Predictions in tech: What will the 2017 smartphone be like?

    Imagining the smartphone of 2017

    We’re a few days away from stepping into 2017 and naturally we’re quite excited to think what the New Year might bring about in terms of new technologies. We already outlined a few questions we would like to address top Android OEMs in 2017. Will tablets die out for good? Will wearables become interesting again?

    But how about the smartphone of 2017? Throughout 2016, we caught a few glimpses of next year’s major trends in smartphones. Some you probably noticed yourselves, but if that’s not the case we have prepared a list of some of the top features you can expect future handsets to focus on. So let us imagine together how the smartphone of 2017 will look like.

    Edge-to-edge displays everywhere

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    Smartphone makers will continue to focus on making bezeless phones. The Xiaomi Mi MIX is an apt example of where the industry is going. The device has caught everyone’s attention due to its stunning design and insane 91.4% screen-to-body ratio (on paper, in real life the story is a bit different).

    But Xiaomi was not alone in its quest of delivering the perfect bezeless display phone. Other Chinese manufacturers also produced similar models like the Nubia Z11, Elephone S3, Ulefone Future and recently launched ZUK Edge which features an equally impressive 86.4% screen-to-body ratio. In 2017, we expect more and more phone makers to follow the trend and launch an edge-to-edge handset.

    But everyone loves curved displays too

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    When Samsung launched the Galaxy Edge everyone was a bit taken a back and didn’t quite know what to make of the device. But Samsung followed up the device with the Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S7 edge and slowly but surely, more and more Samsung customers became fans of the lineup.

    Next year Samsung is rumored to launch two version of the Galaxy S8 flagship and both will have curved displays. There haven’t been a lot of similar devices launched on the market until now, although we’ve seen plenty leak. LG showcased a Galaxy S7 edge-like phone a few years back and Xiaomi was also rumored to have such a product in the pipeline, but we are yet to see a real life device make a debut.

    For next year, we’re hearing that the Huawei P10 and iPhone 8 might both come with dual edge screens. One of Meizu’s upcoming flagships and Samsung’s A series (2017) are also expected to make the transition into dual curved display territory.

    Concept phones are going to be a thing

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    Chinese smartphone makers have been setting some trends this year and quite possibly in 2017 too. Xiaomi took everyone by surprise when it unveiled the Mi MIX concept, which was immediately available for purchase.

    Usually when you say concept, your mind thinks of a hypothetical device that has been graphically rendered for viewers’ pleasure. Most concepts don’t end up being real life devices, but it’s was not the case of the Xiaomi Mi MIX.

    Following Xiaomi, Huawei also unveiled the Honor Magic concept, a curvaceous phone blessed with AR capabilities. ZTE has a concept phone in the works, as well. The company asked fans to come up with an idea for an atypical handset design. Thus came to be the ZTE’s eye-tracking, self-adhesive smartphone idea. The phone will probably be unveiled at CES 2017.

    We expect other device makers to unveil phone concepts in 2017. Customers will surely love such phones, due to their unique status.

    AR beats VR

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    Speaking of the Huawei Honor Magic, AR smartphones represents a budding niche we should all be looking towards next year. Google Project Tango phones have also started to make an appearance on the market. The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro is currently on sale and more are coming. ASUS will probably unveil an AR-equipped Tango phone at CES 2017 and Motorola will probably launch an AR Moto Mod sometime next year. And this is only the beginning.

    An AR enabled device can do lots of things. For example, the Huawei Honor Magic can detect when you and your friend are having a conversation about Cannes movies and provide its own set of recommendations.

    With the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro users can turn their living room into a scaled-down version of the Solar System which they can explore via an app. The AR ecosystem is growing fast and in 2017 the options are going to be much more varied.

    Dreams of modularity go on

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    Even if Project Ara being put on hold, some device makers won’t give up on their modular smartphone dreams. Like Motorola. The company has pledge to launch 12 new Moto Mods in 2017, one of which is rumored to be a Tango-enabled Mod.

    LG has also experimented with modularity with its LG G5 flagship, but customers didn’t seem to be too taken with the phone. However, they do seem to like the Moto Z a lot. Our take is that in 2017, we’re going to see other Android OEMs jump in the modularity bandwagon. Maybe it’s going to be Huawei or another Chinese handset maker that’s going to try and produce something akin to the Moto Z lineup.

    Dual-cameras could become the norm

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    Huawei is one of the major Android OEMs that loves putting dual cameras on its handsets. The high-end P9, the Mate9 and the lower-range Honor 6X all sport one.

    But Huawei is not the only one. LG, Xiaomi, HTC and a bunch of obscure Chinese companies like Oukitel all sell products featuring main dual camera setups.

    However, the trend might soon extend to the selfie camera as well. For example, BLUBOO is expected to unveil the first Android pone with dual front and rear cameras. Talk about an intense selfie experience.

    More power: 8GB of RAM

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    This year we’ve seen smartphones with 6GB of RAM and naturally 2017 should mark the advent of the first 8GB of RAM smartphones. Even if premium phones like the Galaxy S7 edge can manage multi-tasking just fine with 4GB of RAM, some handset makers might be looking to push the boundaries of technology and add a whopping 8GB of RAM onboard of their products.

    10nm FinFet-based chips come with support for 8GB of RAM, so it’s only natural to assume that phones launched with chipsets like the Snapdragon 835 could in theory boast 8GB of RAM. Actually, the rumor mill claims the Galaxy S8 will feature 8GB of RAM. The OnePlus 4 due next summer and the HTC 11 are also expected to come packing the same RAM capacity.

    Bye-bye 3.5mm headphone jack

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    The iPhone 7 was the first phone to make a debut without a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the trend soon extended to the Android world, when the HTC Bolt was made available at Sprint.

    It appears device makers are trying to save up more internal space, which they want to fill up with additional parts or bigger batteries. Samsung’s highly anticipated Galaxy S8 is one of the products expected to make it out without the 3.5mm headphone jack and we expect other Android flagships to follow the same footsteps.

    This means in 2017, you’ll need to use an USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter to make the phone compatible with your older headphones.