The most anticipated smartphones of 2018

They might not be official yet, but that doesn't mean we're not excited for this year's smartphones...

2017 was a fantastic year for phones. We got skinnier screen bezels than ever, cameras that took better pictures than dedicated compacts, and better-than-all-day battery life.

But we want more. And if the early rumours are any indication, that's exactly what we're going to get.

All eyes will of course be on Samsung at the beginning of the year, when the inevitable Galaxy S9 arrives, and Apple is sure to impress in September with a handful of new iPhones, but it's not just a two horse race. Google and newly-acquired HTC will release their first official collaboration, Huawei is working on something special in the camera department, and Sony might finally be ready to mix things up in the design department.

Here's what you can expect from all the major players, as well as when they might go on sale.


Samsung: Galaxy S9, Note 9

Easily our favourite phone of 2017, the Galaxy S8 had it all: a stunning design, front-filling AMOLED screen and a superb camera, all wrapped up in a metal and glass chassis you couldn't help but swoon over whenever you pulled it out of a pocket. Familiar features like waterproofing, wireless charging and expandable storage stuck around, as did the headphone jack - a refreshing change from the rest of the smartphone world.

That means the Galaxy S9 has a lot to live up to, and based on what we've heard so far, it may not mix up the formula all that much.

Expect a very similar design, with Samsung staples like the curved edge Infinity Display making a comeback. If the bezels don't get any skinnier, screen size is probably going to stay the same too. Performance will be top notch, of course, with either a Snapdragon 845 CPU or one of Samsung's own Exynos chips providing the power. The biggest difference will be the camera, which is rumoured to switch to a dual-lens setup like the Galaxy Note 8.

We're betting on a March release for this one, with Samsung confirming a debut at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February.

The Galaxy Note 9 will almost certainly follow later in the year, potentially in late August or early September. This one is more of a mystery, but you can be sure Samsung will find a few new tricks for the S Pen stylus.

Apple: iPhone 9, iPhone X 2?

The iPhone X is Apple's most beautiful handset to date, and a nicely daring twist after a few years of diminishing returns on the same design – but it's also incredibly expensive, putting it out of reach of a lot of prospective iPhone buyers.

What will happen in 2018? If one analyst is to be believed, Apple may extend the full-face screen approach – complete with that divisive notch – to the entire line. Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities believes that Apple will launch an updated 5.8in OLED model, an "iPhone X 2" or whatever you want to call it, along with two other models.

One would be a larger model with a towering 6.5in OLED display, and the other would fall right in the middle of the two, purportedly carrying a 6.1in display. The difference is that it would be a lower-resolution LCD screen, with that version acting as the entry-level, slightly cheaper model under the iPhone X 2. That might be the new iPhone 9, essentially.

Confusing? Yeah, just a bit – but it does seem likely that the notch-centric, Face ID-packing design is the way of the future for Apple, and it'll only be a matter of time before all of its phones scrap the old 16:9/Touch ID approach. Whether that will all happen this year remains to be seen, but we certainly expect some big developments from Apple this autumn. September is usually when we see these things, although the iPhone X didn't actually release until November last year.

Sony: A new-look Xperia?

This has been a long time coming, but 2018 might finally see Sony shake things up and launch a radically redesigned Xperia flagship phone. The Xperia line has kept roughly the same look since the Xperia Z arrived in 2013, which is eons in smarpthone land. While everyone else has moved onto curvier creations made from glass, Sony has largely stuck with sharp angles and polycarbonate materials.

The latest rumours point to that changing next year, with specs for a possible Xperia XZ2 Premium spotted online. A 5.7in, 4K HDR display gets top billing, in a phone with smaller dimensions than the 5.5in XZ Premium - meaning the bezels must be getting some serious shrinkage. Other specs are still TBC, but a high-end Snapdragon CPU seems like a safe bet.

Sony tends to show off its mainstream phones at Mobile World Congress in February/March, but a top-spec Premium handset could be revealed at CES in January - we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out if Las Vegas is indeed where Sony will make an announcement.