Buying a new Android phone is a big investment, and you don’t want to end up with buyer’s remorse. However, new phones are coming out all the time, so you want to choose your timing well. If you’re on the fence about the current crop of smartphones, consider what’s coming up later this year before you get an Android phone that’s already a few months old – that’s eons in phone years.
Device makers are working on the line-up for 2014, and we’re going to be bombarded with new devices before you know it. Let’s see what upcoming Android phones are going to be worth your money when it comes to upgrading time…
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung’s flagship phone is the only device that can come close to matching the monolithic iPhone’s numbers. Samsung has been making a big production out of its announcement every year to show off the features and design of the new device. The rumour mill is already leaking information about what the GS5 will bring to the table, and it might be worth waiting for.
Samsung recently spoke on the record about the Galaxy S5 for the first time. An executive said the company was looking into implementing iris scanning technology as a security feature, but it might not be ready for the Galaxy S5. If you can’t scan those peepers, at least they’ll probably be dazzled by the screen. Samsung is reportedly bumping the 1080p AMOLED from the S4 up to a staggering 2560 x 1440 resolution for the Galaxy S5. The panel is expected to be somewhere around the 5in mark.
As with past Galaxy S devices, Samsung will probably make a version that is based on an updated Exynos ARM chip for non-LTE variants, and a Snapdragon version with LTE. It will likely have at least 3GB of RAM, but Samsung has recently produced more dense LPDDR RAM modules that would allow it to come right up against the 4GB 32-bit limit.
There has been speculation that the Galaxy S5 will be announced at Mobile World Congress in February, but that wouldn’t fit with Samsung’s usual behaviour. Expect a Samsung Unpacked event sometime this spring with an announcement.
LG has been making real strides in the last few years as it has worked with Google on Nexus devices and improved its own branded offerings with the G and G2. With the G2 starting to get a little long in the tooth, LG fans are already looking forward to the G3.
LG created a truly excellent LCD panel for the G2, and the word is that the follow up will be even better. This phone is expected to pack a 5.5in 2560 x 1440 LCD. Behind the display will be 3GB of RAM and perhaps LG’s new Odin octa-core ARM processor. Odin hasn’t been officially announced, so it’s hard to say how it will compare to Snapdragon and Exynos. You can also expect LG to continue with the odd back-facing buttons.
This phone is a bit farther off than the rest of the devices on this list, but it should be official late this spring.
HTC’s flagship device is also due for an update. The HTC One has proven itself to be a solid device – it’s the best phone HTC has made in years, but it hasn’t quite gained the level of popularity HTC had hoped for. With the successor, codenamed M8, the company has the chance to get it right.
A leaked user agent string from the device lists a 1080p screen again, which will probably be more than fine for any rational person, but it won’t look as good on the spec list. A supposed shell from the M8 looks to sport a 5in screen and more rounded corners. The M8 might also finally ditch the physical buttons and go to on-screen controls, based on that user agent report.
One of HTC’s headline features for the One was the Ultrapixel camera, which took excellent low-light shots at the cost of overall resolution (it was a 4-megapixel affair). HTC will reportedly be improving the Ultrapixel camera in the M8 by using twin sensors for better focus and depth of field.
It is possible this phone will pop up at Mobile World Congress in February. HTC had been rumoured to be planning a late March debut for the device.
Sony Xperia Z2
The upcoming Xperia Z2 (currently codenamed Sirius) is shaping up to be a solid handset, though perhaps slightly behind the top-of-the-line hardware. Spec-wise we’re looking at a Snapdragon 800, 3GB of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel camera, and a 5.2in 1080p LCD. The upgrade to Snapdragon 800 should allow this year’s Xperia flagship to record video in 4K resolution.
Like the Z1 from last year, the Z2 (or whatever Sony decides to call it) will have very squared-off corners and a flat water-resistant design. Sony’s phone design could best be described as “understated.”
The Z2 is expected to run Android 4.4.2 at launch with Sony’s customary Android skin, which isn’t as bad as some other OEMs. One of the leaked screens from this device shows that Sony will include a feature similar to Samsung’s Smart Stay – the phone will be able to keep the display on when you’re looking at it, then shut it off when you look away. Also, the handset will automatically answer incoming calls when you bring it up to your ear.
Sony is expected to announce, or at least preview this phone at Mobile World Congress next month.
Galaxy Note 3 Lite
The Galaxy Note 3 has a gigantic screen and equally huge battery. However, it comes with a price tag to match, costing from £500 to £600 sim-free (depending on where you shop). There aren’t really any alternatives to this stylus-packing beast, although Samsung is reportedly close to unveiling the Note 3 Lite, which would offer similar features at a lower price.
The Note 3 Lite is expected to have a 5.5in 720p AMOLED screen, an 8-megapixel camera, 2GB of RAM, a 3100mAh battery, a 1.7GHz dual + 1.3GHz quad-core (Hexa) processor, and the S Pen stylus. It’s basically specced like a Galaxy Note 2 with updated software and a faster processor.
Samsung’s Lite or Mini versions of flagship devices are usually priced towards the low-end of the market, but this phone is looking to be fairly powerful. There is no word on pricing, but it might get an unveiling as soon as next month at Mobile World Congress.