5 upcoming Android phones that are worth waiting for
The last of 2014’s big Android phone reveals are done, so now it’s time to look forward to 2015. All the top OEMs are cooking up new devices, and we’ll be seeing a few of them sooner than you think. If you can resist those holiday deals, big things await you next year, but who has time to keep up on the rumors? We can clarify things a bit.
Not only are there updated versions of some top phones on the way, but a completely new kind of phone is on the horizon too. Here’s everything you need to know about.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung didn’t see the kind of response it wanted from the Galaxy S5. In fact, some reports claim its sales were 40% below expectations. The Korean company knows it needs to win back the fickle consumer, and that should make for a very interesting Galaxy S6 announcement this spring.
There have been a few leaks of supposed specs for this device, but the most plausible relate to a Samsung device with the model number SM-G925F. According to benchmarks for this device, the Galaxy S6 will have Android 5.0, a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED screen, a 64-bit octa-core Exynos ARM chip, 3GB of RAM, 20MP camera, and 32GB of storage. The Exynos chip will probably be replaced with a Snapdragon in US markets, though.
The true test of Samsung’s resolve will come in the build quality, which was one of the knocks on the Galaxy S5. It’s not that it was a fragile phone, but the fully plastic frame didn’t feel very premium. The Note 4 and Galaxy Alpha (seen above) were steps in the right direction, but the GS6 can take Samsung the rest of the way there.
We’ll probably see the reveal of this device in early Spring at a Samsung Unpacked event. However, it’s also possible Samsung will try to get the jump on competitors by showing it off at Mobile World Congress in February.
HTC One M9
The HTC One M8 was a great phone, save for a few irksome choices, like the mediocre Ultrapixel camera. The HTC One M9 (code named Hima) is supposed to offer a nice upgrade over the M8. According to the latest batch of rumors, HTC is going to stick with a 5-inch 1080p LCD instead of going to QHD. The upshot of this being that battery life will be vastly improved. The device will again have a sealed-in battery rated at 2,840mAh.
It should also be running an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (64-bit), 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and maybe most importantly, a 20.7MP camera. The Ultrapixel used for the last two years has been questionable at best, and the Duo Cam was little more than a gimmick. HTC has great image processing software, though. Seeing it paired with a solid sensor is going to be exciting.
HTC has been impressing with its build quality as of late, so the M9 is sure to blow us away once again in this department, and Sense 7 with Android 5.0 should be a nice update with HTC’s slick aesthetic.
LG G Pro 3
LG has been on a roll lately. After the moderately successful LG G2 in 2013, the company was poised to finally offer a challenge to hometown rival Samsung after the so-so launch of the Galaxy S5. The LG G3 has won praise for its large screen and super-fast camera, but the software experience has also been cleaned up considerably. The company is expected to continue hitting Samsung with the LG G Pro 3, which will essentially be a larger version of the G3.
You can expect a refined software experience on the G Pro 3 as this is usually the part of its product cycle LG uses to trial new ideas. For example, the G Pro 2 saw the debut of the Knock Code security feature, which is featured prominently in the G3.
This device is probably a little further off than most upcoming phones of note, but it’s going to be one of the better phablets you can buy. In addition to a larger screen (probably somewhere north of 6-inches), the G Pro 3 will probably have an updated ARM chip –possibly a Snapdragon 805 or 64-bit Snapdragon 810. We’re looking at late this year or early 2015 for the G Pro 3, so Android Lollipop with its enhanced 64-bit support will be the default version.
Google Project Ara
Yes, Project Ara seemed like an elaborate joke when it was first announced. Was it April 1st? No? Huh. The Ara modular phone was inherited by Google when it took over Motorola’s ATAP group before selling the rest of the company off to Lenovo, and it’s not hard to see why it held onto this division. Ara is one of those moonshot things Google loves so much, but they have recently said Ara will be a real product in the first quarter of 2015. In just a few months, a modular smartphone will be a reality.
The core of Ara will have a screen attached to a frame which accommodates a variety of hardware modules for RAM, storage, batteries, cameras, and more. Even wacky niche stuff like projectors could be attached. You will be able to build the phone you want, and upgrade it as new modules come out. To make this work, Google is developing a special branch of Android 5.0 that will support hot-swapping most of these components.
Project Ara will come in several sizes, including small form factors that could cost as little as $15 (before modules). This could be the next big thing.
The CyanogenMod-powered OnePlus One was a very good phone. It had solid hardware and excellent software without all the carrier and OEM bloat. The only problem is that you still can’t just buy it. Okay, that’s actually a big problem. The invite system has been annoying at best and pre-orders have yet to materialize. Still, the company could make everyone happy by getting the distribution right when the OnePlus Two happens next year.
In a recent AMA on Reddit, a OnePlus rep said the sequel is happening, and it’s currently targeted for Q2-Q3 next year. That’s about a year after the first one came out, so no surprise there. There aren’t any details on what sort of hardware the next OnePlus device will have, but you can expect something suspiciously similar to what fellow Chinese firm Oppo is making (the two have some very close ties). The CyanogenMod deal is probably coming to an end, but OnePlus is planning on building its own AOSP ROM for upcoming phones, and I suspect it will contain a lot of CyanogenMod open source code.
What we can surmise about this device is that it will be inexpensive, fast, and probably in short supply. If you can wait it out, the next OnePlus could be a good option when it drops in six months or so