There are plenty of other launches in the meantime though, including quite a few phones that have been announced but not yet gone on sale worldwide, like the Sony Xperia III range and Honor 50. Huawei has revealed the P50 series too, though it's not yet on sale worldwide, and we're awaiting the long-teased revival of the BlackBerry brand.
This year we're seeing foldable designs are becoming cheaper and more durable, and battery technology is constantly improving too. We've also seen software enhancements too, making us even more excited for Android 12 and iOS 15, not to mention Huawei's new HarmonyOS software which will power its upcoming phones and tablets.
Read on to ensure your next smartphone purchase is not immediately followed by 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 models 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 2021
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 - 11 August
Samsung is widely expected to launch the next generation of its flagship foldable series on 11 August 2021.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will pick up where the Fold 2 left off, but is rumoured to add in S Pen stylus support, and potentially an invisible under-display selfie camera inside the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 - 11 August
It's all but a given that a Galaxy Z Flip 3 is on the way - a proper sequel after the half-step upgrade of the Z Flip 5G - and we're expecting to see it at Galaxy Unpacked on 11 August 2021.
When it does arrive, expectations are for a larger outer display and new two-tone design, and almost certainly a jump to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Read the latest Galaxy Z Flip 3 news & rumours
Honor Magic 3 - 12 August
Honor hasn't even given the Honor 50 (which you'll find below) its promised global launch yet, but it's already moving on and has announced it will reveal the Honor Magic 3 series on 12 August - and again, it says this one is going global.
Leaks and official teases all point to a giant circular rear camera module for a single super-powerful sensor, while Honor has confirmed that the phone will be powered by the Snapdragon 888+ chipset - likely making it the first phone in the world to use it. Like the Honor 50, it should also have full Google support when it eventually ships worldwide.
Find out more about the Honor Magic 3.
Motorola Edge 20 - 19 August
The Motorola Edge 20, 20 Lite, and 20 Pro are the latest additions to the company's slowly growing mid-range and flagship line-up, set to go on sale on 19 August.
The new models all include 5G, high refresh rate OLED displays, and 108Mp main cameras.
Chipsets vary - from a Dimensity 720 up to a Snapdragon 870 - and the supporting cameras also get much better as you move up, with a 16Mp ultrawide and 8Mp 5x periscopic zoom lens included in the Edge 20 Pro.
Read more about the Motorola Edge 20.
Sony Xperia 1 III - 19 August
Sony unveiled the 2021 Xperia range in April, with three phones available: the flagship Xperia 1 III, the smaller 5 III, and the more affordable mid-range 10 III. The 10 III is already out, and the 1 III will join it on 19 August.
The 1 III boasts the industry's first 4K 120Hz display at 6.5in and a dual focal length periscopic zoom camera, along with top internal specs including the Snapdragon 888.
Google Pixel 5a 5G - August 2021
Google has confirmed that the Pixel 5a 5G is on the way, and that it will be announced around the same time as last year's 4a models - which makes August 2021 likely.
There is a big caveat to that though: the big G also confirmed that the phone is only planned to launch in the US and Japan, and while it hasn't ruled out a wider release later on, we're not getting our hopes up.
An early leak has revealed a phone that looks very similar to last year's Pixel 4a 5G, so you should expect a big phone and minimal upgrades beyond some spec bumps - though Google may yet surprise us.
Get the latest Pixel 5a rumours.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 - August 2021
Xiaomi's Mi Mix 4 is widely tipped to launch in China some time in August - though it's less clear whether or not the phone will make it to the UK and the rest of the world.
This is tipped to be the most powerful - and expensive - numbered Mi Mix phone yet, supposedly using a Snapdragon 888+ chipset, 120W wired charging, and Xiaomi's first attempt at an under-display camera.
Get the latest Mi Mix 4 news
Honor 50 - Summer 2021
We've all but given up hope that the Honor V40 series will make it to the UK, but we now know that we will be able to buy the Honor 50. Available now in China, it's launching globally - including the UK - "later this year".
The Honor 50 is powered by the new Snapdragon 778G chipset, which also delivers 5G support, and supports 66W charging with even faster 100W charging on the 50 Pro model.
Both versions get a quad rear camera, led by a 108Mp main lens. An ultrawide, depth sensor, and macro camera round out the set. The 50 has a 32Mp selfie lens, while the Pro packs both that and a second 12Mp wide-angle selfie.
Best of all? Honor has confirmed that it will be able to include Google Mobile Services on the international version of the phone.
Get the latest Honor 50 news.
New BlackBerry Phone - H2 2021
You read that correctly, BlackBerry is back from the dead again. In August 2020, US company Onward Mobility licensed the BlackBerry name and announced that it will work to release a new BlackBerry device in 2021.
The company had targeted the first half of the year, but that's now been and gone, so we're not sure exactly when to expect the new BlackBerry.
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.
Sony Xperia 5 III - September
The last of Sony's Xperia III line is set to launch in the UK at some point in September - a whopping five months after Sony first announced it.
The 5 III nets you the same specs and core camera setup as the flagship Xperia 1 III, but drops down to a smaller 6.1in display that's only Full HD+ - though still 120Hz.
Find out more about the Xperia 5 III
Huawei P50 - Q3 2021
After teasing them at the HarmonyOS launch, Huawei has now revealed the P50 and P50 Pro in China, and we're hoping they'll make their way to the West some time in the next few months.
