Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, or HTC? There was a time (not long ago) when those five manufacturers were pretty much all one had to look at to decide which phone to get. Each had several models to choose from, so picking the phone that was right for you was rarely an easy task. Today, however, in addition to the “big five”, we’ve got phones from Sony, ZTE, Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Acer, Archos, Alcatel, Asus, Oppo, OnePlus, Jolla, Blu, Cat, Kyocera, and more. All these added players, some with very enticing options, make figuring out which phone is best for your particular likes (and dislikes) a monumental task. Thankfully you’ve got the dedicated crew here at Pocketnow to help you sift through the minuta and filter the options to those that will suit you best.
Since we’re only in January, we’re still very early in the year. Even still, based on what we’ve seen in the last few months, a few manufacturers are already standing out from the crowd. Who’s going to be the biggest OEM of 2016?
First out of the gate is Alcatel, thanks to the impressively spec’d out OneTouch Fierce XL that we showed you at CES. With a name like “Fierce XL” you’d expect those specifications to be pretty beefy, right? They aren’t. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 210 processor. The “impressive” part comes in when you see how well the phone runs Windows 10 Mobile – in spite of its hardware.
From what we’ve seen, it’s smooth – even though it’s decidedly not a flagship. Normally this might be a turn-off, but it signals a significant milestone for Windows phones – and shows us that there’s another viable player in the game.
Sometimes we spend too much time looking at flagships, and not enough looking at the phones that many will opt for simply because they’re affordably priced through their carrier. With the Force XL, Alcatel is showing us that just because something is “affordable” doesn’t mean it should be quickly overlooked.
In a fairly short amount of time Motorola was acquired by Google, sold to Lenovo, then absorbed into the company – leaving only the “Moto” brand name intact. There’s no doubt that Motorola has made some very impressive handsets (including Google’s own Nexus 6) over the years.
After the Lenovo acquisition, things started to go sour. Devices that had been promised to get “timely updates” were denied those updates, leaving them running older versions of the Android operating system rather than the newest reversions. This, combined with the dissolution of the “Motorola” name, point to this being a rebuilding and rebranding year for Lenovo/Moto.
That rebuilding will likely result in lackluster year for Moto – something that’s disappointing, to be certain. However, we’d much rather Moto lose a year to this rebranding and restructuring than to continue to disappoint formerly loyal users who were burned by broken promises.
Since it’s the only manufacturer of devices that run iOS, we have to mention Apple here. There will be a new iPhone later this year. It will be iterative (rather than revolutionary) in nature. Nonetheless, we’ll see a new device, and fans will flock to it. It’s not likely to woo people who are entrenched in other platforms to defect to the i-Platform, but newcomers and pre-existing customers will upgrade.
Samsung will release the new Galaxy S7 – and will market it to iPhone customers, telling them how much better, faster, and cooler a phone from Samsung is compared to Apple’s latest offering. Some customers will be convinced – though most will not. Thankfully, those with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 or S6 will likely consider upgrading and staying loyal to the brand.
The all new Asus ZenFone Zoom is slated to be released next month. It’s reportedly coming with 4GB RAM, in 64GB and 128GB storage options, and a 13MP camera with an innovative perpendicular, double-periscope optical zoom.
If Asus can pull all that off, we’re hoping to get Lumia-quality imagery out of a non-Lumia device.
Acer, Huawei, LG, ZTE, Blu, …
Another Windows 10 Mobile-powered phone is the Acer Liquid Jade Primo. Huawei is slated to make its Mate 8 available around the world – well, in more places around the world. LG unveiled the K7 and K10. The Grand X3 and Avid Plus from ZTE are on deck. Blu has the Vivo 5 and Vivo XL prepped for us.
So far, entry- and mid-level devices seem to be the common theme for OEMs across the board. While this probably isn’t the death of the flagship that some have been foreseeing for the last few years, it may signal a shift from high-end specs to specs that are “impressive and affordable” – and could very well indicate that the days of virtual exclusivity from the big five OEMs have finally come to a middle.
How 2016 will play out remains to be seen, but based on what we’ve seen so far, who do you think will make your next smartphone?