It’s time to jump right in and look to another year of smartphone releases.
To begin with, we’ll see the Samsung Galaxy S21 in various configurations, which was announced at an unboxing event on January 14th, and it’s sure to deserve a spot on the list of the best phones to buy. Most phones currently have a fairly regular release schedule, although Samsung has moved left on the calendar with its S21 event. We may see more of this as events move to virtual locations in 2021.
Regardless of when they launch, we can expect the following phones in 2021.
Samsung’s flagship S series
Galaxy S21 series
The Galaxy S21 is expected to hit the market with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor, 5G, upgraded cameras, and high prices. Rumor has it that the S-series now has support for the Note’s S Pen, but where to store the pen, how much functionality the Note supports, and other questions still to be answered.
It will be interesting to see the prices for the Galaxy S21 devices as well, as the Galaxy S20 FE was an affordable flagship that is reportedly very popular with Samsung smartphone buyers.
Also: Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review
Visit ZDNet for the official release and comprehensive coverage of the latest Samsung S Series devices.
Foldable from Samsung
Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung is a leader in foldable phone technology and made it out of the stadium last year with the Galaxy Z Fold 2. It continues to improve hardware and software experiences – so we can expect more of them in 2021.
The big question, especially for ZDNet’s Larry Dignan, is: will the Galaxy Z Fold 3 support the S Pen? Given that the S series may support this, Samsung was able to enable the S Pen for all of its flagship devices in 2021.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review
The Galaxy Z Flip line of devices may not be the best for businesses, but it will appeal to many consumers and will likely see an updated model with internal improvements and software improvements as well.
The next flagship from OnePlus
OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
OnePlus released its 8T device a few months ago and launched its affordable Nord phones in the US this month. It will likely release new flagships as the successor to the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro sometime in the first half of 2021.
Also: OnePlus 8 Pro review
OnePlus phones are beautiful, affordable, and extremely powerful. Maybe we’ll see official dust / water resistance in 2021 so I can wear one through different environments as my daily driver. It is possible that carrier partnerships with T-Mobile will continue to function as a regular customer for OnePlus.
LG’s V series
V70 or something unique
LG had an interesting 2020 with some updates to its phone names and a strategy to release phones with unique form factors and use cases. The LG Velvet was a solid mid-range phone that was well designed and worked with the dual cover screen accessory. The LG Wing offered a new take on phone design with a rotating front display that revealed a small secondary display.
Also: LG Velvet rating
The V-Series has always been designed with videographers in mind, and we expect a V70, or maybe some sort of V-Series with a unique name, to be released in the first half of 2021.
Google’s cell phones
Pixel 5A and Pixel 6
Google switched to a mid-range strategy in 2020, yet still offered the best still photography on a smartphone. This approach seemed to be well received, but it also helped the company bring out phones with affordable prices, long battery life, limited options, and industry leading Android software support.
Also: Google Pixel 4A 5G rating
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 5A phones are expected to hit the market in mid-2020, around the time Android 12 is launched.
Apple’s cell phones
iPhone 13 series
Apple released four new phones with its iPhone 12 series in October 2020. There was an interesting version with two phones at launch and two more the following month. While there are already rumors about the iPhone 13 series, we probably won’t hear more details about these phones until the fall of 2021.
Also: iPhone 12 Pro Max Full Review
The iPhone SE 2020 was released in April 2020 so we may see another SE model soon. However, the first SE was published in 2016 so it is unlikely that a year after the SE 2020 a new SE model will be published.
Microsoft’s Android phone
Surface duo 2
The Microsoft Surface Duo was an interesting device with limited appeal for those who need to multitask on two screens at the same time. With the coronavirus sending people home to work, the timing wasn’t the best for the Surface Duo. The first generation also used older internal specs, lacked 5G, and had a terrible camera.
Also: Microsoft Surface Duo test
We’ve seen regular software releases from Microsoft, including some significant improvements in the launcher and user interface. We haven’t heard any rumors about a next-gen device, but hopefully the Surface Duo won’t model itself after the Kin and end up being a one-off product release.
P50 likely, but not in the US
Last year, Huawei took the lead in selling smartphones to Samsung and Apple, even without being available in the US. With a new US government, we may see some changes in restrictions for Huawei and be able to test out the latest devices. Given the 2019 and 2020 limitations, Huawei switched from Android to Harmony OS. So it will be interesting to see how far this operating system has come in the last year.
Also: Huawei Mate 40 Pro, hands-on
We could see the P50 range of Huawei phones announced in early 2021. Huawei has amazing mobile technology and I can’t wait to see how it drives the smartphone world forward.