Samsung. Apple. Pixel 2. Huawei. OnePlus — a sneak peak at 2017’s most exciting releases
We’ve had drama, big launches, handsets that failed to impress, surprise launches and big announcements from all the players in the space in the past 12 months.The most notable being the Samsung Galaxy S7, Note 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Google’s Pixel phones.
But what does 2017 have in store for us? More of the same, basically. Though the drama at the end of 2016 for Samsung has placed immense pressure on the company to produce BIG results in 2017, as its bottomline has been hit hard by the removal of the Galaxy Note 7 from market.
The Galaxy Note 7 debacle was a real shame too, because next to the Pixel phones from Google, the Note 7 was easily the best phone on market. It looked the best, performed like a champ, took great pictures and was, for most people, the pinnacle of innovation in the phone space.
Apple’s iPhone, meanwhile, was kind of the opposite. As updates go it was solid with improvements in multiple areas, but still, the lack of design change and the removal of the headphone jack, served to irritate more than a few punters. Even more so when you factor in that it is now common knowledge that next year’s phone – the iPhone 7s/8 – will be the one that features all the big changes a lot of people were hoping for this year.
Plenty more happened, as you’re probably well aware. But for the sake of brevity let’s drill down into what are the most exciting prospects phone-wise for 2017, and when they will likely launch.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
The Sony Xperia XZ Premium launched at MWC 2017 and, quite literally, blew my socks off. I didn’t think Sony had a handset like this in them after years and years of mediocre releases and languishing market share.
I wasn’t expecting much and Sony delivered WAY more than anyone expected. Not only is this handset stunning to behold, but it also features a brilliant camera and a 4K display with HDR.
I think Sony might just have a hit on its hands here, as there appears to be rather a lot of hype and interest around this phone. Way more than usual. Also: the price is decent too €649 – that’s A LOT cheaper than the incoming Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8.
Could 2017 be the year Sony returns to form? The Sony Xperia XZ Premium certainly looks like a handset that could turn things around.
Launched: February 2017
Nokia is officially back in the phone scene. Nokia, now owned by HMD, returned to the fray at MWC 2016, where it launched a trio of Android-powered smartphones as well as rebooted version of the Nokia 3310.
The Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 are all mid-range handsets, designed for taking control of the lucrative mod-range segment of the mobile space. Priced aggressively and featuring eye-catching designs, the Nokia Android phones are decent and will no doubt make a lot of friends when they get a release later this year.
All eyes are on the Nokia 8, however, which is also known as the Nokia P1. This is Nokia’s flagship handset, the handset that will do battle with Apple’s iPhone 8 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
We have a full article on the Nokia 8 already, so if you’re interested in that handset make sure you check that article out, as the handset is shaping up to be quite a beast.
APPLE iphone 8
No phone attracts more attention than a new iPhone, and 2017’s release looks set to be a stunner. Word on the street suggests the iPhone 8 – or whatever it is eventually called – is the handset Jony Ive has always dreamed of making a commercial reality. Expect big design changes, the removal of the Home key, new display tech and BIG improvements in the imaging department.
Apple might be releasing three iPhone 8 models in 2017: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and a third model known as the iPhone 8 Pro. The latter of which will feature a 5.8in OLED panel and likely no bezel whatsoever.
Rumours suggest a grand redesign that will see Apple do away with the Home key and instead focus on creating an all-screen phone. Whether this design language is featured on all three models remains to be seen; it could well be present on only the iPhone 8 Pro model, which, of course, will be the most expensive and where all the innovation is.
Apple’s 2017 iPhone needs to be a rather big deal as well for the company after this year’s iPhone 7, which left a lot of consumers, well… a little less than impressed.
The move to switch to a three-year hardware cycle was a little odd for Apple, as it means the company is now retailing a design it first launched WAY back in 2014. To the untrained eye it is kind of difficult to tell the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 apart.
Apple also removed the headphone jack on this year’s iPhone 7 as well and that move, while very controversial indeed, is not something the company will likely go back on, so DO NOT expect to see the headphone jack return on 2017’s iPhone.
Expected Launch: Late Q4 2017
SAMSUNG GALAXY 8
After the Note 7 debacle, Samsung will want to come back strong with the Galaxy S8, its flagship and most well known handset. Current reporting speculates that the handset might arrive a few weeks later than usual, as Samsung is apparently very keen on not having a repeat performance of what happened to its Galaxy Note 7 handset.
“The Mobile business saw its earnings decrease significantly QOQ due to the effects of the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7,” Samsung said in a press release. “However, smartphone shipments remained solid due to continued stable sales of its existing flagship devices, including the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, and steady growth in the mid-tier Galaxy A and J series.”
Quite a bit is known about the Galaxy S8 at this stage from numerous leaks and rumours. There will actually be two models, a Galaxy S8 and a larger Galaxy S8 Plus, but BOTH will feature curved dual-EDGE displays; the flat-screen is gone from Samsung’s flagship stable, at least for this generation. Naturally both will use Super AMOLED technology and the latest and greatest processors.
