The pandemic has been something of a plague in the mobile world as well as the physical one, with Mobile World Congress cancelled for the first time since it began in 2006, and other events, including Google I/O 2020, also being nixed. Many mobile manufacturers had to completely rework their launch strategies in the first half of 2020 too.
Nevertheless, 2020 is an exciting year for new phones. This year we’re see super-fast 5G connectivity start to take hold; becoming a standard feature across flagships and appearing with increasing frequency within the mid-range space. We’re now seeing screens that boast 120Hz refresh rates, which is good news for gaming and video, and camera phones continue to pile on the megapixels and extra sensors, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Foldable designs are becoming cheaper and more durable, and battery technology is constantly improving too. Later this year we’ll see software enhancements too, with the release of Android 11 (now out as a Developer Preview) and iOS 14.
2020 sure is an exciting time to be choosing a new phone, but with so much change on the horizon, when is the best time to buy one?
In this feature, we’ve outlined all the major smartphone launches expected to take place in the remainder of 2020, along with an outline on what new features and hardware specifications have been or are likely to be included. Read on to ensure your next smartphone purchase is not immediately followed by the regret, tieing you into a lonnngggg two-year contract. (Remember that there is a chance you could upgrade your contract early.)
Pro tip: As these new phones edge closer, the outgoing flagships will fall in price and you’ll be able to scoop up some great deals. If you’re not bothered about having the very latest tech, check out our take on the best phones you can buy today.
Best new phones coming out this year
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 & Note 20 Ultra
After a deluge of leaks, Samsung finally gave us our first official look at the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra at its 5 August Unpacked event stream and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint.
While the gap between the S and Note-toting Galaxys feels narrower than ever, the Note 20 series still bring a ton of interesting new functionality to the table, namely centred around the line’s signature S Pen stylus.
The Ultra in particular also boasts top-tier performance, a killer camera with a refined 50x Space Zoom (making it more useable than the S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom) and a bold new design.
Both Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are expected to go on sale on 21 August and we honestly cannot wait.
Read more about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 20.
Don’t take your fancy? There are some incredible deals around on the current Samsung Galaxy Note 10.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
While the tweaked name is a little messy, Samsung’s 5 August Unpacked event also gave us the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 follows the layout of its direct predecessor, with a smaller external display (although one that’s far-better proportioned) and a verticle hinge that opens to reveal a larger internal screen. The aesthetic direction reflects that of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and for the most part – it’s a real looker of a foldable.
This phone isn’t going on sale alongside the new Note line and Samsung’s set a date of 1 September to tell us more about its plans for the Z Fold 2, so stay tuned.
Read more about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Fold 2.
Don’t take your fancy? Check out the original Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip.
Apple iPhone 12 (Late 2020)
In September we’ll see the annual refresh to the Apple iPhone, which in 2019 arrived in standard (6.1in), Pro (5.8in) and Pro Max (6.5in) versions.
We’re hoping 2020 is going to be a year of significant design change for the iPhone, with that large screen notch now looking more than a little dated. Moving more in line with the latest Android phones, iPhone 12 may also come with 5G connectivity, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and potentially a quad-lens rear camera.
This could also be the year Apple finally ditches the Lightning port in favour of USB-C, which could temporarily upset some Apple fans but would be worthwhile in the long run.
We expect to see an Apple A14 Bionic processor, along with 4GB of RAM and storage options of 64-, 256- and 512GB. At least the most expensive models will have OLED displays, and we hope that Apple will standardise this across the line.
Read more about the upcoming iPhone 12.
Don’t take your fancy? Check out the best deals on older and current iPhone models.
Google Pixel 5
Following the August launch of the Pixel 4A, Google’s flagship line should see an update during its annual hardware conference in early October.
These phones are interesting largely for being among the first to offer the latest Android operating system (which, in 2020, will be Android 11), but also for offering the purest software experience.
In other respects, gone are the days when Google’s own phones offer the best value or the best specs. They still fare pretty well on the cameras, however, if that floats your boat.
Chief among our wishlist for Pixel 5 is a higher-capacity battery and a more modern design. It’s also worth noting that the Pixel 4a 5G is slated to launch alongside the 5 too.
Read more about the upcoming Google Pixel 5.
Don’t take your fancy? Check out our thoughts on the affordable new Google Pixel 4a.
