Eric Zeman / Android Authority
I’m pretty sure 2021 didn’t turn out as some envisioned. We enter the year with high hopes, that’s for sure. Pretty much anything should have been better than 2020, right? Unfortunately, 2021 did not live up to its potential. Covid continues to plague the world despite the arrival of vaccines in late 2020. Additionally, a handful of companies in the tech industry managed to lose their way with hardware, software, and other aspects of their businesses.
In this article, we explore the myriad ways tech firms screwed up the dog over the past 12 months. Here are the biggest smartphone failures of 2021.
Life is no longer good for LG’s mobile business
David Imel / Android Authority
To who Android Authority we like competition. The more companies that make and sell smartphones, the better. That means we hate to see any company pack it up and drop it, but that’s exactly what LG, a longtime industry stalwart, did.
Further reading: The best LG phones you can buy
Citing years of financial losses for the mobile unit ($ 4.5 billion!), LG announced on April 5, 2021 that it would definitively exit the smartphone business by July 31. The writing had been on the wall for some time, it just took LG a long time ago to read it. The company explained that it would instead focus on its remaining business units, including appliances, televisions, smart home equipment and other verticals.
LG’s mobile ambitions date back to the 1990s. It launched into the public mind with popular feature phones like ENv and Chocolate and then entered the smartphone space with notable devices like the G series and Nexus 4.
LG always intended to forge its own path.
If there’s one thing the company should be reminded of, it’s taking risks. LG always intended to forge its own path, despite fierce competition from its rival in the country, Samsung. We only need to look at the modular LG G5, the dual-screen V20 or the rotating display of the LG Wing to show its ambition.
Despite your best efforts, we sadly said goodbye to LG this year, making it one of the top smartphone failures of 2021.
Microsoft Duo takes two
David Imel / Android Authority
It takes something special to land Android AuthorityThe smartphone list fails two years in a row, and yet Microsoft managed to do just that.
The original Microsoft Duo, a dual-screen folding phone, was a disaster from front to back. The hardware was missing important features and the software was even worse. In fact, the phone had yet to receive Android 11 in December 2021, despite the availability of the phone and the software on the market for over a year!
Further reading: Microsoft Duo review
The company looked to rectify its mistakes with Microsoft Duo 2, but still managed to really come up short. Microsoft updated the hardware in the right way with notable improvements across the board. There are no real complaints there. However, what is supposed to make the device unique is the dual screen arrangement. Two 5.3-inch panels combine to create a larger 8.3-inch screen for an expanded workspace. The problem is that the large gap between the two halves of the phone interrupts this workspace. Few apps have been updated with real support for the larger screen footprint. Plus, relying on individual displays for anything makes you feel cramped due to their smaller footprints. In other words, there is still no compelling use case for the Duo 2.
Rounding out the downsides are the hefty $ 1,499 price tag and the extra $ 129 you have to spend to get Microsoft’s compatible stylus. The Duo 2, despite its improvements, is simply not a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Samsung’s move to fold the Note
The Samsung Galaxy Note series is one of the most popular of the Korean firm every year. Hordes of pen-crazed mobile device owners hope to update their monster whiteboards with every iteration. It wasn’t going to be in 2021.
See also: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 review
To be fair, Samsung set us up. The company hinted for nearly a year that it might have outdone the Galaxy Note. The phone, normally announced in August or September, didn’t materialize this year and we know exactly why: Samsung is fully invested in its line of folding.
Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 with much fanfare last summer. Now, on their third-gen hardware, the Fold and Flip have matured quite a bit. However, what’s more important than the updated specs and performance of the 2021 models is the Z Fold 3’s new support for the S Pen and Samsung’s standard series of Note-specific features. For example, Samsung carried over the Note’s Air Command, note-taking templates, and doodling tools. These make the Z Fold 3, with its large internal display, a natural replacement for the Note, despite its lack of space to house the S Pen.
Check: Best S Pen Apps for Android
What remains to be seen is where Samsung will take the Fold and Note in the future. Will the note appear again? Or is he really dead in favor of the Fold? Either way, without the Note 21 in 2021, it’s one of our biggest buggy smartphones of the year.
