galaxy note 3 oppo n1 xperia z1 ultra phablets aa 2

    Some would argue that it has been a bit of a slow start to the year for Android phones. New flagship handsets from HTC, Samsung, and Sony haven’t quite produced the big technological leaps that some were expecting, and overall these latest Android phones have received a bit of a mixed response from the community.

    Fortunately, the world of Android is full of other companies all vying for our attention, with some truly exceptional smartphones on the horizon. So, what’s worth keeping an eye on? Let’s find out.

    OnePlus press (2)

    OnePlus One

    Let’s start with the handset that we probably know the most about, the OnePlus One. The former Oppo development team has been very open about their “never settle” approach to hardware, and the new OnePlus One should fit the bill for those of you who have been waiting for a no-frills powerhouse handset. Not only that, but this will be the first handset to come with its own official version of CyanogenMod as the default operating system.

    For hardware, the OnePlus One will feature the current top of the line quad-core Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.5GHz, with a sped up 578MHz Adreno 330 GPU, compared with the 450MHz clock speed found in the Snapdragon 800. This is the same SoC found in the Galaxy S5, and also includes the eMMC 5.0 standard for faster flash storage speeds.

    The OnePlus One also has a 5.5 inch IPS display with 1080p resolution, 3GB RAM, a 13 megapixel rear camera, a 3100 mAh battery accompanied by some “mystery” battery tech, and will come in 16GB and 64GB storage options. We haven’t had a look at the handset’s design or build materials yet, but there’s certainly a lot of tech packed in for less than $400.

    htc-one-vs-oneplus-one

    Moving on to software. Anyone who has taken the effort to flash CyanogenMod in the past will have a good idea about what the OnePlus One experience will probably be like. However, for the fast majority of consumers this is their first chance to try out the tweaked Android distribution, and it could raise a few interesting questions for Google’s Android platform.

    CyanogenMod’s minimal and clean experience should provide a compelling quick experience, when combined with the handset’s top of the line specs, but the ROM also has plenty of its own useful features to help it compete with the other big players. CyanogenMod comes with full theme support, FLAC audio, USB tethering, and overclocking features out of the box, plus many more. It’s going to be interesting to watch how CyanogenMod challenges the more established Android ecosystem.

    The handset will come with the Android 4.4 KitKat based CyanogenMod 11 and will finally be unveiled later this month on 23rd April.

    LG G2 Review Hands On

    LG G3

    I don’t think we could mention top of the line hardware without looking forward to the upcoming LG G3. Last year’s LG G2 offered up high-end hardware at a much lower price than other premium smartphones, demonstrating that the manufacturer can do much more than produce midrange smartphones.

    Alongside Samsung, LG is the other big name in mobile display technologies, it was the first to bring a QHD display (that’s 2560×1440 pixels) to the market, which could be making its way to the G3. Not only does the 5.5 inch display have an impressive 538 ppi, but the display comes in at just 1.21mm thick with an equally thin bezel of 1.2mm. LG already offers handsets with the biggest body-to-screen ration, so if you care about bezels, LG is certainly the company to watch. Although the various QHD display rumours haven’t quite panned out so far, bar the Oppo Find 7, LG has the technology to be one of the first.

    body to screen ratio wide 1600px

    LG has also been pushing the envelope with other media centric technology, the LG G2 was the first handset to offer up 192kHz audio. Speaking of media, the LG G3 is expected to feature a 16 megapixel camera, so we’ll probably see 4K video recording come as standard this time.

    Rumour has it that the LG G3 will show up around May or June, which matches up nicely with the expected arrival of the first Snapdragon 805 powered smartphones. The Snapdragon 805 features new Krait 450 CPU cores, clocked at 2.5GHz, a new Adreno 420 GPU and double the memory bandwidth of the Snapdragon 800. If this pans out, LG will have one of the fastest smartphones on the market, offering up a bigger generational performance leap than the Galaxy S5, One (M8), or Xperia Z2.

    If LG comes up with another really top notch piece of tech with another very reasonable price tag, the company could really shake up the market. Especially given the mediocre and mixed receptions of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8).

    LG G Flex Hands on AA (6 of 19)

    LG G2 Flex

    Sticking with LG, the company is not only working on its QHD display technology, but it’s also one of the leading manufacturers of flexible displays too. Although the original LG G Flex may have had one or two minor flaws, it was a better proof of concept than the Samsung Galaxy Round. We were recently given some insight into LG’s plans for future flexible devices, which could make the G2 Flex a really compelling handset.

