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), Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2, 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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Sony Xperia Z2
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Motorola Moto X (2014 edition)

Announced, release time soon

he new Moto X, called either the 2014 edition or Moto X v.2, is the successor to the original smash-hit Moto X. It's finally been announced, so you can expect a full release very soon. Like its predecessor, this phone will offer a close-to top-tier experience for a much lower price.

The different construction materials make up the rear plate of the device and offer a seriously different style of phone than you may have encountered. They include various colors of Horween leather; or FSC-certified, sustainably-managed wood. Yes, a phone made out of actual wood or actual leather.

This new Moto X has hardware improvements over its predecessor. It now boasts a bigger 5.2 inch display with full 1080p HD resolution. There's also a quad-core 2.5GHz processor (the same found in the Galaxy S5) and a dedicated processor for voice input, which means faster voice-based commands from Google Now.

Storage options are 16GB or 32GB (no microSD slot), the rear camera is 13MP, front camera is 2MP and WiFi 802.11ac -- the fastest commercially-available WiFi standard.

Finally, Motorola does not add a proprietary user interface (UI) to its Android phones. This means that you'll receive Android updates almost immediately after they are released.


Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Announced, release coming very soon

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will this years flagship phablet for the Korean giant. So far each successive member of the Galaxy Note family has been hugely successful in its target market and there's no reason for 2014 to be any different.

The Note 4 represents a new design direction. It is the first flagship Android device to sport a metallic design from Samsung, rather than relying on the chromed plastic trim that we've all become so unfortunately accustomed to. Surprisingly, Samsung has continued its shift in approach by focusing on the features that people actually use, instead of coming up with new and wacky additions that only a handful of users can appreciate.

The screen size has not been increased from 5.7 inches, but resolution has been up to 2560 x 1440, giving it around 75% more pixels than a 1080p panel. It'll also be one of the most powerful devices on the market, boasting an upgraded Snapdragon 805 processor and full 3GB of RAM.

Camera-wise there's also been a bit of a bump from 13MP to 16MP, which in itself says little, but if it’s as good as the Galaxy S5’s same 16MP shooter then it’s going to be hard to beat. The front-facing cam has been upped, too, and you can now activate it by tapping the rear-side heart-rate monitor.

Ultimately there's nothing crazy or new being introduced with the Note 4, which is actually good news. Once in a while it's nice to see a manufacturer pull back and focus on improving the features it already provides, instead of racing ahead to try and find the next big thing instead of perfecting the bits that people actually use.


Nexus 6

When? October/November-ish

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. Even so, the rumor-mill seems to have settled on the number "6" for the time being for want of a better moniker.

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

Announced, release date very soon

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 once-struggling mobile division. 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 is no different; it's a small upgrade over the Z2 in CPU power, camera sensor technology and battery size. Just about everything else is the same.

It still sports a 5.2 inch 1080p display, is impressively waterproof (IP55 and IP58), and will come running the latest version of Android.


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