Happy 2022 from MobileLabs! Top / Flop of the past year, hopes for the future

Happy 2022 from MobileLabs! Top / Flop of the past year, hopes for the future

Happy 2022 from MobileLabs! Top / Flop of the past year

2021 has come to an end and, as a tradition, the time has come to take stock of what happened in the past year. We of the MobileLabs team have decided to rethink the events related to the mobile world that have had a more or less important impact on our life, on that of people in general and on the market, in a personal and subjective way.

Not only products and services of the past year, however, we also wanted to take a first look at the future, imagining what 2022 may have in store for us and wishing to see our wishes for the new year come true!

Each of us has expressed their opinion regarding what they believe to be their personal "tops" and "flops" of 2021, thinking back to the most exciting and most disappointing products of the year ending in yesterday.

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Francesca Fenaroli

2021 was a year of confirmations and pleasant discoveries in the field of mobile technologies. Producers such as realme and Oppo have continued their advance on the European markets, able to offer increasingly high-performance and top-of-the-range proposals at affordable prices. Despite everything Samsung remains the brand that I would continue to choose with my eyes closed: thanks above all to the One UI, in my opinion the most balanced and refined customized Android interface on the market today, excellent not only on flagships but also on mid-range smartphones .

A category of devices often considered secondary but which I have been observing carefully for years, that of e-book readers with e-ink screens, also proves to be anything but on the verge of extinction. If Kobo tries new ways with its Sage, Amazon plays it safe with the new Kindle Paperwhite, giving life to an improved e-reader just where it is needed, which not surprisingly was my last purchase of 2021.

♥ Top Flop ♠ In this 2021 there was, in my opinion, only one real common sore point: the removal of the fingerprint sensor from more and more devices. Of course, the advancement of technologies imposes from time to time changes in standards that can confuse the user, without however causing actual damage beyond the need to readjust.

Contrary to the lack of the audio jack or slot for microSD, however, the removal of this type of biometric unlocking limits security in the absence of 3D facial recognition systems. In addition, a simple surgical mask is enough to knock out even the iOS FaceID and make us regress to unlocking with PIN.

Hopes for 2022: Returning to Samsung, even the use of this manufacturer's tablets is much improved compared to the past: thanks to a level of optimization for this form factor that I trust will soon be extended to all devices of this type.

For this reason I have high hopes for Android 12L: the need for always being connected for study and work has brought Android tablets back into vogue and guaranteeing a user experience equal to that of iPadOS has become fundamental.

»Read the articles written by Francesca for MobileLabs«

Rossella Pastore

Among the "top" technologies of 2021 it is impossible not to mention the mobile payment services, which have grown exponentially also due to (or "because") the health emergency. To reduce the risk of contagion, Italians have preferred to resort to virtual payment systems to be made via smartphones or wearable devices as an even smarter alternative to a simple credit card. In summary, in the Covid era, payments are also made "contactless".

♥ Top Flop ♠ The fast connection is not that fast. At least not as regards its diffusion in our country: in this 2021, 5G has not made any particular progress. Network quality and performance are still very poor, except in rare locations; in spite of this, the offer of smartphones that support it is getting wider, and it is a pity that the infrastructure has not improved proportionally.

Hopes for 2022: The "vate" of social media Mark Zuckerberg has already announced it: 2022 will be the year of the metaverse. The metaverse as a new frontier of video games, of course, but also of the mobile apps with which we are used to keeping in touch. If 2022 - how we do not hope! - will still be characterized by anti-Covid restrictions, so technology could come to our rescue again. This time, however, our "virtual" meetings could turn out to be more "real" than expected, thanks to the integration of VR technology in the various social networks, first of all those of the Meta ecosystem.

»Read the articles written by Rossella for MobileLabs«

Marco Cagliero

This year has seen many trends in the mobile field. Among the many deserving ones, however, I decide to reward the ambitious choice, albeit still far from perfect, of Google and its Pixel 6. The choice of the proprietary processor, of which benefits we have only begun to see that a small part, combined with a list price able to awaken in me the old love for the Nexus 5, they create an absolutely convincing mix. In fact, thinking of having a top smartphone in my hands with a large photographic sector under 700 euros, also being able to count on the direct support of Google with regard to Android updates, gives me hope for the future of the Pixel line and the smartphone market in general.