    While Samsung is busying away with curved aesthetic designs, LG is planning to upgrade the performance of its own panels this time around, which means that we’re very likely to see a 1080p flexible device from LG at some point this year. This would address our only real complaint about the original G Flex, the 720p screen. Other than that, the G Flex was a powerhouse of a smartphone, and with even beefier processors and better camera components heading our way later this year, the G2 Flex should be the first bendable smartphone to rival the plethora of rigid premium handsets.

    Samsung Galaxy Note 3 jet black aa 43

    Samsung Galaxy Note 4

    Although the yearly unveiling of Samsung’s new Galaxy S flagship receives the most fanfare, the Galaxy Note series is often where Samsung really gets to flex its engineering muscles. The Note 3 was Samsung’s first Snapdragon 800 device and also made wider use of Samsung’s big.LITTLE octa-core processor, not forgetting the 3GB worth of RAM, so we’re anticipating big things from this year’s Note 4.

    While the traditional September release date will make the Note 4 a little early for the newly announced Snapdragon 808 and 810 SoCs, which are expected in early 2015, the release window falls right behind the arrival of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoCs. There’s even a rumor going around that Samsung’s is preparing its own 64-bit Exynos chip for some time near the end of 2014. If Samsung is going to launch such a chip, you can bet that the Note 4 would be where it debuts.

    Ultra-high resolution displays might not be so necessary on 5 inch or smaller smartphones, but they make a lot more sense as we start to approach the 6 inch mark, or higher. Maybe the Note 4 will give us our first glimpse at Samsung’s Super AMOLED QHD resolution display that we keep hearing whispers of.

    The Galaxy Note 4 is Samsung’s next chance to show off its technological achievements and it will no doubt be an industry leading device when it arrives later this year. The Note 4 is definitely one to watch.

    moto-x-aa-wood

    Moto X+1

    The Moto X is still a tough handset to beat in the mid-tier smartphone market, and for that reason alone it’s exciting to see what Motorola will offer with its next generation design. Part of what made the original Moto X so good was its excellent combination of hardware and software features, without the need to go overboard with the specifications or the price tag. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t offer up some serious competition to the other big players.

    Hardware wise, the Moto X+1 name suggests that we’re looking at an incremental upgrade rather than a complete overhaul, so no Snapdragon 805 processors here, but that’s part of what makes the handset so exciting. While high-end tech may not be moving as quickly as we’d like, a lot of last generation’s technology is beginning to trickle down into the mid-range, see the new HTC Desire range.

    While we don’t have any specs at this time, there’s a good chance that we’ll be looking at a quad-core processor this time around, perhaps something like the new Snapdragon 610, a boost to the existing 10 megapixel camera, and we might even see a 1080p display in the new Moto X+1. Although the Moto X isn’t about specs, the constant downward pressure on component prices could see the mid-range make a big leap forward this year.

    We haven’t even mentioned potential improvements to the Moto X’s unique features. We recently heard rumors of a leather rather than wood back for the new device, so customization still seems to be key with the Moto X+1. It will also be interesting to see what Motorola does with Voice Commands, Google Now, and its other software features, now that it’s no longer associated with Google. Will Lenovo keep things close to the stock Android experience?

    It’s likely that Motorola will be releasing a refresh of the Moto X sometime soon, the company has hinted at a late summer release date in the past.

    motorola project ara modular smartphone (1)

    Project Ara

    This leaves us with the biggest potential game changer of them all, Project Ara. Although the device is still in its infancy, Project Ara’s modular design could completely reshape the way we think about smartphone upgrades and components.

    For now, it’s difficult to gauge how well picking and choosing components would go down with the average consumers, who typically prefer products that just work out of the box. However, for us smartphone enthusiasts, Project Ara should allow us to keep up with innovations in smartphone technology and build our ideal devices, without having to fork out for a new handset every year.

    project-ara-mdk-2

    For a recap, Ara’s modular design means that there are a limit number of slots available to assign components too. Each component can be placed in any slot that will accommodate it, and, providing that you’ve included the basic CPU and battery, you’re free to build whatever type of smartphone you’d like. Project Ara will ship with three different sized skeletons, each offering a different number of modules and layouts.project-ara-mdk-6

    This means that owners would be free to change out components for whatever suits their budgets or needs. Fancy a better camera, you can just change out the camera module, or if you want to try out a heart rate monitor to help track your fitness, you can just pick on up and slot it in, and cracked screens can be replaced far more easily. The most recent images have also shown that users can opt for different display sizes with each skeleton, and can even customize the type of keyboards and number pads used on the front of their device.

