Best smartphones to look forward to in 2014

With the pace of smartphone evolution moving so fast, there's always something waiting in the wings. No sooner have you spied the latest handset, then there's anticipation of something else, the next big thing.

We've rounded up the best smartphones for 2014, those we consider to be the best across all platforms, and we've regularly updated that list as the smartphone world has evolved over the last year from 2013 in to 2014. You can find those in our Best smartphones 2014 feature.

READ: Best smartphones 2014: The best phones available to buy today

Here we're looking at those phones that haven't yet launched, those we know are coming, or are anticipated. Some will be rumour, some will be fact, but here we'll cut through the speculation to highlight those phones we really want to see.

We'll be updating this list on a regular basis, with those device rumours we think are credible and exciting, and devices just announced but yet to hit the shelves.

Nexus 6/Nexus X

The next Nexus is just about the only device of 2014 that we know nothing about. The iPhone 6 launch event is planned, at least, but for the Nexus 6, or Nexus X, there's nothing.

We're scrabbling here in the realms of rumours, which point to the next Nexus having a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution display.

About the only thing we can be sure of for the next Nexus is that it will be the showcase for a new version of Android. It's simply being called Android L at the moment and there's plenty of talk of being 64-bit, hence the recent run of 64-bit processors, like the SD 805.

Beyond that, it's pretty much guesswork.

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry still exists, even if it's not grabbing as many headlines as it once did. The company has, however, planned an event for 24 September where it's expected to unveil its next device, dubbed Passport.

That Passport name fits with the invite and this device saw a small leak previously where it was pictured with a square display. That's not so far removed from the Q devices we've seen previously, but it looks like a move to a large display and a slightly compressed keyboard over three lines.

That might not be accurate, as the keyboard is about the last bastion of BlackBerry greatness that we're left wanting. Having tried to reinvent itself in recent years, dropping the RIM name and launching the Z10 and Z30 devices, they've failed to find favour with the majority of smartphone users.

Still, if your BlackBerry is getting old and you're desperately awaiting the next update, then mark your calendar for 24 September.

READ MORE BlackBerry news

Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

There are two new devices in the iPhone family, as Apple responds to critics and takes the iPhone to a bigger scale. Both devices offer a premium metal design, nicely sculpted with curved edges, with a skinny waistline.

The two devices offer different screen sizes. The iPhone 6 is 4.7-inches with an odd 1334 x 750 pixels, 326ppi. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch display with a more conventional 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, 400ppi.

The only other difference is that the 6 Plus has a larger battery and offers optical image stabilisation on the rear camera.

Otherwise, both devices ship with iOS 8, support Apple's new Apple Pay NFC feature in the US and have upgraded internal hardware to make them faster and more powerful than before. iPhone 6 will be available from 19 September.

READ MORE Apple iPhone 6 news and reviews

Nokia Lumia 830

Microsoft took to the stage at IFA 2014 to introduce the Lumia 830, a device it's calling an "affordable flagship". It comes with a design that closely reflects the "real flagship" Lumia 930, leading to some seeing this as the poor man's alternative.

It launches with Lumia Denim, which includes the latest from Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 and Lumia tweaks, which mostly revolve around camera performance and Cortana.

The camera is a 10-megapixel PureView with optical image stabilisation and Zeiss glass, the 5-inch display drops down to 720p resolution and it's running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, so it is a step down from the 930.

The price drops too, with Nokia saying you'll be able to buy it for €330. The Lumia 830 will be hitting stores later in September.

READ MORE Nokia Lumia 830 preview

Nokia Lumia 735

Alongside the launch of the Lumia 830 was the Lumia 735, dubbed the selfie phone, so you can already guess what its skills are.

The Nokia Lumia 735 has a 5-megapixel front camera with a wide angle, designed to give you great selfies. It comes with the latest Nokia Denim update so you get the latest from Microsoft with Lumia tweaks, including the Lumia Selfie app.

There's a 4.7-inch display with 1280 x 720 pixel resolution and a 6.7-megapixel camera on the back.

Like the Lumia 830 it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset inside, but you also get a removable battery and microSD card slot. It's said to be highly affordable too.

READ MORE Nokia Lumia 735 hands-on

Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3's appearance at IFA 2014 wasn't a surprise, becuase Sony is a creature of habit. But what was welcomed, was the continued shift to a slimmer and lighter design.

It's in the bodywork that the Z3 really shines, as many of the specs are closely matched to the Z2. That should please many, because the Xperia Z2 was a powerhouse and the Z3 now follows suit.

You get a Full HD display, powerful innards and an impressive 20MP camera around the back. We love the design tweaks too. Hitting the shelves in September, the Xperia Z3 could be the phone where Sony got it right.

READ MORE Sony Xperia Z3 first impressions

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

Many are talking about the Z3 Compact as Sony's real flagship device. Not because it pulls all the best specs in - it's a touch lower spec than the regular Z3 - but because the Z3 Compact doesn't really compromise in moving to that smaller form factor.

The display drops to 4.7-inches and 1280 x 720 pixels and there's a dip to 2GB of RAM, but we can't see many complaining about that, because the device is lovely in the hand.

That's the real point. Despite having flagship power, the Xperia Z3 Compact is a great size and no other device really offers that no-compromise approach. It might get overlooked because it doesn't have a huge display, but for those who don't want a huge device, it's a natural choice for the power user.

READ MORE Sony Xperia Z3 Compact hands-on

Motorola Moto X

The Moto X has been upgraded and it might not be exactly what you expected. Expanding in size, the Moto X gets itself an upgrade to 5.2 inches on the display, with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. Internally it steps up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, sailing into flagship territory.

