If you're due a phone upgrade you might want to hold off just a little longer - there are some great new phones coming from the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Apple, OnePlus, Sony, Nokia and LG (but probably not HTC) in the next 12 months, and we'd hate for you to get tied into a two-year contract and immediately regret it.
Two of the hot new trends are 5G connectivity and foldable designs. Neither is something you really need to worry about right now, with 5G still exclusive to only two of the four major UK operators and not expected to become widespread until much later in 2020, and foldable phones still few and far between and, for most people, priced out of reach. That said, if you intend to hang on to your new phone for a few years yet some element of future-proofing is worth considering.
Today's best phones blend ultimate performance with long battery life, high-resolution full-display screens, excellent photography capabilities (from a triple- or even quad-lens assembly) and decent sound quality.
Right now the processor of choice is the Snapdragon 855 or 855 Plus, with the Snapdragon 865 due in Q1 2020. Apple, Huawei and Samsung will continue to develop their own alternatives, but with similar levels of performance.
Top smartphones coming in 2019 & 2020
We've listed the flagships expected to arrive in 2019 and 2020 from the world's biggest smartphone makers. Though launch dates are yet to be confirmed for some of these phones we've attempted to keep things roughly in date order, so you have a good idea of how long you'll be waiting to upgrade.
Asus ROG Phone 2 - On sale mid-September 2019
Already official in China, Asus' ROG Phone 2 got its global reveal at the IFA tradeshow on 4 September, going on sale in mid-September from 899€.
A gaming phone with some meaty hardware including the Snapdragon 855 Plus, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a 6,000mAh battery, the updated ROG phone also gets a larger 6.59in display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time.
To combat heat a fan that clips on to the rear and doubles as a kickstand is supplied in the box, while a vapour chamber and vents can also help dissipate heat.
Read more about the Asus ROG Phone 2.
Samsung Galaxy Fold - On sale 18 September 2019
Originally expected to go on sale in April, Samsung's foldable Galaxy Fold was delayed following some issues with the display. Now fixed, Samsung has confirmed the Fold will go on sale on 18 September, starting at £1900.
The Galaxy Fold has a 7.3in Dynamic AMOLED screen with a 4.2:3 aspect ratio, but folds inward to fit into a pocket. In this position there's a 4.6in cover display, a Super AMOLED panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
There are six cameras in total, with one on the cover, three on the rear and two at the front, and some impressive specs including a total combined battery capacity of 4,380mAh and a massive 12GB of RAM and 512GB storage.
Read more about the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
LG G8X ThinQ - Announced on 6 September 2019, UK on sale TBC
At IFA 2019 LG unveiled its G8X ThinQ Dual Screen. It borrows its name from the G8, the second screen functionality from the V50, and mixes and matches some core specs from both.
The headline feature on the G8X isn’t technically part of the phone at all: it’s the separate Dual Screen add-on, an optional attachment that gives you a fully functional second touch screen in a laptop-esque clamshell design. It's been tweaked since the V50, and the larger 6.4in OLED panel is now the same size as the main phone, which makes moving windows between the two feel much more natural. A 360-degree hinge lets you place it at any angle.
This is a Snapdragon 855 phone with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and microSD support. There's a dual-lens 12Mp + 13Mp primary camera, and a 32Mp selfie camera, plus an in-display fingerprint sensor and 4,000mAh battery.
This being an LG, decent audio comes as no surprise, and the G8X packs stereo speakers, a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, and DTS:X 3D Surround Sound.
Whether or not the LG G8X launches in the UK remains to be seen.
Read more about the LG G8X ThinQ.
Apple iPhone 11 - on sale 20 September 2019
Currently available to pre-order, three new iPhones go on sale on Friday 20 September. The iPhone 11, iPhone Pro and iPhone Max are differentiated most obviously by their size, with 5.8in, 6.1in and 6.5in displays expected.
Headlining is an Apple A13 processor, which is built on the 7nm process for improved power efficiency.
Read more about the new iPhone on our sister site Macworld.
