaxy S21 Ultra (seen in black) features a quad rear camera module.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Camera counts compared

The iPhone 12 Pro Max has three rear cameras consisting of a standard, ultra-wide and telephoto, while the S21 Ultra has an extra telephoto lens making a total of four rear cameras. On the front, the S21 Ultra has a higher-res camera than the 12 Pro Max. For specifics, scroll down to our chat below. 

Long-lasting battery life 

Apple doesn't disclose battery size for its iPhones, and stuck to the same approach for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But CNET's Patrick Holland, who reviewed the device, calls the the 12 Pro Max's battery its "sleeper feature." According to his tests, the battery made it through a day and a half without a problem. More specifically, when Patrick played a looped video on airplane mode, the iPhone 12 Pro Max lasted 19 hours and 52 minutes, close enough to the 20 hours of performance for this test that Apple has advertised. Meanwhile, a 5,000-mAh battery supplies the S21 Ultra with juice. We haven't had a chance to put it through the video loop test, but anecdotally it also lasted Patrick a day and half. 

Galaxy S21 Ultra has a higher-resolution display

Although both phones feature premium OLED panels that are wonderfully crisp, the S21 Ultra has the edge in terms of resolution and refresh rate. The S21 Ultra has a wide quad-HD-plus resolution (3,200x1,440 pixels) and a 120 Hz display. The iPhone 12 Pro Max's screen is 2,778x1,284 pixels and has a 60Hz refresh rate, matching the iPhone 11 display. 

The S21 Ultra also has a variable refresh rate between 10 and 120Hz, which is determined by what's on the screen. The number of hertz a phone screen is able to display refers to its number of frames per second, which determines how fast and smooth the screen feels when you're scrolling through apps and web pages. It also affects how smooth supported games feel. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max has MagSafe, S21 Ultra has stylus support

Apple and Samsung both have unique add-on accessories that, if used, can change your day-to-day experience with the devices. The S21, for example, supports Samsung's S Pen stylus, which blurs the line between the S series and the more pro Note series. It's great for things like note-taking, drawing and signing documents. 

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, along with its three siblings, have MagSafe, Apple's proprietary magnetically enabled system that lets you charge your iPhone wirelessly and attach MagSafe accessories to the back of the device.

For a spec-by-spec comparison of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, take a look at the specs sheet below. 

iPhone 12 Pro Max vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra specs

Galaxy S21 Ultra Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Display size, resolution 6.8-inch WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 3,200x1,440 pixels 6.7-inch OLED; 2,778x1,284 pixels
Pixel density 515 ppi 458ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.97x6.5x0.35 inches 6.33x3.07x0.29 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 75.6x165.1x8.9 mm 160.8x78.1x7.4 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 8.07 oz; 229 grams 8.03 oz; 228 grams
Mobile software Android 11 iOS 14
Camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (3x telephoto), 10-megapixel (10x telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 40-megapixel 12-megapixel
Video capture 8K 4K
Processor Snapdragon 888 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz) Apple A14 Bionic
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAM 12GB, 16GB Undisclosed
Expandable storage None No
Battery 5,000 mAh Undisclosed
Fingerprint sensor In-screen No (Face ID)
Headphone jack No Lightning
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 10x optical zoom Lidar scanner; 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Price off-contract (USD) $1,200 (128GB) $1,099 (128GB), $1,199 (256GB), $1,399 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £1,329 £1,099 (128GB), £1,199 (256GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,849 AU$1,849 (128GB), AU$2,019 (256GB), AU$2,369 (512GB)

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3 major changes Samsung made to the Galaxy S21 to get that $200 price cut – CNET

Samsung Galaxy S21
Drew Evans/CNET

Samsung's much-awaited Galaxy S21 lineup arrived in January -- and the standout feature isn't found on its software or hardware. It's its price tag. The next-gen flagship lineup starts at $800 (£769, AU$1,249) for the baseline Galaxy S21, rises to $1,000 (£949, AU$1,549) for the Galaxy S21 Plus, and maxes out at $1,200 (£1,149, AU$1,849) for the Galaxy S21 Ultra, representing a $200 price cut for the trio of models from last year's S20 family.

