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Best Upcoming Smartphones in 2021

Posted by Sumeet Rana
Sumeet Rana

With 2020 nearly behind us, it’s time to turn our gaze towards 2021 and the exciting new gadgets it will most certainly have in store for us. What’s coming out next year? There are some phones like iPhones and Galaxies that will certainly be unveiled at one point or another, while others are veiled in uncertainty and mystery. We will try our best to give you a general rundown of what’s to be expected in terms of device announcements.

Some of the trends that will define 2021 include continuous expansion of 5G support on both high-end and mid-range devices, as well as quite possibly the first phones with true under-screen selfie cameras. Bezels and notches will get smaller, though screen sizes probably won’t grow up that much more.

With that in mind, here are the broad strokes of what we expect in 2021 as far as major phone announcements go.

Best new phones in H1 2021

  • Samsung Galaxy S21 series
  • Huawei P50 series
  • OnePlus 9
  • LG rollable phone
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
  • Google Pixel 5a
  • Sony Xperia 1 III

Best new phones in H2 2021

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 21
  • Apple iPhone 13 series
  • Motorola Razr 2021
  • OnePlus 9T
  • Google Pixel 6

Best new phones in H1 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 series

Expected announcement: January – February 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S21 (or maybe S30?), S21+, and S21 Ultra are expected to arrive in January or February 2021. We expect the next-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 chipset to be powering the US version of the device, while a Samsung Exynos 1000 (Exynos 2100) chipset has been tipped for the international version of the phone. The S21 (S30) Plus will reportedly stay at a 6.2-inch display size, and the S21+ will sport a 6.7-inch display, whereas the top-end S21 (S30) Ultra is rumored to sport a big 6.9-inch AMOLED display. Larger batteries, cameras, and even S Pen support on the Ultra variation are expected across the board. 

Huawei P50 series

Expected announcement: Q1 2021
While it’s unlikely that Huawei will regain its partnership with Google and regain Google Mobile Services anytime soon, the Huawei P50 series will certainly arrive early next year, as is tradition for Huawei. We have heard little to nothing about the device, though rumors put the 5nm Kirin 9000 chipset inside, which could be Huawei’s last in-house Kirin chipset. Judging from previous years, we might see a Huawei P50, Huawei P50 Pro, and a Huawei P50 Pro Plus, followed by an affordable Huawei P50 Lite. All of these will likely be unveiled in the first half of 2021, and probably Q1, to be more specific.

OnePlus 9

Expected announcement: Q1-Q2 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

Despite that it would most probably be announced in late Q1 or early Q2 of 2021, the OnePlus 9 has already leaked. With the next-gen flagship Snapdragon chipset on board as well as top-of-the-line specs as usual, the OnePlus 9 will certainly position itself as a more than worthy alternative to the best Android flagships out there. With a 120Hz display in deck, a 6.8-inch OLED display on deck, super-fast charging, and 48MP camera sensors, the next OnePlus device could prove to be quite an interesting device, especially if the price is kept sufficiently affordable.

For more info about the OnePlus 9, check out our dedicated rumor round-up.

LG rollable phone

Expected announcement: Q1-Q2 2021

LG Rollable phone patent - Best new phones expected in 2021

LG Rollable phone patent
LG is seemingly on track to enter the foldable niche with a bang and introduce a rollable phone sometime in March 2021. The device might end up being called the LG Rollable, though LG Slide is much cooler. Though nothing about the device is certain at this point, except for a patent listing and some general chatter, there’s a rumor that the rollable LG phone could arrive as soon as March 2021. Hopefully, it’s a better proof of concept than the LG Wing.
For more info about the LG rollable phone, check out our dedicated rumor round-up right here. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Expected announcement: Q2 2021
That’s not a typo: the next Z Flip foldable phone is expected to be called the Z Flip 3 and not Z Flip 2. Samsung would probably do this to bring it on par with the Z Fold 3 and have a more consistent naming strategy. The next Samsung flip phone is believed to score a super-smooth 120Hz display, 5G, flagship chipset, but more importantly, the design will be updated with a much narrower frame that would help it achieve a sleek-er look. An improved ultra-thin glass will reportedly shield the internal 6.7-inch OLED display, which will unfold thanks to an updated hinge. There would reportedly be stereo speakers to complement the feature list.

