Best smartphones to look forward to in 2015
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 to envy.
We've rounded up the best smartphones for 2015, those we consider to be the best across all platforms, and we've regularly updated that list as the smartphone world has evolved.
You can find those in our Best smartphones 2015: The best phones available to buy today feature.
Here we're looking at those phones that haven't yet launched, those we know are coming, or are anticipated. 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.
The LG G4 launched on 28 April and it will hit UK stores on 28 May. It sports a 5.5-inch QHD LCD display, for a pixel density of 538ppi and according to the company, it features 20 per cent greater colour gamut, 25 per cent more brightness and 50 per cent greater contrast than the competition.
The handset is powered by a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, Adreno 400 GPU developed for the LG display, 3GB of RAM, at least 32GB of storage with microSD expansion and a 3000mAh battery.
It was the 16-megapixel rear camera that LG pushed the hardest during the launch announcement though. The new sensor is 4K-capable and offers a larger aperture than its competitors at f/1.8, which LG says will enable better low light photography and less blur in fast moving objects. The camera features the world's first colour spectrum sensor to read an object's exact colour before it takes the photo and there is also an 8-megapixel front-facing selfie camera on board.
The LG G4 arrives with UX 4.0 layered over the top of Android Lollipop and it introduces several proprietary features. Quick Shot will allow you to take a picture with a double tap of the volume button on the rear without having to wake up the display first and the camera will offer three users modes including a Manual mode that allows for shutter speed adjustment.
READ MORE LG G4 review
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung follows an annual release cycle and while the Galaxy S series takes the beginning of the year, the Galaxy Note series tends to be towards the end - traditionally at IFA in Berlin. If this cycle continues, it should mean we see the Galaxy Note 5 announced in then next few months.
There has been talk of two devices, a traditional Note along with a dual-edge Note device, but of course, nothing has been officially confirmed yet. A 5.9-inch display with an Ultra HD Super AMOLED for the standard Note 5 has been touted and other rumours have claimed Samsung will follow the same design as the Galaxy S6, introducing a metal and glass finish.
Other rumours have suggested an 18-megapixel or 21-megaixel rear camera, coupled with a 5 or 6-megapixel front camera, up to 128GB of internal memory, a fingerprint scanner and a USB-Type C. In terms of power, there have been claims of the Snapdragon 810 chip supported by 4GB of RAM, but it has also been speculated the processor will be taken in house, like Samsung recently did with its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge devices.
READ MORE Samsung Galaxy Note 5 rumours
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active
The Samsung Galaxy S6 launched at MWC 2015 in March of this year, alongside the Galaxy S6 edge, but it appears the South Korean company isn't finished with this smartphone family just yet. The water and dustproof, ruggedised version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 has been officially confirmed, although not on purpose.
The handset had been rumoured but then Samsung listed it on its own US website in a chart illustrating which of the company's devices are eligible for Samsung Plus points. There were no spec details but claims have suggested the Active model of the Galaxy S6 will come with a 5.1-inch QHD display just like its brother.
The same octa-core Exynos 7420 processor is also rumoured to be under the hood, along with 3GB of RAM. Its camera, it is claimed, will be 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel respectively.
Sony Xperia Z4 / Sony Xperia Z3+
The Sony Xperia Z4 was announced in Japan on 20 April 2015. Many expected a global launch for Sony's new handset, but Sony has made it clear that the Xperia Z4 is for Japan and staying in Japan.
It's an incremental update over the Sony Xperia Z3, sticking to much the same design, but boosting the specs in some areas - mainly the chipset and the front-facing camera. It's a blink and you'll miss it difference.
Following the launch of the Xperia Z4 however, we saw the Sony Xperia Z3+ name make it's first appearance on a Russian website, followed by a passing reference in a Sony white paper, which is a legitimate Sony document.
