Mobile Stuff Coming in 2017

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on January 12, 2017, News

We’ll be honest here and say that 2016 wasn’t the greatest year for smartphones. With few big releases, nothing terribly innovative, and no real excitement (other than the exploding Galaxy Note 7), 2016 was just the same old, same old. The good news is that 2017 is already shaping up to be a great mobile year. And we’re here with all the gossip, rumours, and predictions that you could ever need. If you’re going to be in the market for a new smartphone in 2017, you could well be in for a real treat.

Apple and iOS

We’re starting out with the biggie: Apple. 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the first ever iPhone, which means we’re expecting some excitement from iOS this year. Rumour has it that there will be three iPhone versions launching this autumn, though that’s still unconfirmed. Along with Apple’s traditional styling and cool factor, you can expect to see something along the lines of an all glass build, OLED display, and improvement on last year’s dual rear camera, and perhaps even some long distance wireless charging tech.

Alongside the mobile news, there are a few more tidbits. Apple themselves are moving to a new high-tech campus at some point this year. They’re apparently working on their own TV streaming service (think Netflix, but with iTunes embedded), and we could well see the release of the next Apple Watch model… Stay tuned for more updates!

Samsung and the Galaxy

There are two reasons that Samsung needs to be on the ball this year. Firstly, they need to recover from the exploding Note 7 debacle, and secondly, they’re going to need to compete with whatever Apple are planning for their tenth anniversary. We don’t have a lot of info, or even rumours, about the upcoming Galaxy S8, but one thing’s for sure, it’s going to have to be a hell of a phone, and Samsung are going to be packing it full of top specs and features.

There’s the possibility of a curved screen on all models (rather than just on the Edge model), with some saying we might even get the flexible or bendable display that Samsung have held the patent for so long. We’re certainly going to be seeing something that’s incredibly powerful, and more than likely a phone that’s heavily optimised for VR (see below). Other than that, the S8 is still a mystery, but we’re willing to bet it’s going to knock your socks off, since to reclaim market share Samsung have little choice.

VR, VR, and More VR…

The real trend this year, particularly for Android phones, is going to be VR. Sure, VR has been around for a couple of years now, though no one has really concentrated on it too much. But with three solid Virtual Reality platforms now released for Android, and the advent late last year of the Google Daydream project, it’s looking like 2017 is going to be the year of VR.

What does this mean for you? On the plus side: fully immersive gaming, excellent movie viewing, and some neat new tricks. On the minus side: your phone will now require yet another accessory (a pricey one at that) to take full advantage of everything it can do. There’s some doubt as to just how ready the general public is to take on VR, but manufacturers are willing to bet that this is the big new thing. Expect fully VR compatible releases from Samsung and Google at the very least, and possibly from Apple, HTC and even Huawei as well.

The Screen Revolution

Smartphone screens are pretty darn good already, with even budget models getting decent resolution specs these days. But a couple of trends are going to take over in 2017. Firstly, there’s 4K. Yes, Sony blew us away with a true 4K display on the Z5 Premium (an otherwise fairly average phone), but this year, we’re going to see 4K become standard on top end models. Why? Quite simply because of that VR. To the average user, 4K doesn’t make a whole bunch of difference, but once a VR headset is plugged in, that 4K display does become mind blowing.

And then there’s the size issue. We want bigger and bigger screens, and yet we’re not too willing to carry large phones around with us. And that means that 2017 could well be the year that we finally get the flexible or bendable displays that have been promised for so long. LG and Samsung are the manufacturers to watch for this, and Samsung has already promised that at least one 2017 release will feature foldable screen tech. Good or bad? We’ve got no idea; we’re just going to have to wait and see if this is a gimmick or something truly game changing.

And the Rest…

There are a few other little issues that deserve mention here. Firstly, there’s the battery problem. We want longer battery life, yet we want light, thin devices. Battery life has become a top priority for most major manufacturers, with some interesting patents being taken out to improve your juice. Could 2017 be the year that we finally get a top end phone that can last all day without being charged? Let’s keep our fingers crossed on that one.

Then there’s Project Andromeda. Whilst this project hasn’t been confirmed entirely by Google, most industry insiders think that it will be unveiled in 2017. What’s Andromeda? It’s an effort to make Android a desktop operating system as well as a mobile one. Running your computer on Android (rather than Windows) as well as your phone could mean better communication between the two devices, as well as better general compatibility. But whether Android is ready to take on the PC market is a whole other question…

Finally, the big spec selling point of top end 2017 phones is going to be the (relatively dull) issue of bezel space. We already see boasts from Asian manufacturers about screen-to-body ratios, and the iPhone 8 is rumoured to be almost bezel-less (a whole new design trend for Apple), as is the Galaxy S8. While it might not be terribly exciting, more screen space on a phone that doesn’t increase in size isn’t to be sniffed at, though this could end up making devices even more fragile than they already are.