What to expect from OEMs in 2014

What will we see from the Android
army in 2014? Image: iDownloadBlog
2013 was a good year for Android OEMs in general. Smartphones have made huge leaps forward from their 2012 predecessors. Smartphones from every major Android OEM are pretty much neck and neck in terms of performance, they each have their own strengths (and weaknesses) and Google have refined Android to the extent that you pretty much can't go wrong with any phone you buy. In the past couple of years, there have been some fairly consistent trends in the Android ecosystem. Some OEMs keep doing the same things which we come to expect, while others keep surprising us with things we never thought possible. A couple of months ago I wrote about what I expect from smartphones in 2014, specs wise. This time I'm taking a more focused approach, and will share with you what I think we will see from each of the major Android OEMs in 2014.

Will the S5 follow the design of the
SIII and S4? Image: galaxys5us
Let's start with the "King of Android", Samsung. For the past two years, Samsung have sold the most smartphones among all the Android OEMs, and I expect the same in 2014. With the amount of advertising Samsung do, nobody is going to forget about them any time soon, something HTC is unfortunately learning the hard way. I also expect Samsung to stick to their strategy of flooding the market with a large number of pointless devices, with two new categories to aid in the flooding - Pro and Lite. We've already heard the rumours of the Galaxy Grand Lite and the Galaxy Note 3 Lite, and have recently seen the leaked images of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. So yeah, definitely more devices. Lastly, despite KitKat being slimmed down to take up less resources, I expect TouchWiz to completely negate that by providing a feature-packed but poorly optimised Android experience.

While Samsung will continue to dominate Android, I fear HTC will continue to go in the opposite direction. Despite the HTC One being chosen by many fans as the top smartphone of the year, HTC just couldn't get the average consumer excited enough to buy it. With an award-winning design, I doubt HTC will stray too far with their 2014 flagship though, which is why we should see a proper successor to the One in 2014, unlike how the One wasn't a true successor to the One X. It might finally go up to 5", but expect it to maintain the same aluminium body, with those amazing front-facing stereo speakers. HTC will continue to compete on other fronts as well, with a Mini and a Max likely going to come after their flagship, but there has been no word on a tablet yet, which is weird because every other OEM (except Motorola) has a tablet offering.

More AOSP love in 2014. Image: Android Central
Sony have been a bit of a mixed bag lately. The Xperia Z1 is a high-end device, yet it never received the same amount of recognition that its competitors did. The Xperia Tablet Z too has been long forgotten. Or maybe it's just in Western and European nations? Here in Malaysia, Sony smartphones are quite common. After Samsung and Apple products, the most common smartphones I've seen in the wild are Xperia's. This could continue to be the case, as Sony said they were unlikely to offer their smartphones on US carriers any time soon. On a positive note, Sony will most likely continue their strong AOSP support, and further integrate their TV and camera technology into their smartphone products as they look to strengthen their foothold in the smartphone market.  

LG really benefited from their Nexus partnership with Google. Before the Nexus 4, not too many people would've given LG products any proper consideration when choosing a smartphone, but that sure has changed now. The G2 is loved by many for some powerful specs, a unique button placement that makes more sense than it did when we first started hearing about it, and the G Flex managed to hold its own against the Galaxy Round in the first battle of the curved smartphones. If LG proved anything in 2013, it's that they aren't afraid to be different, and I think we'll see more of the same from LG in 2014.
One of the great features of the G Flex. Image: YouTube
Motorola got a lot of things right this year. From proving that you don't need the best specs to have a great smartphone experience with the Moto X, to giving the world an entry level device that is actually good with the Moto G, to pushing out Android updates as quickly as Google can make them. These are the reasons why I named Motorola as my best OEM of 2013, and why other OEMs should pay attention and learn a thing or two from the pioneer of the mobile phone. Motorola can only go up from here. Moto Maker should make a comeback with the Moto X's successor, which will definitely retain those great features like Touchless Controls and Active Display. One thing I do hope Motorola do differently in 2014 however, is to make their flagship available globally. It's a shame that millions of people around the world are deprived of the opportunity to own a Moto X, and I really do hope Motorola make their 2014 flagship available globally.
Two phones which redefined what we call a smartphone. Image: Digital Trends
Two of the best Nexus devices ever. Image: Forbes
Not really an OEM, but definitely an important brand in the Android ecosystem. 2013 showed that the Nexus brand is not just an affordable line of devices, but a brand that puts up a great fight in terms of specs and performance as well. Put together, the devices that you get for the prices you pay just make Nexus products the best value-for-money devices in the entire industry. The Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 are two of the best devices of the year, and the Nexus devices in 2014 will probably keep that streak alive. What will be different however, is who makes them. After two years, ASUS and LG will probably be replaced by other OEMs to make the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 successors. Who exactly is still anybody's guess. We also got GPE devices this year, and although they aren't exactly Nexus products, they do still bring Google's version of Android to the market. The combination of Nexus and GPE devices will continue to push Google's version of Android in the market, and I expect them to both be very successful in doing so in 2014.

Looking back at 2013, what do you think we'll see from Android OEMs in 2014? 

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