♥ Top Flop ♠ The biggest disappointment of this 2021 for me was certainly the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. Although the company is to be rewarded a lot for the efforts made within the folding landscape (this is the only brand with a real product portfolio that can be purchased in our area) so much for the attention to the criticisms of the past model in order to implement hardware and functional improvements, the final result is simply not usable. The reference obviously does not go to the general performance of the product, a real top in this, but to the autonomy of this Flip, capable of guaranteeing just over half a day of intense use. A real shame for what I define as the best form factor present so far for a foldable, undermined perhaps too much by the current state of general technology.

Hopes for 2022: 2022 will certainly be the year of foldables. Although I wanted to include one as this year's Flop just ended, my love for this category of products was absolutely not affected. Oppo's latest efforts (hoping to be able to see the brand new Find N in Italy too) are just the latest demonstration of the general interest of companies and users in this market. The expectation is therefore to see new form factors (even bizarre and new with more folds and more possibilities of use, who knows maybe a folding smartwatch?), To make this kind of product more and more "mainstream". If everything were to be seasoned with a constant decrease in prices as seen in the year just ended, so be it!

»Read the articles written by Marco for MobileLabs«

Nikolas Pitzolu

Although the smartphone market has produced excellent flagships again this year, in my opinion the Top of 2021 is to be identified in the figure of the Galaxy Z Fold3. Samsung is light years ahead of its competitors in both hardware and software. The arrival of the S Pen has helped to make it practically a complete product that acts as a smartphone and, if necessary, even as a small tablet. Samsung continues to push the innovation of foldables and this will give it a clear advantage over its competitors when owning these devices will be "normal".

♥ Top Flop ♠ In my opinion Apple with iPhone 13 (understood as the whole series) was the flop this year. The Cupertino company knows how to do more, much more, but continues to propose what is strictly necessary to replace the previous generation. Don't get it wrong, you don't change a winning team! It is the queen of marketing and the differences from the iPhone 12 are there. Unfortunately, in my opinion, even in this 2021, it has not been able to seize the opportunity and propose something really different to customers that justify hands down the presence of the new iPhone 13 compared to the iPhone 12.

Hopes for 2022: Probably during the next year we will see more and more brands that will present many foldable smartphones. The real novelty, which I can't wait to have in my hands, could be a foldable with three displays connected by two hinges. New types of use and new form factors would be explored to diversify the offer, precisely that offer that has become almost stagnant with standard smartphones that all look a bit alike.

»Read the articles written by Nikolas for MobileLabs «

Luca Zaninello

2021 was a very interesting year, characterized by many really excellent products. Unlike 2020, a year that I found practically stagnant and almost boring especially for top-of-the-range smartphones, the 365 days just passed have rekindled in me an interest in what are the most advanced devices available on the market. Samsung with its folding folders that are now almost ready for anything, Google with the new Pixels equipped with the proprietary Tensor chip (I personally also bought a 6 Pro for me), but also Xiaomi with its exaggerated Mi 11 Ultra, Asus and Lenovo with ROG Phone 5 / 5s and Legion Phone Duel 2, Oppo with Find X3 Pro, have all shown in my opinion how there is still a desire to experiment new things and improve what already seemed almost perfect.

♥ Top Flop ♠ The moment most disappointing of 2021, in my opinion, was the integration of OnePlus into Oppo. Clearly the two brands have been strongly linked since the birth of the first flagship killer, all OnePlus products have always been (some more, some less) rebrands of other Oppo devices, but the complete integration of the hardware and software development teams does not bodes well for the brand so loved by fans and founded by Carl Pei and Pete Lau.

Hopes for 2022: 2022 will bring us a lot of interesting news. At least on paper, the challenge between Qualcomm and Mediatek seems to have reignited even in the high-end of the mobile market, furthermore the Samsung SoCs made in collaboration with AMD and the new proprietary chips from Google, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, make people think as more and more. companies will seek to achieve vertical integration of hardware and software. This is to challenge the level of quality and optimization that only Apple to date has always managed to obtain (even if it may take more than a single year) as well as to implement exclusive features not obtainable using "generic" chips made by external companies.

»Read the articles written by Luca for MobileLabs«

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