It’s already shaping up to be a great year for new smartphones. Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG and Google are all gearing up for some serious competition from relative newcomers like Oppo and OnePlus. With a new OS to play with (Android Lollipop) and more power than ever before (please give a warm welcome to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810), we’re expecting big things. These are the new Android phones to get excited about in 2015.
Nexus 5 2015
Google’s silly naming convention means we have no idea what the next Nexus will be called – the successor to the Nexus 6 can’t be the Nexus 7 – because Google used that two years ago for its 7-inch tablet, and some pundits believe Google will dump the brand completely in 2015. Who knows though, it could very well be the Nexus 6 2015.
Google outsources Nexus development duties to a third-party manufacturer, going with LG for the Nexus 4 and 5, Motorola on the Nexus 6, and HTC for the Nexus 9. As for who will develop the latest Nexus, recent speculation suggests that Huawei will be at the helm.
Employing Huawei would make sense for Google’s reach in China, and the company is already well-versed in producing quality hardware at attractive prices. With Google already covering the higher-end with the Nexus 6, could Huawei be manufacturing a 2015 edition of the Nexus 5 to fill in the hole left by the previous version? We certainly hope so, especially because it will be running stock Android.
The LG G4 could be spectacular. The Korean tech giant beat rivals to the market with a QHD display on the LG G3, and we’re expecting it could provide even higher resolutions in 2015. Early LG G4 leaks suggests a slightly curved body a la the LG G Flex 2 (another almighty smartphone of 2015), a handsome black color scheme and brushed-metal-looking rear cover. Expected the G4 to house a 16 MP camera with OIS, 64-bit Snapdragon processor and 3 or 4 GB of RAM. As you can probably tell, the LG G4 has us very excited.
Though it’s not sure that those out West are going to be able to get their hands on this one, we do know that Xiaomi is keen to enter the US market in the near future. There is no denying that the Xiaomi Mi5 could be one of the best devices to ever be released on Android and it might just make it to the US too.
Rumors suggest the Mi5 will feature a bezel-less design, once again with best-in-class specs, for around 300-400 USD. With a design heavily influenced by the Apple iPhone, it would be great if 2015 is the year that Xiaomi finally takes on the Cupertino-based giant. Here’s hoping.
Project Ara Your Phone
Project Ara won’t produce a flagship, and it certainly won’t be called “Your Phone”. But it will be your phone, your design, built to your own specifications. It will be unique to you, and this is whyyour phone might be the Android phone to get excited about in 2015.
We’ve already gotten a glimpse at some of the capabilities of Project Ara, with unique components like a night-vision camera module, and the range of design opportunities that Project Ara presents are extremely exciting. Consider this: typical smartphone manufacturers can’t include components to appeal to “niche” user-interests because they are built to attract as wide a demographic as possible. It’s not built for you, it’s built for everyone. Project Ara is going to change this. What are you into? What do you want to see from a smartphone? You can have – it will be your phone.
Oppo Find 9
Chinese manufacturer Oppo brought a fantastic phablet to the Android table last year with the Find 7which comfortably made its way onto our best Android phones in the world list. It’s no easy task to compete with the other names that dominate Android, but Oppo is doing just that, and we fully expect a Find 9 to appear later this year to take the former audio-equipment and electronics manufacturer to the next level. Details on the Find 9 are a little thin at the moment, but early signs indicate Oppo could be pursuing a bezel-less design like the Sharp Aquos Crystal for the Find 9, on a square device bearing little semblance to the Find 7. It certainly could be interesting.
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Samsung Galaxy S6 could be one of the most important smartphones that Samsung has ever made. After disappointing sales of the Galaxy S5 and criticism of its conservative style, Samsung really needed a blockbuster phone in 2015.
The S6 has arrived and has thus far been well received. Though it won’t be released until April 10, we’ve already been hands-on with the device and we’re more than impressed by what’s on offer. Read all our thoughts in our hands-on Galaxy S6 review.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
What we thought would be nothing more than a pleasant side-dish to the sumptuous Galaxy S6 main course has actually served up something very special. Providing virtually the same specs as the Galaxy S6, but with a brilliantly-conceived curved display, the S6 Edge is Samsung’s response to all those who complained that Samsung had lost its knack for innovation. Read just what it can do in our hands-on Galaxy S6 Edge review.
Sony Xperia Z4
The Xperia Z4 is an interesting one: for all the goodness that the Xperia Z3 brought, it wasn’t a huge step forward from its predecessor. We’re continually hearing that Sony plans to dump its two-flagships-a-year policy, so the Z4 needs to be good enough to lead the way into 2016.
As always, we’d expect premium materials and waterproofing to feature on the Z4 to fit with Sony’s Omnibalance design ethic, but this time around it looks like Sony might be seriously improving its speakers (even as it looks to be ditching microSD cards).
The Xperia Z4’s unique selling point is likely to be its main camera. Sony is famed for its camera sensors, which you’ll find in many other firm’s phones, and we’d expect the Z4 to get Sony’s fancy new 21 MP Exmor RS IMX230, which is good for 30 FPS recording at 4K resolution. Expect the Z4’s camera to lead the pack in 2015.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Thanks to the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung no longer has the premium phablet market to itself – even though it created that market when everybody else was still mocking the idea of big-screened phones. That means the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 needs to be something special – a true Android phone to get excited about.
Rumours suggest an Ultra HD 4K display and a camera with up to 55 megapixels, although that resolution is possible rather than definite so far – if Sony’s sticking to 21 MP the presence of a higher resolution sensor in the Note 5 might be a gimmick rather than a great leap forward. A 64-bit Snapdragon is a given, and we’d like to see wireless charging and two-day battery life too. We’re hoping that the ground-up redesign of the Samsung Galaxy S6 applies to the Note 5 too: it’s a great device, but it could do with a makeover.
Some firms could teach Google a thing or two about sensible names: the next OnePlus handset is almost certainly going to be called the OnePlus Two. After a split with Cyanogen Inc, OnePlus is going it alone and has already developed a new OS, entitled Oxygen, for its second device.
The now-familiar blend of great hardware and provocative marketing is likely to continue, and the device, currently codenamed Lettuce, should pack a 64-bit Snapdragon and Lollipop for a very good price. Count on OnePlus’s invite-only purchase system to return also.
Motorola Moto X 2015
The Moto X (2014) is a great phone at a great price, and we’re hoping the 2015 version addresses some of its weaknesses: the rubbish battery, the mediocre camera, the just-OK screen and the lack of stereo speakers and microSD slot. But will that be enough to keep Moto at the top-tier table?
HTC One M9
The HTC One (M9) arrived looking very similar to its predecessor: the much-loved HTC One M8. Some people were disappointed by the lack of ambition shown in the design, while others have praised HTC’s decision to stick with the well-received areas of its predecessor, while improving the parts that most needed it, such as the camera.
HTC swapped out its maligned UltraPixel rear camera, and replaced it with a “standard” 20 MP camera instead. Thus far, this camera has proved itself to be a real stunner, but UltraPixels haven’t been abandoned altogether: HTC’s front-facing snapper now houses this technology, and this again has shown strong performance. We’re looking forward to a further test in our full review, but you can find out our initial thoughts in our hands-on HTC One M9 review.