    There are also plans for an online shop for picking your parts and Google Play integration to come, which opens up potential for a whole new market in third party modules. Project Ara may still be quite a long way away from a consumer release, early 2015 is the current estimate, but there’s bag of potential here which will hopefully open up smartphone technology to people of all budgets and needs.

    Have any of these handsets made their way onto your watch list? Which devices are you most looking forward to over the coming year?

    Which phone are you keeping the closest eye on?

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    Comments

    • rogue3

      I wouldn’t mind a OnePlus One or an LG G3, but I don’t want a 5+ inch screen. Manufacturers seem to think we all want giant screen and keep making bigger and bigger phones. I’m still on a Galaxy S3, and its 4.8″ screen is just right in my hand. I know there are plenty out there who do like bigger screens, but they aren’t the only ones buying devices.

      • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

        Really good point Rogue3. Having played extensively with all the current flagships, I still find myself longing for a device a touch bigger than the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The Moto X had arguably the best ratio of display to body size, but as always, no device is ever perfect. Personally, I’m most excited about the LG G3, Project Ara, and the Moto X+1. And Moto 360.

        • thartist

          Wtf is the Moto360??? Second time i read a comment about it but i haven’t seen any article, and i read blogs several times a day!

          • Manda_Panda_III

            The new smart-watch from Motorola. It’s time a watch told you more than just the time. It’s time a watch kept you up to date, without taking away the moment. It’s time a watch to kept you on track and on time. It’s time a watch let you stay connected and in control. It’s time a watch did all of this, while still lokking like a watch. It’s time, for Moto 360.

            • thartist

              Ah that!… Not a smartphone. Wtf with the speech btw!

      • Norman Zaczyk

        They said that the OnePlus One will be smaller than the Xperia Z1 and even published a photo of it: http://forums.oneplus.net/threads/the-oneplus-one-screen-bright-sharp-and-power-efficient.370/ This would be pretty cool and the price is said to be very low (like the Nexus 5)

        • kirakira

          almost anything can be smaller than the z1 :D

      • MrMagoo

        Well I know this is already out an all but I have an G2 and my daughter has an S3. When held up together, with the teeny tiny bezels on the G2, the width difference is negligible. I love the size of the G2, PHENOMENAL COSMIC SCREEN, iiiiity bitty living space. :-)

        • rogue3

          +1 for Aladdin reference!

          • Keg Man

            you probably dont realize what your missing. My wife had a note 2 and raved about it. I was ready for bigger so i got the note 3. had it for a few days and was starting to wonder if i got too much screen. After a month, i realized how awesome it was and was disappointed the phone wasn’t big enough. I totally want a 6″ phone now.

      • neu

        Stop having small hands. Get hand surgery and don’t complain

        • pippen

          Lolwut, what are you smoking xD

        • arcwindz

          Yeah right, now get an xperia z, hold it with your right hand and try to reach the home button and go straight to Notification bar without stretching your thumb or moving your hands.
          You can? Congratz, you got a very very big hand, unlike most people

        • Keg Man

          has nothing to do with small hands. note 3 is absurdly popular in one of those asian countries. (they have small hands)

      • The Djan

        I agree 100000%, i’m surprised more people don’t complain about this new 5′ screens standard. It’s really annoying.

      • http://nsood.in/ Naman Sood

        Seriously. This is why I’m looking at Project Ara – believe it or not, some people like small screens. I personally like the Xperia Z1 Compact’s screen size and resolution, but an Ara could be upgraded easily.

      • Samsunggirl

        You’re Retarded? Lol 5+? Um Oneplus One Is A 5.5inch Screen And More Likely The LG G3 Is Going To Be Bigger Than Its Predecessor (5.25inch) which will be like 5.3inch so get your facts right honey ugh stupid

    • Shark Bait

      One plus sounds like a lot o bs marketing talk to me, real world will be the tell !

      Project ara sounds totally awesome !! Real in innovation like the birth of the smart phone all over again.

      New moto x could be great, finally catching up to the specs race. That couppled with motos features and moto maker could be real good. As long as they make it available world this time.

      Other will be routine updates I think. G flex could be interesting if priced right this time

      • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

        We’ll be taking a closer look at the OnePlus One very soon. Stay tuned. Same display as the one used in the Find 7a, 5.5″ 1080p. Not many of them on the market Let’s wait and see what they do with the bezel. :) The G Flex is a mega boss phone. G2 Flex will be even better, with their second generation P-OLED display. Crazy battery life on it!

    • Greg C

      my eye is on the oneplus one and the iocean x8

      • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

        The “iOcean x8′ does look gorgeous but…. it will never reach Western shores. I do admire what they are trying to do with the build quality though. It’s like a huge iPhone, but running Android.

