2016 was an eventful year for phones, with major handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 launching, while Google unveiled a new line of flagships with the Pixel and Pixel XL, and Samsung was forced to recall the Galaxy Note 7.
But 2017 looks like it’s going to be an even bigger year – albeit hopefully one with fewer recalls. From the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the iPhone 8 and beyond there are a number of phones we’re sure to see, and rumours paint a very bright picture of them. The following are the best smartphones to look forward to in 2017.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is likely to be the first big hit of 2017, thanks to a rumoured late February launch, though there are growing suggestions that it could be delayed until April.
Very little is yet known for sure about Samsung’s next flagship, but rumours point to a possible jump in screen resolution, bringing it up to a blistering 4K. That would make the S8 ideal for VR, and that’s not the only possible screen change, as it could also be getting bigger, and even losing the home button and bezel, so the front of the phone is all screen.
A dual-lens camera and a massive 4200mAh battery have also been rumoured for it, and of course there’ll be plenty of power, with a flagship Snapdragon 830 or Exynos 8895 processor likely to be at its heart, likely coupled with 6GB of RAM.
You can look forward to extra features as well. Samsung has already confirmed that a brand-new AI assistant will be powering the phone, and there’s also talk of an iris scanner and even a built-in projector.
The Galaxy S8 might also connect to a monitor, letting you use it with a mouse and keyboard like a computer, and it may have stereo speakers, for enhanced sound, but could follow Apple's lead in ditching the 3.5mm headphone port.
Of course, we’re sure to see a Samsung Galaxy S8 Edge alongside the standard S8, adding a larger, curvier screen to the mix.
The iPhone 8 is sure to be the best-selling phone of 2017, but there’s reason to believe it could also be a huge improvement on what’s come before.
It will be the tenth generation of the iPhone – an event that Apple is sure to mark by pulling out all the stops, with rumours pointing to a complete redesign, with a curved AMOLED screen and a curved glass back, held together with a stainless steel frame.
The iconic home button could also get ditched, with Apple instead building the fingerprint scanner right into the display itself. But the company may go even further, building the speakers and front-facing camera into the display too, so the front is nothing but screen.
There’s also talk of wireless charging, which could work from a distance of up to 18ft, and of an iris scanner and lots of power. While less likely rumours include the possibility of a new kind of sensing technology, which would let you interact with the phone by tapping or swiping the metal frame.
If even half of that comes true the iPhone 8 (and iPhone 8 Plus) will be worth waiting for – and sadly wait is what you’ll have to do, as it’s probably not launching until September 2017.
The HTC 11 is largely still wrapped in mystery, but it’s sure to be on the way, and coming from HTC it’s sure to have a luxuriously premium design.
And we have heard a few things about it, including the possibility of an edge-to-edge 5.5-inch curved QHD screen, along with a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing one. The phone is also rumoured to use a Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM - which are well beyond the specs of current flagships. It could have a massive 256GB of storage too, and a huge 3,700mAh battery, for lots of life.
We've also heard that it might have a metal back - unsurprisingly coming from HTC, and that as with a number of other upcoming phones it could drop the 3.5mm headphone port.
It could also sport an innovative ‘Sense Touch’ feature, allowing you to tap on or swipe the metal frame to interact with the phone – essentially turning something that was previously just there to support the screen and internals into an input device.
Other recent leaks, of a phone believed to be called the HTC U Ultra, could also give us an idea of what to expect from the HTC 11, including a secondary always-on display above the main screen, and a glass rather than metal build.
While none of this is certain we’re sure to find out more soon, as we’re getting close to its likely early 2017 launch - look out for the HTC 11 at MWC at the end of February.
LG hasn’t had a huge amount of luck with the LG G5, with sales failing to meet the company’s expectations, and that’s a shame, because it’s an innovative and accomplished handset.
Hopefully the LG G6 will be every bit as impressive when it drops, likely in early to mid-2017. We have every reason to believe it will be based on what we’ve heard so far, with LG said to be giving it a more premium look than any of its past phones.
Design is something LG has long struggled with, so that would be good to see. Apparently the G6 may have a glass back, in place of the G5’s metal shell, so it could look quite different, and LG has confirmed that the G6 won't be modular, which is another big change.
The company has also announced a new screen which is likely to make its way to the handset. This is a 5.7-inch QHD super-widescreen 18:9 display, with a resolution of 1440 x 2880 and a pixel density of 564 pixels per inch. It will also apparently be energy efficient, very responsive to the touch, and easy to see in sunlight.
Other possible features include superfast wireless charging, that’s as speedy as fast wired chargers. LG has already unveiled a wireless transmission module capable of that, so there’s a good chance the company will stick it in the G6.
Given LG’s past flagship form the phone is also likely to have a powerful, versatile camera, probably with two lenses.
Arguably the biggest smartphone story of 2016 was Samsung killing the Galaxy Note 7, but if rumours are to be believed the company hasn’t killed the whole brand, with a Galaxy Note 8 likely to launch in late 2017.
Little is really known about it yet, but early rumours suggest it could have a 4K screen and a big focus on VR. Beyond that it’s sure to borrow heavily from the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 7, so you can probably look forward to a big 5.7-inch (or larger) curved screen with a fingerprint scanner built in and no home button.
Similarly, Samsung's new AI assistant is likely to make an appearance and with the company apparently launching foldable phones this year there's an outside chance that the Galaxy Note 8 will be one of them.
It could also have an iris scanner and a dual-lens camera, while lots of power and a new and improved S Pen stylus are all but guaranteed.
If it can remain free of flames the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 could easily be the best and most exciting phablet of 2017 – we’d say that makes it worth looking forward to.
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