Like every other industry, the smartphone biz has its highs and lows in terms of manufacturer activity. Currently, we could argue that we're in the latter phase, with most noteworthy devices of the first half of the year already available to consumers. Thankfully, in as hyperactive industry as ours, that doesn't mean that no worthwhile devices are expected to make their market debut relatively soon.
We rounded up a whole bunch of such smartphones, all of which are either just starting out their shelf life, or are expected to do so in short time. Mostly high-end in nature, the gadgets underneath will all vie for your attention. Luckily, almost without exception, all of them are deserving of it.
Here we go!
The Verizon-exclusive Sony Xperia Z4v was only made official two days ago, and is expected to land on Big Red's shelves by the end of the summer. Unlike the Sony Xperia Z4/Z3+, however, the Z4v flaunts a few improvements — like a Quad HD (1440x2560) resolution display and a slightly larger, 3,000 mAh battery. On the other hand, these bumps came at a price: The Z4v is made out of plastic, not metal and glass.
Sony Xperia Z4v
We mentioned the Xperia Z3+ already, but that doesn't mean that the handset is at all widely available at the moment. The flagship is expected to make its market debut at the end of the month in some regions, though if history taught us anything, it probably will be a while until it reaches some key markets, including the US. Hopefully, we're wrong this time around.
Sony Xperia Z3+
The Huawei P8max is a monster. No, really — at 6.8 inches, this is one gigantic smartphone, and luckily for all phablet aficionados the rest of the specs sheet is equally opulent. We're looking at an octa-core, 64-bit HiSilicon Kirin 935 processor running at up to 2.2GHz, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera with optical stabilization and dual LED flash, and 1W loudspeaker. The P8max is expected to start selling this month, though regional availability remains unknown.
We recently covered the ZTE Nubia Z9 in our Monsters from Asia column
, and for a good reason — this is one hell of a device. We're talking near bezel-less design (at the sides), a fingerprint scanner, 5.2-inch (1080p) display, an octa-core, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, up to 4 gigs of RAM, and a 13-megapixel camera that comes with optical stabilization.
ZTE Nubia Z9
The Asus ZenFone Zoom
was announced as far back as January, but it's only now that it is finally expected to hit the market. The Zoom, as the name suggests, is a camera-centric device, with a 13-megapixel camera with optical stabilization, dual LED flash, and 3x optical zoom. The rest of the specs aren't half bad, either — we've got a 5.5-inch, 1080p display, a quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, up to 4 gigs of RAM, and 3,000 mAh juicer.
Asus ZenFone Zoom
Speaking of cameraphones, we can't gloss over Lenovo's Vibe Shot — a direct ZenFone Zoom competitor. Like Asus' gadget, the Vibe Shot also comes with a high-powered, 16-megapixel camera that is also optically stabilized and accompanied by a dual LED flash. We also have a 5-inch display with 1080p resolution, an octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 2,900 mAh battery.
Lenovo Vibe Shot
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is almost certainly already available in your region, but it wasn't until recently that the Galaxy S6 Active was made official on AT&T's waves. The hardware on the S6 Active is identical to the standard S6 (and eccentric S6 edge), save for the materials it's made of — they allow for iP68 (water- and dust-resistant at up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes) and MIL-STD-810G (resistant to pretty much everything, including humidity, shock, salt, dust, solar radiation, etc) certifications.
The S6 Active is already available on AT&T.
There's a third Sony device expected to soon make its market debut, but unlike the other two, this one is actually a bit lower in the food chain. Still, the Xperia C4 is a phablet-sized (5.5 inches, 1080p) device with an octa-core, 64-bit MediaTek MT6752 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel main camera, and a 5-megapixel selfie snapper. That last one is supposed to be the highlight of the device, as Sony has self-styled it "the best selfie smartphone". We'll see about that.
Sony Xperia C4
Speaking of selfies, the Asus ZenFone Selfie totes a 13-megapixel front cam with two LED flashes up front. The rest of its specs sheet reads like a top-end mid-ranger — a 5.5-inch, 1080p display, octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, up to 3 gigs of RAM, a 13-megapixel main camera with laser autofocus and dual LED flash, plus a 3,000 mAh battery. The Selfie is expected to land at some point in the third quarter
Asus ZenFone Selfie
Sharp's devices are seldom seen outside of Japan, and this is unlikely to change. Still, the splash resistant Aquos Crystal 2, with its super-efficient design (over 77% screen-to-body ratio), is a device worth mentioning. The mid-ranger sports a 5.2-inch display with a 720p resolution, a quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 2,030 mAh battery. The phone is expected to hit Japan next month.
Sharp Aquos Crystal 2
As long as we're on the topic of Sharp, we might as well get through the Aquos Xx — another device we recently featured in our fortnightly Monsters from Asia column
. Unlike the Crystal 2, the Aquos Xx is a flagship device, with a 5.7-inch, 1080p display, an octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 810 chipset, 3GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 3,000 mAh cell. The Xx is also splash resistant.
The Sharp Aquos Xx
HTC's crazed new pace is now a fact, cemented by the latest addition to its top-end line — the One ME.
The One ME is no joke, though, for it is set to debut as the world's first device toting MediaTek's Helio X10 octa-core, 64-bit processor. Complementing the new chip are 3 gigs of RAM, tucked under a 5.2-inch, Quad HD (1440x2560) display. There's also a 20-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, a fingerprint scanner, and a 2,840 mAh battery. The One ME is slated for launch in Asia, though neither price, nor release date are yet available. Still, our guess would be within a few months' time.
HTC One ME
With a price tag the equivalent of about $169, the Meizu m2 Note is one device we'll be keeping an eye out — after all, for that kind of money, Meizu is giving away quite a bit of hardware. We've got a 5.5-inch, 1080p IGZO display, an octa-core, 64-bit MediaTek MT6753 chipset, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera, and a 3,100 mAh cell. The device is already available for pre-order, and is expected to start shipping out in the first weeks of July.
Meizu M2 Note
Another hot Chinese find was the mid-range vivo X5Pro — an very thin (0.25 in / 6.4 mm) device with a premium build. Under the 5.2-inch (1080p) hood we have an octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 615 chip, 2GB of RAM, a 13-megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus, an 8-megapixel selfie snapper, and a 2,300 mAh juicer. Oh, and did we mention the X5Pro's iris scanning tech up front? Yep, it's there in lieu of a fingerprint scanner. The phone is already available in China for the equivalent of $443.
For our last slot, we have yet another Chinese device (no surprise there) that you'll be able to source online at some point in the near future — the Gionee Elife E8.
The E8 is quite the big deal in terms of both appearances and specs — you're looking at a 6-incher with a Quad HD (1440x2560) AMOLED display, an octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor, 3GB of RAM, and — most impressively — a 24-megapixel main camera with optical stabilization! As was rumored before the actual announcement of the Elife E8 took place, the phone will be capable of stitching together images as large as 100 megapixels. The Gionee Elife E8 is expected to be made available for purchase on July 15th for the equivalent of $645.
Gionee Elife E8