The most anticipated phones for 2021 should include more variety than we've ever seen before in terms of design. Not only do we expect handsets with front cameras that disappear underneath the display, we should see the first rollable phones and perhaps a truly portless iPhone.
In terms of big names, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 13 should dominate the conversation this year. Samsung is up first with its lineup, which is rumored to debut January 14 with a trio of powerful handsets, including one that should sport dual telephoto lenses and S Pen support.
Later on in the year, we hope to see an iPhone SE 3 for value-focused shoppers and perhaps an ambitious LG Rollable. Here are the most anticipated phones of 2021.
Samsung Galaxy S21
The most anticipated Android phone of 2021 is happily also the one we should see first. Rather than the usual February/March unveiling, Samsung has decided to bring forward the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 family, and it’s due January 14.
As you’d expect from a Samsung flagship, the S21 family is set to contain top-notch specs, with the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (or Exynos 2100 outside of the US) powering things. But it’s the top-of-the-range S21 Ultra that should be really interesting: not only is it set to come with a 10x optical zoom, but it’s also due to support the S Pen, which was previously limited to the Galaxy Note series.
If all goes according to plan, we’re expecting the iPhone 13 family to launch in September 2021. And Apple reportedly has several upgrades in mind for this year's lineup.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max should finally make the jump to a 120Hz display this year and it’s also claimed that at least one of the models will be portless, which will be a boon for manufacturers of wireless chargers.
Other iPhone 13 leaks point to a smaller notch, which would be a welcome change, more efficient 5G for saving on battery life, support for the new faster Wi-Fi 6E standard and the possible return of Touch ID.
It’s refreshing to include an LG handset in our list of anticipated phones. While the Korean company dominates our list of the best TVs, its phones have disappointingly become also-rans in recent years.
The LG Rollable may well end up being written up as a curiosity rather than one of the best smartphones, but it’s certainly something to look forward to. If the patents are as good as they sound, it’s a phone that will look like a normal handset at a glance, but with a screen that can be expanded by rolling out the sides, giving you a phone and small tablet in one. This could be revolutionary… or it could just be expensive and weird. Time will tell.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
One bit of technology that once seemed like a bit of a gamble is the foldable phone, but with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung fixed all the quirks that made the troubled original Z Fold feel like a beta test.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 promises an even more polished product. Obviously the main selling point – that it folds out from a regular phone into a tablet – will remain, but we’ve heard that Samsung is planning other improvements, such as a clever combined camera setup, RGB light strip on the hinge and support for the S Pen.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The Z Fold isn’t the only foldable Samsung offers, and for those that prefer a more compact experience, the Galaxy Z Flip phones have been a real triumph.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is rumored to be coming next year — reportedly there will be no Z Flip 2, with Samsung seeking numerical parity with the Z Fold 3. And this time there’s rumored to be a Lite version for small budgets, too. We can also expect better cameras this time around along with a more powerful Snapdragon 888 processor.
Due out in the spring, the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are due to continue the company’s tradition of blending top-notch specs with affordable prices. The phone is definitely coming, with a prototype most recently leaked on eBay.
This year’s models are set to come with the brand new Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 120Hz screens for smooth visuals and the possibility of 120fps performance in compatible apps. OnePlus may also partner with Leica on a new breed of Ultrashot camera for the OnePlus 9 lineup.
iPhone SE 3
This one is slightly more wishful thinking than the rest of the entrants on the list. Given the four-year gap between the original iPhone SE and last year’s follow up, there’s no guarantee we’ll be seeing a refreshed model in 2021.
All the same, it’s definitely something we want to see, given the incredible value that the iPhone SE offers. If one does arrive, we expect to see the Apple A14 chip of the iPhone 12 getting an outing in a handset with a more pocketable frame. If Apple can stay in the $399 ballpark of the previous model, it will certainly be on to a winner.
Samsung Galaxy Note 21
It seems that rumors of the Galaxy Note’s death were exaggerated. Samsung sources have apparently confirmed that a Galaxy Note 21 is on the way this year, even if it winds up being the last handset in the line.
As you might expect for a phone that was rumored not to exist until a few weeks ago, there’s precious little to say about it for now, but if past years are anything to go by, you can expect a slightly improved version of the Galaxy S21 with a Snapdragon 888 chip and a slot for the bundled S Pen.
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