The CES and MWC trade shows are now behind us, leaving a long list of desirable new phones in the pipeline. That's only the beginning for 2014, though: We've only seen the appetisers, the scene-setters. While the Samsung Galaxy S5 has now revealed itself, Apple, LG, Microsoft, and Amazon have yet to make their critical plays for this year.
You may notice that there’s no iPhone 6 on this list. We know the iPhone 6 is coming, because Apple is not going out of business. But we don't actually know anything reliable about the iPhone 6, other than the fact that it's coming. I'm just going to leave it there until we have more reliable information. Otherwise, check out our picks for the top upcoming mobile phones below…
The Amazon Phone
We know Amazon is working on a phone. As with a lot of rumoured devices, there's so much noise around the Amazon phone that it's tough to separate the fact from really silly fiction.
Rumours so far include one phone, or two phones. One of them might have a simulated 3D UI created by tracking the user's head position. They might be sold at cost (although Amazon says they won't be free). At the very least, they'll have a phone version of Amazon's new Fire OS, with its simple interface and "Mayday" customer service feature.
Amazon likes to go it alone with product releases, so it won't show these new phones at a trade show. If I were to guess an announcement date, I'd reach for June.
At Mobile World Congress this year, BlackBerry CEO John Chen announced the Q20, the "retro" BlackBerry for all the old-school BlackBerry users who want a full hardware keyboard with a trackpad, Send, and End buttons. As a BlackBerry 10 phone, it'll have a 3.5in touchscreen and run both BlackBerry's new OS and whatever Android apps you feel like downloading from any store other than Google's.
The Q20 will appear in the latter half of this year, probably in tandem with BlackBerry's new server software, BES 12. Don't look for it to be sold to consumers in a big way; the Q20 will be the linchpin of BlackBerry's push back into "regulated industries" such as law, medicine, and the military.
At $629 (£380), the Blackphone (pictured at the top of this article) won't sell a lot of units, but there's nothing else like it: A specialised Android phone designed to protect individuals against all the companies and governments out there trying to harvest their personal information. (Boeing's Black phone is also security oriented, but it won't be available to individuals).
The Blackphone is an Android phone with a lot of privacy-oriented software preloaded, such as the Silent Circle encrypted calling client, Spideroak online storage, and a Security Centre built into the OS which lets you manage app permissions much more sensitively than you can on standard Android. It's coming to the US in June, and we’ll just have to see what happens with any prospective UK launch…
LG G3 / Google Nexus 6
Google's I/O conference is coming on 25 June, and with it, we're likely to see Google's next Nexus phone. Hopefully it won't be called the Nexus 6 because that was the model number of the sad androids in Blade Runner, but we'll see.
The Nexus 6 is heavily rumoured to be based on the same hardware platform as LG's 2014 flagship, the G3, which will likely be announced around the same time. What will be in it? We've heard rumours of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, a 2,560 x 1,440 5.5in screen, and all the new technologies from the G Pro 2: A 4K video camera with optical image stabilisation, and for the G3, Knock Code to unlock, the "selfie flash," and the richer camera app. The software in the Nexus 6 will be dependent on the next version of Android, which we really haven't heard much about yet.
New HTC One (M8)
I hate codenames. I like real product names. So I'm calling the "HTC M8" (the codename we’ve seen a lot on the web) by the sale name most people are using, the New HTC One. Set to be unveiled next week, the New HTC One is an upgraded, but not radically reinvented version of the existing HTC One phone, with a continued focus on audio, video, and the camera.
What's in the upgrade? Recent rumours have suggested a 5.2in screen, dual rear cameras, on-screen rather than silkscreened buttons, a simplified camera app, a microSD card slot, and a body that looks very much like last year's award-winning but not sales-shattering model. Inside, it's rumoured to have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a large 2,900mAh battery. How about the fingerprint reader from the HTC One Max? That might appear as well. The software is now HTC's Sense 6.0 overlay, running over Android 4.4 KitKat.
Samsung Galaxy S5
Mobile World Congress finally gave us the Samsung Galaxy S5, and it looks a lot like the S4, frankly, although its plastic back is now textured. However, it's chock full of new features: A faster 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a fingerprint reader, a heart-rate monitor, a super-fast 16-megapixel camera, and a screen that adapts more sensitively to ambient light. The Galaxy S5 is out on 11 April.
Samsung W750 "Huron"
With Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 announcement coming up in early April, what phones will carry the banner for the new OS? We've heard precious little about what might be coming from Nokia. The best option we've heard about is the upcoming Samsung W750 "Huron," which sounds like a Windows Phone based on the Samsung Galaxy S4 hardware platform. That should make it an interesting device, and certainly one to watch.
The next-gen Yotaphone packs a 5in 1080p AMOLED display and 4.7in 960 x 540 E-Ink display around back. Instead of a small capacitive strip on the rear, the new YotaPhone's second screen is fully capacitive touch-enabled. That means you can interact with the E-Ink display for tasks like web browsing or replying to text messages – it's a big evolution in the dual-screen concept.
The phone itself is no slouch, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and Android 4.4 KitKat. Supported apps can throw images and information onto the E-Ink display, letting you access your important info without having to use the power-hungry backlit display.