Heavy metal ions are highly toxic, carcinogens, and non-biodegradable in nature and pollute most water resources that lead to severe health-related issues. It is essential to develop highly sensitive, selective, rapid, and accurate approaches for their detection in water. Semiconducting devices and materials with micro and nanostructures have been featured with fast response time, low power, high sensitivity, low detection limit. This review concisely introduces the recent trends in heavy metal ion sensing with semiconductor devices, including ion-sensitive field-effect transistors (ISFETs) and AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) and semiconductor materials like graphene, two-dimensional metal dichalcogenides, decorated with different nanoparticles with appropriate functionalization. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.