The Sony Xperia 1 III, Google Pixel 6, and more are on the way in the first half of 2021 – here’s what to expect…
The first wave of 2021 phones is here, with new flagship hardware from Samsung, Sony, Apple, and more now on sale, not to mention loads of cheaper budget and mid-range phones – but there’s still more to come.
Phones tend to launch in waves, and so while the bulk of the spring releases have been and gone, we’re expecting another set of major launches to come in autumn 2021. That’s when we’ll see the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13, not to mention the next set of Samsung Galaxy foldable.
There are plenty of other launches in the meantime though, including quite a few phones that have been announced but not yet gone on sale,
The Sony Xperia III range, and gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 5 and Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2.
This year we’re seeing 5G connectivity become a standard feature not only in flagships but also in mid-range and budget phones.
We’ll see more screens that boast 144Hz refresh rates (and even faster!), which is good news for gaming and video,
And camera phones continue to pile on the megapixels and larger sensors, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Foldable designs are becoming cheaper and more durable, and battery technology is constantly improving too.
We’ve also seen software enhancements too, making us even more excited for Android 12 and iOS 15, not to mention Huawei’s new HarmonyOS software,
set to shake up the market this spring.
In this feature, we’ve outlined all the major smartphone launches expected to take place in 2021 and beyond,
Along with an outline of what new features and hardware specifications have been or are likely to be included.
10 Best new phones coming out in 2021
Asus ROG Phone 5 – Late April 2021
144Hz OLED displays, and up to 18GB of RAM.
There are three phones – regular, Pro, and Ultimate – but only the standard model is set to launch in the UK,
And will arrive in late April. Elsewhere in the world that phone will ship this month, with the Pro in April and the Ultimate following in May.
All three feature another perk: a rear display. On the standard edition, this is a static LED panel,
Though these Pro and Ultimate get more customizable OLED mini-displays that can show graphics, custom images, notifications, and more.
As per the Asus India website, both the variants of the Asus ROG Phone 5 will be available for purchase on April 15 at 12 pm (noon) via Flipkart. The price for the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant is set at Rs. 49,999, while the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage model is priced at Rs. 57,999.
Check the Specifications
For the first time, Asus has released more than one handset from a single generation of ROG phones.
There are three in total – regular, Pro, and Ultimate – although only the former is coming to the UK at launch.
As expected, they all come with Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset,
which combines with an Adreno 660 integrated GPU for great gaming performance.
They differ where RAM is concerned, though – the regular and Pro go to 16GB, while the Ultimate hits an incredible 18GB.
It remains to be seen how much of a tangible effect this will have on everyday usage. Like the ROG Phone 3, there’s also 5G support.
Elsewhere, all ROG Phone 5 devices come with a 6.78in 2448×1080 AMOLED display – that’s slightly larger than the ROG Phone 3.
Asus has stuck with the 144Hz refresh rate from that, although it’s now been beaten by the new Red Magic 6 and 6 Pro (165Hz).
It also has a 300Hz touch sampling rate and a 20.4:9 aspect ratio, with Asus specifically designing the phone for landscape usage.
There’s also been a 25% reduction in the size of the bezels without the need for a notch or hole-punch camera.
However, the Pro and Ultimate models also benefit from a tiny ‘ROG Vision’ display on the back of the phone.
This can show custom graphics depending on what you’re doing, changing to reflect scenarios like incoming calls, charging, and loading a game.
All the phones have 6000mAh of total battery capacity, although this is split across two cells.
This allows Asus to position the motherboard in the center of the device, which it says helps balance weight and improve cooling.
Charging is via USB-C, with the side-mounted port ensuring you can charge and play at the same time. This is at 65W, although there’s no wireless charging.
Asus’ GameCool cooling system has also been updated, with the company claiming it’s had its biggest update since the very first ROG Phone.
The key upgrade you’re likely to notice is improved heat dissipation, although moving the circuit board to the center of the device should help your fingers stay cool.
As expected, there are plenty of official accessories compatible with the ROG Phone 5.
These include a new modular gamepad, clip for attaching to a console controller, and protective case with RGB logo.
There’s also a professional dock, which adds connectivity options like USB and HDMI ports.
The ROG Phone 5 has dual front-facing speakers but has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack for a flexible audio experience.
