Change your calendar, because 2014 already ended. We saw one very interesting year at the smartphones’ market. The future doesn’t look, so bright for all brands. Some of the very well-known names experienced sales difficulties, while on the other hand 2014 was generous for some Chinese manufacturers. We can write a long analysis and discuss what we already saw in 2014, but probably it will not be so interesting. We think that talking about what’s coming is 2015 is what matters.
As usual HTC should be the manufacturer first to announce its new premium phone (HTC Hima M9). This will give us a basic idea of what the 2015 flagship line should look like. CES 2015 is the place, where the premiere should be and there’s less than a week until the event. Snapdragon 810 plus 13MP camera (instead of the 4MP ultra-pixel camera) are rumored, but hopefully we’ll see the full details after one week. Then should come Samsung, Sony, LG, Apple, Microsoft and the new Nexus (if it’s called Nexus) at the end of the year plus another Sony premium phone (if they continue with the two flagships strategy). We should mention also Motorola here. Although the brand is still trying to struggling behind in terms of sales, Motorola’s phones have loyal fans, quality phones and update support. The competition may become really tough, because some manufacturers focused mainly on the premium smartphone’s niche. It’s possible to see some unique features this year and will there be any brand, which can lose positions or even sink.
Let’s not forget to take a look at China. There are rumors that Xiaomi may show Mi5 in January. At the same time Meizu should really put lots of efforts to impress us, because they rose the bar with MX4 (especially the Pro version). Oppo and the newly created OnePlus One are the other suspects regarding premium devices. We will see, if the Ones are going to offer even better phone for even better price – another flagship killer. Lenovo did well and released some impressive devices for international sales. Vibe X2 and Vibe Z2 Pro made lots of noise and we are looking forward to see the future models. ZTE released two flagship devices – X6 and X7 (X7 has several different versions in terms of size). Although both models are superb in terms of hardware, they didn’t manage to gain much popularity outside of China. Huawei has its P line, but they can’t compete with the top phones at the market. It’s like Huawei is always one year behind the competition regarding the hardware. They work hard developing their own chips, but probably it could be better, if they focus more efforts and find what are they missing compared to the other flagships.
This will be the year (at least the first one) of a brutal competition of budget smartphones with killer specs. The current king Xiaomi Redmi 1S will face some incredible value-for-money devices. Meizu already showed their Note line and the new K52 is yet to come. Both devices have incredible specifications for less than $200. At the same time Lenovo is making efforts to catch up with their K3 Music Lemon. Although the device is yet to be released for international sell, it started selling in China. Asus also wants to participate and they will have another phone called Pegasus (only for China by the present moment), which will try to compete in this segment. Of course let’s not forget the upcoming Redmi 2S by Xiaomi. We are still about to see how exactly Xiaomi is going to secure its top place and will it survive the competition.
The Chinese manufacturers are getting momentum and we are going to see more and more brands going for international sales and with higher specs smartphones. There are a few brands, which are trying to get more attention. One of them is well-known, but only with its smartphones. It’s Asus and it seems that the company has decided to gather even more market share. The Zenfone line was a success and now we are waiting for even better smartphones. Asus already teased several videos about the upcoming new Zenfone.
Some words about not-so-familiar phones, which may rise up in 2015. Doogee showed interesting line of phones for 2015 and it’s obvious that the company is trying to progress. It’s possible that this will be a name that you’re going to hear more often. Elephone is making progress as well. Although some of their phones may be called clones, they are still very good looking devices packed with bunch of features. We are yet to see, if they will manage to keep the trend. iNew is not so popular manufacturer out of China, but they work really hard of designing unique devices for reasonable price. There’s still place for improvements and it looks like the iNew will try to do better in 2015. Cubot also showed us some interesting low-budget devices, which were equipped with mid-ranger specs. They offer good price for what you can get and if will gain popularity for sure, if they manage to keep the same strategy. THL is not a new name, but they build several interesting devices in 2014 and probably won’t stop in 2015 as well. The sub $120 8-core THL T6 pro and the sub $100 4000mAh battery THL 4000 are worth checking them.
Of course it will be great, if we see any surprise. Lots of Nokia fans hope that the brand will rise and will release an Android device this year. Nokia already showed an Android tablet N1 and it’s possible that they are working on Android phone as well. Saygus, a not so popular US-based company, prepared a phone, which already won the CES 2015 Innovation Award. The device looks impressive, at least on paper, and we are yet to see it during CES 2015 , because it’s said that it has dual boot (Android and Windows ?). Kodak should release their first smartphone in 2015, so we are waiting to see, how good exactly the camera phone is going to be (it should be definitely a camera phone, it’s Kodak after all). We may also see Ubuntu powered phone, a new Jolla phona (and a tablet) and maybe more Firefox devices (usually as cheaper as possible). Let’s not forget about Google’s Ara project and the modular smartphones.