Samsung promises its new S21 lineup works better than its predecessors, despite its cheaper price tag. But Samsung is a publicly listed business after all, and it needed to make a bunch of calculated compromises to allow the S21 to hit that lowered price, even if component costs are trending lower. Here are a few ways Samsung did exactly that.

Read more: The best phone to buy for 2021

1. Removed bundled charger and earphones

One of the most controversial omissions is the in-box wall adapter and earphones. Samsung is pushing its customers to reuse older accessories in the name of the environment, just like Apple did with the iPhone 12 family. Samsung has been using standardized USB-C type charging ports since 2017, so older chargers will still be compatible with the S21 phones.

Now playing: Watch this: We review the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and its bonkers cameras


2. Memory, storage and resolution reduced or eliminated

The S21 line also lost expandable local storage, joining last year's Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Z Flip foldables in ditching the microSD card slot because "usage has markedly decreased," according to the company. One of the other trade-offs getting less attention is: a reduction in RAM on the base S21 (it has 4GB less RAM than the S20); the reduction of the screen resolution (by half) on the S21 and S21 Plus.

3. S21 phone loses glass backing

For its base S21, Samsung replaced the Gorilla Glass from the back with a high-end plastic called polycarbonate, going in the direction of its more pro Note 20 line. The S20 Plus and Ultra however, each have Victus glass on both the front and back.  

If you need more details, read CNET's Galaxy S21 review for more or take a look at our specs chart below.

Samsung Galaxy S21 lineup vs. S20 lineup

Galaxy S21 Galaxy S20 Galaxy S21 Plus Galaxy S20 Plus Galaxy S21 Ultra Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x, (2,400x1,080 pixels) 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (3,200x1440 pixels) 6.7-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x, (2,400x1,080 pixels) 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X (3,200x1,440 pixels) 6.8-inch Edge WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, (3,200x1,440 pixels) 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X (3,200x1,440 pixels)
Pixel density 421 ppi 563 ppi 394 ppi 525 ppi 515 ppi 511 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.80x5.97x0.31 inches 2.72x5.97x0.31 inches 2.97x6.35x0.3 inches 2.9x6.37x0.30 inches 2.97x6.5x0.35 inches 2.99x6.57x0.35 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 71.2x151.7x7.9mm 69.1x151.7x7.9 mm 75.6x161.5x7.8 mm 73.7x161.9x7.8 mm 75.6x165.1x8.9 mm 76.0x166.9x8.8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.03 oz; 171g 5.75 oz; 163g 7.12 oz; 202g 6.56 oz; 186g 8.07 oz; 229g 7.76 oz; 220g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 10 Android 11 Android 10 Android 11 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (3x telephoto), 10-megapixel (10x telephoto) 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), time-of-flight camera
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K 8K 8K 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz + 1.8GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5GHz + 2GHz) Snapdragon 888 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz+1.8GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5GHz + 2GHz) Snapdragon 888 64-bit octa-core processor 2.8GHz (max 2.4GHz + 1.8GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5GHz + 2GHz)
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB 128GB/256GB 128GB/512GB 128GB/256GB/512GB 128GB/512GB
RAM 8GB 12GB (5G), 8GB (LTE) 8GB 12GB (5G), 8GB (LTE) 12GB, 16GB 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage None Up to 1TB None Up to 1TB None Up to 1TB
Battery 4,000 mAh 4,000 mAh 4,800 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No No No No No
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 10x optical zoom 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; 100X zoom; water resistant (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $800 (128GB) $999 $1,000 (128GB) $1,199, $1,349 $1,200 (128GB) $1,399 (128GB), $1,599 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £769 £799, £899 (5G) £949 £999 (5G) £1,329 £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,249 AU$1349 (4G), AU$1,499 (5G), AU$1,549 AU$1,499 (4G), AU$1,649 (128GB), AU$1,899 (512GB) AU$1,849 AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

