We saw some pretty big changes to smartphones in 2016, from the camera improvements introduced by Samsung, Apple and Google to their flagship phones to the modular designs rolled out by LG and Motorola. And 2017 figures to introduce us to even more advances, as smartphone makers jockey to position their phone as the must-have handset of the year. But which phones figure to grab headlines with impressive new features, bold new looks and other innovations that have us rethinking what we can do with our mobile devices?
We'll have to wait until we get our hands on these new — and in many cases, rumored — handsets to be sure, but for now, here are the smartphones we can't wait to get our hands on later this year. (Credit: iPhone 8 concept video by iPhoneConcepts/YouTube)
The iPhone 7 had barely hit retail shelves before people started talking about what Apple might have in store for its next iPhone. And it's no wonder: while we were impressed by the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, they still looked an awful lot like the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus that preceded them. With 2017 marking the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple might be working on something big for its next smartphone.
But what exactly could that be? The most popular rumors focus on the iPhone's display. Apple looks likely to replace the LCD screen with an OLED panel that provides more saturated colors and better contrast, at least on one model of the iPhone. The screen would also stretch from edge to edge (just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix) with the TouchID sensor going under the phone's glass. In addition to the iPhone 8, Apple's also likely to roll out the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, which will be modest updates of 2016's phones, though those models should gain wireless charging. (Image Credit: iPhone 8 Concept by Venjamin Geskin/YouTube)
MORE: iPhone 8 Rumor Round-Up
We now know when the date the Galaxy S8 is going to appear. Samsung is holding a press event on March 29 in New York City where it will finally unveil the much anticipated smartphone. (The phone itself may not ship until April 28, according to some reports.) Samsung's teaser video for the March 29 Galaxy S8 seems to confirm one of the most popular rumors about the phone — namely that it will feature an edge-to-edge screen with little to no bezel at the top and bottom of the device.
Besides the super-size screen, it looks like we can expect a digital assistant to be one of the major additions. Last year, Samsung bought Viv Labs, which was cofounded by one of Siri's creators, and Samsung has all but confirmed that AI-enabled features will figure into its next major phone. The latest rumor suggests that this digital assistant, which will reportedly be called Bixby, will integrate with nearly every built-in app on the Galaxy S8, in a way that Samsung's S Voice voice control feature never really did. And the Galaxy S8 could include a dock accessory that will turn the phone into a mobile PC. (Image Credit: Leaked Galaxy S8 Photo via BGR)
The modular design of the LG G5 is gone, but you'll hardly miss it since you're getting a 5.7-inch display in return. LG did more than just increase screen size with its upcoming G6, though. It packed that expanded screen into a compact frame, so you'll be able to use the LG G6 with one hand or slip it easily into your pocket when you're done using it. The phone's 18:9 aspect ratio looks like it will be ideal for watching video, especially since the G6 supports HDR and Dolby Vision, and the extended display means you'll be able to view even more emails and webpages without scrolling. You can't swap out the battery like you could on previous LG flagships, but at least the G6 is water-resistant. Two carriers have already announced pricing and availability: Verizon will have the phone in its stores on March 30 for $672, while T-Mobile will sell the phone for $650 starting April 7.
It apparently will take more than a product recall and halted sales to put a stop to the Galaxy Note lineup. A report out of Korea says that Samsung plans to come out with a new version of its big-screen phone since the Note has proven too popular even after battery troubles caused last year's Note 7 to overheat and explode in some cases. Samsung confirmed as much in January, when mobile chief D.J. Koh promised to "bring back a better, safer and very innovative Note 8."
Details about the Note's return to the market are scarce at the moment, but BusinessKorea says the revived phablet could feature a 4K display, compatibility with Samsung's GearVR headset and the same digital assistant features rumored for the Galaxy S8. That same report suggests the Note 8 will arrive in August, which is the same time frame when Samsung has released its phablet in recent years. (Image: The Galaxy Note 7 in happier times)
We've been hearing rumors for years that a foldable smartphone from Samsung was just around the corner. That corner could be 2017, when some rumor mongers say that Samsung will finally take the wraps off this long-anticipated device. The most popular rumor has Samsung producing a compact phone — possibly called the Galaxy X — which would fold out into a larger tablet. Samsung reportedly showed off the device during February's Mobile World Congress to some partners, with a wider preview of the Samsung foldable phone expected later this year in advance of a full release in 2018. (Credit: 2014 Samsung Concept Video)
HTC has already released the U Ultra, a slick-looking flagship phone with a eye-raising $749 price tag (though the U Ultra's flagship feature — a personalized digital assistant — won't arrive until April). But it's not the only phone HTC may roll out this year. The company reportedly has another flagship phone in the works — a follow-up to last year's HTC 10. Called either the HTC 11 or HTC Ocean — it will likely ship under a different name — this smartphone probably won't appear until the Samsung Galaxy S8's exclusive hold on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processors comes to an end. When the HTC 11 does ship, look for a phone that seems destined to have dual cameras and touch-sensitive edges. (Credit: HTC Ocean Concept Video via @evleaks)
MORE: HTC 11 Rumors and Leaks
With the Huawei Honor 6X and ZTE Blade V8 Pro both bringing premium features to affordably priced phones, you'd figure that Motorola would follow suit with an update to its Moto G series. And the Moto G5 Plus, due out later this spring, puts a 12-megapixel camera with dual autofocus pixels into a phone that costs $229. The dual-pixel technology in the Moto G5 Plus means it will still be able to take sharp pictures in low light, and the phone's 3000 mAh battery is augmented by a turbo charge feature that promises to restore 6 hours of battery life after just 15 minutes of charging. And you'll also find the voice-powered Google Assistant on this midrange phone.
MORE: Moto G5 Plus Hands-On