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.
Huawei Mate 30 (19 Sep)
Announced on 19 September, we're still waiting on confirmation of a release date for the new Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, which might have something to do with all the fuss over whether or not they can run Google apps and services out of the box. As it stands, they cannot.
The Mate 30 is a 6.62in screen phone with the Kirin 990 processor, a triple-lens 40Mp + 16Mp + 8Mp camera and a 4,200mAh battery. The Pro version has a 6.53in 'Horizon' screen, four cameras at the back (40Mp + 40Mp + 8Mp + 3D depth), the Kirin 990 and a 4500mAh battery. There's an intuitive side-touch interaction, and it's waterproof.
We'll bring you more details on availability when we know more.
Read more about Huawei Mate 30.
Xiaomi Mi 9 Pro (24 Sep)
Xiaomi's not through adding new models to its Mi 9 line-up just yet, and the Mi 9 Pro trails only slightly last week's announcement of Mi 9 Lite.
It's not a huge departure from the standard Mi 9, but comes with a faster Snapdragon 855+ processor and 5G. It's also getting a higher-capacity battery at 4,000mAh, and will benefit from improved audio and enhanced haptic feedback for a more immersive gaming experience.
The Mi 9 Pro launched in China on 24 September alongside the Mi Mix Alpha (below).
Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha (24 Sep)
Mi Mix Alpha blew our minds at its launch event on 24 September. Not only is it the world's first 108Mp camera phone, but it has an incredible display that wraps right around the body. Aside from some slim titanium-alloy top and bottom end caps and a slim ceramic strip with Sapphire Glass protection for the cameras at the rear, this thing is all screen.
The Alpha has some top-end specs too, with the Snapdragon 855+, 5G, 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. It uses sound-on-display in place of speakers, and has pressure-sensitive virtual buttons on each edge.
A concept phone that will enter small scale production in China in December, Mi Mix Alpha costs 19,999 yuan (around £2,265/US$2,815/2,560€).
OnePlus 7T (26 Sep) & OnePlus 7T Pro (10 Oct)
OnePlus 7T is an impressive upgrade over the OnePlus 7, which leaves us excited about the Pro launch. There's a new triple-lens camera and a larger 90Hz display. OnePlus has also boosted performance with the Snapdragon 855+.
The Pro version will likely have a larger and higher-resolution (3100x1440, 516ppi) 6.65in display, 256GB of storage and a higher-capacity 4,085mAh battery. The camera is also expected to be a little different, though both are triple-lens models.
Google Pixel 4 & 4 XL (15 Oct)
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. Also interesting in terms of the display is the fact it is said to feature a 90H refresh rate.
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.
Nokia 9.1 PureView (Oct 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.
Huawei Mate X (Nov TBC)
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 Feb 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 Feb 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 Feb 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 Feb 2020 TBC)
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.