Phandroid’s Best of CES 2021 awards


CES 2021 will likely be remembered as the most forgettable CES in history, but that will have everything to do with the fact that no one actually showed up in Las Vegas due to the global pandemic. The trade show was completely virtual with companies unveiling their products through press releases, one-on-one Zoom meetings, and elaborate pre-recorded presentations meant to make you feel like you were actually there.

While CES is typically pretty light on smartphone announcements, Samsung changed things up this year by unveiling its new Galaxy S21 lineup on the last day of the show. Besides that, there were quite a few great products unveiled this week, but only a few were good enough to be selected for Phandroid’s “Best of CES” award for 2021. Below you’ll find our full list of CES award winners. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 series

Picking Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series for a Best of CES award was a bit of a no-brainer. The new Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra will set the stage for what we’ll see in the mobile space throughout 2021. The highlights include Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 chipset for better performance, Ultra Wide Band support on the S21+ and the Ultra, improvements to Space Zoom with a new focus lock feature and S Pen integration in the Ultra. But what really stands out is that Samsung has cut the prices for the three phones across the board, making them all $200 cheaper than their 2020 counterparts.

TCL 20 5G

As usual, TCL showed up at CES with a few new smartphones. The new TCL 20 5G sports a nice design update when compared to the 10-series smartphones from last year and an aggressive 299 EUR sticker price for a 5G smartphone that still sports a FHD+ display, 6GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 690. It may be a performance best or have the best cameras you can get on a mid-range smartphone, but TCL’s display technology is very compelling, making the TCL 20 5G extremely compelling for those who want a well-balanced multimedia device on a budget. 

Samsung Exynos 2100

While Samsung announced new Exynox chipsets each year, 2021 marks the first time that Samsung has held a specific press event, unveiling the new Exynos 2100. The new chipset will be used in some variants of the Galaxy S21, delivering CPU and GPU performance that matches or exceeds that of the Snapdragon 888 thanks to Samsung’s new 5nm process. The chipset will also deliver integrated 5G connectivity with 5.1Gbps speeds on Sub6 and 7.35Gbps over mmWave. It will also deliver support for 200MP imaging sensors and 8K/60fps video playback. 

Honor Band 6

The Honor Band 6 blurs the lines between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch with its 1.47-inch square display, 14 days of battery life, heart rate sensor, built-in SpO2 monitoring and 5 ATM water-resistance. Of course, it’ll track your workouts and daily steps while also showing basic notifications from your smartphone. The best part about the new fitness tracker is that the Honor Band 6 will retail for $35 which is quite a bit less than what you’ll pay for a smartwatch these days.

Roborock S7

On the surface, robot vacuums seem pretty simple, but the new Roborock S7 proves that the little cleaning robots in our homes have a lot of room for improvement. While there are plenty of robot vacuums with built-in mopping capabilities, the Roborock S7 will automatically make the switch from vacuum to mop all on its own thanks to its self-lifting mop. The vacuum will automatically sense when moves from hard surfaces to carpeted areas and map out exactly when and where mopping is needed on your floors. If that wasn’t enough, the Roborock S7 also incorporates a new sonic vibration technology for the mop that allows it to clean stains significantly better than previous models. 

Soundcore Liberty Air 2 from Anker

Anker’s Soundcore brand has been churning some of the best budget headphones for the past few years. With the new Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, you’ll get Active Noise Cancellation, up to 26 hours of playback, and touch-sensitive controls. In addition to including a wireless charging case, the Air 2 Pro’s will be able to provide up to three hours of playback with just a 15-minute charge.


After being shown off in 2020, TCL is ready to provide a different type of tablet for those with concerns of staring at screens for too long. The TCL NXTPAPER combines the benefits of LCD displays with e-ink, which makes use of an IPS panel to combat harmful blue light or flickering that we are accustomed to seeing. The specs of this tablet won’t blow anyone away, but with its 8.88-inch display and sleek design, the NXTPAPER could be the best tablet for those looking for a new e-reader powered by Android.

Lenovo Tab P11

As a follow-up to last year’s award-winning Chromebook Duet, Lenovo unveiled the new Tab P11 at CES this year. While the Lenovo Tab P11 and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet may look quite similar, the new tablet runs on Android and has been equipped with a more powerful Snapdragon 662 processor. These changes allow the Tab P11 to rely more on Android’s app ecosystem while still delivering a great experience for those who want to get work done with the included keyboard and back cover that doubles as a stand. Best of all, the Lenovo Tab P11 will be selling for $229.

Sony 360 Reality Audio Speakers

Sony announced a new series of wireless speakers that aim to provide a vastly enhanced home audio experience. The design of these speakers will fill the room with sound, and even feature a Sound Calibration mode combined with Auto Volume so that your audio is tuned exactly to your needs. Plus, both the new RA3000 and RA5000 feature a built-in Chromecast, while also being compatible with Amazon Alexa.

Quantum Operation Non-invasive Blood Glucometer

Rounding out our Best of CES 2021 awards is the Quantum Operation Non-invasive Blood Glucometer, a prototype wearable with noninvasive glucose monitoring capabilities thanks to a built-in Spectrometer. The wearable, which looks like it could easily be mistaken for a smartwatch from a few years back, is also able to monitor heart rate and ECG. The Spectrometer would be able to accurately report Blood Glucose levels within 20 seconds rather than having to use blood from a finger prick or an implanted monitor. Quantum Operation Inc. isn’t quite ready to sell the wearable to consumers, but the company is currently in talks with health care providers to see how its technology can be best implemented for the general public. 

Nick Gray
I'm a life-long tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC. After writing about tech for more than a decade, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Editor in Chief at Phandroid. Please contact me at [email protected].

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