2017 – The Best Year for Smartphones!

As each comes to a close pretty much each YouTube channel and Tech Blogger has presented his or her “Best of 2016” list. The consensus seems to be that it was a great year for smartphones, especially the midrange and upper-midrange category.

With the smartphone sector booming over the last 10 years’ innovation has slowed down significantly. Most phone features are being passed along from vendor to vendor, screen sizes have found It’s 5.2″ to 5.5″ median, we go through the regular update cycles between CES, ITB and Apples annual event and designs are being copied so that a lot of phones become indistinguishable at a casual glance.

With all that being said, I do believe the 2017 will be an exceptionally exciting year for smartphones and vendors will push the boundaries a bit further in comparison to the previous 3 years. Here’s my vendor-by-vendor view on things.

Apple

  • It’s the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone. Enough said!
  • Apple has kept the basic design in place over 3 generation of iPhones (6, 6S, 7) breaking its usual tic-toc cycle and will be having a larger toc-cycle
  • The iPhone 8 (or will it even be called the iPhone 10 for the occasion) is already being rumoured to push the boundaries of what Apple would usually change in a TOC cycle. AMOLED, no physical home button, all display front with zero bezels
  • Jony Ive seems to have taken a step back from the hand’s on design of Apple products. This will open up a completely new design thinking and may result in a significant larger change in design direction than what even the typical 2-year cycle previously produced

Blackberry

  • The DTEK70 could be the last phone to ever carry the Blackberry logo. And it’s the last phone to test if there actually still is a physical QWERTY keyboard market. Nobody knows if there is but even Samsung continues to release keyboard covers for the S and Note ranges so maybe there is more demand than most of us think.
  • Blackberry has gotten so many things wrong with all phone releases since the Passport and the DTEK70 finally seems to be the phone to put things right.

LG

  • It’s fair to say that LG G5 was pretty much a disaster. A modular concept that wasn’t well thought out, quality issues with rough seams and a plastic feeling coat of paint over what was a very bland design. The LG G5 has never been up to par with the other flagships of 2015
  • The V2, while well received, is far too niche a product to lift LG sales figures.
  • Ever since the G2 LG’s flagships have been lagging behind in consumer appeal. LG desperately needs a good flagship this season or else will risk being side-lined

HTC

  • The HTC 10 brought HTC back to where it was with the One M7 and it’s a worthy competitor to the S7, Pixel and iPhone 7. However the HTC 10 never managed to gain the same status of top flagship of 2016 as the other three devices.
  • The collaboration with Google has once again showed that HTC makes some of the best hardware that is 2nd to none in comparison to Apple
  • After finally having caught back up with Samsung and the like it is to be expected that HTC will deliver a flagship that also delivers in consumer’s top-of-mind presence of being the best of 2017

Huawei

  • Huawei has been the most consistent performer amongst the major manufacturers by steadily and consistently improving the annual P-series and Mate flagships. With the P9 and Mate 9 Huawei has finally delivered 2 phones that managed to compete head on with the Galaxy S8 and iPhone
  • Emotion UI has been one of the main detractors for consumers to pick up a Huawei phone. Huawei has finally started to fix this by bringing back the app drawer in EMUI 5.0 which should result in a larger consumer demand
  • Huawei continues to push the “enthusiast” take on smartphone cameras with dual lens Leica setup. The Mate 9 improved on what many consider the most “interesting camera” of 2016 in the P9.
  • The P10/Mate 10 combo for 2017 should continue to make an evolutionary step in the right direction

Lenovo/Motorola

  • Lenovo seems to have finally integrated Motorola in its product development. The Moto Z has been one of the most interesting devices of 2016. The first modular concept done right and striking designs with solid specs. Software stays pretty much stock Android and the Z Play has one of the best battery life of any smartphone.
  • The Lenovo P2 is my personal “Smartphone of 2016” with the best battery life of any phone, solid specs and performance and a mid-range price tag.
  • If these 2 examples is anything to go by what Lenovo is capable of, then 2017 will shape up to be an exciting year for Lenovo

Microsoft

  • The dark horse for the 3rd year in a row. Will we finally see the Surface Phone?
  • Microsoft has demonstrated that it can innovate on hardware and adapt on software to ever faster evolving consumer needs. If the Surface Studio and Surface Pro 4 is anything to go by, a Surface Phone could be epic.

Nokia

  • Welcome back!
  • While the rumoured specs of upcoming releases are somewhat underwhelming, any smartphone enthusiast must want to see the Nokia brand coming back and at least wish them good luck

Samsung

  • Samsung had a pretty volatile year. They arguably launched the best phone of 2017 with the Note 7. What then followed all of us know. Still, many consider the S7/S7 Edge to be the best phones of 2016. Samsung has to put out all the stops in 2017 to gain back consumer confidence and to not lose ground against the iPhone 10.
  • The S8 is likely to be a larger evolution from the S7 than what the S7 was to the S6. While the S7 mainly fixed what the S6 had gotten wrong (memory expansion, water proofing, battery life), Samsung will have to deliver with the S8 to pave the way for 2017 and stand the test of time even 6 months later when Apple releases the iPhone 10.
  • The Note 8 later in the year has to close the gap between the then 6 months old Galaxy S8 and the iPhone… without blowing up. The strategy would have worked for Samsung in 2016 but they definitely have to make it work in 2017.

Sony

  • Sorry, but no! Sony will once again disappoint in 2017.
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