Seven features that could define smartphones in 2021


We streamed, we Zoomed, we ordered groceries and houseplants online, we created virtual villages while navigating laptop shortages to work and learn from home. In many ways, 2020′s pandemic-induced isolation threw our dependence on technology into overdrive, snipping away at our real-life connections while bringing digital relationships to the fore. But for every life-changing Zoom, there was at least one soon-forgotten Quibi. Here's a look at the year's tech winners and losers.

We streamed, we Zoomed, we ordered groceries and houseplants online, we created virtual villages while navigating laptop shortages to work and learn from home. In many ways, 2020′s pandemic-induced isolation threw our dependence on technology into overdrive, snipping away at our real-life connections while bringing digital relationships to the fore. But for every life-changing Zoom, there was at least one soon-forgotten Quibi. Here’s a look at the year’s tech winners and losers.

Every year we witness multiple innovations in smartphones ranging from design to features. In 2020, we saw ultra-fast wired charging, cameras with 100MP sensors and 5G connectivity being added to a lot more devices. As 2021 is around the corner, here are the seven features that should become mainstream across smartphone brands.

1. Lidar scanner
Apple added this new tech in its latest iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. What Lidar fires laser beams and calculates the time on how quickly they return to the scanner and uses this information to map out the surrounding area. This would help improve not just photography but also opens up a scope of applications in augmented reality. In 2021, expect the competing brands from Android to adapt this new scanner in their devices over the year and develop various apps to utilize this new tech.2. Under screen selfie cameras

Over the last few years, we have seen brands offer pop-up selfie cameras, notch style selfie cameras as well as punch hole style cameras on their phones. The next evolution for the selfie camera is to be hidden behind the display so that the user can enjoy a full-screen experience without missing out on a front camera feature. OPPO and Xiaomi have already shown a demo of this technology in 2020, while ZTE launched a phone with an under-screen selfie camera in China. Next year, we expect many more smartphones to employ this technology and offer it in their smartphones.

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3. Ultra-fast wireless charging

In 2020, we saw ultra-fast wired charging go to the next level with phones offering 33W, 45W and even 65W fast charging. There was even an announcement of 125W fast wired charging by OPPO that could charge a 4,000mAh battery in just 20 minutes. For 2021, expect the fast wired charging trend to continue, but we also hope ultra-fast wireless charging to become mainstream. OPPO has announced 65W wireless charging technology already, while Xiaomi announced an 80W wireless charger. Although these would take time to arrive on smartphones, we can expect more phones to come with up to 30W wireless charging support for 2021.

4. Foldable displays
Foldable screens are currently available on select premium smartphones, and 2020 saw these being offered by various brands, including Samsung, LG and Motorola. In 2021, expect this feature to be provided on many more smartphones and that too in a more affordable price segment. Brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Realme, OPPO and Vivo might even bring foldable display smartphones to the mid-range price segment by the end of the year to make the tech more accessible for users.5. Gimbal stabilization
Up-till now, smartphones have offered optical image stabilization with few improvements here and there. This is why most creators preferred to use a Gimbal with the smartphone while creating content. This could change in 2021 as gimbal stabilization technology gets added to the smartphone. Vivo has already done this with its X50 Pro smartphone, which boasts a gimbal camera system that significantly improves the stabilization while recording videos. There is a lot of scope for improvement in implementing this technology, and other smartphone brands are expected to adopt this technology and improve it in 2021.6. Colour changing back panels
A common trend with smartphone brands these days is to launch smartphones in different colours and then launch another colour option after a few days. In 2021, this is set to change as Vivo has developed a technology that changes the back glass colour on the phone. Using electrochromic glass, the Vivo technology will enable the user to change the back glass colour with the touch of a button. The technology has been demoed a few months back, so a real smartphone offering this feature should launch in 2021 by Vivo itself, followed by the competition soon.7. Sturdy screen glassOne of the most significant issues with smartphones today is their glass front and back. The glass design is susceptible to scratches as well as breakage. As per a study in 2018 by SquareTrade, over 5,500 screens are broken every hour in the world. Smartphone display glass has improved over the years to become stronger, but there is a long way to go. Corning did show us their Gorilla Glass Victus that can withstand drops from up to 2 meters earlier in 2020, and Samsung is using it on their Note 20 Ultra smartphones. In 2021, expect a lot more smartphones to shift to this sturdier glass and become the solution to the user’s screen and back glass damage concerns.

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