Cameras aren’t a priority on gaming phones, but the ROG Phone 5 has a triple rear setup.
A main 64Mp sensor is joined by 13Mp ultrawide and 5Mp, although they’re unlikely to compete with the best camera phones around. On the front, you’ll find a 24Mp selfie camera.
One final curiosity is that the phone may really excel when it comes to audio.
The new phone has scored 79 in the relatively recent DxOMark Audio benchmark, dethroning
the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra (on 76) for the top spot.DxOMark notes that the phone achieved category-leading sub-scores for dynamics, spatial,
And artifact distortion, though noted its weaknesses are slightly lackluster bass and lower max volume than some rivals.
New Nokia range – from late April
The C10 and C20 fill out the cheaper end, going through the G10 and G20, then up to the X10 and X20 (pictured) – though even that’s pretty affordable at £300.
Specs vary across the range but expect 60Hz displays across the board and fairly basic specs.
The two X phones have 5G support and Zeiss cameras at least, which could help make them competitive. Nokia announced the X10 and X20 in India on April 8, 2021.
The phones are targeted towards the mid-range segments, based on their specifications
The Nokia C20 shares many of the same features as its cheaper sibling but offers a few upgrades to provide a slightly improved experience.
That includes 4G support, up from 3G on the C10, alongside a more powerful SC9863a chipset and HDR support on both the front and rear cameras.
6.5in HD+ display
5Mp front and rear-facing cameras with LED flash
Android 11 Go support
Nokia’s G range brings the “best potential that the industry has to offer” according to HMD Global,
offering features that smartphone users care about – like long battery life and two years of Android OS updates – without a premium price tag.
The Nokia G10 offers the same 6.5in HD+ display and V-notch as the C range,
which explains the similarity in design, but there are a few key differences under the surface.
6.5in HD+ display
Three-day battery life
Mediatek G35 with up to 4GB of RAM
The Nokia X range is where things start to get interesting,
With the X range “pushing the boundaries of what the industry can offer” according to HMD Global.
The X range both is and isn’t Nokia’s flagship range in that the X10 and X20 are by far the most capable of Nokia’s offering,
But they’re still far from a flagship from the likes of Samsung or Apple.
Nokia X range
6.7in FHD+ display
Zeiss Optics quad-camera offering
Snapdragon 480 with up to 8GB RAM
Three Android OS upgrades
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 – May
Lenovo has unveiled the Legion Phone Duel 2, the follow-up to one of the 2020s most exciting and impressive gaming phones, and it goes on sale worldwide in May.
Expect a Snapdragon 888, up to 16GB of RAM, and super-fast 90W charging across the dual batteries, along with the return of the side-mounted pop-up camera.
The phone is totally committed to a gamer-focused design, so won’t appeal to everyone, but for those who get it, there’s nothing quite like it elsewhere.
The Legion Phone Duel 2 was officially unveiled at a Lenovo event on 8 April 2021.
The phone is set to arrive in the UK and the rest of Europe in June 2021, although a more specific release date isn’t yet known.
Lenovo didn’t release the original Legion in the USA and judging by the ongoing acrimony towards Chinese phones,
We don’t think it’s likely that its successor will ever come to North America.
The second-gen Legion Phone Duel is a premium device through and through, and the core specs reflect that.
It’s powered by Qualcomm’s flagship 888 chipsets, which should provide top-of-the-line performance when combined with 12 or 16GB of RAM.
You also get 256 or 512GB of storage, although it’s not expandable.
One of the unusual things about the device is that nearly all the components are housed in the center of the device – that’s to make way for two separate batteries,
Totaling 5,500mAh in capacity. They can be charged at up to 90W speeds, although you’ll need to buy a separate adapter and connect it to both USB-C ports at the same time. If you do,
Lenovo says you can get a full charge in just 30 minutes.
One of the most eye-catching features of the Legion Phone Dual 2 is a pop-up selfie camera. We’ve seen these in quite a few phones,
But only its predecessor built it into the side of the device. The 44Mp wide-angle sensor is designed to be used for gamers to capture stills and footage while using the phone horizontally.
There’s plenty more going on in this raised central panel, including a built-in twin-turbo fan.
This forms part of Lenovo’s new and improved cooling system, with a grille on the side of the device for expelling hot air.
