A new year means the typical flood of new phone rumors and announcements are in full effect. And since you’re probably trying to figure out which company is going to get to lay claim to your hard earned money, I figured I’d give you a heads-up on what companies have announced and what the whispers in the rumorverse are rumbling about. Let’s do this alphabetically …
Apple kicked everyone’s ass last quarter. They sold a ridiculous number of iPhones, and made (surprise) record profits. So what’s going to follow this year? If they follow their usual pattern, we’ll see an iPhone 6S. The question is will we see JUST a 6s, or will we see a 6s Plus as well? Also, there are whispers of a smaller 6, but I don’t see that happening. The 5s is fine for people who aren’t digging the size increase of the 6 family. Apples releases usually aren’t until the fall, so we’re still got a ways to go before we get anything substantial in the rumor mill.
HTC has been struggling lately, despite making what many critics feel is the best looking Android phone on the market in the HTC One. At Mobile world congress, they played it safe by introducing a newer version of the HTC One M8, the One M9. It’s a very incremental update, but it seems they focused on improving the things that people weren’t happy with in the previous phone while keeping the things that people liked. So the new phone looks VERY much like last years, but that isn’t a bad thing. They made changes to the metal so that it now has a two-toned appearance. They did other things like moved the power button from the top to the side, they improved the dual front-facing speakers, they changed the rear camera so instead of the dual-lens set up that didn’t do detail very well, you have a single, higher-resolution lens. Naturally, they improved the front-facing camera, and made changes to their HTC Sense Android overlay so that it’s more aware of where you are and how you use your phone. Nothing earth-shattering, but if it wasn’t completely broken, there’s no need to fix it.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, LG announced a new LG G-Flex 2. This is the second curved phone from LG, and they’ve made some improvements over the first one. First, it’s smaller. I generally like bigger phones, but the smaller G-Flex is easier to hold and fits nicer in your pocket and on your face. The increased the screen resolution, and made the device and the screen out of a more scratch-resistant material. The back of the phone will actually heal itself from minor scratches that it gets from keys and stuff in your pocket or purse. Other things like a faster processor, improved camera and software are par for the course. It’s a nice looking phone. But the flagship device, the LG G4, hasn’t been announced yet. Look for an announcement around May.
Motorola has the G, E and X line of phones for the US. The update to their flagship phone, the Moto X, and the Moto G was announced in September, so don’t expect to see anything about a newer one for a while. Their other device, the low cost Moto E, was just updated a week or so ago, and for $150 you get a pretty nice device. And that’s $150 off-contract. It’s not going to rival the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone, but if you need a low-cost Android device for say your kid, it’s definitely something to consider.
The two major releases for Samsung are the Galaxy S and Note. Yeah, they’ll probably make another dozen or so phones, but these are the two that people wait for. And on March 1st, 2015 at Mobile World Congress the announced two new phones; the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. Samsung has been playing with new materials, and the new S6’s are (in my opinion) the best Galaxy phones to date. Metal construction, Gorilla Glass 6 to make the front (and surprisingly the back) very scratch and shatter resistant, super-thin, an updated 8-core processor (hopefully that makes it to the US), updated front and rear camera’s that offer great low-light photography, and wireless charging built in. You won’t need to buy a new, bulkier case to charge wirelessly. The S6 edge has a curved screen on both sides of the phone for things like notifications and alerts, and to be honest with you, the thing looks awesome. The screen on both phones are a super high resolution AMOLED, and it’s beautiful. Samsung has also fired a shot across the bow of Apple with Samsung Pay (not a very original name, but it works). What’s cool about Samsung Pay is that not only does it do NFC like Apple Pay and Google Wallet (that not all places have the hardware to accept), but it also will generate a signal that older, non-NFC equipped card readers can recognize, so you’ll be able to use Samsung Pay in more places. And they’ve made the finger print scanner a lot easier to use. And the turbo charging feature allows you to get 4 hours worth of battery after 10 MINUTES on the turbo charger. Yeah. The S6’s should be available in April at your favorite carrier. The Note is a fall release, so we won’t hear anything about that until later in the year. The Note is what I’m using right now as my daily phone, so I’m anxious to see how they upgrade it.
Phone-wise, I’m not all that sure what’s coming out for Windows Phone. There’s a new OS that’s supposed to be coming out, and usually a new OS warrants a new flagship device. I’m sure Nokia will have something to coincide with the Windows 10 for Mobile launch, and they do have devices from HTC and Acer. We’ll see what happens when we get closer to a launch.
There are other companies, like Huawei, Lenovo, and Sony, but for now their US footprint is kinda small. You may see these phones in a store, but when people think about cellphones they usually focus on the ones mentioned above. If there’s one I missed or you want me to look into, let me know and I’ll see what I can dig up …