20 Coolest Phones, Accessories And Mobile Computers Of 2021: The Mobile 100
We round up the latest smartphones from Apple, Samsung and more, along with leading enterprise mobile computers and accessories for phones and tablets.
The much-awaited arrival of 5G in Apple’s iPhone series—and thus, in the public consciousness—couldn’t have come at a stranger time. While many have anticipated the potential for 5G to enable productive and secure work from anywhere, the majority of workers have done little in the way of traveling since the start of the pandemic. Still, 5G is driving newfound demand for smartphones—and, fingers crossed, users will be able to work from anywhere with 5G before long. Smartphone makers including Apple, Samsung, Google, Motorola and OnePlus have all launched innovative new devices—many of them featuring 5G—over the past year as the remote workforce has become the norm. Meanwhile, makers of accessories have also been launching useful new options for phones and tablets, such as wireless chargers and docking stations—while vendors such as Zebra, Honeywell and Bluebird have debuted new rugged mobile computers over the past year.
As part of CRN’s Mobile 100 for 2021, we’ve rounded up 20 cool phones, accessories and mobile computers worth checking out.
Apple iPhone 12
Apple’s latest iPhone family—including the most popular device, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12—features 5G support for the first time as well as a redesigned flat-edge form factor and improved drop protection. The iPhone 12 display also switches to vibrant OLED technology, from the LCD of the iPhone 11, and gets a big bump on resolution to 460 pixels per inch, versus 326 ppi previously. Additionally, the iPhone 12 offers enhanced performance with Apple’s A14 Bionic processor and a dual camera system on the rear, which includes a new wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
The largest model in Apple’s current iPhone lineup, the iPhone 12 Pro Max features a 6.7-inch OLED display, up from 6.5 inches on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Along with key updates such as 5G support and the redesigned form factor, the iPhone 12 Pro Max features a triple camera system; a larger rear wide camera sensor for improved low-light photos; 5X optical zoom; a new image signal processor for enhancing photo quality; and a LiDAR scanner (for enabling improved augmented reality and faster autofocus in Night Mode).
Apple iPhone SE 2
A successor to the original iPhone SE model from 2016, Apple’s second-gen iPhone SE sports a similar display to the iPhone 8, with its 4.7-inch LCD screen. The iPhone SE also revives Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition and home button, and includes Apple’s A13 Bionic processor--the same chip used in the iPhone 11 portfolio. Meanwhile, Apple has called the iPhone SE’s rear camera the “best single-camera system ever in an iPhone” with 12 megapixels and an f/1.8 aperture on the wide-angle camera.
Apple MagSafe Charger
As a new way to wirelessly charge the iPhone, Apple’s MagSafe Charger snaps onto the back of any model in the iPhone 12 series, using magnets to ensure that you don’t accidentally mis-align the phone and experience a charging failure. MagSafe also promises faster charging speeds than for other wireless-charging methods; the MagSafe Charger can charge wirelessly at up to 15W, compared to the typical 10W or 7.5W on previous Qi wireless chargers.
Belkin Boost Charge 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe
For users that rely on their iPhone 12, Apple Watch and AirPods, this Belkin device can charge all three—and do so fast. The Boost Charge 3-in-1 Wireless Charger features a 15W charging stand that uses the new MagSafe capabilities to magnetically attach—and perfectly align—an iPhone 12 for wireless charging. Meanwhile, users can also simultaneously re-charge their AirPods and Apple Watch using two other charging modules on the Boost Charge 3-in-1 charger.
Belkin Boost Charge Power Bank 10K with Lightning Connector
Belkin says that its 10,000mAh Boost Charge Power Bank offers a stunning 70 hours worth of battery life per charge. The power bank also features a lightweight design, and includes two USB-A ports to enable charging of two devices at a time. The device also has a big advantage over other power banks: it can actually recharge itself using a Lightning cable. That means users can recharge their Boost Charge Power Bank with the same Lightning cable used to power their iPhone.
Bluebird’s mobile computers for enterprises include the rugged EF550, which comes with an expanded touch surface—at 5.85 inches—and has been designed with protection against water, humidity and dust exposure as well as drops of up to six feet. The Android device also offers up to 13 hours of battery life and strong performance via an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Google Pixel 5
Google’s flagship Pixel 5 smartphone features a 6-inch OLED display with FHD+ resolution, 8 GB of RAM and Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 765G processor, which provides support for high-speed 5G connectivity. The Pixel 5 also offers Corning Gorilla Glass 6 cover glass for a more-rugged display and an IP68 water and dust resistance rating. For the camera system, Google has included dual rear cameras—a main camera with 12.2 megapixels and a 77-degree field of view and a 16-megapixel ultrawide camera with a 117-degree field of view. New camera features include “Portrait Light” that can add in extra light for Portrait Mode shots.
Google Pixel 4a
Google’s latest budget phone, the Pixel 4a, features a 5.8-inch OLED display that includes a “hole-punch” design featuring the front-facing camera in the upper left-hand corner. The Pixel 4a also brings over many of the key camera features from the Pixel 4, Google said. Those include Night Sight with “astrophotography” capabilities, Portrait Mode and Top Shot, which captures numerous photos and recommends the best ones. Specs include the eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage and a 3,140 mAh battery.