The great Nokia denial
HMD Global, maker of Nokia-branded phones, littered its fans with bad news recently, putting it high on our list of smartphone glitches. The company said it can’t update its early 2019 flagship 9 PureView to Android 11 as promised. This leaves the device stuck on Android 10 and, more critically, leaves the buying public’s trust in HMD Global broken, scarred and ashes.
Related: Nokia 9 PureView review
What happened here? HMD Global, since 2016, has primarily fostered goodwill among fans of the Nokia brand. It offered a range of affordable, mid-range and high-end Android phones that appealed to a wide variety of consumers from around the world. Additionally, HMD Global managed to run things like timely software updates. However, everything seems to have changed and not for the better.
Android 11 seems to have outpaced HMD Global. The company was slow to deliver the update to its flagship Nokia 8.3 5G and has been even slower to seed the software on its more affordable phones, leaving it at the bottom of the trust rankings.
On the Nokia 9 PureView specifically, HMD Global said that “incompatibilities between the camera and the software would have led to a compromised experience that does not meet our high standards.” The company threw a bone to its 9 PureView owners, saying they could get a 50% discount on the newest XR20 if they wanted. The XR20 is a slim and rugged phone, but it’s not in the same league for premium hardware as the 9 PureView.
Further reading: HMD Global’s handling of Nokia is a story of wasted potential
In short, HMD Global has stumbled and stumbled badly. He urgently needs to right the ship heading to 2022.
Google leads the charge
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
I’m not going to lie – it sucks that Google made our smartphone fail the 2021 list, but it did. What led the all-powerful search giant astray? Of all things, the charging speeds of its flagship Pixel 6 phones. Here’s the Current situation.
Tried: Pixel 6 charges slower than Google implied
When Google announced the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6, they wanted to mention their adoption of the USB Power Delivery PPS charging protocol. Additionally, it recommended that consumers use its latest 30W USB-C adapter (sold separately, of course) for maximum charging speeds. Based on the language Google used, it was logical to assume that the Pixel 6 family charged at the rate of 30W. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Our tests showed that the phones maxed out at 22W, with an average rate of just 13W.
Google didn’t lie, technically, because it never actually said that the phones would charge at 30W, although it did strongly hint that faster speeds were supported. The company later confirmed our findings and admitted that, no, the Pixel 6 series does not charge at 30W, even when using the 30W charger.
Lie or don’t lie, it all felt gross, making it one of our failed smartphones of 2021.
The OPP lost OnePlus unity
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
OnePlus is an ever-changing brand. Like a caterpillar, it is undergoing changes thanks to its DNA. However, the end result, which is almost here, will not be a beautiful butterfly. Instead, the company is more likely to hatch a moth. That’s not to say moths are bad, but OnePlus had the potential to be a wonderful thing, and it looks like it will settle for just being average.
Related: Everything you need to know about OnePlus
OnePlus started life with the goal of being an enthusiastic brand. He had a smart marketing department and relied on his intelligence every time he launched a new phone. The result was a company that built a strong fan base and stood out from its owner, Oppo, under the larger BBK umbrella. However, by the end of 2021, it became clear that OnePlus’ time as a featured is coming to an end.
In July, for example, the company announced that OnePlus and Oppo would merge their hardware research teams. The end result will be OnePlus and Oppo phones that look the most like each other. In addition, the company combined its software development operations. While OnePlus’ beloved Oxygen OS will continue to appear on OnePlus phones sold outside of China, OnePlus phones sold within China will run Oppo’s Color OS. The code base will be shared between the two platforms, leaving less room for OnePlus software to stand out.
If that wasn’t enough, OnePlus’ hardware strategy has taken a turn. The company used to introduce a flagship-class device every year. In 2020 and 2021, however, it diluted its brand with more affordable BBK hardware and a new badge. This further eroded OnePlus’ position with its longtime fans.
Further reading: The end of Oxygen OS and the beginning of ‘OnePlus 2.0’
OnePlus has inferred that its 2022 flagship smartphone is coming relatively soon. When it does, we will know what a moth the company has become.
What was the biggest smartphone failure of 2021?