The year 2013 was a strong year for smartphones in terms of technology, features and design. We saw some incredible devices and some underwhelming ones as well, but more importantly, we saw several emerging trends that will continue in to 2014. That being said, check out our top smartphones to expect in 2014.
Keep in mind that several of these devices and specs haven’t been officially announced so the listed specs and features are always subject to change. Nonetheless, there’s a strong set of evidence to support what these devices will have and whether they’ll be coming out this year.
1. Samsung Galaxy S5
This will of course be one of the bigger releases this year. With Samsung following a familiar pattern of releasing a new Galaxy smartphone in the first half of each New Year, it’s only expected that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will arrive by May-June of 2014.
According to the latest rumours, the S5 will feature a 5.25-inch, 2560x1440 resolution display along with a 64-bit Exynos chipset or the upcoming Snapdragon 805.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 featuring 3 GB of RAM, it’s expected that the Galaxy S5 will continue this trend. Other rumoured features include a 16 megapixel camera, 4000 mAh battery, Android 4.4 KitKat along with the usual TouchWiz customisations on top. The S5 will apparently come in two types -- a flexible OLED with a metal frame and a plastic body typical to the series line.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
For all the information known about the Galaxy S5, there’s much less that’s known about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Like the smartphone series, Samsung has gotten into the habit of releasing a new Note each year but near the end.
The other trend is to upgrade the RAM each time, but it remains to be seen as to whether Samsung will be able to fit 4 GB of RAM into the Note 4. It will apparently feature a wraparound display similar to that seen on the Galaxy Round.
The idea right now is to cater to those who want “more professional use” and are willing to spend a premium on the same. Will we see the 64 bit Exynos SoC or the Snapdragon 805 on hand? Will there be a Quad HD display or larger battery capacity compared to the Note 4?
One way or another, we’ll be finding out in the coming months.
3. Apple iPhone 6
Apple has been going through an interesting phase in recent years. While it has continued to update its flagship iPhone line with the iPhone 5S, it’s also attempting to cater to a cheaper mindset with the iPhone 5C.
It’s also brought about the iPad Mini, fingerprint sensors and the new 64-bit A7 CPU. Rumours suggest that the iPhone 6, presumably releasing in Q3 2014, will feature the Retina+ Sharp IGZO display which boasts a full HD resolution.
It’s also suggested the screen size could finally be near phablet size with a 4.8-inch display. Apple may also apparently employ three different variants for the iPhone 6, with an XL version for phablet users, with each shell to employ liquid metal 3D printing for its design and build.
The core CPU could either be an A7 or A8, but expect it to be quad-core and employing a 64-bit architecture. Other expected features include iOS 8, a new 13 megapixel sensor, wireless charging, eye tracking and NFC. It will be interesting to see the final result but we’ll have to wait a good long while.
4. LG G3
LG has seen an incredible two years since collaborating with Google to create the Nexus 4. Its own flagship handset, the LG G2, served as the basis for the Nexus 5 which was and still continues to be a massive success.
It’s expected that we’ll be seeing the next flagship from LG in the middle of 2014 and it will be named the G3 (unless LG employs another name change, as it did when it dropped the “Optimus” tag) and it will feature a quad HD display (2560x1440 resolution) with the rumoured octa-core Odin chipset.
There’s a possibility it could be packing 3 GB of RAM and a 16 megapixel camera sensor, since it will need to be a significant step up from the original. Not much else is known about the G3 though. For that matter it will be interesting to see the impact it has on a certain other device.
5. Next Google Nexus Smartphone
With the amazing success of the Nexus 5, it only makes sense that Google would be planning a new Nexus. The Nexus 4 launched at 2012 end, with the Nexus 5 launching at 2013 end and with the rumoured LG G3 on its way, a new Nexus smartphone seems appropriate.
It will likely feature a 5.2-inch, quad HD display with a Snapdragon 805 SoC and 3 GB of RAM along with Android 5.0, given how the devices have always been the basis for launching new Android builds. That being said, other factors such as battery life and camera quality will be things to watch out for since Google and LG have been steadily making improvements. Will the next Nexus smartphone be priced as appropriately and offer a stellar entry price for the technology on hand? We’ll have to wait and find out.
6. Nokia Lumia 1820
Nokia is now owned by Microsoft and that only means their push for Windows 8.1 smartphones will continue. Though there aren’t many hard technology specs on offer for the Nokia Lumia 1820, due to be announced at MWC 2014, it seems the company will continue to focus on its camera technology this time around as well.
To combat the reign of Android phones, as seen with their rapidly evolving power, you can expect the Lumia 1820 to feature a quad-core Snapdragon 800 SoC with 2 GB of RAM along with a full HD display.
The main appeal will be seen in the Lytro camera, which will allow users to adjust and tinker with the focus in images after taking pictures. So expect some evolution of PureView to take advantage of this fact to go with improved low light photography and OSI.
A metal unibody is also rumoured and we’re a bit sceptical since the Lumia’s polycarbonate is already fetching enough. Hopefully, another Windows Phone OS 8 update or even WP9 will be on the cards.
7. Sony Xperia Z1S
Sony’s phablet is due out this month and is more than a little similar to the Xperia Z1. That can be seen in the full HD, 5-inch TRILUMINOS display, the Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2 GB of RAM and 20.7 megapixel camera.
It also features IP58 certification thus making it waterproof along with being dust-resistant and it will be more comfortable to hold thanks to the plastic edges. The few changes that can be seen are with the new 32 GB internal storage, a large 3000 mAh battery capacity and a better Exmor RS sensor for the rear camera.
As far as great devices for 2014 are concerned, the Xperia Z1S isn’t a monumental leap but it’s a great starting point for those looking interested in a premium Android device.
8. HTC M8
In comparison to LG, HTC hasn’t exactly had the best year. It consolidated its One flagship series into a single premium device in 2013, with a One Mini variant and One Max phablet also available. However, sales and enthusiasm for the same just wasn’t as great compared to the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG.
The HTC M8 will apparently be the next-generation One device and it will boast a Snapdragon 800 SoC along with a full HD, 5-inch SuperLCD 3 display along with an expected 3 GB of RAM. It will be interesting to see how the UltraPixel camera sensor and BlinkFeed evolves or whether HTC will employ something else entirely in its new Sense UI.
Expect to see Android 4.4 KitKat and more or less the same design as the current One. It’s not likely to the device to turn HTC’s fortunes around but it will be something to watch out for.
9. LG G Flex 2
Continuing the tradition of flexible displays, the upcoming LG G Flex 2 is expected to fold 90 degrees. It’s also expected to feature a Snapdragon 800 SoC, though if the release falls somewhere near the second half of 2014, then expect a Snapdragon 805 SoC along with 3 GB of RAM and a full HD display.
In terms of build quality and design, the original Flex was incredible enough and we expect that to continue but with a better battery life. Could an Android 4.4 KitKat interface also be on the cards? We’ll need to wait and see at this point.