It’s strange to see the dual rear cameras so low down the back of the phone, but the 64Mp main lens and 16Mp ultra-wide sound promising on paper.
As you might expect from a gaming phone, there are also now customizable RGB lights.
There are also some other gaming-specific features, including eight virtual keys for a controller-like experience.
Combined with a revamped haptic feedback mechanism, this should deliver a more immersive gaming experience.
Black Shark 4 – Q2 2021
Both feature 144Hz OLED displays, with class-leading 720Hz touch sampling rates, along with 120W charging and a 4500mAh battery,
Which together will apparently deliver a full charge in less than 15 minutes.
The main differences are in core specs: only the Pro uses the Snapdragon 888, with the regular sticking to the 870.
RAM and storage options are also a bit higher for the Pro model.
Black Shark 4 smartphone was launched on 23rd March 2021.
The phone comes with a 6.67-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080×2400 pixels. Black Shark 4 is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor.
It comes with 6GB of RAM.
Let’s start with what the Black Shark 4 and 4 Pro have in common.
Both phones come sporting a 6.67in Full HD+ OLED display – that’s exactly the same as the Black Shark 3.
Where you will see an upgrade is in refresh rate, with the displays now capable of outputting at 144Hz (previously 90Hz).
It’s not the highest refresh rate of any phone – the 165Hz Red Magic 6 and 6 Pro take that crown – but we’re certainly not complaining.
Combined with a class-leading 720Hz touch sampling rate (the number of times the screen registers touch input in a second),
this should provide the super-smooth gameplay we’ve come to associate with Black Shark phones.
Unlike many gaming handsets (including the Black Shark 3 series), the Black Shark 4 and 4 Pro have narrow bezels and a punch-hole selfie camera.
We’re more used to seeing this design on regular smartphones, so it’s interesting to see Xiaomi buck the gaming phone trend somewhat.
Other features shared by both phones include a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and pop-out physical triggers for a more immersive gaming experience.
They both have 4500mAh batteries, as well as class-leading 120W wired charging.
Xiaomi says this will get you a full charge in just 15 minutes.
Hardly any phones support the 120W speeds currently, so it’s impressive to see it come to a relatively affordable handset like the Black Shark 4.
Both the Black Shark 4 and 4 Pro have 8Mp wide-angle and 5Mp macro cameras on the back, but that’s about where the similarities end.
The regular phone has a 48Mp main sensor, while the Pro model bumps this up to 64Mp.
An earlier GSMArena article reported on a Weibo post from Black Shark CEO Lou Youzhou.
It reveals what looks to be a photo taken by the Black Shark 4 Pro:
However, the key difference comes where the processor is concerned. While the Black Shark 4 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset,
The standard Black Shark 4 steps down to the Snapdragon 870. This shouldn’t be a big issue, though – the 870 is essentially an overclocked version of last year’s top-of-the-line 865+,
And more than holds its own in 2021. Choosing the 870 also allows Xiaomi to make the regular Black Shark 4 more affordable, as Chinese pricing suggests.
Sony Xperia 1, 5 & 10 III – Summer 2021
Sony unveiled the 2021 Xperia range in April, with three phones available: the flagship Xperia 1 III, the smaller 5 III, and the more affordable mid-range 10 III.
All three phones are due this summer.
The 1 III boasts the industry’s first 4K 120Hz display at 6.5in and a dual focal length periscopic zoom camera, along with top internal specs including the Snapdragon 888.
The 5 III nets you the same specs and core camera setup, but drops down to a smaller 6.1in a display that’s only Full HD+ – though still 120Hz.
Finally, the 10 III drops to a Snapdragon 690 and compromises on a few of the other specs too, including the camera,
But should still be a competitive mid-range device. And like the other two phones, it packs a 3.5mm headphone jack too.
The Xperia 1 II is a 2020 flagship to be sure, placing focus on a superb 4K HDR 21:9 OLED display, top-tier internals,
And a capable (albeit finicky) trio of 12Mp cameras, backed up by some impressively robust photography and videography smartphone software.
Such traits carry across to its successor – the Xperia 1 III – with enhancements to the speed of the camera system’s already impressive autofocus,
Even better low light shooting and an improved Auto shooting experience.
The camera’s party piece is undoubtedly its variable telephoto lens.