We’ve been seeing a bunch of apparently accurate leaks and details from prominent Twitter tipster @evleaks, the two latest gold nuggets are a full spec sheet which appears to have been pulled from Samsung promotional material, and an official-looking product render.
Expected Launch: Q1 2017
OnePlus 4 – Or, OnePlus 5
OnePlus has been steadily making a name for itself in the mobile space with solid, reliable and, most importantly, inexpensive flagship-grade smartphones. Each new iteration of the OnePlus range takes things a step further, adding in new features, more value and increased performance.
The OnePlus 3, for its price, was an exceptional handset. Easily one of the best Android phones of 2016, the handset can be had for just over £300 – way less than any of its competitors’ offerings.
Things have been quiet on the OnePlus front for a while now, but I would expect a focus on display technology, imaging and software inside 2017’s OnePlus 4.
One interesting twist to the OnePlus 4 rumour mill concerns the name of the handset. According to multiple sources, OnePlus might skip the number 4 for its next handset, apparently its unlucky in China, and skip ahead to 5, meaning the handset would be called the OnePlus 5.
Rumours suggest the handset will feature a ceramic body, big updates in the specs and hardware department, as well as a bump to the display resolution, meaning this could be the first OnePlus release to embrace QHD panels. The latest rumours also suggest it may feature a curved display along both edges like the Samsung Galaxy S7 EDGE.
Expected Launch: Q2/Q3 2017
Over the past two years, Huawei has slowly but surely grown its brand in the UK and US. Previously an unpronounceable mid-range-totting Chinese phone maker, Huawei is now one of the biggest phone makers on the planet and it has achieved this with its extensive range of Android phones from budget offerings right up to stellar flagships, like the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P9.
Huawei has now launched the Huawei P10 at MWC 2017 and it’s a bit of a corker it must be said!
The Huawei P10 is sleek, well styled and effortlessly premium. It has an air of iPhone about it, but Huawei has always borrowed style elements from the best in the business, so I don’t think anyone will mind too much.
Like the Huawei P9, the P10 is available in two sizes: 5.1in display for the P10 and 5.5in for the P10 Plus.
The handsets feature what Huawei calls a “sand-blasted” finish and both are available in the following colours: Dazzling Blue, Rose Gold, Prestige Gold, Ceramic White, Mystic Silver, Dazzling Gold and Graphite Black. Here’s the spec sheet:
- Display: 5.1in display with a 1920×1080-pixel resolution at 432ppi
- Dimensions: 145.3 x 69.3 x 7 mm
- Weight: 145 grams
- Storage: 64GB, plus support for microSD cards up to 256GB
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Processors: Kirin 960 2.4GHz 64-bit Octa-core processor
- Front camera: 8 MP
- Rear camera: Dual 20 + 12 MP
- Battery life: 3200 mAh
- Colors: Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Graphite Black, Dazzling Gold, Dazzling Blue, Greenery
Launched: February 2017
Google Pixel 2
Google’s first foray into mobile phones – the Pixel and Pixel XL – made a HUGE splash in late-2016. I reviewed the Pixel XL and it quite literally blew my socks off – this phone is incredible. Yes, it costs A LOT but what you get is arguably the best phone on the market right now.
Google has now confirmed that it will indeed be making a sequel to the Pixel and Pixel XL, as well as another, potentially cheaper version for emerging markets.
Design gripes aside it is very hard not to like Google’s Pixel phones. The software is spot on. Ditto overall performance, imaging quality and battery performance. Couple this with first in-line status for Android updates and you’re looking at one hell of a compelling proposition.
The price of these handsets is rather high, however, and that will definitely put off some users. But for those that see phones as an investment — or those that have the spare cash — the Pixel phones, notably the Pixel XL, are very hard to fault.
Expected Launch: Q4 2017
The LG G5 was one of my personal favourites of 2016. I loved that phone. It performed great, had a lovely UX, the camera was brilliant and it had decent battery life.
LG has now launched the LG G6 at MWC 2017, following a long period of leaks, tip-offs, and official teasers from the manufacturer itself! It’s safe to say that most of what was rumoured has turned out to be true. It’s a sleek, premium, unibody device with water and dust proofing – an LG flagship first. It’s also loaded with amazing camera tech.
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 821 Processor
- Display: 5.7-inch 18:9 QHD+ FullVision® Display (2880 x 1440 / 564ppi)
- Storage: 32GB UFS 2.0 ROM
- MicroSD: (up to 2TB)
- RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
- Camera Rear Dual: 13MP Wide (F2.4 / 125°) / 13MP Standard OIS 2.0 (F1.8 / 71°)
- Front: 5MP Wide (F2.2 / 100°)
- Battery: 3,300mAh (embedded) + Quick Charge 3.0
- Software: Android 7.0 Nougat
- Dimensions: 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm
- Weight: 163g
- Connectivity: LTE-A 3 Band CA, Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.2 BLE, NFC / USB Type-C 2.0 (3.1 compatible)
- Fingerprint Sensor: Yes
- Water Resistance: IP68
- Other Features: UX 6.0 / Dolby Vision™ / HDR10 / 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (*not in US)
- Colors: Ice Platinum / Mystic White / Astro Black
Launched: February 2017