The most powerful Android phone of 2024 could come from an unexpected source

It's time to start thinking about the next-gen as Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 approaches

A photo of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
Quick summary

The most powerful Android phone of 2024 is expected to be the Xiaomi 15, powered by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 processor.

However, it will likely be launched in China first in November 2024 and won't be available globally until 2025.

The pace of smartphone launches is unfaltering, a relentless march towards more power, greater battery efficiency and even more amazing camera performance. In the world of Android, the launch of new core hardware is a significant event – although the first next-gen Android phone might take you by surprise.

The hardware that powers many of the best Android phones comes from Qualcomm, and currently it's the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 that rules the roost. Announced in October 2023, it has powered the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, the OnePlus 12, and the Xiaomi 14 Ultra among other devices.

But talk is already turning to the next-gen, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 expected to be announced at Snapdragon Summit in October 2024. Exactly what advances the new hardware will bring remain to be seen, but you can expect more powerful core hardware and graphics handling, as well as greater power for dealing with AI tasks.

The first device expected to launch with this new hardware is the Xiaomi 15. That might come as some surprise, but Xiaomi reportedly retains exclusive rights to the first launch according to leaker Yogesh Brar.

The surprise comes in the fact that although Xiaomi will be the first to announce a Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 device, it probably won't be the first phone that you'll be able to buy.

The race to launch next-gen devices

I've been to Snapdragon Summit a couple of times, so I have witnessed this situation unfold for myself. As soon as the new Snapdragon hardware is formally announced, various partners appear on stage to talk about new devices and functions enabled by the new hardware. Xiaomi is one of the high-profile partners that appears.

If history is anything to go by, Xiaomi will announce the Xiaomi 15 on the same day, with a launch that follows rapidly after, but only in China. In 2023, the Xiaomi 14 was released in China on 1 November, but it wasn't until February that those phones made it to the global stage.

That leaves a window of opportunity in January 2024, which is when we're likely to see the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S25 family – of which the S25 Ultra will possibly run on a custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 for Galaxy hardware chip.

So, technically, the most powerful phone of 2024 will likely be the Xiaomi 15 that's launched in November in China on that new Snapdragon hardware, but you probably won't have the chance to buy one until 2025.

There's another contender, however, with rumours suggesting that OnePlus is also vying to be the first to launch on the new hardware. Again, whether Xiaomi's exclusivity holds firm, remains to be seen.

Chris Hall

Chris has been writing about consumer tech for over 15 years. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Pocket-lint, he's covered just about every product launched, witnessed the birth of Android, the evolution of 5G, and the drive towards electric cars. You name it and Chris has written about it, driven it or reviewed it. Now working as a freelance technology expert, Chris' experience sees him covering all aspects of smartphones, smart homes and anything else connected. Chris has been published in titles as diverse as Computer Active and Autocar, and regularly appears on BBC News, BBC Radio, Sky, Monocle and Times Radio. He was once even on The Apprentice... but we don't talk about that.