        • Greg C

          they are planning to market it internationally. maybe that means you’ll have to purchase it off contract from their website.

          • http://www.AndroidAuthority.com/ Darcy Alexander LaCouvee

            Any idea on the price? What resellers? Just the name… iOcean. What’s in a name, though?

            • Greg C

              no idea yet. they plan on making those announcements end of this month.

    • Xavier_NYC

      I’m personally looking forward to the LG G3 and the OnePlus. I have the G2 and have been nothing but happy with it and it still competes with phones like the GS5 and M8 so I can only imagine what the G3 will be like. OnePlus is exciting because of price point, great specs and CM behind it. The other phones listed should be pretty interesting as well.

    • Mike Reid

      Project Ara leads the votes.

      I hope it sells as well as that implies. Only sales can ensure success.

      • hoggleboggle

        It is pretty much a given that it will not sell in the same amounts as an s5 or m8. At best you could hope for nexus levels of sales. Let’s be honest, this only really appeals to tech heads like us . The average consumer likes the idea of choice but hates the reality of having to choose. Just picture your mum in the store looking for a new phone and being offered the ara. By the time she has had to choose which camera module to get she will just give up and buy whatever phone currently has the biggest store display.

      • supremekizzle

        I like the idea of Ara, but part of the fun of new phones coming out is the overall design of the completed product. Yeah, with Ara you can upgrade components to keep your phone current and fast, but it’s always going to the same exact rectangle. At least when buying a new phone now you get a different feel in the hand and weight and materials. Just my thoughts…

        • duck hairs

          Wtf need to get your priorities in order mate

        • magikstik2k3

          Uh…. apple iphones have been relatively same size and shape since the beginning.only difference is a slight chip mod…….oh, same thing you can do with ara. But android chips upgrade and updste much faster, and I’m sure they will have chasis mods or different cover panels released.

      • kirakira

        no, you should hope IT BECOMES AVAILABLE. it may turn out to be like the nexus.

    • MasterMuffin

      I voted for G2 Flex, party because it was last and partly because I really actually like it. Of course Ara is the one pretty much everyone’s looking for, because it’s so much different from the others, but I like LG (dem bezels!) and I want to see bendable phones!

    • Anonymousfella

      I voted for the note 4. It’s the only line of Galaxy which hasn’t disappointed and will probably be the first to get 4gb ram+ 64bit processor.

      • thartist

        Like you need 4gb on a smartphone, really.

        • Anonymousfella

          Good to have I guess. 2gb has been the upper limit in flagship phones for long enough

        • Epic Tea

          i agree sounds overkill but think about this, that amount of ram opens up the door for game developers to really push the envelope for android gaming in the future.

          Also don’t forget apple put 64bit in the 5s and raved about it yet less than 2% of devs have even taken advantage of it and probably won’t for another 4 or 5 years, which is just as useless right now.

        • Keg Man

          it probably raises the cost of the phone by less than $5. I’ll gladly take it

        • Samsungfanlol

          Um? Lol You Wouldn’t Understand Because All You Do Is Sit Down And Use It Like A Big Phone, Unlike Us The More Ram The Better Because We Sure Run Alot Of Shit

        • Greg Zeng

          My THL W200S has a OTA-ROM factory installed, with 6gb of RAM, & 14gb other inbuilt RAM, plus mSD card slot. I bought it for $US200 earlier this year from the factory’s shop, but it is already replaced by a later model. Some retailers will still sell it.

          • Annaise

            Such wow. Much ram.

    • Guest

      Im not thinking that it’s that pretty…

    • http://djanti.jimdo.com/ Antii (aka Dj Anti)

      I dont like the design of LG G2 Flex… What do you guys think about it? :)

    • Phillip Bee

      Asus Padfone in the US finally

    • Marky606

      All of these phones sound amazing, but fact of the matter is that the most powerful and probably the most anticipated will be the Samsung galaxy note 4. This isn’t only for the fact that samsung are always unveiling new tricks and treats in their arsenal, but more so that we don’t really have a clue what they are going to get up to, where as with the others we can get a clear silhouette of what they will resemble. I am curious to see where they take the design of the note 4 as the leather worked so well… hopefully not in the same direction as the S5.

    • jeddo45

      Waiting for the Nexus 6 :)

      • duck hairs

        *cough* nexus 5 2014

        • jeddo45

          You know what I mean bro…

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        Yup, Nexus 5 too small, Nexus 7 too big, Nexus 6, perfect, 64 bit, 4 GB of RAM, QHD, 64 GB flash, 20 to 14 nm, hundreds of GPUs.

