The future smartphones of 2021

(Pocket-lint) – With the pace of smartphone evolution moving so fast, there’s always something waiting in the wings. No sooner have you spied the latest handset, that there’s anticipation for the next big thing.

Here we look at those phones that haven’t yet launched, the upcoming phones for 2021. We’ll be updating this list on a regular basis, with those device rumours we think are credible and exciting.

As for already-launched handsets, we’ve rounded up the best smartphones for 2021 elsewhere – those we consider to be the best across all platforms. If your budget is a little smaller, there is also our budget smartphones for under £200 feature – and there’s a mid-range roundup up to £400 as well. 

The upcoming generation of phones

Before we dive into the detail, here are some of the anticipated handsets for 2021:

  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
  • Huawei P50 Pro
  • Honor 50
  • Google Pixel 5a 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
  • Nokia X50
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold E
  • Sasmung Galaxy S21 FE
  • Apple iPhone 13
  • Apple iPhone SE 2 Plus
  • Google Pixel 6
  • Folding Google Pixel
  • Huawei Mate 50 Pro
  • Oppo folding phone
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OnePlus Nord CE 5G

OnePlus has confirmed that it is preparing to launch the next device in the Nord family – the Nord CE 5G. This is expected to offer mid-range specs but at a competitive price to follow on from the successful Nord of 2020. The event is scheduled for 10 June. CE means Core Edition.

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The Huawei P50 and P50 Pro are expected to launch around May 2021. We’re expecting a 6.3-inch and 6.6-inch display respectively. We’ve also seen some massive camera housing on the back, with three or four cameras on the rear. A Pro+ version might add a fifth sensor. We suspect much of the focus will be on Harmony OS, with Android firmly in the rear view mirror.

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Honor 50

Honor is now a separate company to Huawei – and rumours suggest its next flahship could be the Honor 50. Leaks have suggested a couple of big camera rings on the rear – like the Huawei P50 – but the company is now working with Google, so expect Google apps. It could be revealed in June 2021.

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Google Pixel 5a 5G

Leaked designs for the Pixel 5a came as something of a surprise – but did come from a reliable source. They were followed by Google confirming it was coming, so we’re looking at a real phone. We don’t know much more, but rumours say an 11 June launch might be on the cards.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung is focusing its efforts on foldable phones and we’re expecting it see a new Flip in 2021. We think it will appear in July 2021. The display is said to get an update to 120Hz for smoother scrolling, while it’s thought it’s going to be cheaper than the predecessor.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung’s next Z Fold model is expected to be the flagship phone for the next-generation of folding phones from Samsung. It’s expected to take the progress of the Z Fold 2 and add S Pen support into the package. There’s a rumour that Samsung will add an under-display camera for the first time. Launch is expected in July 2021.

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Nokia X50

Although there have been many rumours surrounding a Nokia 9 PureView replacement, the trail seems to have gone cold, instead suggesting that Nokia might launch a Nokia 8.3 replacement with five cameras – and possibly called the Nokia X50. This could have a 6.5-inch display, run Snapdragon 700 series hardware and have a 108-megapixel main camera.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold E

There have been several threads of a rumour that suggest Samsung is looking at more affordable folding phones – and the Galaxy Z Fold E is what we might get. There’s talk of a Fold model with a smaller external display like the Z Flip, designed to sell much cheaper – with $1100 suggested. Could this be a cheaper Fold model for 2021? 

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

There’s a 19 August date circulating suggesting that’s when we’ll see the Galaxy S21 FE – the cheaper version of Samsung’s flagship phone. You can expect it to offer value for money and prove to be a popular model, with a 6.4-inch display and a camera system the same as the Galaxy S21+.

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Apple iPhone 13

A couple of early rumours have hinted at Apple reducing the notch on the display, with some also saying that Apple will adopt an under-display fingerprint scanner. It’s also thought the mini model might be dropped. There might be a boost to a 48-megapixel camera to support 8K video capture.

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Apple iPhone SE Plus

As soon as the 2020 iPhone SE was announced, rumours started circulating about a larger model. With the iPhone SE essentially taking the iPhone 8 body, there’s those wondering if a Plus model will be launched to slot into the iPhone 8 Plus space. With the new iPhone 12 mini costing much more than the SE, will Apple fill this cheap-but-big gap?

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Google Pixel 6

A mass of leaks has shown off the design for the future Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, suggesting a fairly radical design, a change of direction in the cameras and perhaps a Google-designed chip to power it all.

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Folding Google Pixel

News of a folding Pixel first appeared in 2019, with a second leak in 2020 suggesting that the codename was Passport, and that it would be launched in Q4 2021. 

With increasing support for folding and larger phones in Android 12, and news from Korea that Samsung Display has been tapped-up to supply a 7.6-inch folding display for Google, a folding Pixel might be on the horizon.

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Huawei Mate 50 Pro

The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is said to be huge, with a 7000mAh battery and a 6.8-inch display. It’s said to be powered by the Kirin 9000, but we have doubts about Huawei’s chip stock. It wouldn’t be expected to launch until October 2021.

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Oppo folding phone

Oppo has shown off folding phone prototypes before, including an out-folding device. But the most recent leak suggests that Samsung Display will provide a 7.7-inch display for a clamshell-style device. Little else is known. 

Writing by Chris Hall.

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