Tech year 2021 wrapped up: Awful battery life, QR code comeback, global chip shortage, ..

Tech year 2021 wrapped up: Awful battery life, QR code comeback, global chip shortage, ..
For most parts, year 2021 will be probably remembered as the second year of the global pandemic. But in technology world, quite interesting developments happened during the year 2021, too.

Obviously, the home office work continued for millions of people, everybody is already sick and tired of Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack. But lets look at the other stuff that changed in the year 2021.

High-end Android phones had awful battery life - thanks to Qualcomm

One of the weirdest phenomenons for the year 2021 was the fact that top-notch Android phones got significantly worse. Well, not completely, but the battery life of average high-end Android of 2021 was significantly worse than battery life of high-end models introduced back in 2020.

The reason?

Qualcomm, the dominant chip provider for high-end Androids.

More specifically, Qualcomm's year 2021 flagship SoC, Snapdragon 888 was arguably a massive leap into worse-than-expected battery life. Year 2020's flagship SoC - Snapdragon 865 - typically managed to run for entire 24 hours (with active use), but not so with SD888.

With Snapdragon 888, either your phone has to curb its powers somehow - or you need to charge your phone during the day. No other options.

During the year 2021 we observed this with all the SD888 phones we tested: Asus, Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Sony, .. No matter what the manufacturer, the phone using SD888 had to be charged during the day.

Also, almost all SD888 phones ran significantly hotter than their predecessors. And during the summer months, this caused weird problems like phone shutting off itself during video recording, etc.

Luckily, tho, for year 2022 it seems that Qualcomm is finally getting some competition to the high-end game. MediaTek's latest high-end chips seem to challenge Qualcomm's chips quite nicely. Hopefully this means that at least one of these new high-end chips will provide better battery life, too.

Global chip shortage / supply chain issues

Unless you've lived under a very big rock during the year 2021, you've heard the term "supply chain issue".

To put it shortly: there is massive demand for products that use chips. And not enough capacity to manufacture all those chips. Reasons behind this phenomenom are quite complex, but the end result is clear: some stuff is hard to get and the prices are up.

This is best observed with high-end gaming graphics cards. In late 2020, both AMD and NVIDIA introduced their latest and best gaming GPUs. The new GPUs were cheaper and faster than their predecessors.

If you were lucky and/or smart, you managed to buy one by the end of year 2020 for a decent price - and got it delivered on time.

But if you decided to delay your purchase to year 2021 you hit a wall called supply chain issues.

GPU prices have almost doubled due chip shortage and highes-end GPUs are almost impossible to get. And because of all this, even the prices of 3-4 year old GPUs are now higher than what they were back in 2020.

The story is exactly the same for another high-demand product that was introduced back in late 2020: Playstation 5. Even now, 14 months after its launch, the console is extremely hard to get without some luck - or by buying it from gray market with ridiculous price tag.

Obviously, the supply chain issues have affected many other industries too: even old-fashioned ICE cars have delivery delayes due the chip shortage.

Windows 11

No matter if you love or hate Windows, the release of a new major Windows version is still a big thing.

This time around, the latest Windows release - Windows 11 - has been more controversial than in years.

First of all, Windows 11 changes decades-old taskbar in a way that has proven to be very, very controversial among Windows users. Some love the new taskbar - most seem to hate it.

Furthermore, Windows 11 isn't for everybody. In the past, Microsoft has always tried to persuade Windows users to use the latest version of its operating system. But this time around, Windows 11 hardware requirements are so strict that big chunk of users simply cannot upgrade their OS to Windows 11.

Sure, there are easy-ish methods to overcome the limitations, but for majority of users, they simply wont do the upgrade, as they can't hack their way around the limitations. This will eventually mean that Windows 10 will remain in use for years to come.

QR code made wild comeback!

QR codes, those 2D barcodes introduced back in 1990s. Those are back in fashion, big time.

They originally made their way to the public's eye back in 2003 or so when the first cameras appeared on mobile phones. Back then, you could see QR codes everywhere: bus stand ads, stickers, magazines, etc.

Back then, they were used as links: scan the code and your phone will go to the speicified website.

Then, they somewhat disappeared. The QR codes found their retirement home in our concert tickets and various other uses.

But come year 2021 and ... just wow! Countries all over the world introduced various Green passport mechanisms to keep the societies somewhat open, despite the global pandemic. And in most cases, the "passports" used the good old QR code.

Flip phones are back!

Samsung has developed foldable phone displays for more than a decade now. But finally, with Flip 3 they seem to have found the perfect way to implement the foldable display.

Despite its steep price tag, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is arguably one of biggest winners of the year 2021. It finally brought foldable displays to the masses and made the clamshell phones somehow "sexy" again.

Considering how the market works, we expect pretty much every major Android manufacturer to release their own foldable phone during the year 2022. At least that will mean that the foldable prices will fall, as competition increases.

Happy new year 2022!

Sure, I probably left out tons of important stuff that happened during the year 2021. But these topics were the ones that defined the tech year 2021 for me, personally.

Anyway.. I wish very happy new year 2022 for all of you!


-Petteri Pyyny, webmaster

twitter: @pyyny

Written by: Petteri Pyyny @ 1 Jan 2022 10:56
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