The year 2016 has been undeniably exciting for smartphone users and enthusiasts. We were stunned by Xiaomi’s smartphone-prototype-come-to-life, Xiaomi Mi Mix, there was the whole fiasco caused by Samsung Note 7’s exploding batteries, and mobile VR finally matured from infancy.
Yet, it seems like the next year might be even more interesting. Several major smartphone manufacturers are about to roll out new products that we are really excited about. What’s more chipset manufacturers are constantly improving performance while saving energy. Some think that 2017 will be all about mobile virtual reality, others see 4K as the next big thing, and many would appreciate a new battery technology, one that would be able to move the average battery life from mere hours to days, if not weeks.
Our list of top 5 best upcoming Android smartphones for 2017 offers you a glimpse into the future, giving you a chance to see for yourself just what 2017 could be all about.
BlackBerry Mercury (DTEK70)
BlackBerry’s first foray into the Android market was well-received. The Priv was a stunning device with a long list of impressive features directed toward the needs of business users. It was, however, a very high-end device, which made it unattainable for many interested customers.
Priv’s successor, BlackBerry Mercury, is unlikely to be anywhere near as expensive as the Priv was, and still is. Some rumors suggest a price of around $500, which sounds plausible. With Mercury, BlackBerry is taking a step back from their previous focus on innovation. Instead, the upcoming smartphone pairs a non-sliding QWERTY keyboard with a decisively productivity-oriented 3:2 display. The combination of the two makes for a smartphone that screams “text communication.”
Since Mercury won’t be a genuinely high-end smartphone, it would be foolish to expect top-of-the-line hardware specifications. Unconfirmed rumors suggest a mid-range Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB storage. Mercury’s cameras also likely won’t be as good as Priv’s were, but they should be adequate for the target market.
Samsung Galaxy X (Project Valley)
Over the years, we have seen many concepts of foldable smartphones or smartphone-like devices. However, it’s Samsung who is making the concept a reality. Information about Samsung Galaxy X has been leaking out for months now, and we finally have enough to see the whole picture.
At the end of September 2016, Samsung registered a display patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The included drawings showed a clamshell device capable of folding out into a rectangular smartphone. When folded, the edges of the display show different user profiles, which allows multiple users to use a single device and always start with their personalized environment loaded up.
A smartphone like this demands only the best hardware available, and Samsung Galaxy X is expected to deliver big time. We are talking about a 4K display, the latest Snapdragon chipset, plenty of RAM, and expandable storage space. The 4K display could prove to be ideal for mobile VR, especially when you take into consideration the ability of the smartphone to change its shape to conform better to the shape of the head of whoever is using it. Nobody really knows when Samsung Galaxy X will be released, but it’s possible we could see it at Mobile World Congress in February 2017.
Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8 Edge
Samsung is considered by many to be the leading Android smartphone manufacturer. When the company is about to release they latest flagship devices, all eyes are upon them. Both Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge are expected to be launched at Mobile World Congress next year. Actually, Samsung might break the tradition and go with a different name, instead of Edge. That’s because there are no flat models rumored. Samsung Galaxy S8 will simply have a smaller curved screen. How small? According to South Korean news outlet, The Bell, the smaller smartphone will come with a 5.7-inch display and the larger model—perhaps called Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus—will have a 6.2-inch display.
Other changes are expected regarding the design. The signature home button will likely disappear forever in favor of a larger screen. What may also disappear is the headphone jack. The world is moving in the direction of USB Type-C and Samsung is not afraid to be as progressive as Apple and other manufacturers that have already taken that leap.
As always, you can expect only the very best image quality from Samsung’s new rear and front cameras. The company is reported to be working on a brand-new sensor with improved low-light capabilities and overall superior quality. We have no doubts that Samsung will deliver something amazing, especially since the quality of their cameras is already superb. In a similar vein, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge (or will it be Plus?) will come with the latest Snapdragon or Exynos chipsets. The company likes to pack into their flagship smartphones as much RAM and storage space as they can, so 8 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage wouldn’t be surprising at all.
HTC Ocean (HTC 11)
Everyone knows that HTC is struggling. Their attempt to reignite customer passion with HTC 10 wasn’t exactly unsuccessful, but, like so many HTC smartphones, the device turned to be forgettable. Still, HTC has managed to build an Android smartphone that’s the very opposite of forgettable, Google Pixel. With HTC Ocean, the company needs to show the whole world they can do the same with a device that carries their own name.
HTC was once at the top of the Android smartphone game because they managed to make the pitifully dreadful Android 2.x experience a lot more bearable with their Sense user interface. Unfortunately for the company, the rate at which Google improved the stock Android experience far surpassed the rate at which HTC improved Sense. Not only that, but it also took them a long time to realize that it’s time to move away from third-party UIs and embrace Android in its stock form.
What also took them a while to realize is that bland phones don’t make the news. Manufacturers need to differentiate themselves from one another with unique features, attractive design, and a certain degree of boldness. Fortunately, it looks like HTC finally got the message.
HTC Ocean is supposed to feature touch-sensitive zones around the phone, making physical buttons completely obsolete. It will also likely ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack to make waterproofing easier. HTC’s Google Pixel features the best Android camera currently available, and we would be surprised not to see it in Ocean.
Hardware specifications can be summarized in one phrase: top-of-the-line. But what about the display? HTC 10 used a Super LCD 3 panel and, when compared to smartphones from Samsung and other manufacturers that use AMOLED display, it looked rather dull. Hopefully, they will learn and go with an AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels or greater.
The modularity introduced with LG G5 was fun, but we will probably not see it again. LG G6 will, instead, try to make flagship devices from LG feel more premium than ever before. The company will likely try to accomplish this using tempered glass or highly polished metal on the back of the phone.
LG is universally praised for their excellent dual-camera setup, so it would be surprising not to see it again. However, this time, it will be joined by an all-in-one camera and iris scanner located above the display. Using the scanner, users can conveniently and automatically lock and unlock their smartphones without any input on their part.
LG G6 will come with the latest version of Android, the most recent chipset from Qualcomm, plenty of RAM, and not less than 32 GB of internal storage space. It will, unfortunately, not come with the rumored new wireless charging system, the curved OLED display, and, most likely, not even a microSD slot. LG wants to step up their waterproofing game, and anything that would make it harder for them to do so must go.