Google Pixel 5a

Expected announcement: Q2 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

Google would probably release another affordable Pixel in the first half of 2021, possibly right after Google I/O 2021 sometimes in May. The follow-up to the affordable Google Pixel 4a should offer excellent value while retaining a modest and affordable price tag. Similarly to the Pixel 4a series, we expect the Google 5a to arrive in two different sizes; a more compact 5a and a larger 5a XL. Of course, as it’s 2021, both of these will be 5G-ready. 

Sony Xperia 1 III

Expected announcement: Q2 2021
Sony is widely rumored to announce and release three tiers of 5G-ready flagships next year – compact, regular, and large premium devices to tackle the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. Supposedly, these will feature the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor alongside with a refreshed design and a triple camera setup. Judging from Sony’s regular device announcements, we should see these become official sometime in late February or early March, so Q1 2021.

Best new phones expected in H2 2021

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Expected announcement: Q3 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

Given how good the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was, it’s no surprise that Samsung will definitely want to expand its foldable phone portfolio in 2021 with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Indeed, the Z Fold 3 will be the pinnacle of smartphone design in 2020, employing a number of breakthrough technologies that Samsung has been working on for a long time. One of these is the coveted under-screen camera, which might finally be ready for the prime time next year. Additionally, the Z Fold 3 is said to be much thinner than its predecessor and also score S Pen support, which would make it the next most intriguing Samsung phone.
Read more about the Galaxy Fold 3 here. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 21

Expected announcement Q3 2021
Despite numerous reports that Samsung is essentially planning to kill off the Galaxy Note lineup altogether, we still expect to see a Galaxy Note 21 in early Q3 2021. Samsung will likely retire the Note 21 because rumors claim that the most premium Galaxy S21 version will score S Pen support, which would technically turn it into a Galaxy Note of sorts. Additionally, foldable phones are breathing heavily into the neck of the Note lineup in terms of popularity.

Apple iPhone 13 series

Expected announcement Q3 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

Apple will announce the iPhone 13 series sometimes in late Q3/early Q4 2020. Previously, iPhones were almost always announced on the second Tuesday of September, but with the disruptions the coronavirus pandemic caused, we can no longer be sure of anything.

Ming-Chi Kuo believes the ‘iPhone 13’ series will include the same four model sizes that are on offer at the moment. That means there should be a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. The next-generation flagships won’t be introducing massive design changes. Instead, Apple is said to be focusing its efforts on the camera department, especially when it comes to the high-end models.

Both the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max will boast upgraded six-element (6P) f/1.8 ultra-wide-angle cameras with autofocus support, according to Kuo. The standard iPhone 13 models won’t benefit from these upgraded lenses, presumably to keep costs down, but Kuo is certain that Apple will bring the upgraded ultra-wide-angle cameras to all iPhone 14 models in 2022.
For more info on the iPhone 13 series, check out our dedicated rumor round-up.

Moto Razr 2021

Expected announcement H2 2021
The 2021 installment in the new Moto Razr series will have the tough job of convincing us Motorola can fix some of the glaring issues of the Moto Razr 5G which was announced in 2020. There are hardly any rumors about the third installment in Moto’s new foldable series, but there’s no chance it will drop out of the foldable phone segment just yet.

OnePlus 9T

Expected announcement: Q4 2021

Best new phones expected in 2021

OnePlus has the habit of releasing a pumped up version of its flagship device in the fall, and the OnePlus 9T is definitely in the cards for Q4 of 2021. Judging from previous years, said device should come equipped with the Plus version of that year’s Snapdragon flagship chip, which would be the Snapdragon 888 Plus in the OnePlus 9T’s case.

Google Pixel 6

Expected announcement: Q4 2021
Google’s next flagship phone should be released in the fall of 2021, and while it’s too early for rumors or leaks, it’s certain that Google has to go all-out with the Pixel 6. 2020’s Pixel 5 was definitely a step in the right direction following the lackluster Pixel 4 series, but the Pixel 6 needs to reiterate that success.

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