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.
They were followed by the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, while the impressive Xiaomi Mi 11 range has also launched, as has the Oppo Find X3 Pro, and the ambitious Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, but there's plenty more on the way if leaks and rumors are to be believed.
From the iPhone 13 to the Google Pixel 6 and beyond, there should be something for everyone this year, while the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 are already on the horizon too, with an early 2022 launch likely.
Below, we’ve highlighted the most interesting options that we’re expecting to see throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond. 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, and they're almost certainly going to land in 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 improved cameras and bigger batteries.
That said, the bulk of the rumors so far point to this years models being fairly minor updates on the iPhone 12 range overall, with the same screen sizes and similar designs.
With the phones being a little way off at the time of writing though, we’re not at all confident of some 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.
Google Pixel 6 range
As you can see from the picture above, they have a completely new design that looks unlike any other phone. On top of that, the Pixel 6 range has a new chipset dubbed the Google Tensor, which for the first time has been made by Google itself, so no other phones have it.
As for the other specs, the Google Pixel 6 Pro has a curved screen of around 6.7 inches with a 120Hz refresh rate, while the basic Pixel 6 has a flat 90Hz screen.
You also get a triple-lens camera on the Pixel 6 Pro, with main, ultra-wide and telephoto offerings – the last of which allows for 4x optical zoom. The standard Pixel 6 lacks the telephoto lens but keeps the other two.
Beyond that we’re mostly in rumor territory, as Google hasn’t fully announced these phones yet, but leaks suggest that the Google Pixel 6 Pro could have a 50MP main camera, a 48MP telephoto one, and a 12MP ultra-wide one, plus a 5,000mAh battery, 12GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage. So unlike the Pixel 5 this might be a seriously high-spec phone.
The standard Pixel 6 meanwhile might have a 4,614mAh battery, 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. We should find out for sure in October, as that’s when we’re expecting the Pixel 6 range to be fully unveiled.
The OnePlus 9T is set to be the company's second major flagship release for 2021, following the already-available OnePlus 9.
This upcoming model isn't something that we know much about yet, but expect it to be a modest upgrade on the OnePlus 9, rather than a complete overhaul.
Rumors so far suggest that it might have 120Hz LTPO screen with a Full HD+ resolution, and that there won't be a OnePlus 9T Pro alongside it. Beyond that, a newer, more powerful chipset is certainly a possibility (perhaps the Snapdragon 888 Plus), as are improvements to the camera and battery.
We're likely to see the OnePlus 9T in September or October based on the company's past form, though at least one source suggests it might have been canceled.
Samsung Galaxy S22 range
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is a bit further out than most phones on this list, but it’s still coming fairly soon, with a January 2022 launch looking likely.
Whenever it does land, rumors suggest that the range – likely to include the S22, Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – will have similar screens and designs to the Galaxy S21 range, but with next-generation chipsets. On that front, it’s reported that most of the world could get a Snapdragon chipset, due to production issues with Samsung’s next Exynos one.
Where we could see bigger changes is in the cameras, especially on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, with one source suggesting that it could have a 200MP main snapper – though others say it will stick with 108MP.
Either way, the telephoto camera could get a useful upgrade, with continuous optical zoom possibly being offered, meaning you’d be able to optically zoom from 2x up to whatever its maximum is – probably 10x. On the current model you can only zoom to 3x or 10x - any in between number will be a digital or hybrid zoom instead.
Details about these upcoming phones are still light overall, but we expect to hear plenty more in the run up to their launch, and going by Samsung’s track record they’re likely to be among the best and most exciting phones of 2022.
Huawei P50 range
The Huawei P50 range has actually already been announced, but it's initially only available in China, so we're still waiting for a global launch.
It could be worth the wait though, as the top model - the Huawei P50 Pro - has a 6.6-inch 1228 x 2700 OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 888 chipset, up to 12GB of RAM, and a quad-lens camera, with a 50MP main sensor, a 64MP telephoto one (with 3.5x optical and 200x digital zoom), a 13MP ultra-wide, and a 40MP monochrome camera.
It also has a 4,360mAh battery with 66W fast charging, but due to the ongoing Huawei ban it runs the company's new HarmonyOS 2 rather than Android, and is also stuck without 5G.
The standard Huawei P50 is a similar phone in a lot of ways, but with a slightly smaller screen, a 90Hz refresh rate, a 4,100mAh battery, and a different camera arrangement, consisting of a 50MP main, 13MP ultra-wide, and 12MP telephoto camera, with 5x optical zoom.
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.
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 then Nokia 10. We've even now heard that it could land as the Nokia X60, given the brand's new naming scheme for its phones.
But while its name remains unclear, we now have a better idea of when it might launch, with a company exec reportedly saying it will land sometime before November 11.
And it could be worth waiting for, as rumors point to an in-screen selfie camera, a sapphire glass display, a penta-lens camera, a 108MP or 200MP main sensor, a 6,000mAh battery, a 144Hz refresh rate for the screen, and a top-end Snapdragon 888 chipset. So this could be a very premium phone.