Not only is this the first time we’ve seen Sony adopt a periscopic telephoto sensor to increase the zoom range
But moving lens components within the periscope module allows the phone two achieve two different focal lengths via one sensor – an alternative solution to
The likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, which simply adopted two telephoto sensors fixed to different zoom distances (3x and 10x).
The triple 12Mp setup on the back of the Xperia 1 III consists of a 16mm ultrawide, a 27mm main with OIS (optical image stabilization),
And a 70mm to 105mm variable telephoto with OIS, resulting in 0.7x, 1x, 2.9x, and 4.4x levels of zoom respectively.
A ‘3D iToF’ sensor helps grant the phone ‘real-time tracking autofocus’ capabilities,
Enhanced by an AI algorithm that’s able to track objects, even if they move out of sight momentarily,
Improving on the already excellent autofocus of its predecessor and tieing the Xperia 1 III’s camera experience more closely with Sony’s Alpha cameras.
New BlackBerry Phone – H1 2021
According to Onward Mobility, the new BlackBerry will have 5G network capabilities and a physical keyboard.
These really are the only two indications of specs that we have aside from the phone running Android,
As currently, the announcement is only of the partnership’s existence and nothing more.
According to Onward Mobility, the new BlackBerry will have 5G network capabilities and a physical keyboard.
These really are the only two indications of specs that we have aside from the phone running Android, as currently,
The announcement is only of the partnership’s existence and nothing more.
Onward Mobility has licensed the BlackBerry name and is also working with FIH Mobile Limited, a subsidiary of Foxconn, to manufacture the phone.
The only part of the announcement that hinted at the specs of the phone says that “there is an absolute need for a secure, feature-rich 5G-ready phone that enhances productivity.”
That’s still very vague but suggests that the actual company BlackBerry could be involved at the software level as it was with the TCL phones.
It did not design the hardware, but its secure software was intertwined with Android, and may well be on the new phone too.
Google Pixel 5a 5G – August 2021
There is a big caveat to that though: the big G also confirmed that the phone is only planned to launch in the US and Japan,
And while it hasn’t ruled out a wider release, later on, we’re not getting our hopes up.
An early leak has revealed a phone that looks very similar to last year’s Pixel 4a 5G,
so you should expect a big phone and minimal upgrades beyond some spec bumps – though Google may yet surprise us.
That’s exactly what we’ve seen in the first leaked renders of the phone from the usually reliable OnLeaks,
This points to a phone that’s remarkably familiar – though is closer to the larger Pixel 4a 5G than the regular 4a.
That makes sense now that we know this will be named the Pixel 5a 5G, positioning it more as a follow-up to that phone than the standard 4a.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 2 – Q3 2021
– and we’re expecting to see it sometime in the second half of 2021.
While we had hoped it would launch alongside the S21 series in January, tipsters have suggested it’s currently more likely delayed to late summer, so there’s a bit longer to wait.
When it does arrive, expectations are for a larger outer display and a bigger battery, and almost certainly a jump to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Rumors about improved specs are a bit thin on the ground at the time of writing.
There are, at least, a few things that seem to present themselves as obvious choices for Samsung.
The original Weibo post from Ice Universe mentions a couple of potential hardware details; namely a 120Hz high refresh rate display and a narrower frame than the existing Flip entries.
Contrary to initial assumptions that the Z Flip 2 may turn to Qualcomm’s newest flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset
(or the relatively recent Snapdragon 865+ or intermediary new Snapdragon 870), talk of the phone’s improved affordability looks to come with some notable compromises.
As reported by GalaxyClub.nl, a device with the model number ‘SM-F720F’ has been spotted,
With the ‘F’ indicating that it’s both a device destined for the international market and that it’s a 4G/LTE device, rather than a 5G-capable handset,
which would have a ‘B’ at the end of its name – based on the existing Samsung convention.
In contrast, a more recent report from SamMobile claims that the next Z Flip will have the model number SM-F711,
Though doesn’t specify either an ‘F’ or ‘B’ suffix.
The report does at least claim that the phone will ship with a choice of 128GB or 256GB storage,
And run Android 11 and OneUI 3.5 – another indication of a late 2021 launch since that software version is expected to arrive in late summer,
When the Galaxy Note 21 would have launched, though we now know that phone has been scrapped.
