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Despite the pandemic, phone makers continued to release new models in 2020. The most popular new feature added this year was compatibility with lightning-fast 5G networks. Some reviewers have found that the new iPhone 12 achieves download speeds of almost 3 GB per second under the right conditions. So what’s in store for the best phones in 2021?
Foldable phones evolve and become cheaper
In 2020, foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Motorola’s relaunched Razr finally proved that manufacturers can create displays that bend without cracking or peeling after just a few months of use. But these phones also cost between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000. TM Roh, head of Samsung’s mobile communications business, hinted at a price cut coming next year, writing in a recent blog post that its foldable range in 2021 will be “more accessible to all”. Some reviewers have said that the Z Fold2 is the best phone of the year although they are too expensive for most people.
And while some consumers find foldable phones too thick, rumors suggest LG will. reveal a phone with a thin scroll screen in the first half of 2021. LG already has a TV with a roll-up screen, notes Ben Wood, chief research officer at CCS Insight. He says he is enthusiastic about phones “much like the papyrus scrolls used millennia ago.”
Cameras zoom in
It is difficult to pack a powerful zoom lens in a smartphone because the increase in magnification comes from the increase in the physical distance between the elements of the lens. A few models over the past year, like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, have launched a trick to insert a longer lens into a thinner phone by placing it on its side and using a mirror to capture the image, style periscope. Rumors from Asia suggest Apple East looking at periscope technology for future iPhones, maybe as early as next year.
5G is improving
This year was supposed to be the year of 5G, but as phone makers like Apple and Samsung helped develop compatible devices, wireless carriers have fallen behind. Phone speed test companies have generally found that the most widely available types of 5G are not much faster than 4G. This is because the pandemic has slowed down some network improvements and some carriers still need additional airwave licenses to create enough capacity to deliver faster 5G. Construction is expected to resume next year, and the Federal Communications Commission is currently auctioning off additional perfect waves for 5G.
Ultimately, but not next year, 5G could hit ridiculous speeds of 10 gigabits per second, says Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s senior vice president for technology. It’s fast enough to download all 11 seasons of the Great British Pastry Fair of Netflix on a phone in seconds. But that’s still a few years away, as the design of phones, wireless modems, and networking equipment all need to improve. “These three groups must work hand in hand to evolve together,” he says.
Ultra broadband opens more than just car doors
Over the past two years, Apple has added an ultra-wideband chip to its phones so iPhones will recognize each other faster when exchanging files. The technology is so precise that it can calculate locations with an accuracy of a few centimeters. The 2021 BMW 5 Series sedans are among the first cars to use ultra broadband so owners can use their phones as a key.
But many more phones and devices will receive super-broadband chips in 2021, says Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah, “to generate an ecosystem of interactions between different gadgets.” Expect automatic garage door openers, augmented reality games that work for multiple players at the same time, and tags on your wallet or keys, so they can never get lost between sofa cushions.
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