It's widely expected that the Sony Xperia Z3+ will have the same specs as the Xperia Z4, which if true, would mean the same OmniBalance design, 5.2-inch Full HD display, 20.1-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. A Snapdragon 810 and 3GB would also be on board if it follows the Xperia Z4 and there should also be a capless Micro-USB charging port.
The only rumour referring to release date suggests end of May so if true, we shouldn't have to wait much longer.
READ MORE Sony Xperia Z3+ rumours
Google is more than likely working on its next Nexus smartphone and while Motorola and LG have both had the pleasure of partnering with the software giant in the past, rumour has it Huawei could be making the next device.
Gizmo China claimed Huawei is on-board to produce the next Nexus phone, which will replace the Motorola-made Nexus 6. It has been suggested it could feature a 5.7-inch OLED display from Samsung, with a 1440 x 2560-pixel resolution.
Huawei tends to pack devices with its own Hi-Silicon Kirin chip, but the next Nexus device will probably come with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 chipset instead. Gizmo China didn't shed any other details about the phone, though the rumour mill is hoping it will ship soon with 4GB of RAM.
The Nexus 6 didn't arrive until late last year so even with Google's I/O coming up at the end of May, we suspect we might be waiting a few more months before any official details are revealed on the next Nexus.
READ MORE Nexus 6 review
Motorola Moto X (2015)
The first and second generation of Moto X were announced in August 2013 and September 2014, when Motorola was owned by Google. The company has since been taken over by Lenovo and a third generation of the device is rumoured to be in the works.
A website called STJS posted a leaked spec sheet for the third Moto X, claiming the phone will feature a 5.2-inch QHD AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32/64GB of memory, a 16-megapixel Clear Pixel camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3280 mAh battery.
A Verizon engineer named Jose Arturo also revealed on Google+ in April that Motorola plans to add a front-facing flash for selfies and microSD support to the upcoming phone, which was spotted by Droid-Life before the post was deleted.
Other rumours are currently thin on the ground, but if Lenovo sticks to the previous release cycle, we can expect to see plenty more speculation in the coming months.
READ MORE Motorola Moto X rumours
Apple iPhone 6S
Just as the sun rises after the sun sets, there will be a new iPhone in 2015. Following the patterns of update cycles of the past, it will be the iPhone 6S, and chances are, it will have the same design as the iPhone 6, making a few updates in a few places.
You can expect the same size display and resolution, but you might see the introduction of Force Touch. This new method of interaction was introduced on the Apple Watch as well as the new MacBook, so it makes sense for it to come to the iPhone 6S and new iPads.
We can expect the next iteration of iOS to be previewed at WWDC in June, and launch on the iPhone 6S but it is too soon to tell what features we'll see arrive.
There's also the rumour circulating that the iPhone 6S will use the new aluminium that Apple developed for the Apple Watch. This is said to be strong, but 60 per cent lighter than other aluminiums. With Bendgate blighting the iPhone 6 Plus launch, a stronger material might fix that problem.
READ MORE Apple iPhone 6S rumours
OnePlus is a smartphone manufacturer based in China. It's best known for a slightly viral approach to marketing its smartphone, using an invite-only system to make availability more exclusive.
OnePlus announced through the AMA that it planned to release OnePlus Two in the second or third quarter of 2015. Shortly after opening sales of the OnePlus One globally, OnePlus once again confirmed it would soon launch the OnePlus Two, but through the same invite-only system.
Rumours are suggesting the new device will come with a 5.5 or 6-inch display, sporting a 1080p or QHD resolution. There have also been claims of a Snapdragon 805 and 810 processor, 16-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, 32GB storage and a 3300mAh battery.
The CEO of OnePlus also discussed pricing in May over Weibo, claiming 2499.99 Yuan would be a reasonable price for the OnePlus Two, which converts to £260.
READ MORE OnePlus Two rumours
HTC J Butterfly 3
The HTC J Butterfly 3 is another smartphone many won't be able to buy, sitting on KDDI's Au network in Japan and unlikely to appear elsewhere. That said, it could be possible that HTC will release a model with similar specs to this device, but call it something else for the rest of the world.
