Were you disappointed by the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8? Plenty of people weren't exactly thrilled — while the phones are undoubtedly the best on the market at the moment, they aren't a huge step forward in speed or features over last year's S4 or old One. Don't despair, though; there's another bunch of smartphones about to be announced.
The Galaxy S5 Prime, the LG G3, the HTC One M8 Prime, probably the Sony Xperia Z3 — these are the new superphones coming out in the next six months. Courtesy of gadget spies like @evleaks, we know a great deal about what these phones are going to be all about; they're hugely fast, with incredibly detailed displays, and much-improved battery life.
The most recent crop of flagship smartphones — your S5s and M8s — generally run Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processors, quad-core chipsets using a 28-nanometre production process. They weren't hugely improved from last year's top Snapdragon 800 chips (also 28nm, with similar clockspeeds), which gave people pause when considering an upgrade.
Coming out soon in leaked handsets like the HTC One M8 Prime, the 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 is built on a more efficient 20nm process, and uses ARM's big.LITTLE octa-core design with up to four of eight high- and low-power processor cores working simultaneously. There's also a lesser, but still improved Snapdragon 805 for mid-high end handsets.
More than outright power, though, the Snapdragon 810 promises Category 6 LTE support — that's the kind of super-fast 4G network that Telstra recently benchmarked at 450Mbps download speeds in internal testing. In reality, you probably won't see these speeds when you're streaming that YouTube cat video your friend texted you, but it should be a huge jump up from current Category 4 devices.
The big difference for most people between early 2014 and late 2014 smartphones is going to be the displays they use. LG's G3, for example, will almost certainly be using a 5.5-inch WQHD panel — a noticeable jump up in size from the 5.2-inch G2. More importantly, there's a commensurate jump in pixel density — WQHD is 2560x1440 pixels, a significant jump from the 1920x1080 pixel displays of current smartphones.
The Xperia Z3 has been rumoured with a mid-5-inch screen, too, and even the just-leaked Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime looks significantly chunkier than the relatively lithe proportions of the regular S5. A 2560x1440 pixel, 5-inch display is just on the edge of reasonable pixel density — beyond a certain point, there's no reason — so that's another point in the new phones' favour.
New, space-age materials
The new HTC is widely tipped to use an aluminium-silicon composite shell — almost as light as the aluminium unibody of the One M8, but stronger, more durable and more versatile. There might be an extra element in HTC's favour, too, with the new handset apparently waterproof; if this is true it's an excellent change and one that's been a long time coming. The Galaxy S5 Prime should also, finally, make the jump to a removable metal cover, if not a complete metal unibody.
And, of course, extra colours are always a good thing.