OnePlus typically announces two flagship phones per year, so despite the fact the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro have only recently gone on sale we will likely see a OnePlus 8T launch in late September.
The cameras will likely see an upgrade (although it may be in software-only), as will the charging tech, namely on the base 8T, bringing it closer to that of its ‘Pro’ sibling, with support for fast wireless charging – something the OnePlus 8 currently lacks.
Perhaps the most surprising move will be the continued use of Qualcomm’s existing flagship Snapdragon 865 chipset, in place of an upgraded ‘Plus’ model – as was the case last year.
Read more about the upcoming OnePlus 8T.
Don’t take your fancy? OnePlus Nord is available to buy now.
Nokia 9.2 PureView
What’s throwing us the most over the prospect of a Nokia 9.2 PureView is that the company never released a Nokia 9.1 PureView. So here we are in late 2020 with Nokia going all Sony on us.
Its MWC conference was cancelled, but Nokia held a launch event on 19 March in which it unveiled its first 5G phone, the Nokia 8.3, leaving us still waiting for the proper 9-series flagship.
A really interesting rumour about Nokia’s upcoming flagship is that it could feature an under-display selfie camera. That means no unsightly notch, and no punch-hole cutout. With Samsung, Xiaomi and Oppo all known to be working on this tech, is Nokia really going to be the first to the finish line?
Nokia is many things but these days it is rarely a trailblazer – and it wasn’t so long ago we were hearing (and not questioning) the fact that its 2020 flagship would launch with a 2019 flagship processor (the Snapdragon 855).
Still, we will patiently await the arrival of Nokia’s new phone and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Read more about Nokia’s next flagship phone.
Don’t take your fancy? Here are some more great Nokia smartphones you can buy today.
Asus ZenFone 7
Asus makes some incredible smartphones but is somewhat underlooked in the UK market. The upcoming ZenFone 7 could change all that when it arrives later this year – most likely in August.
We’re expecting the next ZenFone to be slightly more expensive than previous models, with the addition of 5G and a Snapdragon 865 processor. It’s also rumoured to finally bring the convenience of wireless charging to users.
Memory and storage look to also increase, to 8GB RAM and 256GB respectively, but we’re hoping one thing that won’t change is the unique flipping camera module that serves as both primary camera and selfie camera.
Read more about the upcoming Asus ZenFone 7.
Huawei Mate 40 & Mate 40 Pro
The message has probably got across to you by now but it is incredibly unlikely that Huawei’s Mate 40, expected in September, will feature Google apps and services. If this doesn’t bother you, read on.
It’s still too early for extensive rumours but it’s pretty much a given that the Mate 40 will run the next-gen Kirin chip. This is the one that comes after the Kirin 990 and is reportedly already in production, apparently using a 5nm manufacturing process – something not yet found on current offerings in the market.
We’d really like to see a return of physical volume buttons on the Pro model, plus an enhanced camera that is more in line with the P-series than older Mate models.
Read more about the upcoming Huawei Mate 40.
Don’t take your fancy? Check out our Best Huawei phones roundup for worthwhile alternatives.
Microsoft Surface Duo
Microsoft announced the Duo back in 2019 but it won’t ship until “Holiday 2020“. Or, at least, that was the original schedule and there are now rumours it could appear in the summer.
The long-awaited Surface Phone, Duo is a dual-screen folding smartphone that has a pair of 5.6in displays separated by a 360-degree hinge and it can be bent into various forms a bit like a 2-in-1 laptop. It runs Android rather than Windows and works with a stylus, but little else is known right now.
Read more about the upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo.
Don’t take your fancy? Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola’s RAZR are truly foldable phones.
Apple iPhone SE Plus
Apple’s new iPhone SE for 2020 went on sale back in April but it was always expected to arrive alongside a Plus model. If you’re thinking that might be imminent, though, don’t hold your breath; we could be waiting until the second half of 2021.
This is not simply a larger version of the iPhone SE, mind you. Prolific Apple leakster Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the iPhone SE Plus will feature either a 5.5 or 6.1in display and, crucially, it’ll sport a “full-screen design” like that of the iPhone 11 range. It may also have Touch ID built into the power button.
Read more about the upcoming iPhone SE Plus.
Don’t take your fancy? iPhone SE is now Apple’s cheapest smartphone to buy brand-new.
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