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Smartphone Rumors and Predictions of 2021

Smartphone Rumors and Predictions of 2021

It’s January! CES is coming down the line like a stampede of squirrels and it’s been 5 years since I’ve been knee-deep in the smartphone news cycle! I don’t know much when it comes to smartphone things, but I know just about enough to exert my misinformed opinion into the mix. I’m the perfect person to make some legitimate opinions towards the upcoming 2021 upcoming smartphone season, right?

Let’s go over as many rumors, suggestions, and sort-of facts that we can in this story because we’re all tired of hearing about Donald Trump.

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

Let’s break from our regularly scheduled programming to discuss Accessories. As the years go on, I’m amused by the number of times accessories spend in the limelight when it comes to tech news. The AirPods Max carrying case may be more interesting than the headphones themselves. I’m just kidding, but maybe almost as interesting?

Apple (as usual) was busted up for getting rid of the charging block with the iPhone 12 Launch. They called getting rid of the headphone jack ‘courage’, they called getting rid of the charger ‘environmentally focused’. Peak Apple explainers for what could be a cost-cutting measure.

I had a problem with it, but I’m no dummy. Apple may be courageous in being the first company to not package the charging block with its products. But it most definitely will not be the last.

Most companies are going to likely make a move to get rid of extra accessories in phone packaging as we move through 2021. If you do not have a designated pair of headphones available, your best bet would be to purchase a pair of wireless headphones. I would be very surprised if phones available for sale would come with accessories this year. Apple started the trend in 2020, with Samsung rumored to be following the trend with the 2021 series of devices.

That means the Samsung Galaxy S21 will likely come without a charger. Are you ready for Samsung to explain their way out of not packaging chargers? I’m ready.

I was annoyed with not seeing a charger with iPhone 12. Especially when you’re spending the same amount of money on the phone.

After marinating on the idea of not having a charger with the iPhone for a while, I kind of see why it was time for it to go.

I was probably super wrong in thinking it was stupid for Apple to get rid of the charging block. At this moment I probably have about 10 charging blocks in my house. I accept my fate.

Every other company, from Samsung to Xiaomi, to Huawei and the rest of the universe, has made an effort to speak too soon. With inklings of Samsung getting rid of the charger this year, and most other companies following suit, we can probably get used to the idea of having a charger come separately with your phone purchase.

Considering you have to purchase a case, a car charger, headphones, and other accessories needed for the phone, buying a charging block would be par for the course.

We can expect a bunch of silly accessories that come to market with the devices that launch in 2021. So far, we’ve seen masks that double as Bluetooth headphones, battery-powered masks, more phone sanitizers than I feel comfortable with. You know that most 2021 products are going to have some sort of focus on health, cleanliness, or sanity due to the pandemic still being a pretty big thing this year.

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

The focus on health has catapulted smartwatches into the limelight. Apple Watch 6 made a big deal out of monitoring the Blood Oxygen level of the wearer. I have an Apple Watch 4. It’s been fancy.

Anyway, we can expect new smartwatches. A Galaxy Watch Active 3, Galaxy Watch next, whatever, for Android. We can also expect the Apple Watch 7, and perhaps an Apple Watch SE2?

Can we expect some out of left field smartwatch? Of course, we can. We’re in 2021. 2021 is coming for 2020s crown of insanity. I need to see at least one overly expensive smartwatch with years old specifications to feel alive again.

Why not have Alphabet come out with a Pixelwatch? Why not have Fitbit come out with a capable smartwatch. That isn’t the Versa. Let the Versa go. You can do better than a Versa. That’s all I have to say about the Versa.

Oh, they have the Fitbit Sense. That’s cool. Almost the same as the Versa, however.

Do you know what would be wild? If BlackBerry came out with an insanely secure, fundamentally amazing smartwatch for the increasingly concerned society that wonders how we’re ever going to get out of this mess that has been made due to our government not doing its job.

I would be completely for a smartwatch that could help with high-quality health tracking, remote control features, and other specs that you can typically find on an Apple Watch. I love my Apple Watch. Speaking of Apple. . . .

