2021 has got off to a good start as far as phones go, as we’ve already seen the Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – three phones that are sure to be among the best and most popular of the year.
The impressive Xiaomi Mi 11 has also launched, but there’s plenty more on the way if the leaks and rumors are to be believed.
From high-profile handsets like the iPhone 13 to oddities like the LG Rollable, there should be something for everyone. With MWC 2021 delayed until June and the Covid-19 pandemic impacting smartphone production, it may be a strange year for new devices but there are sure to still be exciting new phones.
Below, we’ve highlighed ten of the most interesting options that we’re expecting to see before the end of the year. These are phones that in most cases are likely to be great, and at the very least should be interesting, unusual, or innovative.
iPhone 13 range
The iPhone 13 range is undoubtedly the most highly anticipated range of upcoming phones, but there’s rather long to wait for them, as they probably won’t land until September.
There could be some big upgrades for these new models, with high refresh rate screens, 1TB of storage, in-screen fingerprint scanners, and a smaller notch all rumored. There’s also talk of a periscope camera being added, which would allow for an increased optical zoom range.
With the phones being a long way off at the time of writing though, we’re not at all confident of these things yet. What you can be sure of is that they’ll be very powerful, and that Apple will probably offer the same assortment of handsets as in the iPhone 12 range – meaning an iPhone 13, an iPhone 13 mini, an iPhone 13 Pro, and an iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Everything you need to know about the iPhone 13
OnePlus 9 range
The OnePlus 9 range is likely to land in March or April and offer a slightly cheaper way to get the sort of cutting-edge tech we’ve seen in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21.
There will probably be a OnePlus 9, a OnePlus 9 Pro, and possibly also a totally new model dubbed the OnePlus 9E.
As for what to expect, all three phones might use the top-end Snapdragon 888 chipset, and they’ll probably also have high refresh rate screens, with the Pro model likely offering at least 120Hz.
We don’t know a huge amount else about them yet, but leaks suggest the standard OnePlus 9 will have a 48MP main camera, a 48MP ultra-wide one, and an unknown third lens, as well as 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the OnePlus 9 Pro will probably be the only one of the three to have IP68 certification for water and dust resistance.
Everything you need to know about the OnePlus 9
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 isn’t likely to be as mainstream as most of the phones on this list, but it could be more exciting than most of them, as foldable phones are probably the future, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is likely to be the best one yet.
Beyond having a big, foldable screen, the main Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 rumors so far suggest it might support Samsung’s S Pen stylus, have an in-screen camera, and possibly even have an RGB light strip on its hinge.
We haven’t heard much else at the time of writing, but expect more rumors to roll in ahead of release, which could be in June if leaks are to be believed – though some sources reckon it won’t land until the second half of the year.
Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
The Huawei P50 will probably be no exception, but since the Huawei ban the company has been unable to offer Google’s apps or access to the Google Play Store on its phones, which significantly hampers the software side of things.
Still, if you can live with that, the Huawei P50 could be worth getting excited about. We don’t know much about it yet, but it’s likely to use the high-end Kirin 9000 chipset found in the Huawei Mate 40 range, and leaks suggest the Huawei P50 Pro will have a 6.6-inch curved screen. But the camera is likely to be the star of the show, and so far that’s a mystery.
It might not be a mystery for long though, as the Huawei P50 range will probably land in late March based on past form.
Everything you need to know about the Huawei P50
The LG Rollable phone is very much a wild card, as it’s a completely new thing for phones – a handset with a rollable screen.
LG has confirmed that the phone exists and is landing this year (2021), and in a short teaser has shown the phone extending from smartphone to tablet size, all without any folding required.
The teaser only shows the screen extending in one direction, but based on a patent, this might be a device that lets you extend both the left and right screen edges, but because it rolls rather than folds, and because the mechanism is compactly hidden within the phone, it should look much like a normal smartphone when the screen isn’t extended.
According to a leak meanwhile it might extend from 6.8 inches to 7.4 inches. Plus, a trademark application for the ‘LG Rollable’ name includes mention of “electronic touch screen pens”, so as with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, you might be able to get a stylus for it.
We’ve also heard that it might have a top-end Snapdragon 888 chipset, 16GB of RAM, and a 4,200mAh battery. The LG Rollable will probably be very expensive and niche, but it certainly sounds interesting.
Everything you need to know about the LG Rollable
iPhone SE 3
While the iPhone 13 range is clearly the most anticipated of Apple’s upcoming phones, the company might also launch a successor to the iPhone SE (2020) in 2021.
We’ve heard very little about the iPhone SE 3 so far and there’s every chance we won’t see it until a later year, but if it does launch this year it will probably have an A14 Bionic chipset (the same as the iPhone 12 range).
There’s also talk of an iPhone SE Plus, which might end up being the iPhone SE 3 in all but name. This is thought to have a larger 5.5 or 6.1-inch screen, but to retain the general affordability of the iPhone SE range. What’s not clear is whether the iPhone SE 3 will keep the physical home button and big bezels – a design that’s becoming increasingly dated.
Oppo Find X3 range
Oppo isn’t as big a name as Samsung or OnePlus, but in recent years it’s been making phones that rival their best, and the Oppo Find X3 range could be the next ones to do that.
In fact, they might actually be more exciting and innovative than most of the big-name flagships, as rumors suggest the Oppo Find X3 Pro will have a macro camera that could function a bit like a microscope, with 25x zoom and lights around the lens.
The phone might additionally have NFC that works on both the front and back of the handset, so you can tap the screen against payment terminals rather than the rear – a small feature perhaps but one we’ve not really seen before.
Beyond that the specs sound top-end through and through, with talk of a 3K resolution, a high refresh rate screen, fast charging, loads of camera lenses, and more. And you shouldn’t have to wait long, as we’re expecting the Oppo Find X3 range to launch early in the year.
Everything you need to know about the Oppo Find X3
We’ve been waiting for the Nokia 10 for a long time, so much so that it’s gone through a few names since it started being rumored – originally it was thought to be launching as the Nokia 9.1, but as time went on that changed to Nokia 9.2, 9.3, and now Nokia 10.
Whether this will be the year it lands remains to be seen, especially since we still don’t really know much about it yet, but rumors point to an in-screen selfie camera, a sapphire glass display, a stainless steel frame, and a top-end Snapdragon 888 chipset, so this could be a very premium phone.
There’s also talk of it having a very different camera setup to the penta-lens Nokia 9 PureView, though in what ways it will differ is unclear.
Everything you need to know about the Nokia 10
Samsung Galaxy Note 21 range
The biggest question about the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 range is whether it will even launch, with rumors swirling that Samsung is planning to discontinue the Note range – something that seems more viable now that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has launched with S Pen support.
At this point it looks likely that the Note range’s days are numbered, but we might still get a Samsung Galaxy Note 21.
There’s not really any news on what it will offer yet, but as usual for the range you can expect an S Pen stylus, a big screen to make the most of it with, and plenty of power. If the Samsung Galaxy Note 21 does launch we’ll probably see it in or around August.
Everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Note 21
Sony Xperia 1 III Compact
As well as the expected Sony Xperia 1 III there are rumors that the company might launch a Sony Xperia 1 III Compact, and it’s this phone that we’re more excited about, as there aren’t many high-end compact phones that days.
Rumors suggest it might have a 5.5-inch screen and an upper mid-range chipset – though we’d hope for a high-end one. We don’t know much else yet about either the Compact or the standard Sony Xperia 1 III, but with the phones possibly launching in the first half of the year we’ll hopefully learn more before long.
Everything you need to know about the Sony Xperia Compact