The mobile industry continues to evolve as we rush through 2016. We have seen exciting handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and HTC 10 emerge, but the fun isn’t even halfway done. There are more than 6 months left in the year and plenty of great handsets are awaiting their launch.
In this article we aim to highlight the most action-packed phones coming to the market in the near future. We have smartphones from all price ranges listed, so there is something for everybody here. Let’s get started!
Google’s 2016 Nexus devices
Undoubtedly, Nexus devices are among the most anticipated each year. Do you remember how crazy the Nexus rumors used to get? We’re starting to get to that point again.
HTC is rumored to be launching two Nexus devices this year. The higher-end device, codenamed ‘Marlin’, will supposedly come with a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, a 12MP rear camera, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, bottom-firing speakers and 4GB of RAM. The slightly lower-end version, codenamed ‘Sailfish’, is rumored to feature just about the same specs, aside from storage options, battery capacity and screen size/resolution.
These are expected to launch with Android 7.0 Nougat, which you can learn all about by reading our ‘Diving into Android N‘ series. Nexus smartphones are usually announced later in the year, around September or October.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
While the Galaxy S series is known for offering Samsung’s flagship handsets, power users swear by the fact that Note devices are the true power houses. These are bigger, usually have superior battery life, and because they are released later in the year, specs are also improved.
We have heard plenty about the upcoming Galaxy Note (rumored to be the Note 7). We have even seen some press renders and leaked images that show the overall look of the phone (spoiler: very similar to the Galaxy S7).
Rumors say the phone will come with either a 5.7 or 5.8-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 821 or Exynos 8893 SoC, 6 GB of RAM, 64/128/256 GB of internal storage, microSD expansion, a 12-megapixel rear camera with dual-pixel PDAF, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a 3,600 mAh battery, an iris scanner and the new Grace UX running on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.
For more information you can always head over to our Samsung Galaxy Note 6 rumor roundup, but you won’t have to wait much longer for the review, as the expected launch date is murmured to be on August 2nd.
Motorola Moto Z and Moto Z Force
The Moto Z and Moto Z Force were the stars at Lenovo Tech World this year. They are special in multiple ways. For starters the Moto Z is insanely thin at only 5.2 mm. The Moto Z Force is thicker at 7 mm, but the extra girth is definitely worth it considering it has a shatterproof display and a battery that is bigger by 900 mAh (2,600 mAh vs 3,500 mAh). Not to mention, the thicker phone is still thinner than a Samsung Galaxy S7!
Both feature super high-end specs, which include a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display and more. But plenty of phones out there have great specs – what makes these two handset special is that they are modular (or are they?). You can purchase cases and modular accessories that improve the device by simply being snapped in the back with powerful magnets.
- Moto Z and Moto Z Force hands-on
- Goodbye Moto X, say hello to Moto Z: what you need to know
- The Moto Z has no 3.5 mm headphone port, but does it really matter?
Available options include speakers, battery cases and even a pico projector, as well as decorative backs. While we don’t have specific release dates for these devices just yet, we do know that they will be heading to Verizon first as special “DROID Editions”. Following in September, unlocked models will be offered without the Droid branding, though it’s unclear if any other carriers besides Verizon will end up offering the phone.
ASUS ZenFone 3
The ASUS ZenFone 2 series was very well received thanks to its low prices, fair specs and solid build quality. ASUS is now building upon that success with the ASUS ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe and ZenFone 3 Ultra.
These are great phones and start at only $249. The base version comes with a Snapdragon 615 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, a 5.5-inch display, 13/8 MP cameras and a 3,000 mAh battery.
You can learn more about the other phones in the official announcement post and our hands-on article:
As usual, Asus refused to reveal the release date and exact availability of the new ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe, and ZenFone 3 Ultra, but it is said we can expect them to launch during Q3.
Alcatel Idol 4 and Idol 4S
High-end devices may be exciting, but mid-range smartphones with great prices are all the hype nowadays. This new range of almost premium handsets at affordable prices really changed the game, and the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 was among our favorites in this category.
It’s time for an upgrade and Alcatel announced a new range of Idol smartphones at MWC 2016. These are the Alcatel Idol 4 and 4S. As you can assume, the latter is the more premium one. It sports a 5.5-inch QHD (2560 x 1440) screen, a Snapdragon 652 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, a 16 MP rear camera, an 8 MP front camera and a 3,000 mAh battery.
Meanwhile, the Idol 4 carries a smaller 5.2-inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 617 processor, 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, a 13 MP rear camera, an 8 MP front shooter and a 2,610 mAh battery.
Release dates are a bit vague, but these phones were expected to start shipping as early as April, which has already concluded. This means we could start seeing both phones hit the shelves very soon.
Google Project Ara
We haven’t heard much about Google’s Project Ara since last year. We were supposed to see the modular phone hit the market last year, first in Puerto Rico. Plans changed soon after that – Project Ara’s launch was delayed until 2016. But hopefully this time around it actually happens.
Regardless, the dream of having a modular phone with interchangeable units is becoming very real, and we have seen it working. Need more RAM? Just change the right module. You can even add better cameras, bigger batteries and more.
The first Tango phone
One of the more interesting looking smartphones that we know is on the way is Lenovo’s Project Tango handset, the Phab 2 Pro.
The Phab 2 Pro is a 6.4-inch QHD device with sensors galore for allowing the phone to learn about the space in which it exists. The more you use it, the more aware it becomes. As it learns, you can ask it more complex questions about the spaces it knows. Interior decorators, retailers, AR game developers and home renovators will all be able to make use of Tango’s spatial awareness.
- Lenovo officially announces the first Project Tango phone: the Phab 2 Pro for $499
- Lenovo Phab 2, Phab 2 Plus and Phab 2 Pro hands-on
In case you’re unfamiliar, Tango (formerly Project Tango) is a Google platform based around computer vision technologies. It uses motion-tracking from accelerometers and gyroscopes, along with a specialized camera setup to collect 3D information about space, such as depth and distance. From this data, application developers can do things like overlay augmented information on top of an object within the camera’s field of view or recreate a real space in virtual 3D.
The Phab 2 Pro will be available for purchase in September for just $499.
BlackBerry mid-range smartphone
It’s too early to talk about potential hardware specifications, but surely BlackBerry intends to keep its iconic physical keyboard. Chen also recently confirmed that it was continuing to work with Samsung regarding display technology, but didn’t confirm if this partnership would extend to BlackBerry’s next generation smartphones.
The Priv may not be selling in huge numbers, but it seems to have done well enough to encourage BlackBerry to try its hand at another smartphone or two. With a physical keyboard and some top notch security and productivity features, perhaps BlackBerry’s mid-range smartphone will bring some new supports to the mobile old guard.
What phones are you excited about?
Are there any phones we didn’t add to this post and you are looking forward to? Hit the comments and let us know! Also share your thoughts on the handsets listed above. I am really excited to see what new Nexus phones come from Google.