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Huawei founder confident of company’s ability to survive, report says – CNET

Huawei Founder Breaks Silence To Deny Spying
Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said Tuesday he's confident the company will be able to endure current difficulties and survive, according to a Reuters report, in his first remarks since US President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Ren said Huawei clocked positive growth for revenue and net profit last year and continues to witness "significant levels of confidence from its customers," the report said.

Ren was speaking at a the sidelines of an event in the northern Chinese city of Taiyun, where the company launched a 5G mining project. 

The comments from the 76-year-old founder, which are his first public remarks since last February, come as Huawei's mobile business struggles amid pressure from US sanctions levelled under the Trump administration. In the final quarter of 2020, Huawei's mobile shipments plunged by 41% to 33 million, according to January report by Counterpoint Research, sending Huawei, once the world's number one smartphone manufacturer, tumbling down to sixth place in global rankings.

Huawei didn't immediately respond to a CNET request for comment.

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Xiaomi’s Mi 11 flagship comes with a 55W charger in the box – CNET

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

The Mi 11 is Xiaomi's inaugural global flagship for this year and it's a phone for a "new generation of movie lovers," whatever that means. It has a 6.5-inch OLED display, and houses Qualcomm's newest Snapdragon 888 chipset, and with a 120 Hz display that features a peak brightness of 1,500 nits, it might just be the brightest phone available yet. 

I spent a couple of days with the Mi 11 ahead of its global launch on Monday, and it delivered a solid all-round experience packed in a sleek device with premium build quality. From the bright display, long-lasting battery life, dependable cameras, zippy processor to its exceptional speaker system, this is Xiaomi's latest tour de force. The Mi 11 is missing an IP rating for water- and dust-resistance, however Xiaomi says the device is splash-proof just like its predecessor.


Xiaomi's Mi 11

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Ofcourse we still have to wait for Xiaomi to reveal pricing, which hasn't been disclosed as of this writing, before we can understand the complete package and write a review. This is the international version of a phone released in China a couple of months ago, where it fetched 3,999 yuan which converts to approximately $610, £440 or AU$790. But note that Xiaomi tends to bump up its prices for Western markets.

Xiaomi has no current plans to bring the Mi 11 stateside, and this is unlikely to change any time soon considering its ongoing legal tussle with the US government. As of this writing, Xiaomi revealed only a single device as part of the Mi 11 series, but I expect at least one more model in the form of Mi 11 Pro based on the company's past launches. Last year, Xiaomi debuted the Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro and Mi 10 Ultra. 


Xiaomi's Mi 11 comes with a 55W charger. 

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Plenty of bundled accessories

When Xiaomi launched the Mi 11 in China, it followed Apple and Samsung's example and didn't include a wall adapter. It's putting its best foot forward for international markets, though, and this global version comes with a 55-watt wired charger, a USB-C adapter and one case, though the media kit I received contained two.

Take that, Apple (and Samsung).

Xiaomi also took an opportunity to make what I think is a thinly veiled jab against Huawei, which was famously banned from using Google apps including Gmail and Google following US sanctions levelled by the Trump administration. On the side panel of the box, you'll see, "with easy access to the Google apps you use most" inscribed.


The Mi 11 features a 120Hz display.

What Xiaomi changed in the Mi 11 

The Mi is Xiaomi's main flagship line, as opposed to its budget Redmi and Poco sub-brands. Last year's phone, the Mi 10, also served up many top-shelf specs like a smooth display and fast charging, but here's what the Mi 11 changes.

