Credit: Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
Samsung had a rollercoaster of a year in 2020. It had its fair share of true successes, such as with the Galaxy S20 FE, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and the Galaxy A series. However, sales within the main Galaxy S20 line didn’t meet expectations. The Galaxy Note series isn’t pulling in strong numbers anymore, either.
If nothing else, 2020 proved Samsung is ready to move away from putting 90% of its focus on the premium market. Most of its big wins revolved around its cheaper offerings. The COVID-19 pandemic might have been responsible for at least part of that. Whatever the reason, though, the company is finally seeing that not everyone needs (or even wants) $1,000+ smartphones.
In 2021, Samsung needs to expand on its budget-friendly successes. On the flip side, it also needs to push harder into the foldables market, which it entirely dominates at the moment. There are actually a lot of things we hope to see from Sammy in 2021, and we’ve compiled the five biggest points below.
1. A larger focus on value
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
Here at Android Authority, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE totally blew us away. Samsung released phones in 2020 that were far better than the S20 FE, but no other phone offers the Goldilocks ratio of value and specs. That helped the phone become our number-one favorite of 2020.
Additionally, phones in Samsung’s other budget lines — most notably the Galaxy A, Galaxy M, and Galaxy F series — also fared well, both critically and commercially. Conversely, the big names in the Galaxy family — the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series — fared relatively poorly.
Samsung does better across the board when it offers great devices at reasonable prices. I know, I know — duh, right? We all might have been able to predict that would be the case, but Samsung can’t argue against it anymore. It has hard data to back it up.
Going into 2021, we hope Samsung can shift its focus even more to its value offerings. Yes, we love our Galaxy S phones and we love the new Ultra offerings. But we are also struggling financially and simply can’t justify spending $1,400 on a phone when a different handset offers all the features we care about at literally a quarter of the price.
2. Better use cases for foldable phones
Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Samsung has already promised a lot of foldables are on the way in 2021. Some of those will even be more budget-friendly (but not cheap). Samsung can release all the foldables in the world but it needs to do a better job of convincing us why we should want them.
Once you remove the wow factor of “my phone can unfold,” what does something like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 really offer? We understand that having a tablet-sized display accessible in your pocket is really cool. That doesn’t change the fact that the Android tablet market is drowning due to a lack of support for tablet-sized displays and tablet-focused applications.
If Samsung really wants us to buy a foldable, it needs to tell us why we should want one. If you head to Twitter (or even the comments section of this article), you’ll no doubt find people who will gladly tell you all about why they love their foldable. The problem is that we need to hear that from Samsung. We need to see it in ads, and we need to see it backed up with software and apps that prove we don’t just want a foldable — we need one.
If Samsung wants to sell a bunch of foldable phones in 2021, that should be its top priority. It should also be working hard at making its existing designs better, more durable, and cheaper. We don’t need a ton of different foldable styles to choose from, we need one or two that work well and will last us a few years before breaking. Then, and only then, will Samsung get people’s undivided attention.
Considering there’s still almost no competition in this space yet, this should be Samsung’s top focus.
3. A slimmer One UI
Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
If you look back at the history of Samsung’s Android skins, you’ll find a lot of negativity. People loathed TouchWiz. The company figured that out and made things smoother, more cohesive, and less cartoonish with Samsung Experience. It was an improvement, but still not as pared down as many would have liked. Then, the designers trimmed the fat, reigned in their ambitions, and made most people happy with One UI.
Related: Here’s everything new in One UI 3.0
Do you notice a trend there? The more Samsung trims down its Android skins, the more people seem to like them. Granted, Samsung can’t turn back the clock and make One UI more like Pixel UI or Oxygen OS, though it can continue the trend of working hard to make an elegant, smooth, and less-bloated software experience.
In 2021, we hope One UI 4.0 (as we assume it will be known) will take us ever closer to the perfect Samsung-ified Android experience. We all want absolute power over our phones and love knowing that we can do whatever we want to. Samsung has always been good at delivering on that. But if you’re going to institute an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink policy towards your software experience, you’d better be ready to keep it very clean and organized. Let’s hope Samsung keeps that in mind in 2021.
4. Compact (but still powerful) phones
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
Android Authority readers have told us a lot about their desire for smaller phones. Samsung came incredibly close to delivering the perfect compact phone experience in 2019 with the Galaxy S10e. For whatever reason, it terminated the “e” line shortly after and went “all huge all the time” in 2020.
That might not have been the best move. The Google Pixel 4a, the Pixel 5, the Apple iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 Mini, and even the Sony Xperia 5 II proved critics and consumers are looking for more compact smartphones.
The problem is, of course, outside the iPhone 12 Mini and Xperia 5 II, most compact phones just aren’t as powerful as their larger counterparts. Samsung, more than any other Android manufacturer, is in a prime position to finally solve that problem in 2021.
As far as we can tell, there won’t be a smaller version of the Galaxy S21 series landing in January, but that doesn’t mean Samsung couldn’t push out a compact version later on in the year. Whatever it does, Samsung can’t ignore the desire for compact-but-powerful phones anymore.
5. Less Exynos, more Qualcomm
We’ve saved the best for last. Here at Android Authority, anger over Exynos processors explodes time and time again. Samsung sells the same phones at the same prices in different parts of the world and delivers wildly different processing quality with those phones. In 2021, it’s time for that to end — or at the very least diminish.
We’ll give credit where credit is due: Exynos processors are getting better. Although we haven’t seen it yet, rumors suggest the upcoming Exynos 2100 — Samsung’s answer to the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 — will be quite good.
We’ve heard rumors that at least one 2021 phone from Samsung will see a Qualcomm processor all around the world, regardless of the market. Unfortunately, that phone is not a Galaxy S20 device or similar.
We hope 2021 brings us a bit more cohesion within Samsung’s lineup when it comes to processors. Make no mistake: Exynos processors will still be a thing and people outside North America will be stuck with an Exynos 2100 instead of a Snapdragon 888. We just hope Samsung shifts the balance a bit towards Qualcomm next year so we can maybe get closer to the day that a Samsung flagship will land with the same processor around the globe.
You tell us: What do you want to see from Samsung in 2021?
We’ve told you what we want the most from Samsung in 2021. Now it’s time for you to tell us! In the poll below, pick the thing you want to see the most from Sammy next year. If you’re feeling particularly talkative, you can head to the comments and explain why you feel that way.
Of course, if you feel like the thing you want the most wasn’t covered here, you can let us know that as well. However, save yourself the time and don’t write that you want to see the return of the headphone jack in flagships. It’s not coming back in 2021 (or ever, most likely).