Huawei Mate 30 - 19 September 2019
A little earlier than in recent years, Huawei's flagship phablet, the Mate 20, will get an upgrade in the shape of the Mate 30 on 19 September.
Although Huawei phones are currently allowed to run Android, the Mate 30 will not arrive with Google Play store preinstalled. Though Huawei has developed its own Harmony OS, it has also confirmed that a Harmony OS phone will not launch in 2019.
We're expecting to see an upgrade to the Kirin 990 processor, another 7nm chip, which has built-in 5G.
The display is also tipped to get an upgrade - a monster 6.71in panel with a OnePlus 7 Pro-rivalling 90Hz refresh rate, potentially losing the notch in favour of a punch-hole camera cutout - and we could see four cameras at the rear of the Pro version.
Read more about Huawei Mate 30.
OnePlus 7T - 26 September 2019/10 October
The upcoming OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro are not thought to be huge departures from the current (and only recently announced) OnePlus 7 line, rather iterative updates that help keep the line relevant.
Leaked images that supposedly reveal the Pro show a very similar design, but with more prominent speaker grilles. Expect most of the changes to feature on the inside, potentially with a move to the Snapdragon 855 Plus.
A key difference between 7 and 7 Pro is the pop-up selfie camera, and though this is likely to remain a Pro feature we could see the standard 7T drop the screen notch in favour of a punch-hole selfie camera cutout.
Expected to arrive alongside the OnePlus TV in India on 26 September, the OnePlus 7T reportedly will not launch in other territories until 10 October.
Read more about OnePlus 7T.
Nokia 9.1 PureView - October 2019 (TBC)
An upgraded Nokia 9 PureView is thought to arrive by October. The new Nokia 9.1 is thought to include 5G, which would mean Nokia is forced to use a current-generation processor in its flagship, the Snapdragon 855.
The new chip also brings significantly faster overall and graphics performance, which could help Nokia to gain some traction where its penta-lens camera has so far failed to turn heads.
Read more about the Nokia 9.1 PureView.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 4 - October 2019 (TBC)
Recently certified by the MIIT, Xiaomi seems on track to unveil the successor to Mi Mix 3 (pictured) and Mi Mix 3 5G within the coming months. As with previous launches, Mi Mix 4 will likely be unveiled in China a couple of months before it makes its way to the UK (we saw Mi Mix 3 in the UK in January).
We can presume that, as with its predecessor, there will be a 5G variant. Potentially the phone will run the upgraded Snapdragon 855 Plus, and early rumours also point to a quad-lens rear camera assembly.
It will be interesting to see whether Xiaomi sticks with its sliding screen mechanism or moves to a pop-up camera as seen in the Mi 9T. The Mi Mix series is known for its revolutionary design, so perhaps Xiaomi will surprise us with something altogether new.
Read more about Mi Mix 4.
Google Pixel 4 - 8 October (TBC)
Having already launched one new Pixel phone this year, Google has already confirmed some key details about its new flagship - the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL - that will be here in October running Android 10.
According to the company's own image there will be a new square camera module at the rear, while the fingerprint sensor has disappeared, suggesting there will be a new in-display version.
Google has also confirmed two new features: Motion Sense and Face Unlock. The former uses Soli, a motion-sensing technology, to recognise gestures when you're nearby. You'll be able to skip songs, snooze, alarms and silence phone calls with a wave of the hand, according to the company. Soli also helps Face Unlock work much faster by switching on the sensor as you reach for the phone.
Read more about the Pixel 4.
Huawei Mate X - November 2019
Now that Huawei's recent US troubles are behind it, and it has double-checked there are no issues with the display following Samsung's Galaxy Fold troubles, the foldable Huawei Mate X is tipped to launch in November with a new Kirin 990 processor and an extra ToF camera.
EE and Vodafone have confirmed they will sell the Mate X, and though contract pricing is still unknown we know it's going to be a little dearer than Samsung's £1900 alternative. A model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will apparently cost €2299 in Europe and around $2600 in the US, which will likely work out around £1999 in the UK.
