September is shaping up to be an exciting month for smartphone buyers around the world: We know that Motorola Mobility, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung Electronics will all launch new smartphones, and it looks like Apple will join the party, too.
So what new devices are we looking forward to the most? Here's our countdown:
5. Sony Xperia Z3
There is no rest for the weary: After launching the Xperia Z2 in February, Sony is already reported to be working on a successor. The company has scheduled a launch event on Sept. 3 ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin.
The new Xperia Z3 is expected to use a faster Snapdragon 801 processor, but most of the other specs will be shared with the Xperia Z2. That includes a 5.2-in. screen with 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution and 3GB of RAM.
A Snapdragon 805 under the hood would make the Xperia Z3 a more impressive upgrade. The processor was announced in November and is powering South Korean versions of the LG Electronics' G3 and the Galaxy S5 from Samsung. The processor has native support for 4K video and opens the door for LTE-Advanced.
Sony is also rumored to be readying a smaller version of the Xperia Z3 and a new tablet with an 8-inch screen.
Ahead of the avalanche of smartphones that will launch in the beginning of September, Sony this week introduced the waterproof Xperia M2 Aqua. Waterproofing is a feature that has become common among high-end smartphones, but not mid-range models like the Xperia M2. Expect other vendors to follow suit with competing products.
4. Nokia Lumia 730
Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella may not be a big hardware enthusiast, but Nokia still needs to be the engine that drives sales if Windows Phone is to survive. And for that to happen Microsoft needs a full portfolio, including mid-range devices.
Microsoft has scheduled a launch event for Sept. 4 in Berlin where the company is expected to unveil the Lumia 730. The device is reported to have a 6.5-megapixel main camera and a 5-megapixel camera for better selfies on the front. Improved front cameras have become a big smartphone trend this year.
The company is also expected to launch the Lumia 830 with a 13-megapixel camera and a Snapdragon 800 processor from Qualcomm. The Lumia 820 was launched two years ago and the Lumia 720 came out in February last year, meaning it's high time to upgrade them both.
3. Motorola G
The launch of the original Moto G and the subsequent LTE version have helped give Motorola Mobility a new lease on life, so there is much pressure on the second generation of the smartphone to offer great value for money, as well. The company has posted an invitation to an event scheduled for Sept. 4 in Chicago. The invitation leaves little to doubt as to what the company is planning, given that it has a smartphone with a G on it!
The rumored specifications include a 5-in. screen with a 1280 by 720 pixel resolution and an 8-megapixel camera. The existing versions have a 4.5-inch screen with the same resolution and a 5-megapixel camera. The camera is the Moto G's Achilles heel, so that would be an important improvement.
Motorola also hinted that it will launch a new version of the more high-end Moto X and the Moto 360 smartwatch at the event in Chicago.
2. Samsung Note 4
Samsung's struggles during the second quarter have been well documented, with shipments dropping even though the rest of the market grew. For the company to get back on track, the Note 4 needs to be a hit. The product has become as important as a new Galaxy S model for the company.
Samsung usually launches a new version of its Galaxy Note line in Berlin, and this year seems to be no different with the invitation for a Sept. 3 event telling people to "note the date" -- a play on words? Rumored specifications include a 5.7-in. screen, which is the same size as the current model, with a 2560 by 1440 pixel resolution and a Snapdragon 805 processor.
Any new device that Samsung launches at this stage is really focused on stabilizing rather than growing its device business, according to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. For the company to revitalize its sales it needs a revolutionary design, something like a foldable or bendable screen to shake up the market, he said in a recent interview.
1. Apple iPhone 6
Few would argue with the iPhone 6's status as the most anticipated new smartphone. Unlike the other companies with products on this list, Apple hasn't signaled plans by scheduling an event. But both history and a number of reports makes a September launch likely.
Apple needs something special to increase sales by getting people to upgrade; it can't rely on expanded distribution. It remains to be seen whether the company will introduce a 4.7-in. model and a 5.5-in. model at the same time or just the smaller model. The resolution is expected to be 1704 by 960 pixels.
Other rumors swirling around iPhone 6 include the use of sapphire glass to improve durability, an upgraded camera and a faster processor. Also, despite the larger screen, the 4.7-in. version is expected to weigh about the same as the iPhone 5s.
There is a large pent-up demand in the U.S. for new iPhones, according to ComScore. The iPhone 4S represents the largest segment of iPhone owners at nearly 20 million, and 40 percent of them are planning to upgrade within six months, the market research company said last week.
Whether every one of these products eventually launches in September, it will be an exciting month for those of you who are thinking about picking a new smartphone.
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