For reference, the original Z Flip sported the model number SM-F700, while the Z Flip 5G used SM-F707.
Apple iPhone SE 2 or SE Plus – H2 2021
Apple’s new iPhone SE went on sale back in April, but rumors since have pointed towards the launch of either a follow-up or a Plus model.
If you’re thinking that might be imminent, though, don’t hold your breath; we could be waiting until the second half of 2021.
The long-rumored SE Plus is not simply a larger version of the iPhone SE, mind you.
Prolific Apple leakster Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the iPhone SE Plus will feature either a 5.5 or 6.1in display and, crucially,
it’ll sport a “full-screen design” like that of the iPhone 11 range. It may also have Touch ID built into the power button.
Check specifications -SE PLUS
Being more than a year away from a potential release, it should come as no surprise that iPhone SE Plus details are light on the ground – but that’s not to say there’s not any information available.
Much like the release date prediction, our only source of information about the iPhone SE Plus comes from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Along with his original release date prediction, Kuo shared various details about the iPhone SE Plus – and it sounds like it could be dramatically different from the iPhone SE.
You see, the iPhone SE sports the exact same design as the iPhone 8, complete with 4.7in display and a single 12Mp camera on the rear, but Kuo suggests the iPhone SE Plus won’t mirror the iPhone 8 Plus.
Instead, Kuo suggests that the iPhone SE Plus will feature either a 5.5 or 6.1in display and, crucially,
it’ll sport a “full-screen design” like that of the iPhone 12 range. While some may argue that this might cannibalize the iPhone 13 lineup,
Which could be available at the same time as the SE Plus, Kuo claims that the SE Plus won’t feature Face ID.
The lack of Face ID smarts means the notch will be smaller than what’s available on the current iPhone range,
And while it won’t feature the rumored in-display fingerprint scanner Apple is allegedly working on,
Kuo claims that the Touch ID scanner will be built into the Power button – much like the new iPad Air.
It’s not a new idea – Android counterparts have been doing this for years – but it’ll mark the first time Apple has built a fingerprint scanner into the Power button of an iPhone.
It makes sense – iPhone SE Plus will only have to press the power button once to both turns on the display and unlock the iPhone.
It’s not quite Face ID level of convenience, but it’s close.
Check Specifications -SE 2021
As Apple is yet to even confirm the existence of a new iPhone SE,
There are no official details currently available on what it may contain. Of course,
That hasn’t stopped plenty of rumor-mongering in the tech world, so here’s what we think you might see in the new iPhone SE.
The most obvious addition to a new model would be 5G connectivity.
All of the iPhone 12 models that arrived in 2020 had this feature,
And it’s one that we’ve also seen on a number of Android phones, including those at similar price points to the iPhone SE (2020).
A14 Bionic processor
Easily one of the most surprising things about the iPhone SE (2020) is that it received the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 range that was the flagship at the time.
If Apple follows suit and releases an iPhone SE upgrade in 2021, we think it’s likely that the upgrade may also feature the A14 Bionic found in the iPhone 13 line-up.
It won’t be a disaster if this doesn’t happen, as the A13 is a very fast processor, but Apple didn’t skimp on the iPhone SE (2020) so there are signs that the same might true of a 2021 edition.
JP Morgan analyst William Yang believes so, suggesting in a recent note to investors that the next-gen iPhone SE will sport an upgraded chipset, likely in the form of the A14 Bionic.
While the iPhone SE (2020) may only have been given a makeover last year,
Taking on the frame of the iPhone 8 and its predecessors, some speculation has been doing the rounds that Apple may continue this practice with the new model.
Moving into the roomier chassis of an iPhone XR or iPhone 11 would mean Apple could leave Touch ID
Behind and bring its full-screen iPhone experience to those who have previously balked at the entry price.
Face ID is now well established, and as such, the price of construction and parts should have dropped enough,
That it would be viable on a cheaper device.
There’s also the advantage that moving to the iPhone XR or 11 frames would only require updating the innards of those models while delivering a true upgrade to the SE badge.
With so many rival cameras now featuring some kind of Night Mode,
It would make sense that this low-light photography feature comes to the iPhone SE (2021). It’s off that the current SE doesn’t have one.
As you can see, there’s still much to be revealed about the new model of the iPhone SE.
We’ll be updating this article as more news appears, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, Stay tuned with us.