It does so without filling Android with customisations, so this is a world away from the likes of LG, Sony, Samsung or HTC. Instead you get Android 4.4 KitKat pretty much as its supposed to be.

There's one big thing that the Moto X offers, however, and that's customisation. Using Moto Maker, you'll be able to order the handset colours you like, including a new range of leather backs, which we think look and feel really great.

It can be yours from £430, a little more than the previous, but you get a lot more phone.

READ MORE Motorola Moto X preview

Motorola Moto G

The Moto G, the darling of the affordable Android has been updated, taking the device to a bigger scale.

Like the updated Moto X, the new G is a different device to the previous model, as it now grows to 5-inches. The resolution sticks at 1280 x 720 pixels, so it's not going to be the sharpest 5-inch device out there, but it may well be the cheapest.

That side of the Moto G hasn't changed. Priced at £145, it's just £10 more expensive than the original G. There's a few shortcomings, like the lack of 4G and no microSD card support, but for the price, you get a lot of phone.

READ MORE Motorola Moto G preview

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung wasn't hiding the fact that the Note 4 was coming, and we weren't disappointed when it delivered.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is one of the first devices to launch on the new, more powerful, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, and also gets itself a 2560 x 1440 pixel display, QHD. That's quite the change, setting on the Note 4 as one of the most powerful devices on the market.

The story doesn't end there. The design is slightly more refined than before, with more of a leaning towards metal and less plastic, but Samsung has also made software updates to make it even better for multitasking.

The S Pen has been updated too, making it more sensitive than ever, resulting in a device that delivers in all areas.

READ MORE Samsung Galaxy Note 4 first impressions

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

The surprise launch of Samsung Unpacked 2014 Episode 2 was the Note Edge. We'd seen it as a concept, but never thought that Samsung would actually bring it to the phablet.

It features a curved extension of the display, so the right-hand edge has a strip that's available to be customised, so it can have shortcuts or live widgets on it. The idea is to give you the full expanse of the QHD display.

Otherwise this device packs in the full specs of the regular Note 4, so it's also a powerhouse. We're not entirely sold on how we'd get to grips with the additional edge area, but you can't fault Samsung for pushing innovation.

Certainly, if you want something a little different, the the Note Edge is the device for you.

READ MORE Samsung Galaxy Note Edge first impressions

Tesco Hudl smartphone

When Tesco said it was planning to launch a tablet of its own, no one was to know just how popular and successful it might be in the UK. The announcement that there would be a Tesco Hudl smartphone might be greeted with a snort of derision, or it could be a disruptive device - like the Motorola Moto G - that offers good specs and an even better price.

Tesco has declared that the device will be aggressively priced, but sit at the higher end of the spectrum and run on Android. Whether it's an OEM device with Tesco branding, or something that's sourced and designed to Tesco's specifications remains to be seen, but it could be the sleeper hit of 2014.

READ MORE Tesco Hudl smartphone news

HTC One (M8) for Windows

The HTC One (M8) now comes in a Windows Phone variety, meaning you get all that premium metal body with a dab of Microsoft inside.

It's a Verizon exclusive at launch, sadly, with no word on when the exclusive will lift - however we suspect it will see wider availability in the future.

The HTC One (M8) for Windows comes with the same hardware load-out as the Android version, so there's a powerful 2.1GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 chipset with 2GB of RAM. You get 32GB of internal storage with the option to expand via microSD.

You also get HTC's hallmark BoomSound speakers, offering excellent audio. They flank the 5-inch Full HD display, which is bright and vibrant.

Perhaps the only dubious point is the Duo Camera on the rear, which hasn't been as widely praised on the Android version as HTC might want. It offers the UltraPixel sensor with a second sensor to capture depth data. This can be used for a range of photo effects.

There are some software additions, such as highlight videos and the BlinkFeed content aggregator, meaning you get something to differentiate it from the ex-Nokia rivals.

No word on internal release, but a bonus for Verizon Wireless customers.

READ MORE HTC One (M8) for Windows 

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

When the SGS5 launched, there was a sharp exhalation as a slew of expected spec points weren't met. Rumours talked about a metal body and now those have surfaced with the launch of the Galaxy Alpha.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is Samsung's first foray into a metal-bodied device, but it's not an out-and-out flagship, instead offering a 4.7-inch 720p display. That will lead to a smaller frame and longer battery life, so may be welcomed by some.

It has a 2.5GHz quad-core, or 1.8GHz octa-core chipset, and 2GB of RAM. There's a 12-megapixel camera on the rear and it offers 32GB of internal storage, but doesn't appear to have microSD card support for storage expansion.

The 1850mAh battery sounds on the low side too by modern standards, making for a slightly unusual device.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha will be widely available, but there's no confirmed price or date yet.

READ MORE Samsung Galaxy Alpha news and reviews

Google Project Ara

Created by Motorola, and now shifted over to Google after the sale of Motorola to Lenovo, Project Ara isn't due to early 2015 but is essentially an exoskeleton that allows users to modify what parts they want. That way someone that wants to spend the bulk of their budget on the camera, but doesn't need as much storage, can chose to upgrade that way. Perhaps one person will skip NFC in favour of faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, for example.

There should also be third party components on offer that will allow for competitive pricing as well as new types of parts - like sensors. A person with diabetes may want a blood sugar sensor where another may not.

Users can also looks forward to different textured options that they can 3D print off at home themselves. The speed this phone can develop at, without costing us as much, is very exciting indeed.

READ MORE Google's Project Ara modular smartphone: Everything you need to know