A lot has happened last year. 2016 saw Huawei and its sub brand Honor release a slew of dual camera smartphones, ranging from the Huawei P9 to the Honor 8. Cupertino giant Apple controversially omitted the headphone jack when it launched its iPhone 7 series of handsets, and most significantly, if not the most unmemorable, Samsung was forced to call off its Galaxy Note 7 phablet due to repeated fire hazards surround the device even after replacement units were issued. Nonetheless, everyone will be looking to live this year afresh. Some enthusiasts would also be looking forward to give their devices a refresh as well, hence a list of phones for you to keep an eye out on before you make your precious decisions. Let's begin!
LG managed to turn heads with its G5 flagship of last year, but the device unfortunately wasn't doing well when it come to sales figures. The LG G5 was in fact a pretty impressive phone, with a dual rear camera setup, plus its own modular features. LG sold its own modular accessories known as "Friends", but failed the hype game, causing the whole modular concept of the G5 to fail.
LG has been long rumored to ditch the whole modular concept of the G5 when the G6 launches on February 26 at MWC 2017 Barcelona. The dual rear camera configuration is set to be retained with this year's flagship. The South Korean company is also tipped to finally waterproof the LG G6, as water resistance is becoming a more required feature this year.
So far, the rumors mention make the next one pretty questionable - a removable battery. Removable batteries are now considered a rarity when it comes to flagship smartphones, with the exception of LG's lineup. With modular no more plus added water resistance, it is pretty difficult to tell whether or not the device will still carry on the removable battery feasture. Another slight letdown is that the G6 will likely not sport the Snapdragon 835 processor, since Samsung is manufacturing the chipset. Samsung is expected to make the Galaxy S8 the first device to run the SD835. Hence, the LG G6 will probably be packing last year's Snapdragon 821 instead.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets were undoubtedly its best selling ones in 2016. The Galaxy S7 has everything one could ever ask for in a smartphone - a sleek design, beautiful display, excellent performance, and one of the best cameras to date. On top of that, the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge were the phones to get when the Galaxy Note 7 failed the masses, despite being slightly aged.
Hopes and expectations for Samsung have always been on a high, so everyone will constantly be expecting more from the South Korean manufacturing giant. The Galaxy S8 will most likely be taking the cake as the first ever smartphone to sport Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor. The device is also rumored to feature a near bezel-less display on the front, with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio instead of the more conventional 16:9 ratio, if it happens to be true.
Samsung has also been said to ditch the flat screen variant of the S8, only to offer the dual curved edge screen model. Camera wise, the Galaxy S8 is tipped to stick with a 12MP rear camera, after Samsung has reportedly snubbed plans for a dual cam setup. Samsung will likely be improving the software side of the camera, increasing the pixel size of the camera sensor at the same time.
Other rumors include either an on screen fingerprint sensor or a rear fingerprint sensor, considering the rumor of the S8's bezel-less front. Lastly, a deal breaker for Samsung and Android fans - the possible removal of the headphone jack.
Unfortunately, Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy S8 will not be unveiled at MWC 2017, so we will be expecting a separate Samsung event some time in late March or early April this year.
Xiaomi Mi 6
The Xiaomi Mi 6 will also not make it to this year's Mobile World Congress. In fact, the Chinese company will be in the list of absentees for the second major tech convention of the year, after its first ever appearance at CES a couple of weeks back. The Xiaomi Mi 5 passed nearly every test with decently impressive results as to what makes a flagship smartphone, at nearly half the price of elite flagships. Xiaomi has also managed to impress many with its concept phone, the bezel-less Mi MIX phablet. The company will definitely be expected to launch its next flagship while maintaining its low and affordable price tag.
There isn't much talk going around about the Xiaomi Mi 6, but the handset is rumored to go with a QHD display, a bump up from the now mid range standard 1080p display. We won't be expecting the Mi 6 to be "as bezel-less" as the Mi MIX concept phone, but the former will likely feature a higher screen to body ratio compared to the Mi 5, and it is tipped to sport a dual curved edge screen.
Underneath the hood, there are two processors rumored to be in tow for the Mi 6, splitting the handset to at least two different variants. The variants will either be featuring a Snapdragon 835 or a Helio X30 chip. The former will have the slight edge given its 10nm process by Samsung. Also rumored is a never seen before feature on Xiaomi's Mi flagship lineup - expandable storage, so that's one to look out for.
Last year's Huawei P9 sold pretty well in the consumer market. The phone most likely marked the beginning of a legitimate dual rear camera trend, with the P9 featuring a setup by Leica, or authorized by Leica following a controversy that Leica wasn't making the cameras before a clarification by both Huawei and Leica. Regardless, with Huawei's improvement in both hardware and software, the Huawei P9 turned out to be a very impressive phone at its price range.
For starters, leaked renders have shown that the Huawei P10 does not have a rear fingerprint sensor, leading to the rumor that the handset will have an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor on the front, which captures more details of your fingerprints, resulting in better phone security. Huawei is also expected to up the resolution of the P10's display to a 2K resolution display, with an AMOLED panel.
The Huawei P10 is highly likely to pack Huawei's own HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor underneath the hood with a 4GB and 6GB RAM version. As for the camera department, Huawei is slated to carry on its partnership with camera maker Leica to further improve the P10's dual camera setup on the back, which the Chinese manufacturer won't be dropping any time in the near future.
Google Pixel 2
Google managed to carry on the torch of its legacy Nexus series of devices that started in 2010 with last year's Pixel lineup. The first ever line of Pixel phones proved to be unstoppable. Designed by HTC, the Pixel runs on vanilla Android like the previous Nexus devices. It sports the powerful Snapdragon 821 processor underneath the hood, and packs what seems to be the best camera on a smartphone to date, scoring a high of 89 on DxOMark, edging over the likes of Samsung's Galaxy S7.
It is tough to find a flaw with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, so we're guessing that the bar has been set pretty high for Google's next Pixel series which is slated to be launched sometime in Q4 this year. Google is rumored to be retaining the megapixel count from last year's Pixel, at the same time mastering low light photography with the Pixel 2. The Pixel 2 is also rumored to be running on a Snapdragon 83X processor.
Google won't be skimping on anything with the Pixel 2, hence the suggestion that the company will be upping the price tag of the Pixel 2 from the Pixel, placing the upcoming handset(s) further up in the premium spectrum of smartphones. For those who won't be able to afford the flagship Pixel 2, a budget variant of the Pixel 2 is said to be in the works, with a more affordable price tag for those who aren't willing to sell their kidneys.
2017 will definitely be an exciting year for smartphones, and we have barely begun. Things will get interesting as we grace MWC 2017 in less than a month from now. Hopefully it won't be another year of Chinese manufacturers aiming to outsell premium flagship devices, though that will pretty much be expected. Do bear in mind that the description for the aforementioned devices are no more than just rumors so do take them with a huge grain of salt. Which of these phones will you be looking to get this year?