Honeywell CT60 XP
One of Honeywell’s latest Android mobile computers for frontline workers and managers, the Honeywell CT60 XP includes powerful scan performance using the FlexRange long-range image capture technology, according to the company. The CT60 XP offers a compact form factor and high-speed LTE Advanced connectivity, paired with ruggedness features including protection against dust/water sprays and eight-foot drop protection.
With its recently launched StudioDock, Kensington is aiming to offer an iPad docking station that turns an iPad Pro or iPad Air into a “fully-functional” desktop workstation while also providing fast wireless charging to other Apple devices. The Kensington StudioDock allows users to magnetically attach and detach their USB-C iPad Pro (2018 or later) or iPad Air (2020+)—in landscape or portrait modes—while also wirelessly charging an iPhone at up to 7.5W and AirPods at up to 5W.
Logitech Folio Touch
For use with the 11-inch iPad Pro and fourth-gen iPad Air, Logitech’s Folio Touch doubles both as a case and as a keyboard with a high-precision trackpad. The Folio Touch also features an adjustable kickstand—with 40 degrees of viewing angles for finding the ideal view—while the keyboard is backlit and offers 1mm of key travel for comfortable typing.
Motorola Moto G100
Motorola is touting high-speed 5G connectivity and massive performance for its Moto G100, which features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G Mobile Platform along with 8 GB of RAM. The Moto G100 includes a 6.7-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate and comes with a sizable 5000mAh battery, enabling battery life of up to 40 hours on a charge, according to the company.
Motorola Razr (2nd Gen)
With the second-generation model of the Razr—the reboot of the iconic foldable phone—Motorola has enhanced the camera system and performance while bringing in support for 5G. The rear camera moves up to 48 megapixels (from 16 megapixels previously), while the device adds the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor and 8 GB of RAM. The second-gen Razr continues to offer a 6.2-inch OLED display that folds top to bottom, along with a 2.7-inch “Quick View” display on the cover that can be used when the device is closed.
OnePlus 9 Pro
The OnePlus 9 Pro features a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and resolution of 525 pixels per inch, along with Corning Gorilla Glass for durability. The phone supports 5G and includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 12 GB of RAM for strong performance, OnePlus says. For the camera setup, the OnePlus 9 Pro includes a quad rear camera—a 48-megapixel main camera, 50-megapixel ultra-wide camera, 8-megapixel telephoto camera and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera.
Samsung Galaxy S21
The Samsung Galaxy S21 features a vivid 6.2-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, redesigned camera housing on the back of the phone and support for both types of 5G connectivity—sub-6GHz and higher-speed, mmWave 5G. The phone comes with a three-camera system on the rear with up to 30X zoom and a new zoom lock feature for clearer photos. On performance, the Galaxy S21 offers Qualcomm’s eight-core Snapdragon 888 and 8 GB of RAM. For business users, the S21 provides enhanced support for the DeX Android desktop, including support for wireless connectivity to DeX on PCs and Macs.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra expands to a quad-camera system (from three cameras on the predecessor model from last year) and works with Samsung’s S Pen stylus—the first time that a Galaxy S series device has featured S Pen support. Other key features include improved resolution (of 515 pixels per inch) on the 6.8-inch display with up to 1,500 nits of brightness; automatic adjustment for the refresh rate (between 10Hz and 120Hz) to optimize both viewing quality and battery life; up to 100X zoom on the camera along with the new zoom lock feature; and support for both types of 5G connectivity.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers a massive 6.9-inch display with WQHD+ resolution and a 120hz refresh rate for smoother display motion. The Note 20 Ultra includes an S Pen stylus with reduced latency, as well as support for both sub-6GHz 5G and millimeter-wave 5G connectivity. For its camera system, the device offers a 108-megapixel wide-angle camera along with two additional 12-megapixel cameras on the rear, with up to 50X zoom. The Note 20 Ultra also includes the Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, 12 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB of internal storage.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
One key upgrade for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 over the original Galaxy Fold is the inclusion of a full-size display on the cover. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 features a 6.2-inch cover display, compared to the 4.6-inch cover display on the Galaxy Fold. Additionally, when unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 offers 7.6 inches of display space--up from 7.3 inches previously. Meanwhile, the body of the device is now thinner and more durable, and the gap between the unfolded screens has been reduced on the Z Fold 2. The hinge has been re-engineered from the original Galaxy Fold, so that it will be able to stand up at multiple angles like on the Galaxy Z Flip, the company said.
Zebra Technologies says it has launched a new category of individually assigned mobile computers with the recent debut of its EC5x series, which are the “thinnest and lightest Zebra enterprise mobile computers yet with an integrated scanner,” the company said. For the Zebra EC50, that equals a starting weight of 0.38 of a pound and a thickness of 0.38 of an inch. The Android device also features robust ruggedness—including protection against water/dust and drops of up to four feet—while offering a “true smartphone look and feel,” Zebra says.