We’ll likely see an updated AirPods Pro, and perhaps an updated AirPods Max later in the year. I would be intrigued by an AirPods Max Lite. Or maybe an AirPods Lite? Anything is possible this year

Photo by Denis Cherkashin on Unsplash

I’ve been notoriously skeptical of Apple over the last year. Every device that Apple launched either made me annoyed or I didn’t really think about it. I was grumpy, it’s okay. Anyway, for more of my slightly misguided anger, see exhibit A through C below.

I understand that some of that skepticism was likely unfounded. I fully stand by my opinion of my miserable attempts at downloading Watch OS 7. But 2021 has helped me see the light!

The upcoming version of Apple’s iconic device, iPhone 13 will be expected to come in mid to late September 2021. The device will likely go back to the typical iPhone announcement schedule that we typically expect after the pandemic pushing Apple to launch iPhone last year in October.

Aside from the typical updates to the processor, RAM, and other internals of the device, if rumors are true, iPhone 13 will bring me a reason to upgrade.

The iPhone 13 will have the hotly anticipated 120Hz ProMotion Display because the display is quite important.

The infamous notch will possibly be thinner, and according to Ming-Chi Kuo, we should see a big ultra-wide upgrade with iPhone 13. Says Kuo (from MacRumors)

“the Ultra Wide cameras on the two high-end models will be significantly upgraded to f/1.8, 6P (six-element lens) with autofocus”

We might see a slightly thicker device I’m so scandalized with the idea of iPhone 13 not having any ports. I’m completely scandalized in a good way. Changes for the iPhone The phone will use wireless charging as its main charging source. A device having no ports is wild and completely hype and the beginning of a change that you will likely see with other devices.

Imagine the Galaxy S22 becoming port-less. Imagine the LG Rollable, slated to come sooner rather than later, with no ports? The smartphone accessory possibilities are endless. Speaking of LG…

You know I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with LG. I’ve had the LG Optimus G Pro, G2, and G6. Overall I never had any complaints, except LG has always been unfortunately on the boring side of things.

Last year graced us with the LG Wing, that weird swivel-y phone that still had a fairly busy user interface. The LG Velvet was cute but expensive, the G8X had that goofy extra screen case that people were alright with.

During CES (which is still happening right now), LG put on a keynote that spoke of the new style of the device with a rollable display. When holding the device in landscape mode, the device expands upwards to a larger tablet-style display. Think of the same type of technology that you would see in Rollable TVs. Classy.

Imagine seeing a rollable display with your phone. We’ve seen a ton of foldable displays from Samsung, Motorola, and Royale over the past couple of years, and we’ve now seen a phone with a dual-screen that swivels out with the LG Wing. A screen that rolls out almost seems like the reasonable next step. So why not check out something fancy like a display that actually rolls out, right? Go check out the LG Press Conference below.

LG CES Keynote (from LG)

TCL also brought us some of the future in the form of a rollable display. I remember seeing the first idea of a rollable display back in 2019. Or maybe 2020? I have no idea it’s all been such a blur.

Anyway, this device looks like it can also roll up to the form of a 7.8″ tablet from a 6.7″ starting size, in a pretty similar fashion as the LG Rollable. Considering TCL’s affinity for slightly more affordable smartphone options, this rollable has a real chance to be in the hands of many people.

We may be going to see a deluge of rollable devices from Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, pretty much anywhere and everywhere over the next couple of years. I’m thinking that rollable is going to be the next foldable, faster than the foldable becoming the new bezel-less device.

As the science behind flexible displays becomes more mainstream, I believe we’re going to see more rollable displays along with the foldable displays that exist like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Galaxy Z Flip, and the Moto Razr 2020.

I do want to see some more out of the box ideas for displays in 2021 and beyond. Let’s see some holographic displays become more mainstream. Nevermind the fact that the technology isn’t exactly mainstream. It would also be pretty awesome to see a major company like Samsung come out with a rollable smartphone available for launch soon. Speaking of Samsung…

TCL CES Keynote…From TCL
Photo by Damo T. on Unsplash

Samsung is extremely popular in the smartphone world, with sales numbers pretty neck-and-neck with Apple as the years have turned.

If you’ve ever had a Samsung phone over the last 10 years, you know that there are going to be at least 70 versions of the same kind of phone. A version of the phone for just about every letter of the alphabet, except for T. I have yet to see a Galaxy T series. The tablet is actually the Galaxy Tab series, as I write this, I wonder why it is not the Galaxy T Series.

