2021 winners and losers: Google

It was a very good year for Google, but especially for its mobile division. The jury is still out on whether hardware sales will match the quality of its latest phones, but either way, the phones we’ve seen from Google in 2021 deserve respect.

Winner: Tensor

Google’s custom-developed Tensor chip is arguably the company’s biggest win. It enables advancements in machine learning and computer photography that Google could not have achieved using a standard Qualcomm chip.

The processor has two Cortex-X1 cores, instead of the usual one, which means the Tensor is very powerful.

Most important of all, the TPU (Tensor Processing Unit, after which the whole chip is named) has a machine learning engine designed for ‘where the ML engines are going, not where they are today’. hui ”. This component of the Tensor chip supports new camera features, including the new HDRnet algorithm for video shooting and an updated language model used by Google Assistant that helps improve speed and accuracy of shooting. the translation.

This model also activates the new Live Translate features built into the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. There is also a “Context Hub” which handles background tasks or “ambient experiences” like always-on display and Now Playing features without draining power.

But more importantly, Tensor is another differentiator for the Pixel line of phones, like Android 12, which sets them apart from the world’s Galaxies, iPhones, Redmies, and Realmies.

Winner: Pixel 6

The $ 599 Pixel 6 is one of the simpler phone recommendations for 2021 (even easier when pre-ordering when paired with free premium headphones). It is equipped with the Tensor chip, the new 50MP camera made by Samsung, the new Pixel design, wireless charging, IP68 element protection and a higher refresh rate display – 90 Hz.

This main camera in particular turned out to be a great performer in our review – day or night, putting the Pixel firmly back in the top echelon of camera phones.

2021 winners and losers: Google

Slightly smaller at 6.4 inches (although at 207g it’s not exactly small), the Pixel 6 also has its say in the ‘more compact phone’ conversation.

And, the Pixel 6 also offered excellent battery life.

Winner: Pixel 6 Pro

The Pixel 6 Pro added a bigger screen and battery, a higher refresh rate – 120Hz vs. 90Hz – and 4x periscope zoom.

It’s also a lot cheaper than direct competitors from Samsung and Apple, which were even more exasperated during the Pixel 6 Pro’s pre-order period when it came with free headphones.

2021 winners and losers: Google

However, many people would likely forgo the $ 200 bounty and go for the nearby Pixel 6 instead, but that’s still a win for Google.

Winner: Android 12

Android 12 rolled out to the Pixel lineup in early October and brought a lot of improvements – the new theme system, the new Material You design language, new widgets, better performance, and a whole new focus on foldables.

2021 winners and losers: Google

Google’s vision for Android 12 is colorful, simple, and well thought out. But it won’t look anything like it when you have it on your Samsung, Motorola, or OnePlus. Each manufacturer has their own unique style and aside from a few new widgets, or the ability to match the accent color to the wallpaper, little of what the Pixel’s Android 12 looks like will make it to anyone. what a non-pixel phone.

Winner: Pixel 5a 5G

The Pixel A line of phones are generally well received in the markets they sell. Especially in the United States, where at the time of writing, the Pixel 5a 5G is priced lower by $ 399. For that, you get good retail packaging with an 18W charger, USB-C cable and USB-A to USB-C adapter, excellent battery life, solid image quality, and resistance to shock. water. Not to mention a place at the forefront of software updates.

2021 winners and losers: Google

Unless you have a better deal on a Samsung Galaxy A phone, or live in a place where Redmi and Realme sell phones, the Pixel 5a 5G is hard to beat.

Winner: Pixel Buds-A

The Pixel Buds-A cost just € 99 / $ 99, giving them a head start over the competition from Apple and Samsung. They sound great and have adequate, if not impressive, stamina.

2021 winners and losers: Google

Paired with a Google phone, Pixel Buds-A offer tighter integration, such as hands-free assistant access, real-time translations, read-in-your-ears notifications, or real-time navigation.

Loser: Pixel Fold

Google has been confirmed to be working on a foldable phone. It was supposed to show off how Android 12 works on the form factor and have a big indoor display, maybe 7.6 inches, a hidden selfie camera and, of course, some good cameras and Tensor.

Pixel Fold mockup (credit: MacRumors)

Pixel Fold mockup

But Google reportedly decided not to release the Pixel Fold because it didn’t believe the phone would be competitive. Sad.

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