  • Three cameras on the rear --- as opposed to four in the Mi 10 --  and a reshuffled rear camera module.
  • Bumped up wireless charging support to 50W compared to 30W in the Mi 10 line.
  • Improved display: Higher resolution and speedier refresh rate.
  • Codeveloped speaker system with Harmon and Kardon.
  • Faster processor.
  • Lighter than the Mi 10.

For more details on what Xiaomi changed, scroll down to CNET's specs chart below.

The Mi 11's 3 rear cameras

The Mi 11 boasts a revamped camera bump taking the form of a "squircle" and a reshuffled camera array consisting of three rear lenses: a 108-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 13-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera and a 5-megapixel telemacro lens, which is the equivalent of a 55mm lens. Xiaomi ditched the macro and depth lenses seen in the Mi 10 in favor of what Xiaomi calls a "telemacro" lens in the Mi 11. Keep in mind that that absence of a telephoto lens in the Mi 11 means that all zoom is digital. 

Flip the phone around, and you'll see a barely there notch on the upper left of the display that houses a 20-megapixel selfie camera. Take a look at the pictures below to see the cameras in action.


The Mi 11's ultrawide-angle camera with a 123 degree field of view is useful for taking landscape photos.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Taken in bright lighting conditions using main camera.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

This was taken indoors but with sunlight pouring in through the windows. 

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Taken with the ultra-wide camera. Scroll down to see the level of detail the macro lens captures.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Taken on default settings.

Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Taken using the telemacro lens on Super Macro mode.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Example of 30x zoom.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

Taken with the Mi 11's 20-megapixel front-facing camera.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

The Mi 11 runs on Snapdragon 888

Under the hood, the Mi 11 carries Qualcomm's newest Snapdragon 888 chipset backed by 8GB RAM and 128GB or 256 GB of storage, making it a bona fide powerhouse. You probably won't notice an immediate difference from a Snapdragon 865 processor, which is already blazing fast, but Qualcomm promises 25% to 35% better CPU and GPU performance with the 888.


The Mi 11's 108-megapixel main shooter is accompanied by an ultra-wide and "telemacro" lens.

Sareena Dayaram/CNET

The Mi 11's flagship-level display and solid batteries

The Mi 11 boasts a stunning waterfall screen complete with an 6.5-inch OLED panel that's exceptionally bright and clear whatever the lighting conditions. With a peak brightness of 1500 nits, the Mi 11 might just be the brightest phone available yet. In addition, the Mi 11 has wide quad HD plus resolution (3,200x1,440 pixels) and 120Hz refresh rates, which can be used together or dialed back a notch if you're trying to preserve battery life. Most phones have refresh rates of 60Hz, which means the screen refreshes 60 times in a second. 120Hz displays can look a lot smoother when scrolling though webpages by comparison. There's also an in-screen fingerprint reader, which Xiaomi says doubles up as a heart-rate sensor. 

The battery lasted me about a day and half with mild use. That means I made a few calls, sent some emails, watched a couple of YouTube videos and browsed the internet. Even when you eventually run out of juice, refilling the Mi 11's 4,600-mAh battery is relatively quick work thanks, in part, to that 55-watt wired charger I mentioned earlier. Based on my tests, 15 to 20 minutes of time was sufficient to recharge the battery by 50% to 60%. Within 50 minutes, the battery had been completely revitalized. Safe to say that battery anxiety will be a thing of the past when you're using the Mi 11. Keep in mind, the Mi 11 also supports 50W of wireless and reverse-wireless charging. 

Mi 11's loud and crisp speakers

One of the features that stood out in last year's Mi 10 Pro was a pleasantly loud and crisp speaker system complete with one speaker on each end of the phones. This year Xiaomi says it has levelled up its speaker game by refining its audio experience together with Harman Kardon, a decades-old audio equipment manufacturing company. I'm no audiophile, but I was impressed by the audio quality on the Mi 11 even if it isn't the loudest set of mobile speakers out there. Still, the speakers were loud enough, and audio remained crisp even when I cranked the volume all the way up. Plus it has a tight bass to boot. 