The Galaxy series of devices will launch at various points throughout the year, with exuberant specs and extraordinary prices. We will see the best of what Android focused OEMs have to offer with Samsung via their annual Unpacked event. This year the event will happen on Jan 14th.

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

In 2021 we will likely see the Galaxy S21 and Note 21, the Z Fold 3, the Z Flip 3, and a plethora of A-series devices come to market this year.

According to CNET, we’ll see some incremental upgrades to S21. We will also see a possible design revamp as well. The S21 will still come in 3 different styles, the regular, the plus, and the ultra size. The phones are rumored to be 6.2, 6.7, and 6.8 inches respectively with 4000, 4800, and 5000 mAh battery sizes along for the party.

The Ultra is rumored to come with S-Pen compatibility, calling the Note 21 into question. The S21 Ultra could very well take the place of the Note 21 line of smartphones as we move forward through the year. Side note, I had a Note 9 once, I thought the S-Pen would be awesome. The S-Pen was awesome for about 5 minutes.

From CNET, we see that the S21 series of phones will have a redesigned camera scheme closer to the Note Line, further putting the life of the Note Series into question.

As previously stated, we’ll likely see some updated foldable devices from Samsung. Could we see some new style foldable from Samsung?

In November 2020, Slashgear wrote some about possible Samsung tri-fold and rollable designs that may be in the wings as we move throughout the year. Could we see these options in 2021? Again, anything is possible.

Perhaps we could see a lite version of the Galaxy Z Fold. TomsGuide had some mentions of the Z Fold Lite with a starting price roughly $400 lower than the regular Z Fold/Z Fold 2. I would be interested in an inexpensive foldable device. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one.

The decision between a Samsung device and an Apple device when you walk into your local carrier store (or when you search online in this pandemic era of socially distant shopping) will always be a big one. But more smartphones exist in the world. More smartphones will launch this year.

Let us remember that Samsung and Apple are not the only phone manufacturers that are available for consumers to buy. I’ve had smartphones from other carriers, and those phones were just as capable as the Samsungs and iPhones of the world. Other OEMs exist, and they’re going to have announcements this year as well.

If I were to guess, we should see the Pixel 5a and Pixel 6 from Google/Alphabet, the continuation and expansion of the Moto G Line with the Moto G10 series of devices, Sony, and Nokia. We will see bezel-less devices, OnePlus being OnePlus with its One Plus 9, 9T or 90, and the One Plus Nord 2, or whatever.

2021 will see a fair amount of incremental updates from a fair amount of manufacturers. We’ll see multiple cameras, in-screen fingerprint sensors, and selfie cameras in the most peculiar places of smartphones.

We’ll be able to stand utterly confused by the phones that will be available, and the sales reps will be there to guide you back to either Samsung or Apple. I know this game and I know it well.

Just like every other year, we’re going to see upgrades from manufacturers, they’ll be slated to hype us all up. That’s alright.

Photo by radovan on Unsplash

But what I’m hype about is whether we will actually see a new BlackBerry. Tech Advisor gives us the rumor of new BlackBerry on the horizon in 2021. A new BlackBerry device could be coming to the world in 2021. A 5G, physical keyboard, with the glory that is BlackBerry through a licensing partnership through Onward Mobility.

No specs are available for the upcoming 2021 BlackBerry device, except for the 5G capability and the device running Android.

I miss the days when BlackBerry OS was a thing. I am probably the only one that misses BlackBerry OS, but that’s okay.

Is it possible that this BlackBerry will fail miserably? Will we see a magical unicorn of success with the return of the physical keyboard? Can I use BlackBerry Messenger again? I am thoroughly pleased with the possibility of BlackBerry smartphones coming back to life.

Of course, this isn’t the conclusion. We know that we’re going to see tons of devices as the year continues possibly from new smartphone companies as well as old companies. Phones are finally starting to become interesting.

I’ll refer back to this story as we see more phones launch throughout the year. Let’s see what happens. Which phones will launch, which phones will flop, and which phones will be utterly uninteresting in 2021.

I’m so excited for BlackBerry it’s unbelievable.

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