From Apple to Samsung and OnePlus to Xiaomi, all the major smartphone vendors brought new flagship offerings to India in 2021 to satisfy customers looking for an upgrade. Some prominent options include the iPhone 13 series, the Samsung Galaxy S21 family, and the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. This year also saw a list of new budget options hit the market to attract the masses. One of the common features that emerged this year, especially in India, was 5G connectivity. Smartphone vendors also opted for higher refresh rate screens and privacy-focused software tweaks.
On this week’s episode of Gadgets 360 podcast Orbital, host Akhil Arora speaks with a team of experts, including reviews editor Jamshed Avari, deputy review editor Roydon Cerejo and Senior Reviewer Sheldon Pinto to talk about the best phones of 2021 in India. . The team is also joined by Faisal Kawoosa, founder and principal analyst of market research and consulting firm techARC.
The year 2021 saw incremental updates in the smartphone market, with companies including Apple updating their flagships with minor changes. At the same time, players, including Samsung, have brought upgrades to emerging form factors, such as foldable devices, to make them more common and useful to consumers.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to see supply chain restrictions that prevented smartphone companies, including Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi, from adding significant changes to their lineups this year. That resulted in downgrades on some fronts and ultimately led to compromises for customers, especially in budget segments.
Due to the supply scarcity, major companies also paid no interest in upgrading their affordable smartphone models – especially those between the price range of Rs. 10,000-20,000. This has ensured that last year’s options, including the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, remain good for many customers.
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Some brands, including Redmi, Poco, and Realme, have brought 5G phones to budget segments to win over customers amid supply-side issues. However, most of these models support the next-generation cellular network at the expense of certain features or hardware components. It is also important to note that 5G has yet to be rolled out in India from the telcos – and the Indian government has not yet set a date for the 5G spectrum to auction.
Companies like Google and Microsoft also brought in models like the Pixel 6 Pro and Surface Duo 2 to take on the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. But these new offerings failed to hit the Indian market.
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Citing internal research, Kawoosa emphasizes that people spend as much as 25 percent more than they previously bought to upgrade their phones in 2021. He also mentions that better specs and experience drive consumers to purchase new phones these days.
Some of the best phones of 2021 are the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini – given the value they offer for the prices we pay. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is also promising if the budget is not limited. Furthermore, this year, the foldable Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are notable options.
We also discuss what to expect next year and what technologies will likely become mainstream in the coming months.
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