You know a new year's officially underway when you've got loads of exciting new Android devices trying to sneak onto your calendar. Well, gang, after a slightly quiet start to 2013, I'm happy to say we're finally hitting that point.
Between official news and not-so-official leaks and rumors, the number of enticing new devices on the horizon is climbing fast. Here are six sizzling items worth keeping an eye on.
1. Samsung's Galaxy S IV
Sure, we knew it was coming -- but as the days tick by, the scent of Samsung's next flagship phone is growing stronger. The latest rumor (and it's worth emphasizing that it is just a rumor) suggests Sammy's Galaxy S IV could show its face as early as March, at a U.S. launch event, with an actual sales launch following a few weeks later in April.
Last year's grand Galaxy S III event took place in May, but a slightly earlier timeline for 2013 is certainly conceivable. In 2012, after all, Google's annual I/O conference happened in late June. This year, I/O is scheduled for mid-May. It'd make sense that Samsung would want to get in ahead of that event, when it can claim the spotlight all for itself.
One way or another, a new Galaxy S contender is coming -- and it promises to be a device that'll have the Android world a-buzzin' for months on end.
2. HTC's "M7" phone
Alleged leaks of HTC's latest high-end handset have been hitting the Web for a while now -- and with the huge Mobile World Congress show coming up in late February, there's a decent chance we'll actually see the mythical beast before long.
The phone is supposedly codenamed the HTC "M7," but odds are that isn't the name the device will bear when it hits the market. Regardless, with the quality we saw HTC deliver with its One-series smartphones last year, I'm pretty pumped to see what the company has in store for us next.
3. Motorola's "X" phone
We know Motorola's working on something big for 2013; with Google at the helm, the signs of Moto 2.0 we've seen so far are only the tip of the iceberg. If the rumors prove to be right, the first big thing we see may end up being a device known (for now, at least) as the Motorola "X" phone.
The Wall Street Journal first broke word of the top-secret device last year. According to the WSJ, the "X" phone will boast "cutting-edge features" that make it "stand apart from existing phones." Rumors are running rampant about what those features could be and how the phone could be sold -- and while we don't yet know for sure which parts of the tale will end up coming true, it's safe to say Motorola should have some interesting stuff up its sleeve for 2013.
4. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0
Samsung's Galaxy Note II phone was a big hit, both literally and figuratively speaking. The company's Note 10.1 tablet, however, was a bit of a letdown. So the notion of an 8-in. version of the tablet -- which Sammy execs have reportedly said will show up at MWC next month -- is intriguing, to say the least.
If Samsung can take the good elements of the Note II phone and put them into a midsized 8-in. tablet, we could have a pretty compelling new device on our hands.
5. LG's Optimus G Pro
LG's original Optimus G was one of the finest phones of 2012. Now the company's kickin' out an updated version of the product known as the Optimus G Pro. With a slightly bigger, higher pixel density screen, a beefed up battery and some extra processing power, the new Optimus G Pro should be a tempting new addition to the Android family.
For now, though, the phone is launching only in Japan; we'll have to see if and when it actually hits the States and other parts of the world.
6. Sony's Xperia Tablet Z
Sony's sleek new Xperia Tablet Z is practically oozing with e-sexiness (yes, I'm officially coining that term). The 10-in. tablet is thin, light, and powerful -- and dust- and waterproof, to boot.
Like the recently announced Xperia Z phone, the device looks stunning on paper. And like the Xperia Z phone, the true test will be whether Sony has what it takes to make the product matter.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? Hang on: These six devices are barely scratching the surface. Remember, we have Google I/O in May, when we're likely to see the next major version of Android (Key Lime Pie, perhaps?) along with a new Nexus device or two. And there are bound to be plenty of surprises between now and then as well.
And -- oh yeah -- that's just the first half of the year.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's a good time to be an Android fan.
SEE ALSO: Android, ahoy! 7 things you can count on in 2013