We're seeing super-fast 5G connectivity start to take hold; becoming a standard feature across flagships and appearing with increasing frequency within the mid-range space. We're now seeing screens that boast 144Hz refresh rates, which is good news for gaming and video, and camera phones continue to pile on the megapixels and extra sensors, unlike anything we've ever seen before.
In this feature, we've outlined all the major smartphone launches expected to take place in the remainder of 2020 and early 2021, along with an outline of what new features and hardware specifications have been or are likely to be included.
Read on to ensure your next smartphone purchase is not immediately followed by the regret, tying you into a long two-year contract. (Remember that there is a chance you could upgrade your contract early.)
Pro tip: As these new phones edge closer, the outgoing flagships will fall in price and you'll be able to scoop up some great deals. If you're not bothered about having the very latest tech, check out our take on the best phones you can buy today.
Best new phones coming out in 2020/2021
Honor V40 - December 2020
There's nothing official yet, but Honor is expected to unveil its V40 series some time this December, with at least two phones likely to arrive.
Rumours point to a 120Hz high-refresh-rate Full HD+ display with a dual hole-punch front-facing camera setup, a 50Mp RYYB-pixel-arranged primary camera, and impressive 66W wired charging alongside 40W wireless charging.
This might just be for the top-end model, with other V40 devices dropping to 90Hz and tweaking the camera specs. Similarly Huawei's new Kirin 9000 processor is expected to be limited to the top model.
Get the latest Honor V40 series news
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE - Q4 2020
The recent announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (on sale 2 October) has led many to believe a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE may also be on the way, perhaps in place of a Galaxy Note 20 Lite. If true, it could arrive any time in Q4 2020.
We would expect it to feature a 6.7in AMOLED display and an Exynos 8250 (Europe) or Snapdragon 865 (North America) processor, but some slightly slimmed down core memory and storage specs over the standard Note 20. It is also likely to feature a plastic case to help bring down the price further, and you should expect some camera downgrades, too.
Xiaomi Mi 11 - Q1 2021
MWC might have been pushed back to June, but that doesn't mean Mi 11 (or maybe Mi 20) will see the same fate, traditionally launching in China ahead of its European launch in Q1 2021.
Most of the Mi 11 talk is currently speculation, almost entirely based on some dubious concept renders. However, one feature that's confirmed is the inclusion of the Snapdragon 888 chipset, 2021's flagship Qualcomm chip.
Other rumours include a move (at last) to Quad-HD displays, here a 6.9in Samsung Super AMOLED panel with a 144Hz refresh rate, HDR 10 and a 32Mp under-display selfie camera... Apparently. Mi 11 is also said to get a battery boost to 5500mAh, with up to 100W wired charging, and a camera upgrade to 192Mp!
Samsung Galaxy S21/S30 - Q1 2020
In recent years Samsung has preferred to hold its own Unpacked announcements for the S-series flagships in February, but rumour has it that this year we're going to see the Galaxy S21/S30 series a little earlier in January 2020.
It's likely the new line-up will move to the new Snapdragon 888 processor, at least in the US, and we'd be surprised if 5G didn't come as standard across the range.
The S21/S30 is likely to feature a design evolution rather than revolution, with the same 120Hz (possibly even 144Hz) displays and tweaked 108Mp cameras we saw introduced in 2020, potentially dropping the ToF camera.
A bigger change will come to wired charging, with the S21/S30 tipped to hit as much as 65W.
OnePlus 9 - Q1 2021
Just like Samsung, OnePlus is also rumoured to be bringing its next flagship out a little early, moving from its customary April/May slot to a March 2021 release for the OnePlus 9.
Expect to see a lot of what we saw in the OnePlus 8T - especially 120Hz display and 65W fast charging - along with upgrades to the Snapdragon 888, a new camera sensor, and hopefully the introduction of wireless charging to the standard model.
On that note, we're not sure whether to expect a 9 Pro or not. There was no 8T Pro, but that may just mean that OnePlus is dropping its 'Pro' models down to annual events.
Read more about the OnePlus 9.
Oppo Find X3 - Q1 2021
Oppo used to treat its zoom-heavy Reno phones as its flagship line, but now the Find X series has begun to take more of a spotlight.
If the Find X3 series follows in its predecessors footsteps, expect to see it arrive sometime around March 2021 packing the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, and a heavy focus on camera, display, and charging specs.
Get the latest Oppo Find X3 news.
