As Dark as 2021 Has Been, at Least It Gave Us Colourful Phones

As Dark as 2021 Has Been, at Least It Gave Us Colourful Phones
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo

Hi, it’s Zac again, ready to post another phone take that nobody asked for. Colourful phones rock and 2021 has been a terrific year for them.

For so many phone manufacturers, phone colours end at black, white or silver chassis. You know, safe colours. Colours that aren’t necessarily bad, they just are. It incentivises buying a pretty case and not keeping your phone out of said case. It’s a neutral decision that ensures the colour of the phone won’t compromise potential sales.

But that suuuuuucks. The protection argument for cases is obvious and important, but on the other hand, how about a pretty phone? We know people care about how pretty their phones are — just look at how well iPhones do.

Phone colours in 2021 ruled

Personally, I regret purchasing a green iPhone 11 and keeping it in an ugly black case for most of its life. What a waste of a beautiful colour.

But I’d say this was the year where manufacturers realised just how important it is to have the shell of the phone in a pretty colour. I loved phone colours in 2021.


Apple has a habit of making the most beautiful phone colours with the widest choice available. Apple’s approach has always been uniformity meeting personalisation, which is why its phones come in such beautiful finishes.

colourful phones 2021
Image: Apple

That said, the iPhone is no example — they’ve been colourful for years, so Apple’s phones being colourful in 2021 is no surprise. If anything, the iPhone has gotten more neutral colours since the iPhone X. Apple, you cowards, do bright colours like you did with the iPhone 5C!


OPPO, on the other hand, loved to get creative this year, with the chrome OPPO Find X3 Pro ($1,699), the beautiful two-tone blue and purple A54 ($399) and the light blue Find X3 Lite ($749). What do I notice here? Oh, nothing, only that phones don’t have to be ludicrously expensive to justify being colourful. Just because people are on a budget doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a bit of colour in what they own.

colourful phones 2021
Image: OPPO

(Don’t be deceived by the Black OPPO on the left — it’s actually a chrome finish that looks AMAZING.)


Google also showed up to the party with the Google Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. Previously, Google didn’t venture much into creative colour territory with its phones, but this year it brought along a new design for the phone (with the camera bar) and a two-tone colour approach (you’ll notice that colours above the camera bar are different to those below).

Even the basic white-grey colour looks interesting when met with the camera bar, breaking up the monotony with a two-tone-like pattern break. In my opinion, Google kind of won the colourful phone competition in 2021.

google pixel
Image: Google


Finally, let’s give Samsung some attention. Samsung isn’t afraid of giving its premium line of phones (characterised by the S before the number) a splash of colour, which is exactly what we saw with the S21 range.

colourful phones 2021
Image: Samsung

Unfortunately, though, this was as much colour as the range offered this year. It’s a bit limited, especially compared to the range of the S20FE which dropped late last year (we’ll likely see the S21FE drop at some point, too).

However, Samsung had a trick up its sleeve. Some months after the release of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, it announced the Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bespoke Edition, giving you a tool with which to customise and build your perfect phone.

samsung flip
Image: Samsung

I was a huge fan of these, but unfortunately, the Galaxy Z Flip 3  is a bit too expensive to justify purchasing, with a gimmick that’s not the best for everyone. Regardless, I’d love to see more of this stuff in the future.

Colourful, but not colourful enough

Manufacturers figured out a way to make phone colours look extravagant, personable and uniform this year — giving people enough variety to really express themselves while keeping the colours reeled in enough to look professional. The standard whites, blacks and silvers also got some spice to make them less boring, with things added to the chassis (like chrome finishes or a camera bar) to break up the monotony. Also, blue seems to be the best of both worlds.

It’s safer than I wish phone colours were right now — I’d love for brighter colours and see-through mechanicals (like early iMac computers) to come back into trend, but really anything beyond the boring whites, silvers and blacks of most modern electronics is welcome.