There’s always a great new smartphone just around the corner. In this period between CES and Mobile World Congress, the major phone manufacturers are putting the finishing touches on their product lines for the coming year. That doesn’t mean you definitely have to hold back on buying a new phone right now, but it means you should be aware of what’s just up ahead so that you don’t suffer buyer’s remorse.
Along with the phones on this list, there are some other intriguing devices we just don’t have enough information about: BlackBerry’s mysterious upcoming second Android phone, the OnePlus 3, and HTC’s M10, which the company has been downplaying in recent interviews. These phones all probably exist, but we don’t know anything for sure about them.
Closer to MWC in mid-February, we’ll do a full roundup of what to expect at the show. For now, here are the phones on our radar.
Acer Liquid Jade Primo
Until a Microsoft Surface Phone arrives, Acer’s entry is going to be the most promising upcoming Windows phone. We spent some hands on time with it at CES. The Liquid Jade Primo (pictured above) has a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen, a better front camera than the Lumia 950$541.17 at Amazon, and a different desktop dock that stands the phone up rather than laying it down.
The Liquid Jade Primo will cost less than the Lumia 950, and Acer’s trying to get it into the U.S. market, whether officially with AT&T or T-Mobile, or unlocked and compatible with those carriers.
Apple iPhone 6c
While we’re nearly a year away from an iPhone 7 (if Apple follows its usual September release cycle), there are heavy rumors that the company will release a 4-inch iPhone 6c in March, at an event that will also feature the Apple Watch 2. The device has also been called the iPhone 5e and the iPhone 7c, although the reliable 9to5Mac discounts the 5e rumor, and I doubt Apple will call anything “iPhone 7” before the fall.
According to 9to5, the phone will have the same A9 chipset as the iPhone 6s, with a metal casing, the same camera as the iPhone 6$199.00 at Verizon Wireless, and a 4-inch, 1,136-by-640-pixel screen. This may be the model that gets rid of the headphone jack in a quest to make the iPhone smaller and slimmer. We should find out in March.
LeTV Le Max Pro
This one’s not confirmed for the U.S., but we were really impressed by LeTV’sSnapdragon 820-powered phablet when we saw it at CES. The starring feature here is the gigantic 6.3-inch, 2,560-by-1440 pixel screen, which, along with the 820 processor, makes the Le Max Pro a lot like Huawei’s attractive Mate S$656.00 at Amazon amped up a few notches.
Unlike Meizu and Xiaomi, LeTV has a fairly aggressive U.S. expansion plan, led by Will Park, a veteran of the U.S. mobile industry. So I’m holding out hope that this may show up in the U.S. in the first half of this year.
I’d estimate there’s about a 40-percent chance the LG G5 will show up at Mobile World Congress, if not, it will likely be unveiled in March. LG is probably still debating whether the Galaxy S7 will suck all of the air out of the rooms in Barcelona, or whether it needs to be right there to provide a Galaxy S7 alternative.
According to VentureBeat’s typically reliable Evan Blass, the LG G5 will have an all-metal body, a 5.3-inch screen, and the secondary display that we first saw on the LG V10. It’ll be another Snapdragon 820 phone, and its main camera will use a 16-megapixel, super-wide-angle sensor.
The G5’s weirdest feature is said to be a “magic slot,” which could be for memory expansion, an additional camera flash, or other accessories that plug right into the phone. LG has always made a big deal about expandability, with microSD slots and removable batteries, and this feature may take things to the next level.
Potentially the only decent phone to ever come out of a Kickstarter campaign, the Nextbit Robin is designed by a bunch of HTC veterans who decided to spin out into their own mobile startup. The “cloud-based” Android phone, which offloads lesser-used data to 100GB of cloud storage, is coming out on February 16 for $399.
We got an extensive hands on with the Robin at CES. It has a Snapdragon 808 processor, 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras, a 5.2-inch, 1080p screen, 32GB of onboard storage, dual front-facing speakers, and a matte polycarbonate body. The Robin isn’t about high-end specs; it’s about thoughtful design and being in touch with a very creative, responsive local design team. We’ll have a review in February.
Samsung Galaxy S7
The biggest rumored flagship launch of Mobile World Congress, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has been heavily leaked at this point. The phone is said to have a 5.1-inch display like the Galaxy S6, adding a bigger battery, a microSD memory card slot, and waterproof coating. The Quad HD screen resolution will stay the same as on the S6, but the camera will have fewer megapixels (12 as opposed to 16) and better low-light performance.
GSMArena reports that the S7 will pack the Snapdragon 820 processor in the U.S., which marks a comeback for Qualcomm after Samsung abandoned it entirely on the Galaxy S6. It might also have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. SamMobile says there will be a 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 Edge model as well.