By Lisa Eadicicco
2013 saw the rise of the phablet, Motorola’s rebirth under Google with the Moto X and Apple’s fingerprint-sensing iPhone 5s. Now that 2014 is here, it’s time to focus on the smartphone flagships we’re likely to see this year. From handsets with curved displays to ones that can potentially scan your iris, 2014 is sure to bring a slew of exciting devices. Some of these smartphones have yet to be confirmed, but heres a look at what we’re anticipating.
Apple iPhone 6
The iPhone 6 rumor mill is churning away. While the iPhone 5 launched in September 2013, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek says the iPhone 6 could launch as soon as June 2014. Reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal have said Apple is testing larger 5.7-inch displays for its smartphones. It’s unclear whether or not this display prototype will ever hit the market, but Misek speculates that Apple could release iPhones in different size variants.
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 debuted with built-in gesture controls, but its successor may be able to scan your eyes. One of the most prominent rumors surrounding the S5 is the ability to scan a user’s iris, which could in turn be used to unlock the device. Samsung’s next big thing is also expected to debut with a 2560 x 1440 resolution display, 64-bit processing (perhaps via a Snaprdragon 805 chip), Android 4.4 KitKat and an improved 16-megapixel camera with ISOCELL technology.
Nokia Lumia 929 (Icon)
There isn’t much to say about Nokia’s purported Lumia 928 follow-up, but rumors seem to be set on a Verizon launch. There’s also a chance that the Finnish smartphone maker will drop its numerical naming convention in favor of a new title known as Icon. Windows Phone blog WMPoweruser reports that the phone will be introduced at Mobile World Congress in February 2014, although this hasn’t been confirmed.
HTC One 2
We praised the HTC One for its sharp display and attractive aluminum body, and chances are we’ll see these same features on its successor. The next One, which is said to be codenamed the M8, is rumored to launch with a 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display panel. Allegedly leaked benchmark scores have also shown that the device could run on a quad-core 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM. Don’t expect a camera upgrade, however. As of now, the handset is expected to come with the same 4-megapixel (or “Ultrapixel”) main camera and 2.1-megapixel front shooter. A purportedly leaked photo discovered by ePrice (shown above) suggests that we can expect the same metal exterior as well.
Sony Xperia Z1s
Sony’s Xperia Z1 was already among the few water-resistant flagship phones on the market, and now its successor boasts a completely waterproof design. Available via T-Mobile on Jan. 22 ($0 down), the Xperia Z1s is even capable of shooting photos while submerged. Powered by a roaring Snapdragon 800 processor, the Xperia Z1s also features a 5-inch full HD display and a 20.7-megapixel rear camera capable of giving the Nokia Lumia 1020’s 20-megapixel shooter some stiff competition.
Asus PadFone X
The Asus PadFone X marries a 5-inch smartphone with a 9-inch tablet, with the phone’s Qualcomm processor acting as its larger companion’s brain. This means that when you fire up the smartphone, you can view your games, apps or messages on a larger display by simply sliding it into the tablet’s rear-mounted dock. Asus is known for its tablets and laptops in the U.S., but this hybrid could put the company on the smartphone map when the PadFone X launches on AT&T’s network.
LG G Flex
The age of flexible smartphones has arrived. The LG G Flex joins the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Round in being one of the first smartphones to feature curved display technology. The G Flex’s display is vertically curved ever so slightly, creating a crescent-like design. In addition to its signature curve, the device sports what LG calls “self-healing” technology, which helps make scratches and bumps on its rear shell less noticeable. The G Flex is already on sale in Korea, and it will come to the U.S. through multiple carriers in the near future.
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The Sero 7 Pro is one of our favorite budget Android tablets on the market, but this time Hisense is targeting the premium smartphone space. Revealed at CES, the Hisense X1 packs a Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM, a roomy 6.8-inch 1080p display and a 13-MP camera. There’s no word on pricing or availability, but Hisense told us that the X1 will hit the U.S. in Q3 or Q4 in 2014.
Huawei Ascend Mate 2
With the Huawei Ascend Mate 2, you’ll never have to hunt for outlets again. The 6.1-inch phablet is powered by a massive 4,050 mAh battery, which Huawei claims is enough to keep the phone running for two full days under heavy use. There’s also a reverse charging feature that lets you use the Ascend Mate 2’s battery pack as a charger for other devices. The Ascend Mate 2 is set to hit the U.S. in March, although pricing and carriers have yet to be announced.
Alcatel One Touch Idol X+
Alcatel’s One Touch Idol X+ is a powerhouse. Rocking an octa-core MediaTek processor capable of running between one and eight of its cores at once, the handset will sell for $329 unlocked when it hits the U.S. this spring. Other features include a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display, a 13-MP camera and a 2-megapixel front shooter.
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