Last year was another fantastic one for smartphones, but 2020 looks to be even better.
There's already a flood of rumours and leaks about this year's set of incoming heavyweights, including the Apple iPhone 12 and Google Pixel 5, along with a handful of other intriguing-looking handsets.
Here's a look at our most-anticipated phones of the year ahead, including links to extensive previews for many of them. Stay tuned, as we'll be updating this list throughout the year as new phones leak and launch.
(Lead image courtesy of Front Page Tech)
Apple iPhone 12
After three versions of the bold and inventive iPhone X design, will 2020 see Apple shake things up? Rumours point to yes, but it's still very early.
Reports suggest an iPhone 12 that keeps the all-screen face while adopting a flattened metal frame that's more akin to the classic iPhone 4, not to mention the current iPad Pro. Screen sizes could shift a bit too, going to 5.4in, 6.1in, and 6.7in (as opposed to the 5.8/6.1/6.5in of now).
Some reports even suggest two different 6.1in models, bringing the total tally to four iPhone 12 devices. According to Front Page Tech, it could break down into iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max models at 5.4in and 6.1in, respectively (both with OLED screens), and iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max models at 6.1in and 6.7in respectively with more cameras, more RAM, and higher-resolution OLED displays.
As for the notch… well, there's no consensus there yet. We've seen concepts suggesting no notch at all, with all of the sensors packed into the slim upper bezel, while others claim Apple will redesign the notch. It's TBD at that point, in terms of what we know. Rumours also point to a four-eyes design on the back, with a time-of-flight camera added to the current trio of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. A recent rumour also points to a 64-megapixel shooter in the mix.
We expected to see the iPhone 12 line launch in September as usual, but now reports suggest a later-year release due to the impact of COVID-19.
(Concept render via Ben Geskin)
Google Pixel 4a
The Google Pixel 3a was one of last year's most surprising phones, bucking Google's high-end trend to deliver a flagship-quality camera paired with mid-range specs – at a reasonable price.
We're expecting that trend to continue in 2020 with the release of a Pixel 4a, and OnLeaks and 91mobiles have produced concept renders based on what they're hearing. The images show a phone that skips the huge, sensor-packed "forehead" bezel of the standard Pixel 4 and instead opts for a Galaxy S10-like punch-hole camera cutout on the front. OnLeaks pegs the screen size at 5.7 or 5.8in for the standard model (the Pixel 3a was 5.6in).
The back has what looks like a smaller square camera module, and the fingerprint sensor returns. It's like a hybrid of the Pixel 3a and Pixel 4, really, which sounds pretty appealing. Most likely, it will launch in early summer like the Pixel 3a did last year, and we're hoping to see similar mid-range price points again.
OnePlus 8 Lite
Will OnePlus launch a mid-ranger, too? That's the rumour, according to OnLeaks and 91Mobiles. They point to a handset that a centered punch-hole cutout on what looks to be a flat screen, and a left-side rectangular camera module on the back with two sensors.
The screen is expected to be about 6.4-6.5in and will likely pack in an in-display fingerprint sensor, plus a lower-end MediaTek processor is expected. The price tag? Supposedly around £400. OnePlus has routinely offered flagship-level phones during its existence, so we're curious to see what a trimmed-down edition looks and feels like if this leak is legit.
(Concept renders via OnLeaks/91Mobiles)
Sony Xperia 1 II
What's this? The Xperia 1… 2? Actually, Sony is calling it the Xperia 1 (Mark 2), but that doesn't come across in the official name for Sony's flagship sequel.
The second Xperia 1 seems largely similar to last year's impressive, ultra-tall original (but with flatter sides), with a seemingly similar 6.5in 4K display, a newly-upgraded Snapdragon 865 chip in the mix, and improved cameras created in collaboration with Sony's Alpha 9 series team. It event has ZEISS lenses in the mix, cribbing a collaboration from Nokia's playbook. Also, it adds back the 3.5mm headphone port that was missing the last time around.
We expected to see it out by now, but current rumblings suggest a release in June.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20
It's not really a surprise that there will be a new Galaxy Note later this year, but in case you were worried, Samsung has already confirmed plans in a financial report. Ta-da!
Based on the launch of the Galaxy S20 this spring, we expect the new Note to be called the Galaxy Note 20. The Note 20 already did a center-mounted selfie cutout camera thing, which the S20 duplicated, and that's expected again. Leakers have suggested that the Galaxy Note 20 will mostly be identical to the S20 aside from the S Pen stylus, however.
One potential difference: much like last year's Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+ (shown) had differences in screen resolution, this year's models could deliver differing refresh rates. Ross Young, the founder and CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, suggests that the Note 20+ will have the 120Hz screen of the S20 line… but that the Note 20 will just have a standard 60Hz display. (Oh.)
We'll probably find out around August, which is the usual Note launch window, although we'll see if Samsung waits a bit longer based on the status and impact of the pandemic.
Already reviewed in 2020
We're always testing the latest and greatest smartphones and dropping our verdicts, and these are the phones we've reviewed so far in 2020. This list will continue to expand each time we update this article, so keep an eye out for many more additions.
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G: All the features you'd want in a top-end Android... and a few more. Brilliant.
Samsung Galaxy S20+: It's a larger GS20, if you're into that sort of thing.
OnePlus 8: Pricier than past models, but one of the best 5G phones today.
Realme X50 Pro 5G: One of your best options for a powerful, yet reasonably-priced 5G phone.
Oppo Find X2 Pro: Paying this much for an Android you've never heard of? You might want to...
OnePlus 8 Pro: The price is pushing it, but the perks are aplenty. Lots to like here.
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G: Both the best you can get and far too much for most buyers.
Motorola Moto G8 Power: Another budget battery beast, even if the G8 Plus is better.
Motorola Moto G8: One of the best sub-£200 budget phones you can buy today.
LG V60 ThinQ 5G: "Nice but niche" pretty much sums up this dual-screen option.
Realme 5 Pro: A familiar, but fantastic budget handset.
Oppo A5 (2020): Want a big phone on the cheap? This 6.5in Oppo can fit the bill.
Samsung Galaxy A51: Not high-end like the S20, but still a super slick mid-ranger.
Huawei P40: No Google in sight, but nice hardware and performance at least.
Samsung Galaxy Fold: A super cool concept, but too expensive and fragile to recommend.
Honor 9X Pro: Good hardware, but not very useful without Google services onboard.
Motorola Moto E6 Play: Yes, it's under £100 – but it's a very rough experience.