2021's Most Anticipated Smartphones

By David GallagherLast Updated Mar 3, 2021 9:01:53 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Apple

While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown some phone manufacturers for a loop, many techies and loyal users are hoping that they've had some time to gather their bearings for 2021. Rumors surrounding the coolest new smartphones, many of which are expected to launch later this year, have already begun to circulate. Some of that buzz points to a number of innovative, boundary-breaking features, so, while we’re waiting for official announcements, let’s check out everything we know so far about 2021's most anticipated smartphones.

The iPhone 13 May Include Portless Charging

The newest incarnation of Apple’s flagship iPhone is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated new smartphones of 2021. The company traditionally introduces three or four versions of their latest iPhone each year, so many are anticipating 2021 to usher in the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

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Photo Courtesy: Jane Khomi/Getty Images

While nothing’s set in stone yet, some of the most widely circulated rumors regarding the iPhone 13 suggest that it may come with several exciting upgrades. Notable sources, like TechRadar, suggest that some of these upgrades may include:

  • Touch ID either under the display or in-screen
  • A smaller notch — or no notch at all
  • Portless charging through either MagSafe or wireless technology
  • LPTO tech and 120 Hz refresh rate
  • A periscope camera for increased optical zoom
  • Possible four-camera setup with LiDAR
  • Smaller design

As far as when we might expect to see the new iPhone hit the shelves, the best we've got is an educated guess. For the past decade, Apple has announced their new phones in September, only to release them 10 days later. Unfortunately, 2020 proved to be the exception to the rule, with the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the iPhone 12’s release back to October 2020. Will the ongoing pandemic impact the release of the iPhone 13? For now, that remains unclear, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Apple gets back on schedule in 2021.

Samsung Continues the Fold Phone Craze With the Galaxy Z Fold 3

While the foldable phone was initially a bit of a gamble, it was one that Samsung boldly undertook. The Galaxy Fold's initial launch peaked a lot of interest, though it came with its fair share of durability and battery life issues.

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Photo Courtesy: Samsung

Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 was released in September of 2020 and proved to be a giant leap forward thanks to its larger front screen, increased durability, and standard 5G feature. Such vast improvements have many Samsung fans eager to hear what the inevitable Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will bring to the table.

Several rumors are already circulating, including that the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 might feature:

  • An S Pen and stylus capability
  • An under front panel camera
  • 256GB of storage
  • A light strip on its hinge
  • A lighter, sleeker design
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As far as when we can expect to see the new Samsung foldable on shelves, nothing is confirmed yet. A Korean publication claims that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will begin shipping in May, while other insiders claim that we shouldn't expect to see it until much later in 2021.

The LG Rollable Transforms Into a Tablet

Much like Samsung took a leap of faith with the foldable phone, LG has officially announced that they intend to venture into uncharted smartphone territory. During Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021, LG announced the LG Rollable, a smartphone that can transform into a tablet.

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Photo Courtesy: Sparrows News/YouTube

While LG showed off their upcoming phone in a brief teaser, not much more is currently known about exactly how its technology works. But whether the phone's display extends via a button or manual extension, it definitely looks cool enough to give foldable phones a run for their money. Best of all, the LG Rollable combines the benefits of widescreen options without the foldable phone hang ups — that is, no screen crease or hinges.

We do know that the LG Rollable is set to release in 2021, with leakers predicting that it might hit stores as soon as March. The fact that the public seems to know less about it than any of 2021's other most anticipated smartphones hasn't kept it from becoming one of the most buzzworthy on the list.

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The Sony Xperia 1 III Brings Speed and a Superior Camera

It looks like Sony is preparing to announce its latest premium smartphone, the Sony Xperia 1 III. The follow up to last year's Sony Xperia 1 II, the latest Xperia incarnation is expected to maintain many of the same design features as its predecessor. It appears to be keeping the Xperia 1 II's best features, like the front-facing speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and dust and waterproof resilience.

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Photo Courtesy: Sony

Given the Xperia 1 II's next-level camera and superior speed, it's hard to imagine how its upgrade can get much better. That said, rumor has it that Sony has added a number of perks to their newest "true multimedia smartphone." Insiders predict that the new version may include:

  • An increased refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz
  • A 4K HDR OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio
  • Optical lens zoom
  • The extremely powerful octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset
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The phone's release date is expected to be announced as soon as March of this year, but, if last year’s release from Sony is any indication, a May 2021 release date is likely.

The 9 Series May Be OnePlus' Best Smartphone Yet

If history is any indication, then we may be seeing OnePlus' new 9 series sooner rather than later. The company has traditionally announced the release of its new offerings near the beginning of each new calendar year, so the OnePlus 9 series could be in stores as soon as March or April.

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Photo Courtesy: OnePlus

Now that OnePlus has broken with their old budget line of smartphones, fans are eager to see what upgrades the 9 series will offer. Rumors have already begun circulating from a variety of sources and suggest that the 9 series may feature:

  • A 6.55-inch Full HD+ 120Hz display
  • Larger screen size
  • A quad-lens camera
  • Water resistance for up to 30 minutes in 1.5 meters
  • Snapdragon 888 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage
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The big question on the minds of many fans is whether OnePlus will continue with their recent release of mid-range phones or simply take things to the next level with a pricier, yet premium, OnePlus 9.