Take one look at the Android smartphone market throughout 2020 and you'll notice that there have only been a few "innovations". The majority of these have come courtesy of Samsung, who seems to know how to release a great foldable phone. Not only did we get the Galaxy Z Flip, but also the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Samsung took a chance with the original Galaxy Fold, and despite the near-catastrophe surrounding the not-really removable screen protector, the Fold still turned heads. With the Z Fold 2, it almost feels like this is a completely different device from the first generation. And while seeing that kind of technology leap is amazing, there's still something missing from the Android side of things.
Look to Apple for guidance
It's time to dive a bit into the Apple camp for a bit, but stay with me here. Apple brought back the iconic MagSafe branding, but not in the same way many expected. Sure, there's the new MagSafe wireless charger and MagSafe Duo as the pseudo-replacement for AirPower, but it doesn't stop there.
You see, Apple's new MagSafe integration with iOS and the iPhone 12 lineup has opened the door for some pretty awesome accessories. Instead of relying on third-party accessory makers to try and come up with something, Apple took matters into its own hands. From the MagSafe Wallet that just pops on the back of your phone, to the Belkin MagSafe Car Charger, and even Apple's own cases, these all provide a smoother and more enjoyable experience.
If Samsung took some time and stepped back from trying to bring us a kitchen sink full of software features and next-generation hardware, maybe the company would see it's time for something different. Samsung already provides fast wireless charging and an array of wireless charging accessories, but MagSafe is just different.
Being able to slap your iPhone on the MagSafe charger and having it align properly on the first try has been a game-changer. There's no need to be concerned with the phone not being placed in just the right way or at just the right angle. Having a three-card wallet that doesn't need adhesive and can be used with or without a case is another point for those looking for improvements to their everyday lives.
There are alternatives, but that's not what we want
Sure, you could pre-order the upcoming Mobile by Peak Design system, but there are still limitations. First, if you want a case for your phone, you might be out of luck. Then, there is the option for using the Universal Adapter to connect your accessories, but those aren't easily transferred from phone to phone. Plus, it's adding more bulk to a phone that could already be pretty enormous if you're a fan of the Note 20 Ultra or the upcoming Galaxy S21 Ultra.
With 2021 on the horizon, and the Galaxy S21 likely to be announced in the coming weeks, it's probably a bit too late for a MagSafe competitor from Samsung. However, there's plenty of time for something truly special and awesome to be introduced, and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Samsung does it.
There is another question when it comes to an innovation like this. "Why does it have to be Samsung?" And that's a very valid question, but to be honest, Samsung owns the majority of the market share in the Android world, and while we could see the likes of LG or Motorola try something similar, it's unlikely that it would really catch on. Samsung has the ability, the means, the R&D department, and the market presence to really do something different in 2021 and beyond.
So Samsung, please, "borrow" MagSafe from Apple, or create something completely different that will blow our socks off.
What could Samsung deliver?
So we've spent much of this discussion focusing on a MagSafe competitor of sorts in terms of just charging. But the truth is that Samsung already does a pretty stand up job when it comes to providing an array of chargers and charging methods for its devices. That's going to be more important than ever if rumors surrounding the removal of the charging brick with the Galaxy S21 are to be believed.
Maybe Samsung could actually shock the market, and there's one specific category that we can think of — tablets. Yes, Samsung already makes the best Android tablets, and there's really not much competition until you get to the budget market with the Fire Tablets and Lenovo Tabs. But with rumors of the Galaxy Note line being removed entirely, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra rumored to support the ultra-popular S Pen, this opens the door for a new product.
The new 2-in-1
Hear me out for a second. Maybe it's time for Samsung to create something similar to the old ASUS PadFone X, which turned a smartphone into a tablet. It was originally introduced in 2014, before hitting the market later in the year and ultimately falling pretty flat.
The premise of being able to transform your smartphone into a tablet is the dream when it comes to being productive. Instead of buying a tablet and a smartphone separately, just combine the two and use either one based on your current needs. This combination removes the need for an additional line on your cellular plan, along with dealing with the data costs associated with using your mobile hotspot.
Phones are so incredibly powerful today that they are better than trying to buy the most basic tablet or even a laptop (other than maybe a Chromebook). Samsung is packing the latest technology into its devices on a quarterly basis, and the company already has the "kitchen sink" mentality from a software standpoint.
What would this 2-in-1 look like?
Truth be told, there's really no telling what Samsung would do with its R&D for a device like this. But for the true productivity nerds (hello there), it would be awesome to have a device with the overall design of the Galaxy Tab S7 or S7 Plus and your S21 would slot into a keyboard attachment. The phone would act as the trackpad, while providing all of the power one could need.
The interface could be the same way that it is, with a mix between Samsung's One UI and the DeX Desktop Mode. The only reason why we think this would be better than slotting into the back of your tablet like the PadFone X is to keep a slim and sleek profile. Then, there would be an S Pen included, as the company has already been including its unique stylus with the last few generations of the Galaxy Tab flagship tablets.
We can dream, but Samsung would quickly "win" 2021 with something that changes the way we use and think about using our smartphones and tablets.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.