Mi 10 vs. Mi 10 Pro vs. Mi 11

Mi 10 Mi 10 Pro Xiaomi Mi 11
Display size, resolution 6.67-inch AMOLED, 2,340x1,080 pixels (Full HD) 6.67-inch AMOLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels (Full HD) 6.81-inch AMOLED 3,200x1,440 pixels (WQHD plus)
Pixel density 386ppi 386ppi 515ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.4x3x0.35 in 6.4x3x0.35 in 6.4x2.9x0.32 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 162.58x74.80x8.96mm 162.58x74.80x8.96mm 164.3x74.6x8.06mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 208 grams 208 grams 196 grams
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 108-megapixel (primary), 13-megapixel (ultrawide), 2-megapixel (macro) , 2-megapixel (depth) 108-megapixel (primary), 20MP (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (telephoto), 8-megapixel (telephoto) 108-megapixel (wide), 13-megapixel (ultra-wide), 5-megapixel (telemacro)
Front-facing camera 20-megapixel 20-megapixel 20-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon 888
Storage 256GB 256GB 128GB/256GB
Expandable storage None None None
Battery 4,780 mAh (30W wired and wireless charging)  4,500 mAh (50W wired, 30W wireless charging) 4,600 mAh (55 wired, 50W wireless charging )
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack None None None
Special features 30W wired and wireless charging, dual stereo speakers,5G enabled, reverse wireless charging 50W wired, 30W wireless charging, dual stereo speakers ,5G enabled, reverse wireless charging, 90 Hz 5G enabled, 120Hz display, dual stereo speakers, 55W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, 10W reverse wireless dual SIM
Price off-contract (USD) starting at 799 euros, converts to $960 starting at 999 euros, converts to about $1,200 (8GB RAM/256 GB) N/A
Price (GBP) £700 converted £880 converted N/A
Price (AUD) AU$1,250 converted AU$1,570 converted N/A

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Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi sues US government over investment ban – CNET


Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi has filed a lawsuit against the US government over Donald Trump's decision to place it on a blacklist, which blocks Americans from investing into the company over its suspected ties to the Chinese military. 

The former US President, in the final days of his presidency, designated Xiaomi along with at least eight other Chinese firms as Communist Chinese military companies  (CCMC) -- meaning they're believed to have ties to the Chinese military, under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1999. CCMC-designated firms are prohibited from receiving stock or securities investments from US citizens or organisations.

In response, Xiaomi filed a lawsuit over the weekend against US government officials including treasury secretary Janet Yellen and Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, demanding its removal from the blacklist. Xiaomi also denied in an earlier statement that it has any association with the People's Liberation Army.

"The Company reiterates that it provides products and services for civilian and commercial use," a Xiaomi spokesperson told CNET in January. "The Company confirms that it is not owned, controlled or affiliated with the Chinese military, and is not a 'Communist Chinese Military Company.'"


Xiaomi sells a bevy of smart products ranging from smart laps to air purifiers and scooters.

Xiaomi is one of the world's largest smartphone manufacturers and the latest major Chinese technology company to enter a legal fight with the United States. The blacklist restrictions have dealt a blow to the Beijing-based company, which says it'll cause "immediate" and "irreparable harm" by cutting off Xiaomi's access to US capital markets and limiting its ability for business expansion.

Xiaomi has benefited from the Trump administration's pressure campaign against Chinese rival Huawei. This has resulted in, among other things, a drastic reduction of Huawei's phone sales outside its native China since its devices lost access to crucial American technology including Google's apps and services. In the third quarter of last year, for instance, Xiaomi surpassed Apple to become the world's No. 3 phone-maker in terms of units sold, according to IDC research.

Trump's tough stance on China, and Chinese companies, has been a hallmark of his presidency. Along with banning Huawei and ZTE, Trump has also attempted to ban social media platform TikTok, and last month he signed an executive order that prohibits transactions with eight Chinese-made apps, including WeChat Pay and AliPay. 