Both phones run the new HarmonyOS operating system, and boast high refresh rate OLED displays, fast charging, and powerful camera setups.
One oddity is that both use the Snapdragon 888 (with a Kirin 9000 variant of the Pro model too) but use 4G versions of the chip - a limitation of the company's ongoing US trade restrictions. That means that fancy as these phones are, they are 4G-only and still lack Google mobile services.
Check out the full Huawei P50 specs
Xiaomi Mi Note 11 - Q3 2021
We're overdue the announcement of the Mi Note 11, though despite that there have been very few leaks about the device so far - though just enough that we're confident it is on the way.
Going by the Mi Note 10, we should expect top camera and battery specs paired with a mid-range processor, and we'd expect to see it announced some time in the next few months.
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, maybe even in an under-display sensor.
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. It's also rumoured to ditch Qualcomm in favour of an in-house chipset, à la Apple and Samsung.
Leaks also point to a pretty radical redesign, with a bold new camera module, but it's too early to say for sure if those rumours are legit or not.
Other leaks point to a device known as the Pixel XE, but it's not yet clear if this is a fake, a new phone, or simply a codename for the Pixel 6.
OnePlus 9T - Q3 2021
OnePlus usually releases a tweaked 'T' variant of its flagship six months on, so we're expecting to see the OnePlus 9T arrive in September/October this year.
While there were three OnePlus 9 models - a regular, Pro, and India-exclusive 9R - we're only expecting a single 9T to arrive this autumn.
It's tipped to use a 120Hz OLED panel with variable refresh rate, and may be the first OnePlus phone to use camera hardware provided by Hasselblad - the company's new photography partner.
Read more about the OnePlus 9T.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE - Q4 2021
Much like the S20 was followed by the S20 FE, it's widely expected that the S21 will eventually be joined by the S21 FE - most likely around October if last year's release pattern is anything to go by.
Spec details are thin on the ground so far, and there's already disagreement - on whether it will have a 60Hz or 120Hz display, for example. Still, most agree the phone will have an AMOLED panel and the latest Exynos and Snapdragon chipsets.
Google Pixel Foldable - Q4 2021
This is a bit of a wild card - but leaked internal documents and bits of code suggest that Google may be working on a Pixel-branded foldable device to launch in late 2021.
Beyond the device's existence there haven't been many leaks with details of what sort of foldable device it will be, or what specs it will have, but we know a lot of people will be curious about a Google-branded folding phone with that Pixel camera.
Oppo X 2021 - 2021
The clue's in the name really, with the Oppo X 2021 expected to launch...well, some time in 2021.
This rollable phone from Oppo was first unveiled last year and seemed to be only a concept phone, but subsequent announcements from Oppo suggest that the phone might launch as a consumer product after all - though expect it to be ruinously expensive, with both a scrolling display and new wireless air charging tech built-in.
Read the latest Oppo X 2021 news.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold FE - 2021
Samsung is yet to confirm anything official, but we have pretty good reason to expect that a more affordable 'Fan Edition' of the Galaxy Z Fold is set to launch some time in 2021 - only we have no idea when.
One early leak pins the phone as costing $1,099, with a Snapdragon 865 chipset - last year's flagship - though curiously claims it will lack the 5G support that has so far been mandatory with that chip.
Others claim that the Fold FE will simply be the first-gen Fold, re-packaged at a lower price tag to reflect the older tech - that would mean the even older Snapdragon 855, but would explain how Samsung could hit a mainstream price point.
Read more Galaxy Z Fold FE rumours and news
Xiaomi Mi 12 - 2021/22
Xiaomi usually unveils its latest Mi series flagship at the beginning of the year - but the Mi 11 arrived in China at the tail-end of December 2020, so there's also a chance that the Mi 12 could arrive from December 2021.
With the phones so far off rumours are still light, but we've heard rumblings of a 200Mp camera and even 200W wired charging on the Ultra model - though that's likely to arrive even later. It's also almost certain to be one of, if not the, first phone to use the next flagship Snapdragon chipset.
Read more about the Xiaomi Mi 12.
Samsung Galaxy S22 - Q1 2022
Samsung releases a new flagship phone series every spring, like clockwork, so we're expecting to see the Galaxy S22 arrive in spring 2022.
We don't know too much about what to expect, but it seems a safe bet that we'll once again get three phones: a standard, Plus, and Ultra models.
Camera updates seem inevitable, but the specific specs are hotly debated by leakers, with word of a 50Mp upgrade for the regular and Plus, and a 200Mp jump for the Ultra - the latter denied by other tipsters.
Get the latest Galaxy S22 leaks and rumours.
Apple iPhone SE 2 or SE Plus - 2022
Apple's new iPhone SE went on sale back in April, but rumours since have pointed towards the launch of either a follow-up or a Plus model. If you're thinking that might be imminent, though, don't hold your breath; we could be waiting until 2022.
The long-rumoured SE Plus 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.
Foldable iPhone - 2022/2023
A folding iPhone has been rumoured ever since the first foldable display tech existed pretty much, but thanks to leaks and rumours we have pretty good reason to believe Apple is at least working on a foldable iPhone - even if it's probably years away.
Apple is rarely the first to market with new tech, though given that Samsung has already released several iterations of its folding tech there's a risk Apple will look backwards if it doesn't follow suit until 2023 - though if it can perfect the tech in that time it may well be worth the wait.
Check out all the foldable iPhone rumours so far.