It has been a while since I made my last top five list (or so it seems) and a lot of heavy-hitting devices have since launched. We are also approaching the holiday rush. Not only does that mean my last list is pretty much null and void, but it means the next batch of rumored smartphones are popping up left and right, and some serious platform flagships are just around the bend.
Instead of sticking to the norm and listing five devices I've had ample hands-on time with, I'm looking ahead, piecing together rumors and sparse, official announcements to bring to you my top five upcoming phones. Not all of the rumors are very clear, some are contradicting, and information is limited. We don't even know what some of these phones look like. Knowing what to expect out of such enigmatic devices is a difficult task, to say the least.
Nonetheless, here are the top five upcoming phones that have caught my eye (figuratively) the most:
1. Google Nexus/DROID Prime by Samsung
Talk of the next Nexus device has been circling the web for several months now. Originally believed to carry the “Nexus Prime” moniker, it is rumored to be coming with some of the best specifications of any phone to date: Ice Cream Sandwich, a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an advanced 5-megapixel shooter and LTE. (Hopefully they can squeeze a nice high capacity battery in there, too, as seen in the Galaxy Note.) We haven't had the pleasure of actually seeing this thing yet, but we know it will be Samsung-made. This means the body will likely be plastic and favor something like the Galaxy S II, maybe with a hint of the Nexus S. I stumbled upon this concept render earlier today and I have to say, Federico Ciccarese may be on to something here.
I've been a huge fan of the Nexus line of Android phones since the beginning, namely because they come with stock Android and a whole bag of goodies on the development side. I'm not particularly a fan of Samsung's overuse of plastic, but the specs and design of this phone are drool-worthy. I (along with any Android fans who seek sheer performance) will be keeping my eyes peeled for the Nexus. That said, more recent reports have pointed towards this "Prime" being a DROID phone (think OG DROID versus Nexus One). That indicates that it will be coming to Verizon, which is okay with me. But I would much rather have a Nexus, not just a stock Android phone.
2. Apple iPhone 5
This is undeniably and easily one of the most highly-anticipated phones to date. We've endured well over six months of conflicting rumors and reports, and quite honestly, I don't know where to begin. The consensus is that the iPhone 5 will sport an iPod Touch-like design (like what is pictured above), a larger display, an advanced lens camera, etc. Nothing is certain, and even the more solid rumors lead to even more questions like what may happen to the Retina Display if Apple increases the screen size.
Regardless of what the iPhone 5 brings, people will still line up for this device – likely days or weeks in advance. Admittedly, I will probably be one of them, though you won't see me there before the day it launches. Some people have to work for a living.
3. Samsung Focus S
Ah, Windows Phone 7 ... or soon to be 7.5. I tried several Windows Phones late last year, only to find I wasn't that interested in the software. Overall performance was decent and hardware wasn't too far off from Android phones at the time. But I'm not exactly a fan of the Metro UI in its current state. I've been holding out on buying another Windows Phone for the much awaited Mango update, which should land any time now and will bring many changes in terms of performance and functionality. I still don't think I could totally leave Android for a Mango phone, but hey, it's worth a shot.
Originally, I had my eye on the HTC Titan, a 4.7-inch phone with a 1.5GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera. But the bane of that phone's existence will be display pixel density. At 4.7-inches and 480 by 800 pixel resolution, it will carry a ppi rating of 199. Ouch. Instead, I now have my sights set on the Samsung Focus S. The original Focus was my favorite in the first batch of Windows Phones, and I figure the Focus S will be much of the same. It has a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.4GHz processor, 16GB or 32GB built-in storage, 1GB RAM, an 8-megapixel camera and is only 8.5mm thick. The picture above, coming from Mobile Tech World is believed to be the Focus S.
4. HTC Vigor
I will be the first to admit that I have grown dreadfully tired of HTC – their hardware, software, etc. They have a reputation for creating an awesome phone, only to skimp on one part of the spec sheet. Incrementalization at its finest. But the mysterious HTC Vigor, which oddly may be the successor to the ThunderBolt, seems to be somewhat different from the rest. It's rumored to be packing a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, a 4.3-inch 1280x720 HD display, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 4G LTE connectivity and Beats by Dre technology.
Not only is this device a heavyweight in terms of specs, but it revisits one of my most favorite smartphone designs to date. I loved the design of the HTC Incredible. It was off the beaten path, but not too outlandish. They tried to recreate that with the Incredible 2 to little success; it was too rounded and bubbly. But the Vigor is more subtle. Something about it is just ... sexy.
5. A QNX-powered BlackBerry
Bringing up the back of the pack is something we possibly know the least about. QNX BlackBerry handsets are rumored to be launching sometime around the end of this year, maybe early Q1 of 2012. They will likely ship with dual-core chips and that's literally all we know about them.
We don't even know what they'll look like. Above is something I threw together a few weeks back. If nothing else, I hope Research In Motion at least tries a design similar to this: 4-inch touchscreen, a buttonless, gesture-based OS and something a little more upbeat. If the QNX-powered PlayBook is any indication of what to expect out of QNX phones, they may be the catalyst that throws RIM back into the smartphone race. Granted, the PlayBook was met with little success, but the tablet industry is a whole different ballgame. Throw an advanced browser, second to none email and Android apps into one package, and you may just have yourself a winner.