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Despite much of 2021 being overshadowed by round two of COVID, there was still a lot to be happy about tech-wise.
The release of some amazing technology this year was highly anticipated, particularly during lockdown when we all relied on our gadgets a little more than usual.
The rollout of 5G networks, which started in 2020 and finalised in many metro areas during 2021, saw many early adopters embracing devices with faster connections and improved capacity.
Here, we look at the best smartphones, tablets and laptops of 2021, and the best plans to support them.
Apple released the iPhone 13 range – the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max – in September to much fanfare.
The biggest improvements were the extended battery life and camera upgrades.
Compared to the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 boasted up to 2.5 hours more battery life, while the iPhone 13 mini has an extra 1.5 hours.
The wider camera lens performs better in dark light and there’s a sensor-shift for optical image stabilisation (in other words, to prevent those blurry shots).
The iPhone 13 mini retails from $1,199, the iPhone 13 from $1349, iPhone 13 Pro from $1,699 and the iPhone 13 Pro Max from $1,849
The Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra were released in January this year and Samsung fans were not disappointed.
With an enhanced camera and a longer battery life than previous iterations, the Galaxy S21 range became an instant fav.
Although it costs $800 more than the Galaxy S21+, for many the Galaxy S21 Ultra was the pick of the bunch thanks to its impressive camera.
It has a 108MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide lens and two telephoto lenses.
The Ultra also supports a stylus, which is easier to use than fingers when writing or drawing on screen.
The Galaxy S21 is available from $1249, the Galaxy S21+ $1049, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra from $1849.
Pixel 6 Pro
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro arrived in October. For Android users, the biggest game-changer of Google’s latest phone range was the processor.
Unlike the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip found in past Pixels, both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro feature Tensor – a custom-made chip designed by Google.
The company claims Tensor is 80 per cent faster than the Pixel 5 chip and delivers better voice-to-text, translation and photography.
Arguably, the best feature is the low price. The Pixel 6 starts at $999 with 128GB and $1,299 for the Pixel 6 Pro with 128GB.
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iPad 9th Gen
With a 10.2-inch Retina display, a 12MP front camera and rear 8MP camera, the iPad is still an easy tablet choice.
Design of the 9th gen isn’t all that different from previous generations, but perhaps that’s why Apple have kept the cost low. However, the improvements include 10 hours of battery life and a step up in storage starting at 64GB ranging up to 256GB.
Lenovo Yoga Tab 13
Tablets are traditionally add-ons to laptops, but this Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 is so powerful, it could almost be a stand-in for your laptop.
The 13-inch display is a big point of difference and a major selling point for those who want to use it for gaming or streaming media. Additionally, it comes with a kickstand to make it sit upright or to hang from.
However this feature may also be the downside for purchasers who are looking for a lighter, more compact device.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite
Released in June this year, after the September 2020 release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7, the Lite is an affordable and light-weight (366g) tablet.
It’s great for watching movies and games on the 8.7-inch display, but is not really suited for work purposes. It’s got 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of memory, which can be upgraded to 64 GB. It does come with a MicroSD card reader for additional storage.
MacBook Pro 14 and 16
Powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 models boasted up to 3.7 times faster central processing unit (CPU) performance and 13 times faster graphic performance than previous models.
With 21 hours of battery life, it’s the go-to for ultrabooks.
The MacBook Pro 14 retails from $2,999 and the MacBook Pro 16 from $3,749.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Released in Australia in April, Microsoft delivered little change looks-wise but a big jump in performance with its latest iteration of the Surface Laptop. Choose between the 13.5-inch or the 15-inch models. The AMD Ryzen 5 4680U processor comes cheaper than the range of 11th generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors.
There’s 8GB or 16GB for the 13.5-inch model, or 8GB, 16GB or 32GB for the 15-inch model. Retails from $2699.
Dell XPS 17
With an impressive 17-inch 4K display, the Dell XPS 17 is surprisingly thin and light so it’s easily carried around. Excellent news for those who plan on a working from home/office hybrid next year.
It has a Core i7-11800H CPU, but for more power it can be paired with an Intel Core i9 processor. Although it’s 4K display is more suited to the demands of content creation, if you’re a gamer you can add a RTX 3060 graphics card.
Retails from $2,879.
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