Huawei P50 - Q1 2021
We've had the Mate 40 phones, so next up from Huawei are the P50 series, expected to be announced in March 2021 if the company follows its usual release cycle.
Expect to see three phones - a P50, P50 Pro, and P50 Pro Plus - with prices going up and over a grand for the top model.
They should be powered by the Kirin 9000 processor found in the Mate 40 phones, and will likely borrow some of those phones' camera features too. They could also be the first Huawei phones to use 120Hz panels, though most rumours so far still only point to 90Hz.
Here are the latest Huawei P50 rumours
Moto G10 - H1 2021
The Moto G series may be the company's budget line, but that doesn't mean they aren't phones to be excited about.
It's hard to predict when the next generation of Moto G will arrive, because the normal timing is out the window, as Motorola has accelerated the progression from the G8 to G9 series in 2020, while dropping the numbering entirely in the US and some other markets.
Still, we're expecting to see the first Moto G10 models some time in the first half of 2021, with the G10 Play or G10 Power likely to arrive first, with G10, G10 Plus, and potentially more to arrive eventually.
As always, we'll see cheap processors, basic cameras, and big batteries, with a clean, stock-ish Android experience across the board - and 5G creeping into a few of the pricier models too.
Get the latest Moto G10 news
New BlackBerry Phone - H1 2021
You read that correctly, BlackBerry is back from the dead again. In August, that US company Onward Mobility licensed the BlackBerry name and has announced that it will work to release a new BlackBerry device in the first half of 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.
OnePlus Nord 2/SE - H1 2021
Aside from the Nord N10 and N100 models, we're still expecting OnePlus to unveil a true successor to its mid-range Nord phone some time in 2021, and early signs point to it being called the Nord SE.
There haven't been any leaks about the device yet, but it's likely it would jump from 90Hz refresh rate to 120Hz and upgrade to the 65W fast charging seen in the OnePlus 8T.
Throw in Android 11 and a new processor and that would make the Nord 2 very tempting indeed.
Google Pixel 5a - H1 2021
The Pixel 'a' phones are always budget-friendly takes on the flagships that arrive a little later, so we're expecting to see a Pixel 5a turn up some time next year - mostly likely in summer 2021.
We don't know much about what to expect from the 5a, if it does arrive, but at this point 5G support is a given. A 90Hz refresh rate is also likely, along with an upgraded processor and - wishful thinking alert - maybe even waterproofing or wireless charging.
Get the latest Pixel 5a rumours.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 2 - H1 2021
It's all but a given that a second Galaxy Flip 2 is on the way - a proper sequel after the half-step upgrade of the Z Flip 5G - and we're expecting to see it some time in the first 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 spring or even 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.
Read the latest Galaxy Z Flip 2 news & rumours
Apple iPhone SE Plus - H2 2021
Apple's new iPhone SE went on sale back in April, but it was always expected to arrive alongside 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.
This 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.
Apple iPhone 13 - Q3 2021
As soon as one iPhone is out, it's time to look to the next, which means we're thinking about the iPhone 13 series already.
New iPhones usually launch in September, but the iPhone 12 was a bit later in October - either way we should see the iPhone 13 series in autumn 2021.
It's likely we'll see a range of four phones again, from a Mini up to a Pro Max, all powered by a new A15 Bionic processor.
Word is that the notch will still be there, but smaller, and we're hoping we'll finally see the display itself jump up to 120Hz. Storage is rumoured to go up to 1TB too, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for the return of Touch ID too.
The more out-there rumour is that Apple might go entirely port-less now that it can lean on MagSafe charging, but we think that change is more likely to roll out for the iPhone 14 or beyond...
Read the latest iPhone 13 news
Google Pixel 6 - Q3 2021
Google normally releases a new Pixel flagship every autumn, so it stands to reason that the expected Pixel 6 will turn up some time in autumn 2021.
We don't know a lot about what to expect from the phone yet, but a jump to a 120Hz refresh rate sounds plausible, and it's also probably time for Google to upgrade its main camera sensor - unchanged for a few years now - to make sure it clings onto its photography crown.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 -2021
Xiaomi broke the rhythm of the Mi Mix series by pivoting to the wrap-around display concept device Mi Mix Alpha, but we're still expecting a proper Mi Mix 4 to turn up some time in 2021.
We don't know a lot about what to expect from the phone yet, but since Xiaomi usually uses the Mi Mix line to test its wilder tech out, we're expecting either that wrap-around screen to come to the 4, or for Xiaomi to unveil its first proper foldable phone.