The HTC J Butterfly 3 has a 5.2-inch Super LCD3 with a 2650 x 1440 pixel resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with support for microSD expansion. It also features a 13-megapixel front camera, like the Desire Eye, and the Duo Camera on the rear with a 20-megapixel sensor, like the HTC One M9+.
All this hardware is held together with Android 5 Lollipop and Sense 7, so you get all the features you expect, packed into a waterproof plastic body. It's arguably more flagship than the HTC One M9 so here is hoping the Taiwanese company will launch a similar model this side of the water.
HTC One M9+
There were rumours of the HTC One M9+ before the M9 launched. This phone is now official, following a launch event in China. It's pitched at the Chinese market first and there's no word whether it will ever be seen outside Asia.
The HTC One M9+ has a 5.2-inch Quad HD display and is powered by an octa-core MediaTek chipset. There is a fingerprint scanner on the front, while a 20-megapixel Duo Camera sits on the rear.
In some ways it's again more progressive than the M9 flagship that was launched in March, with HTC looking to other hardware manufacturers, experimenting with that camera, but still offering high quality construction.
We're hoping it ventures outside of Asia, it certainly move things on for HTC.
Huawei's new 2015 flagship is the Huawei P8. It offers slick design with a high-quality metal body that's only 6.4mm thick, so it's thinner than the iPhone.
There's a Kirin 930 octo-core chipset inside and a 5.2-inch Quad HD display on the front, which is capable of generating some fantastic colours.
However, Huawei has heavily customised every aspect of Android using its Emotion UI and some might feel that the heavy addition of features, and the departure from Android norms has gone a little too far.
The camera is making great claims though, as is the battery management. The other exciting thing is the price: you should be able to get this flagship for around £100 less than its rivals.
Not only did Huawei unveil a new flagship recently, but it is partnered by a huge compadre, the Huawei P8max.
This is a huge 6.8-inch device, so it's closer to a tablet than a smartphone, offering the same quality design and build as the smaller model, but also the same resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels. That makes it pretty low in terms of pixel density.
You can expect plenty of power and there's a huge battery that should give you around two days of use. There's also a pair of clever cameras, offering promising performance, although Android is heavily modified again with Huawei's Emotion UI.
You should be able to get all this for less than many phablet rivals though, with a €549 price tag already announced.
READ MORE Huawei P8max first impressions
Huawei Ascend Mate 8
The Huawei Mate 8 has leaked on a roadmap that suggested it will arrive as soon as next month, with June as the listed date. The leaked roadmap appeared on Mobile-dad and the leaked specs suggest it could be an exciting phablet when it does appear.
According to the rumours, the Mate 8 should feature the same size screen as its predecessor at 6-inches, but it will get a pixel bump from Full HD to Quad HD. It is also expected to come with a Kirin processor and the camera is listed at 16-megapixels.
The only problem with the Ascend Mate 8 is an international release. The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 was supposed to get released worldwide but it didn't get far out of China, despite being a huge success there, so we aren't getting our hopes too high for the Mate 8 just yet.
READ MORE Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review
Microsoft 940 (Talkman) and 940 XL (Cityman)
Microsoft's executive vice president Stephen Elop announced a new Lumia would be arriving this year and since then, renders have been doing the rounds. The latest renders are of the rumoured Lumia 940, also known as Talkman, and the Lumia 940 XL, also known as Cityman.
The handsets have not been officially announced yet, but rumours suggest the Lumia 940 will come with a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, while the Microsoft Lumia 940 XL is expected to feature a larger 5.7-inch screen with higher 2560 x 1440 resolution.