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Galaxy S21 Plus and Ultra vs. S20 Plus and Ultra: Samsung’s premium S phones compared – CNET

Drew Evans/CNET

Samsung's trio of phones that make up its flagship Galaxy S21 lineup have arrived -- and the higher-end S21 Plus and S21 Ultra come packed with all the trappings you'd expect from a premium Android phone. All three are available to purchase now. If you're in the market for something fancier than the base model, it's probably a good time to take a closer look at how Samsung's pro phones, the S21 Plus and the S21 Ultra, compare with each other, and how they differ from their predecessors.

The standout change to the S21 is the price tag. Following lackluster sales of the S20 family, the South Korean company slashed prices by $200 across the S21 line, with the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra starting at $1,000 (£949, AU$ 1,549) and $1,200 (£1,329, AU$1,849) respectively.

The S21 Plus and S21 Ultra also have the expected incremental upgrades working in their favor: Processors are speedier, the displays have been upgraded and the cameras have been improved to take crisper photos and videos. The S21 Ultra now also supports Samsung's stylus, the S Pen (sold separately), which blurs the line between the S series and the more professional Note series. 

Read more: The best phone to buy for 2021

Now playing: Watch this: We unbox and go hands-on with the Galaxy S21 and S21...


Samsung has also packed some refinements into the S21 Ultra's camera system, but it hasn't updated headline features such as 8K resolution and the phone's 108-megapixel shooter. If you're an avid photographer, you'll likely care that the S21 Ultra comes equipped with two telephoto lenses (as opposed to one in the S20 Ultra) that offer 3x and 10x optical zoom, instead of digital zoom. Plus the main image sensor is apparently larger, which will allow it to capture photographs with improved dynamic range.

It's also important to highlight the features Samsung removed to allow it to start at those lower prices. Because Samsung slashed prices of all three of S21 phones, it needed to save on costs by eliminating expandable storage entirely and ditching the in-box charger and earphones. The pricier S20 Plus and Ultra meanwhile, let you add up to 1TB storage and include those bundled accessories.

For more details on the differences between the S21 Ultra, S21 Plus, S20 Ultra and S20 Plus, take a look at our specs chart below.

Galaxy S21 Pro vs. S21 Ultra vs. S20 Pro vs. S20 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Plus Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.7-inch Flat FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2,400x1,080 pixels) 6.8-inch Edge WQHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (3,200x1,440 pixels), 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Pixel density 394 ppi 515 ppi 525ppi 511ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 2.97x6.35x0.30 in 2.97x6.50x0.35 in 2.9x6.37x0.30 in 2.99x6.57x0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 75.6x161.5x7.8 mm 75.6x165.1x8.9 mm 73.7x161.9x7.8 mm 76.0x166.9x8.8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.12 oz; 202g 8.07 oz; 229 g 6.56 oz; 186g 7.76 oz; 220g
Mobile software Android 11 Android 11 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 10-megapixel (telephoto), 10-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 40-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit Octa-Core Processor 2.8GHz (Max 2.4GHz +1.8GHz) Snapdragon 888 or 64-bit Octa-Core Processor 2.8GHz (Max 2.4GHz +1.8GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB
RAM 8GB 12GB, 16GB 12GB (5G), 8GB (LTE) 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage None None Up to 1TB Up to 1TB
Battery 4,800 mAh 5,000 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No No No
Special features IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 30X Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, IP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100X Space Zoom, 10W wireless charging, 10x optical zoom 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; 100X zoom; water resistant (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $1,000 (128 GB)  $1,200 (128 GB)  $1,199 (128 GB) , $1,349 (512GB) $1,399 (128GB), $1,599 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £949 £1,329 £999 (5G) £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,549 AU$1,849 AU$1,499 (4G), AU$1,649 (128GB), AU$1,899 (512GB) AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

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