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7 smartphone trends that really should stop in 2021



Samsung Galaxy Note 20 back panel

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

2020 was an important year for the smartphone industry in many ways. 5G became available for more than just flagship devices, we got folders with improved durability, and medium-sized phones took a big step up in features.

That was not good. For every welcome industry in 2020, there was a trend we do not want to see continued in 2021. Here is our complete list.

Slapping 5G at the end of each name

LG V50 5G logo close up

It is understandable that we see phones receiving a “5G” suffix in the first year or two of 5G’s global availability, but support has become common among flagships today. Hopefully the manufacturers of this naming convention will strike for advanced phones next year. As they become less common, would it not make more sense for brands to use “4G” moniker to denote 4G models instead?

Read more: What to expect from 5G and 5G smartphones in 2020

Another stupid trend seen in 2020 has been a move from Verizon. It went a step further and hit “UW 5G” on its phones, indicating ultra-broadband or mmWave 5G coverage. Probably the worst name in this regard is Nokia 8 V 5G UW. How about just calling it Nokia 8.3 Verizon?

Stop using plastic / “glasstic” on $ 1000 phones

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 review logo

Credit: Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

We have no problem with Samsung’s “glasstic” – the brand wears plastic that is meant to feel more like glass. Our real problem, however, is that the company chose to use the glass stick on the $ 1,000 Galaxy Note 20.

It’s one thing to use a plastic design that looks and feels like plastic on a cheaper phone, but it’s another matter when you spend over $ 900 on an advanced device. We hope Samsung limits this material to devices such as the Galaxy A-Series and Galaxy FE / Lite models. Alternatively, we would like to see the company adapt the glass stick material to feel more like glass.

Another reason why we raised the issue of glasstic on the Note 20 is that Samsung did not actually increase the phone’s specification sheet accordingly. I’m sure many consumers would not mind plastic if it meant the phone had a high refresh rate and / or more impressive cameras, but they did not get any of it.

Meaningless 2MP cameras

OnePlus Nord rear quad camera module

Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

One of the most annoying camera trends in the last two years has been the use of low quality 2MP sensors. It is a transparent attempt to encounter camera numbers. We have seen everyone from Xiaomi and Realme to Samsung and Oppo adopt this strategy, and often use two 2MP cameras so they can boast of offering four-wheel drive cameras.

See also: 2020 mega shootout for smartphone – the best camera phones tested

We will certainly see more brands deciding on a quality over quantity approach for cameras in 2021. In other words, we want brands to improve their main, ultra-wide or even macro cameras instead of just adding more lenses. On the latter, if brands still insist on offering a macro lens, then hopefully we see higher resolution sensors with autofocus instead of toMP cameras.

Slow wired charging from hanging marks

Google Pixel 5 Back Cover 2

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

It’s hard to believe that you can actually buy phones with 65W or even 100W + charging speeds by 2020, such as the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra and OnePlus 8T. What’s even harder to believe is that there are still flagship phones out there that do not offer fast charging.

Related: The rise of ultra fast charging – how 2020 changed the way we charge our phones

Devices like the Motorola Edge Plus and Google Pixel 5 top out at a disappointing 18W, while the iPhone 12 series and LG V60 are slightly faster at 20W and 25W respectively. Regardless, we will see 30W + charging from all the major flagship smartphones as a trend in 2021.

Some consumers are concerned that fast charging may degrade the battery over time, but what is it to prevent brands from charging from 80 to 90% and beyond? After all, this is what several ultra-fast chargers are already doing. Oppo also claimed that the Ace 2 battery degrades to 90% capacity after 800 cycles (ie two years) with 65W charging. Finally, brands can always send a fast-charging phone, but deactivate it by default if they really want to.

Bad update commitments

OnePlus Nord N10 front surface

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Google is already committed to offering three years of system updates to its Pixel phones. Samsung also joined the club this year by offering a three-year commitment to Android version updates for some devices. It was one of the few bright spots in this regard in 2020.

During the year, OnePlus only confirmed an update for the North N10 and N100 phones, while Motorola thought it could get away with mortgaging a version update for the Edge $ 1000 phone. Moto eventually changed the roof and switched back to two version updates, but why did we need to go through this in the first place?

Between the consumers who hold on to the phones for a long time and the financial uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it only makes sense that more brands remain committed to software updates.

Large price increases for flagships

OnePlus 8T rear hero shot

OnePlus 8T

Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Xiaomi, Realme and OnePlus all offered 2020 flagships at a higher price than their predecessors. Part of this is due to apparently higher flagship silicon prices this year. But aside from a few welcome surprises, it’s still quite disappointing to see the lack of affordable flagship phones in 2020.

Read: The best 2019 flagship phones that are still worth buying in 2020

We’ve also seen mmWave versions of phones coming in at ~ $ 100 more expensive than standard 5G versions. Some examples of this include the Verizon versions of OnePlus 8 and Pixel 4a 5G. Hopefully we will see more sensible flagship phones in 2021, but we are not holding our breath for mmWave phones to come down in price.

Quality over quantity

Poco F2 Pro back 2

Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

One of the more annoying trends in recent years is that many OEMs offer lots of phones with only minor differences between them. Do we really have to see all these Realme Narzo series phones when the Realme headphones offer a similar experience? Do we really need seven or eight Redmi 9 variants when half would do it?

We have addressed this before, but we will also see that brands tone down the rebranding somewhat in 2021. Sure, there are sometimes good reasons for rebranding, but companies like Xiaomi certainly went overboard for their Poco brand. Even OnePlus could not limit itself with the N100 – actually a rebadged Oppo A53.


Are there any other major smartphone trends you do not want to see in 2021? Let us know in the comments!


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