Unlike the Galaxy Fold the Mate X folds outward rather than inward, so requires only one screen. It uses an 8in (2480x2200) 8:7.1 display, which folds into 6.6in (2480x1148) and 6.4in (2480x892) screens.
Other specs include four (potentially five) Leica cameras and a 4,500mAh battery (split over two cells) with 55W SuperCharge.
Read more about the Huawei Mate X.
Xiaomi Mi 10 - 19 February 2020 (TBC)
If it follows the same pattern as this year, Xiaomi's new flagship will arrive in China a few days before its Global launch at MWC on 23 February 2020 (TBC). The Mi 10 will likely be priced under £500, making it fierce competition for the Galaxy S11 and LG G9 also expected to launch at the show.
We can expect Mi 10 to feature a Snapdragon 865 processor, a 64Mp Samsung camera and MIUI 10. Other rumours at this stage should be taken with a pinch of salt, alluding to such features as 5,000mAh battery, a massive upgrade on the current 3,300mAh cell, and yet a smaller 6.2in display.
We're fairly sure the screen notch will go away, but how Xiaomi handles this is yet to be seen. It may well go down the punch-hole route rather than the pop-up camera used in the Mi 9T.
Read more about the Xiaomi Mi 10.
Samsung Galaxy S11 - 23 February 2020 (TBC)
Samsung's Galaxy S11 will almost certainly also borrow some features from the Note 10, including its new Aura Glow, Aura Black and Aura White colour options, 45W fast charging and enhanced cameras. Sadly, just like that phone, it will probably also lose its headphone jack, dedicated Bixby button and heart-rate sensor.
But there's still a lot to be excited about, even though it is early days for Galaxy S11 rumours, with the phone not thought to arrive until 23 February 2020 - or should that be phones, since there will almost certainly be Plus and 5G variants, though it's unclear whether we'll see an S11e.
The S11 will be one of the first to use the Snapdragon 865 in some markets, while here in the UK we'll get the latest Exynos chip, which reportedly may be down to 5nm in time for the launch. It will also allegedly feature a significant camera upgrade (64Mp lens?) and a much smaller selfie camera cutout than we see in Note 10.
Read more about Samsung Galaxy S11.
LG G9 ThinQ - 23 February 2020 (TBC)
We don't know much about the upcoming LG G9 ThinQ, save for the fact that it will be unveiled at MWC next February. We don't even know if it will go on sale in the UK, given that the G8 (pictured) did not.
Worryingly, LG told Android Authority at MWC 2019 that 5G was going to be restricted to the V-series, while the G-series would be stuck on 4G. It doesn't bode well for a flagship phone that was already looking a little dated with its chunky screen notch, dual-lens camera and rear fingerprint sensor.
However the G8 excels in its display and in audio, which we're hoping will carry through to the G9. This could be one of the only flagship phones left to include a 3.5mm headphone jack, now that Samsung has dropped it from Note 10.
Read more about the LG G9 ThinQ.
Sony Xperia 2 - 24 February 2020
Sony was tipped to launched its next flagship - the Xperia 2 - alongside the mid-range Xperia 20 at IFA in September. Actually we saw neither, with a compact version of the Xperia 1 (the Xperia 5, obviously) launched instead. So it looks like we'll be waiting until February's MWC for the new Sony flagship.
All that is known is that the spec is thought to include 5G and a 4K screen, but reduced from 6.5in to 6.1in. Expect to see a Snapdragon 855 processor, plus 6GB of RAM and a 3,000mAh battery.
Read more about the Sony Xperia 2.
Huawei P40 - March 2020 (TBC)
Arriving a month after MWC if it follows its usual strategy, we'll see the Huawei P40, P40 Pro and a 5G variant in March 2020. There is some talk of it being renamed P400, but in essence we're talking about the successor to the P30 (pictured).
Known for its photography credentials, the Pro model could be getting a fifth camera. The penta-lens camera hasn't gone down so well for the Nokia 9, but Huawei has potential here we think.
Expect to see an upgrade to the Kirin 990, which we will have already tested in the Mate 30, and a redesigned display with a punch-hole-style camera cutout.
Read more about the Huawei P40.