    • AndroidBrian

      I’m not really feeling project Ara. Flagship devices have the best hardware available. I don’t see how Ara can offer anything better, or at a lower price point. Its just a gimmick that wont last IMO.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        Disagree, have you seen the Amlogic S802, you could upgrade the CPU/GPUs massively for a pittance. The screen could go from QHD to UD at a reasonable price, because you’ve already paid for the battery, frame, processing, memory, communications. Just as with the S802, you’ve already paid for the screen, screen processing, screen power, since it’s Android TV. You get UD, 2 GB of RAM, can put a micro SD card in it. With power already fixed, communications already fixed, at 4.4.2 Kit Kat, for, get this $80.

    • hoggleboggle

      So basically this will be an exact rehash of 2013. The big players all release their top phones in the beginning of the year to much disappointment after all the hype. This is then followed in the autumn by a slew of new top spec releases that make the spring phones look dated.

    • John-Phillip Saayman

      Too many phones. :’( I don’t have enough money for all of them. Wish I could get the s5 but switch it out with a Note 4 or whatever is better

    • Stephan Hall

      waiting for the Moto X to lower the price or I’ll buy a Nexus device!

      • BenGezarit

        I just spoke to marketing management. They are devastated that you will go with Nexus next time. Low it is. Just asking, how low should they go?

        • Stephan Hall

          yeah they call It “capitalism”! Get the “mostest for the leastest”! I prefer the money in my pocket …not theirs! Yes ….. the “marketing management” team are meeting now …plotting! bastards!

    • joser116

      Where is Nexus 6!

    • Karz000

      I will stick with Note series.
      Unless someone release Xperia Z2 Compact with stylus + thin bezel + s-lcd3 + stereo speakers + waterproof..

    • Clarence Alvarado

      Xperia Z2 Ultra! :)

    • Luke Nesh

      actually looking forward to lenovo

    • kirakira

      you failed to include sharp’s aquos flagship in your ranking for the phones with the best screen to body ratios

      http://s24.postimg.org/4qbl4v2vp/epic520_3_103_41d5da939c5ee79139e29ed348e8b1e7.jpg

      this phone has a screen to body ratio of 80+%

      • Andrew White

        Agreed. Just had a look at the Sharp and the specs are impressive. Similar to the LG G2 in terms of size, processor etc. but the front and rear on paper are superior and that screen….simply beautiful.

    • najiy91

      just fine with 5″ display..and my answer will be something else,xperia z3 with oled and ir blaster and body made of full aluminium(overcome heat issue).that’s all.

    • Groud Frank

      Phablets were once the laughingstock of the smartphone world but even Apple is folding and supposedly offering a 5.5 inche device. Glad to see that they have stolen the attention of OEMs. I voted for the Note 4. Project Ara will not be mainstream anytime soon.

    • Andrew White

      Odd that the very revolutionary super fast charging, 1440p screened, TD-LTE 4g connectivity, carbon fibre backed and support for a 128GB SD card ‘Oppo Find 7′ wasn’t included in the brief review.

    • Nexusfan

      What about the next nexus?

    • johnyboyluzig

      I’m really looking forward to Project Ara and the Note 4. I picked up the Note 2 when it first released and had an overall positive experience. I’m hoping the camera gets a slight boast over the Galaxy S5. Project Ara looks like the backup phone I’ve always wanted to create or tinker with…..It would be interesting to create a type of Wi-Fi only phone just for fun.

    • Epic Tea

      I have a feeling this is going to be the biggest year for android ever, especially if all apple has up its sleeve is a bigger iphone, they are screwed. Android is just moving way too fast for apple, sure people will still buy iphones and they will still be one of the most popular devices, but with most android’s software in a snowball of innovation in features and improvements not to mention OEM’s bringing feature rich devices, even if some of them are gimmicks, they are stepping stones to innovation.

    • iamajimm

      Gawd I love my Note 3!!

    • Ryo

      ONO ONO ONO ONO ONO! #ONO

    • Jonathan Engelbart

      Forget the note 4. If Sammy does the same thing with the software like they did on the s5 it won’t be worth picking up. The latest touchwiz is horrible!

      • Samsungfan

        You’re A Joke

    • LadyinRed

      I voted samsung note 4 my next mobile early this year. ..

    • https://twitter.com/_irfndy Irfandy Ahmad

      where nexus 6?

    • Annaise

      just wanna say Mi4 is probably a better option than OnePlusOne

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