There should be a 32GB model of the Lumia 940 with 64-bit hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor or 64GB and 128GB versions with 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 815 processors and both will have 3GB of RAM and Intel RealSense. The rear camera is tipped be a 25-megapixel PureView with Zeiss lens, triple-tone LED, 4K video and OIS while the front-facing camera should be 5-megapixels, while the battery is expected to be 3250mAh.
The Lumia 940 XL is expected to have the same specs as the 940 but with 4GB of RAM and a larger 3950mAh battery, along with digital pen support. Both handsets are expected to launch as the flagship phones when Windows 10 is released.
Sony Xperia Z4 Compact and Ultra
The Sony Xperia Z4 Compact is apparently going to arrive with 3GB of RAM, a 20.7-megapixel camera, 32GB storage, and a 4.7-inch screen with 1080p resolution. You can also expect a 3000mAh battery, Cat 9 LTE, wireless charging and IP68 water and dust proofing.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Ultra should arrive with a 6.44-inch display with a QHD resolution. It should also come with 3GB of RAM but a smaller 16-megapixel camera and larger 4000mAh battery. Unlike previous versions of the Ultra this model should also come with a stylus.
Sony has made a start on the Z4 family with a new 10-inch tablet, followed by the Japan-only Xperia Z4 but as the Z4 name doesn't seem to be making it's way to the rest of the world, we are taking the compact and ultra rumours with a pinch of salt for now.
READ MORE Sony Xperia Z4 news
Asus ZenFone 2
Asus was one of the first companies to launch a new device in 2015 with the Asus ZenFone 2 launching at CES 2015 in Vegas.
The company stuck with Intel for the hardware, with an Intel Atom Z3580 paired with 4GB of RAM, which should make for a really powerful handset.
There's a 5.5-inch display, with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution as well as a 13-megapixel camera on the rear. Asus is making great claims about this camera, saying it will offer low light performance like you haven't seen before but we'll be the judge of that when we get it in for review.
The ZenFone 2 has rear volume controls, like the LG G4, and it ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop skinned with Asus' Zen UI.
Fortunately, despite some premium specs, the ZenFone 2 comes with the $199 starting price tag. We're yet to hear exactly where it will be on sale, however.
READ MORE Asus ZenFone 2 preview
Asus ZenFone Zoom
We didn't see this one coming, until Asus teased "optical zoom" in an oh-so-obvious way. But Asus now has a smartphone with optical zoom that was announced at CES 2015.
There aren't many cameras with optical zoom around and the ZenFone Zoom is a world away from the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. Samsung's model is more like a camera, however, with 10x optical zoom and a 20-megapixel sensor, along with Xenon flash. The Asus, however, is fairly slimline, cramming the 3x optical zoom 13-megapixel camera into a body that's still pretty slim.
To assist that camera is laser autofocusing, but we're yet to see if this all fuses together nicely, or if it's a mish-mash experience.
Elsewhere, the Asus ZenFone Zoom has a 5.5-inch display and will launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop, along with Zen UI. It's still some way off, however, with no word on when it might be available.
READ MORE Asus ZenFone Zoom eyes-on
Microsoft Lumia 1020 replacement/RM-1052
This rumour is a little on the loose side, but a leaked image appeared showing a Lumia model with a big camera bump on the rear. The Lumia 1020 was a mobile photography star, but has never been replaced and all of Microsoft's recent devices have been at the budget end of the spectrum.
There's a chance that you're looking at a new high-end PureView model, known as the RM-1052, but equally it could be a prototype of the cancelled Nokia McLaren.
It's nice to dream that Microsoft Devices will fill the high-end with a 5-inch Windows 10 device with a great PureView camera and while we're not convinced by the bodywork, the metal and plastic fusion doesn't look like a finished consumer device, it could be the birth of a new photography star for 2015.
As mentioned previously, Stephen Elop announced at MWC that a new flagship would be coming later in the year, so Windows 10 will have itself a new device to play on whether that is this one or the 940 family is not clear.
READ MORE Microsoft Devices 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 until late 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.