We definitely saw a lot of powerful new smartphones from Android OEMs in 2015, but that doesn't mean Samsung, LG, Xiaomi and other makers are not upping their game for 2016.
With this year's most awaited flagships already unveiled, companies are turning their attention to their next-generation phones for the coming year. And for those of you who are willing to wait out another few months before shelling out your hard-earned money for a new smartphone, these new devices rumored to be in the works might just be worth the wait.
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
Aside from the fact that they look more like Apple's iPhones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge were positively received by the Android community, for the most part at least. After ditching the removable battery and microSD slot for a more premium-looking glass and metal design, Samsung lost some customers who were hanging on for exactly those same features.
The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which are rumored for a January 2016 release, won't likely bring these two features back, but they're expected to bring Samsung's stunning AMOLED displays and excellent cameras, aside from their sleek, iPhone-like designs, albeit with the good-looking curved screen for the S7 Edge. Samsung is also believed to be working on its own 3D Touch-like technology to be implemented first on the upcoming S7 phones.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Mini
If you're not fond of big displays, Samsung is also reportedly working on a Galaxy S6 Mini. As its name implies, it will have a smaller, 4.6-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 x 768 pixels. Despite its size, it will still pack in a powerful chipset, Samsung's own Exynos 7420 found in the Galaxy S6 line of devices, paired with possibly 3 GB or 2 GB of RAM.
The Galaxy S6 Mini is expected to have a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel shooter in front. It will possibly retain the glass and metal build of its bigger brothers, giving it the same premium look despite the scaled down specs.
The LG G5 is expected to bring smartphone biometric security to a whole new level by being the very first handset to have an iris scanner. Reportedly, LG is working with biometrics firm Irience to make this possible, although it's kind of odd that the LG G4 does not have its own fingerprint scanner despite its flagship status.
The G5 is expected to run on the most advanced Qualcomm processor available at launch and will have a 21-megapixel camera with the ability to take videos and images in 4K. The battery will get a good bump up to 4,000 mAh and, capitalizing on the features removed from the Galaxy flagships, LG will likely make it a removable battery capable of wireless charging.
LG G Flex 3
Initially thought of as a gimmicky line, the LG G Flex series has gained users' respect with the well-built G Flex and G Flex 2. If the rumors are to be believed, the G Flex 3 will be another curved smartphone to be excited about, offering a nice, comfortable grip and flexible display.
The G Flex 3 is said to be one of the first smartphones to be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 paired with 4 GB of RAM when the phone launches in February. The display will be a 6-inch QHD display and the primary camera will have a 20.7-megapixel sensor.
Asus ZenFone 3
Although Asus' ZenFone line of smartphones are placed more toward the middle of the range, the ZenFone is still deemed a solid smartphone that offers a lot of value for your money, considering that the entry-level ZenFone 2 costs only $299 to have.
The ZenFone 3 is not expected to veer away from the build quality, while still keeping the price at an accessible range for many users, an even more important consideration now that carriers are moving away from subsidized phones toward monthly installments paid for by customers.
Currently, not much is known about the ZenFone 3, except for the fact that it will have USB Type-C ports, as confirmed by Asus chief Jonney Shih himself.
Xiaomi Mi 5
Xiaomi, the world's biggest private company making smartphones, is known for its high-quality Android phones sold at cheap prices, aside from the fact that it likes to copy Apple's style. Although Xiaomi's smartphones aren't currently sold in the U.S., the company's affairs are followed by the entire industry because of its rapid rise to success.
Xiaomi's upcoming flagship, the Mi 5, is expected to run on a Snapdragon 820 and 4 GB of RAM. It will have a 5.2-inch display, a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. The Mi 5 is expected to have a USB Type-C connector and a fingerprint scanner.
HTC One M10
The HTC One M9 was a disappointment for many fans of the Taiwanese smartphone maker, and the recently unveiled One A9 is more of a midrange offering than a flagship. With the expected launch of the One M10, however, HTC could be hoping to bring back its lost sales and revive its reputation for high-quality smartphones it earned with the One M8.
No information has yet been confirmed about the One M10, but rumors abound that it will possibly run on a Snapdragon 820 chip and 4 GB of RAM. Since the One A9 has a 20.7-megapixel camera, it's highly likely that the One M10 will have a bigger sensor — possibly 27 megapixels. The battery is expected to have 3,500 mAh and the 64 GB and 128 GB storage will be expandable via microSD.
Google Project Ara
Technically, Project Ara is not a flagship smartphone. You'll have to look to the Nexus line for that. However, Google's modular smartphone project is worth a mention because of its modular approach to building smartphones.
Project Ara consists of a skeletal frame with a screen, and you'll be able to purchase smaller components, such as the x-ray camera module, one by one to build your one-of-a-kind smartphone that is truly your own. The idea is practical as it is unique, as it gets rid of the need to shell out another several hundred dollars just to upgrade your phone every couple of years, since you only have to update the individual parts.
Google has been working on Project Ara for quite some time now. In fact, the first initial pilot release was scheduled for January 2015. However, problems with the smartphone's structural integrity have continually pushed back the date of its release. Here's to hoping we see Project Ara come to life in January 2016.
Bonus: Nokia C1
Again, you wouldn't exactly call this a flagship smartphone, since the rumored specs put it at a midrange level. First seen in leaked renders in September, the Nokia C1 looks like a mini version of the Nokia N1 tablet, with a sleek, metal case and a 5-inch display. Under the hood, it is reportedly powered by an Intel Atom chip and 2 GB of RAM. The rear camera is an 8-megapixel shooter, while the front camera is 5 megapixels.
As you can see, the Nokia C1 will not exactly trump other upcoming flagships, but it's still worth looking forward to, simply because it's made by Nokia, once the biggest cell phone maker in the world.
Photo: Maurizio Pesce | Flickr