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The Weekly Authority: Most important phones, Samsung Galaxy S21 confirmed, more


LG Wing 2020 innovation 1

Welcome back to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority series that recaps the top Android and tech news from the week. We’re starting to run out of days in the 2020 calendar but Tristan Rayner here again, and with a warm cup of cocoa on hand to keep you company.

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There are a few leaks and rumors floating around as well:

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Features & opinion

Instant Authority: Most important smartphones of 2020

Google Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE 2020 backs 1 1

As we say goodbye to 2020, and all its faults, there is some good to be found in the devices and products released across the year.

Android Authority will be publishing plenty of end-of-year content in the coming weeks, including our award for the best smartphone of 2020. Ahead of that, I wanted to highlight some of the phones that I think we’ll look back on as being something more significant than just another product after 2020 comes to a close.

LG: Wing

The novel phone with a swiveling display offered something truly different from LG’s usual flagships. The LG Wing showed that LG can create what we called an engineering marvel in our review, with brilliant hardware and capable software.

Plenty of phone makers are willing to show off prototypes that never see the light of day. LG went for it. At $999, it was far cheaper than other first innovations from others, too.

I didn’t buy one in 2020, but it’s possible LG’s Explorer Project lineup can shake up smartphone design in the same way that Samsung is trying with its foldables. Speaking of…

Samsung: Galaxy S20 FE

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 confirmed that Samsung really can make outstanding innovations that last. After a mixed reception for the original Galaxy Fold, its impressive follow-up sets the stage for the series to be a big part of Samsung’s future.

But the future often takes longer to arrive than we might think. The Galaxy S20 FE, though, is right here and now. It wowed reviewers, and buyers snapped it up. The Galaxy S20 FE returned Samsung to its winning Galaxy S10e formula. It took all the important bits from the Galaxy S20, made a few minor compromises, and dropped the price to compete with OnePlus and more in the affordable flagship segment.

That refreshing approach came as both the Galaxy S and the Note series struggled to differentiate themselves from each other, while moving even further out of reach for buyers unwilling to stretch to that $1,000 mark.

Google: Pixel 4a

The Pixel 4a arguably represents the strongest Pixel product Google has ever put forward. The price tag at $350 made it super attractive, and amazingly, went on sale with better specs and a cheaper price than the Pixel 3a. The flagship camera and Google’s software easily made up for some missing features.

Personally, I bought the Pixel 4a 5G, because I was happy to pay a little more for some of those higher-end features including the better processor, 5G, and the additional wide-angle camera. But the Pixel 4a was even on sale for as little as $299 this year at time.

What a bargain, and what a no-brainer for those looking for the best of Google on a budget.

Apple: iPhone SE (2020)

Apple cramming flagship speed and top-notch features — including IP rating and wireless charging — into an iPhone SE at $400 changed smartphones in 2020. At that low price, this became a default upgrade for many Apple-friendly consumers, and even Android fans were quick to appreciate what was on offer. Apple’s 2020 edition of the iPhone SE sold well all year, but it was especially relevant during the early pandemic period back in April.

Also: It alone may have been a catalyst for Google’s attractive Pixel 4a price, and may have driven OnePlus to debut its OnePlus Nord line at under ~$400 in Europe and other markets. But I’m only giving it a side-mention because the Nord didn’t hit the US. Instead, OnePlus kneecapped it , and brought out the almost bad Nord N10 in North America instead, leaving the true Nord for everyone else.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft Surface Duo in hand book mode from under

Here’s one that was important for almost all the wrong reasons.

The Microsoft Surface Duo was a super interesting device from Microsoft. The dual-screen smartphone/tablet/tiny workstation showed a lot of ambition, and potential around a new kind of way to work. It was also priced at $1,399 as part of a presumed branding strategy to make this feel like a premium device.

But, it fell completely flat. The hinge and innovations around dual-screen usage were great, but disastrous software bugs at launch, the $1,399 price tag for yesteryear’s specs, a roundly bad camera, fragile USB-C port, and performance issues made it a must-avoid.

Microsoft can take these lessons and do better — I’ve read long-term reviews that have sounded encouraging for smoothing out the software issues at least. But why release it with those bogs? Microsoft will have to learn a lot if it wants to keep its Surface phone dreams alive. And I really hope it does, because competition and innovation are vital for Android.

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Tech tweet of the week

has to be my favourite shakespeare quote pic.twitter.com/dSXZ2EsOGg

— three wise pams 👑 (@alexandrakuri) December 8, 2020

Mac… Chimney…. pic.twitter.com/Vob5I5fIGW

— sarah@Future Gadget Laboratory (@winocm) December 10, 2020

Giveaway

This month, we’re giving away three prize packs! Enter the December giveaway for your chance to win.



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