Best upcoming phones of 2014

Summary: Keen for a glimpse at the best future smartphones coming soon to a store near you? We break down which upcoming handsets you should be waiting for.

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2014 is set to be an awesome year for smartphones. We already have the LG G3, HTC One (M8), and the Samsung Galaxy S5, all of which are proving to be fantastic devices, but there are even more gadgets on the horizon.

In 2013 the market was split almost entirely between Samsung and Apple, with HTC fronting the amazing HTC One that sadly never really picked up the pace. This year just about every major manufacturer has an awesome device either out or on the way, which could mean that we may finally have more than a couple of outliers to choose between.

LG G3
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HTC One (M8)
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Galaxy S5
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Motorola Moto X+1

Rumored for an August/Sepember announcement

The Moto X+1 is the successor to the smash-hit Moto X. It's rumored to be coming sometime around 'late Summer' in the US, possibly August or September. So far there have been one or two leaked images that cropped up on Android Police, as well as rumors of a 12MP rear camera and options for wood, leather or plastic rear plates.

The X+1 will be the first Motorola flagship device to hit the market after its acquisition by Lenovo. As such, speculation has run rampant as to what we will and won't see.

The thing that has us most interested is what markets we'll see it launched in. The original Moto X was a US-specific phone up until around 6 months after its debut. We're only just now starting to see a major global release. Things could be very different now that Lenovo, a massive global company, is holding the reigns.

We could also see some serious changes to the Moto X motif. The original is loved in the US thanks to its remarkably agreeable price tag and the Moto Maker tool that lets you customize your own phone's color scheme.

There's no guarantee that Lenovo will carry on either of these trends, but rumors have begun to circulate about a large number of back plates, some of them wood, that are destined for the X+1.


Samsung Galaxy Note 4

When? September

Quite a bit has been rumored about Samsung's next flagship phablet. After all, it was SamMobile that invented the phablet market, which has been arguably the drive behind the huge increase in smartphone screen sizes over the last few years. It makes sense that the Korean company would want to keep that stone rolling.

The Note 3 was definitely our favorite phablet of 2013. With a 5.7 inch screen it was big, but not so big that you couldn't comfortably fit it in your pocket. It was powerful, had a great camera and the S-Pen stylus integration is a well-implemented feature that we're yet to see adequately duplicated.

The Note 4 should be no different. Expect a full year's worth of R&D behind this one. This time around the screen is said to still be 5.7 inches, which we hope is true, with the same stunning 2560x1440 resolution of the LG G3.

The CPU probably won't be too much more powerful than the Galaxy S5, but there's sure to be a full 3GB of RAM, which will make multitasking and app management much faster.


The iPhone 6

When? Not soon.

The iPhone 6 is expected to launch sometime around October/November. No-one knows too much about it just yet, except that it should be the best-selling smartphone of the year, again.

This is one of the years in Apple’s two-year cycle when it gets to shake things up again. New number, new design, new iPhone. Let’s hope Apple makes the most of the iPhone 6.

Current, continuously-fuelled rumors are centering around two iPhones. Both would have bigger screens than the current model, and possible feature an increased resolution. The smaller iPhone 6 is expected to be 4.7 inches diagonally, which is the same as last year's HTC One (M7). The larger is being pegged as a 5.5 inch monster, although not much else seems certain.

We’d also like to see Apple make a big play at re-taking the camera crown. It’s going to be tough, with camera-centric devices like the Lumia 1020 existing, but if anyone can do it it’s Apple. For years noone could come near an iPhone in terms of image quality, so the history of expertise is there. A good first step would be defaulting to a widescreen aspect ratio like that of modern Android and WP devices, rather than the squat-looking ratio that iOS is currently running with.


Nexus 6

Absolutely nothing is known about the Nexus 6 yet, except that it probably won't be called the Nexus 6. Google clearly can't keep going with the same naming scheme or next year we'll have a Nexus 7 flagship phone, which is already the name of the Nexus-branded 7-inch tablet. However, the rumor mill seems to have settled on the number "6" for the time being and we don't have any better suggestions.

So what can possibly be exciting about this phone if we don't even have any clues? Simple: Android L.

The next version of Android will probably debut on whatever Google-branded Nexus device we see later this year. Unlike the phone itself, we've already seen a lot out of official announcements demonstrating what it'll be like, how it will run, and the things it will do. It looks like a significant upgrade for the Android platform in every way and the Nexus 6, or whatever it's called, will be the first device to run it.

We also have no reason to assume that Google will change its pricing policy. The Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 were both utterly fantastic phones compared to their price, coming in at around half of what the bigger manufacturers were asking for their similiarly-specced flagship handsets. There aren't too many options on the phone market that give you that much bang for your buck.


Sony Xperia Z3

Sony has adopted close to a 6-month release cycle for its flagship devices, which we think might actually be a tactic that does well for the iconic company. Still, Sony has demonstrated that while this works from a marketing perspective, it's difficult to make significant changes to your tech with only half a year's worth of R&D.

The Xperia Z1 wasn't exactly a huge upgrade over the original Z, and the Z2 is pretty much the same phone as the Z1.

The Xperia Z3 looks to be no different. Leak upon leak has shown it to have minimal changes over its predecessor. Still, its impending release is exciting because it will mean that the Z2 will drop heavily in price. Grabbing a 6-month old flagship at a similar price to if it had been released a year or more ago is a good bargain. Especially when you can use it to take underwater photos.


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