If nothing else, 2020 has been a very good year for smartphones. We have seen a number of compelling products at a price range. There were even a few interesting surprises that upset our expectations as the year approaches. We are already excited to see what lies ahead for 2021.
I don’t think too many people would have predicted how 2020 would unfold, but we’re going to do our best to observe a crystal ball over the next twelve months. Here are some of the Android Authority the best staff forecast for 2021.
5G, 5G, 5G
5G has become increasingly viable throughout 2020 and is poised to become mainstream technology in 2021. You will certainly be hearing a lot more about faster data speeds, improved coverage, and new devices over the course of the year. the next twelve months.
For starters, 5G carrier deployments are expected to accelerate over the coming year. Coverage will also improve with the addition of low band frequencies and FDD spectrum below 6 GHz to various networks around the world. At the same time, peak 5G speeds in cities will improve as a number of countries press the switch on their first mmWave frequencies in 2021. Networks in Europe, China, Latin America , Australia and parts of Southeast Asia are all gearing up for their mmWave launch throughout the coming year. Although, it’s not like 4G LTE isn’t fast enough already anyway.
Read more: 5G in 2021: here’s what to expect
At the same time, owning a 5G handset will be even more affordable than this year. 2020 saw the arrival of inexpensive 5G handsets, such as the Google Pixel 4a 5G and OnePlus Nord, powered by more affordable chipsets. The days of paying $ 1,000 for 5G are already behind us. The arrival of budget-oriented 5G processors from Qualcomm and MediaTek, which will reverberate as low as the Snapdragon 400 series, suggests that even budget phones will receive 5G in 2021.
However, 5G might not make a huge difference in our daily phone use. There is still a lot of ground to cover before being able to close the gap with 4G. Even so, we’ll almost certainly know more about the tech throughout 2021.
More affordable foldable phones
Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Foldable phones are one of the most exciting innovations in the mobile space. However, the high prices have so far kept them out of the hands of most consumers. We still expect foldable handsets to remain limited to the upper levels of the market for the foreseeable future, but perhaps a bit cheaper than the $ 1,500 price tags we’ve seen so far.
In early December, Samsung hinted at “more accessible” foldables on their way to 2021. Rumors point to no less than four Samsung foldables coming out in 2021. This includes two variants of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and two editions of the Z Flip 2. A greater choice of handsets indicates a greater variety of prices to come. There will surely be an option that costs less than $ 1,000.
Related: The best foldable phones you can get
The flexible smartphone market is also expected to become more competitive. And more competition is always a good thing for the price. We are planning new foldable products from Huawei and LG in 2021. We have also seen concepts from TCL, Oppo and Xiaomi which have not yet hit the market. Folders are still in their infancy and certainly won’t become ultra-affordable in 2021, but the market is poised to give us a little more choice over the coming year.
Hard times ahead for Intel
It’s time for a broader technology forecast: We don’t expect a good year for Intel.
The arrival of AMD’s Zen 3 architecture saw Intel’s longtime rival wrest the crown of PC performance. This has put pressure on Intel’s market share in the gaming and high-performance PC markets. Stagnant progress in its foundries sees Intel lagging behind in transistor density and silicon efficiency. Continued delays in its roadmap have not convinced the industry that Intel will see its manufacturing issues resolved anytime soon. Intel’s 7nm chips have now been delayed until 2022.
The final hammer blow came at the end of the year, with Apple starting the transition to its in-house silicon PC. As a major customer, the loss could reduce Intel chip sales by millions of units over the next few years. In fact, sections of the PC industry, from laptops to servers, are increasingly considering switching to the more energy-efficient CPU Arm architecture. Intel’s traditional markets are all under threat.
Intel faces an uphill battle in 2021.
Intel has some interesting ideas in the works for 2021, however. Its Alter Lake desktop chips, scheduled for the second half of 2021, will offer a hybrid architecture with small and large performance cores. It is an idea not of worlds outside of the grand d’Arm. Likewise, Intel has new laptop chips under the Tiger Lake-H banner. However, that won’t deter Apple from moving towards internal silicon. Windows laptops can benefit, but it’s also like there’s more interest in Windows on Arm now that Apple has integrated the Arm chat.
