Are you going to splash out and spoil yourself with a new smartphone this year? We’d say Google’s Pixel is the Android phone to buy right now, but if you’re planning on holding off for a couple of months, it’s going to have some tough competition. With Mobile World Congress 2017 just around the corner, we thought it was a good time to remind you of all the good stuff we know (and think) is on the way.
By the way: Don’t forget, of course, about the iPhone. 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the world-changing smartphone, and Apple apparently has some pretty big plans up its sleeves in Cupertino for the iPhone 8. An edge-to-edge OLED display, a glass or ceramic back depending on the model, wireless charging, and Apple’s usual incredibly efficient and powerful home-grown mobile processors are all entirely possible. But Apple keeps its cards closer to its chest than just about any other phonemaker, so don’t expect too many leaks this far out from September.
Samsung: Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note8
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 won’t be announced at MWC 2017, with the world’s largest phone manufacturer apparently holding off until March. Expect a phone similar in size to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but with an edge-to-edge display that is much larger, as well as newer, more powerful processors capable of stupidly fast downloads. It’s apparently also built around a smart, AI-powered virtual assistant rather than Google’s own Assistant that the Pixel uses.
Somewhere well into the second half of the year, too, we’ll see a Galaxy Note8 from Samsung, which is — almost surprisingly — has been widely agreed upon by pundits as the name the company is going with for its hardcore, enthusiast-focused, big-screen Android. Early rumours suggest a 4K display for better visual quality and more immersive virtual reality using Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
LG’s G5 didn’t have quite the impact that the company was hoping, and it’s looking like LG will stick with a tried and tested non-modular design for its upcoming G6, which will be unveiled at MWC. One issue we’ve heard is that Samsung might be hogging all the good new Qualcomm processors, forcing LG to use last year’s tech or to wait longer to launch the phone itself.
The G6, though, will apparently have a 2:1 ratio for its screen, making its 18:9 display longer and thinner (comparatively) than other phones using the 16:9 standard. What will LG use that extra screen real estate for? The V20 used an extra display up top to great effect for notifications, and LG’s always used on-screen buttons to move around the Android interface, so these seem like pretty likely inclusions.
HTC already kicked off the year with the relatively early announcement of its U Play and U Ultra, two mid- to high-end phones built around a new glass design and some fancy software that adapts to your usage patterns. Those will be out in Australia soon enough, but between now and then we’ll almost certainly learn about another HTC phone in the pipeline.
At MWC 2017, we might be introduced to HTC’s top-end phone for the year: the Ocean. By all accounts, it might be one of the more interesting announcements, potentially having no buttons at all and instead using swiping gestures to navigate around the interface. Combine that with modern specs and you’ve got yourself what seems like an awesome piece of hardware.
We’re about to get our hands on the Mate 9 in a couple of days, which was one of Huawei’s big announcements at CES this year — and yes, it’s big; the Mate 9 has a 5.9-inch screen. It also gets the awesome dual-lens Leica camera that debuted on the beautiful P9 last year, which can capture some awesome snaps in either monochrome or colour.
But from everything we’re hearing, MWC might be the place for Huawei to announce the P9’s successor: we’re calling it the P10 until we know otherwise. Leaked renders and early spy photos show a phone that looks similar in design and layout to the P9, though more refined: the fingerprint sensor might move to the lower front of the phone rather than the back, and the camera and display should get a bit of a makeover. Huawei is a fan of using its own processors and its own skin on top of Android, but exactly how they’ve evolved remains to be seen.
Motorola: Moto Z 2017
Australia’s always been a little late to the party with Motorola’s smartphones, and as such we only got the 2016 edition of the Moto Z towards the end of the year. An invite to an event at MWC 2017 shows that Motorola has something cooking away, which may well be a new handset again using the Moto Z name.
Oppo: Find 9
Oppo’s phones — like the new R9s — offer some pretty impressive specs for the asking price. A new flagship phone, though, might take that to the next level. We’ll be heading to Oppo’s event at MWC 2017 to see what the company has in store, so stay tuned.
Sony is widely expected to announce five new phones at MWC 2017, including a flagship codenamed Yoshino. It could have the same beautiful 5.5-inch 4K screen as the Xperia Z5 Premium and a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and up to 6GB of RAM. We’ll find out soon enough!
Google: Pixel 2
Pixel was a surprise hit for Google’s first proper attempt at its own phone. We loved (and continue to love) its excellent camera, and the combo of 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL means it suits different markets. There’s rumours of Pixel splitting into a cheaper and more expensive duo, with the high-end model having 2017-era processing power and the budget variant using mid-range power or continuing with the same hardware of the original Pixel.
The Pixel 2 should be more refined in a lot of ways, including build quality. Google didn’t have time during its research and development of the Pixel to validate it for waterproofing, for example: that’s a spec that’s almost certainly going to be on the table for the Pixel 2. Expect another amazing camera, and the continuation of Google’s excellent voice-activated, AI-powered, text-to-speech Assistant.
This list is constantly growing as we add new phones to it — remember to check back soon!