Intel will also enter the GPU market with its internal XE card to compete with options from AMD and Nvidia. Still, it’s unlikely that Intel’s first-generation silicon will offer these two any major competition for top-tier graphics performance. It remains to be seen what appeal these GPUs will have for gamers.
Intel is far from down, but it faces an uphill battle to regain much-needed momentum. Much of Intel’s success in 2021 will depend on the launch of its new hybrid processor and new graphics architectures. Instant success is a tall order for any first generation product.
Selfie cameras under screen
Integrated fingerprint scanners are a staple in the modern smartphone market. If our prediction is correct, we may soon be saying the same about underexposed selfie cameras.
ZTE pushed its rivals to the job with the first commercially available phone with a built-in selfie camera. The otherwise run-of-the-mill Axon 20 5G takes some pretty shaky photos through its front camera, but the technology behind it could be a sign of things to come.
Samsung is said to be gearing up for its first underscreen selfie camera, which will likely debut in one of the brand’s 2021 foldable phones. Samsung is not alone, however. Oppo presented a prototype in 2019, but has yet to unveil a commercial product. Xiaomi has announced that it is also developing its own under-screen camera technology, with the first handsets due out in 2021. Nevertheless, the company has already expressed reservations about the quality of this technology.
We should probably temper expectations for these hidden smartphone cameras. The technology has been available for some time, but the Axon 20 5G shows that the image quality is not quite up to standards. There may also be other trade-offs in switching to display solutions that will cause manufacturers to go primarily with the hole punch. As we want to see underexposed selfie cameras become a reality, get ready for a very first-gen experience in 2021.
Rebirth of the compact flagship
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
Some of our favorite 2020 smartphones are smaller than the market trend for flagships of 6.7 inches and above. The Google Pixel 4a and the Apple iPhone SE are two exceptionally small and shiny handsets. The slim Sony Xperia 5 II, along with the smaller versions of the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S20, are also some of our favorite picks over their gargantuan siblings Max and Ultra.
The specs and screen surface are nice, but a phone should also be comfortable in the hand. We’re planning, or maybe hoping, a few more compact (or at least less than 6-inch) handsets in 2021 to capitalize on this trend. And not just at more affordable prices. Why can’t we have a compact phone with a full-fledged camera setup?
Sales will ultimately decide whether the compact flagship will make a bigger comeback in the months to come. However, if the iPhone SE and the latest Google Pixels prove to be as popular as their reviews indicate, we’ll likely see at least a few more compact smartphones throughout 2021.
A bigger case for cloud gaming
OK, Google Stadia hasn’t really taken the world by storm. Plus, cloud gaming takes a back seat for all the news about the new console and graphics card. However, 2021 could prove to be a solid year for cloud gaming platforms, especially given the current state of high-end gaming.
For starters, getting your hands on the latest PlayStation or Xbox is proving to be quite difficult. The hardware situation is even worse in the PC market, with Nvidia RTX 3000 and AMD 6000 series graphics cards virtually impossible to find anywhere. Cloud gaming could help customers hold back with top-notch gaming and top-notch graphics until hardware supply issues are resolved. A few customers might even stick around if cloud gaming wins them over.
But even if you can buy a new console or a new graphics card, should you? With many recent titles suffering from questionable performance even on high-end hardware, gargantuan first-day fixes, and wasted hours downloading regular updates, the case for the cloud gaming plug-in and the nature of the game are more compelling than ever. We must not forget that faster 5G networks will increasingly allow gamers to stream AAA titles wherever they are.
We certainly don’t expect cloud gaming to overtake traditional gaming platforms anytime soon, if ever. Still, many gamers may be starting to consider the benefits of cloud play while hammering around refreshing the order queue and twiddling their thumbs while downloading patches.
What about your predictions?
That’s enough Android Authority crystal ball looking. What are your biggest predictions for smartphones and tech in general in 2021?