2017 looks set to be a year of major change in the world of smartphones. Apple celebrates the tenth anniversary of its iPhone; Samsung is after a game changer following the discontinuation of its Galaxy Note 7 due to safety concerns; and Google will be looking to boost its position even further following the success of its Pixel and Pixel XL.
So, what can we expect from all the major smartphone players? Here are 10 mobile trends to keep an eye out for over the next 12 months.
1. Dual lens cameras
Apple has already loaded up its iPhone 7 Plus with a dual lens camera. But 2017 is set to see the technology replicated across other major devices.
Samsung is said to be including two rear lenses on its Galaxy S8, which is pegged for release in the spring. Google could also include a pair of lenses on its Pixel follow–up.
Apple’s plans for its major iPhone overhaul in 2017 are said to include dual lens cameras on more than one device. And with Huawei already offering dual lens smarts on its P9, expect upstart mobile makers to follow suit and send the tech mainstream.
2. An end to headphone slots
Killing off the headphone slot seemed like a bad move for Apple when it announced its decision to drop the age-old tech from its iPhone 7. Samsung even slated its major rival for getting rid of a port found on every major portable device sold around the world.
Now though, rumours suggest Samsung will be doing the same with its Galaxy S8 to accommodate a larger battery and a thinner design.
As wireless headphones get better, losing the headphone port makes a certain amount of sense. And where the big names lead, others usually follow, so if you’re looking to get a 2017 device, you might well need to get hold of some wireless headphones.
3. Wholesale redesigns
The iPhone has looked identical for over two years, and Samsung has stuck to a similar design with its Galaxy S series, changing materials but not appearance. But that all looks set to change in 2017.
Apple is purported to have an all–glass iPhone 8 in the works, which will look completely different to existing models. Word is it won’t feature a home button.
Similarly, Samsung is apparently priming a new Galaxy S8 that has an all screen front, dispensing with the standard home button for a fingerprint scanner that sits below the display.
4. More curved screens
Samsung has offered a curved screen ‘edge’ version of its Galaxy S range for two years now. And 2017 is set to be the year when this practice becomes widespread.
Apple’s top–end iPhone 8 is believed to have a curved display, the extra screen real estate accommodating space for notifications and other new features in its iOS platform.
5. And bendable ones too
Samsung’s ‘Project Valley’ has been trailed for months. Rumours suggest prototypes of these new phones will be on show at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February.
The project comprises two devices, each with folding displays. One is an old style clamshell phone, the other is a tablet which can be folded into a 5-inch smartphone.
This could set the path towards a major rethink in smartphone design, one which utilises bleeding edge tech instead of relying on staid looks and rectangular blocks.
6. More upstarts
2016 has seen a number of smaller mobile makers and Chinese companies make waves here in the UK. Wileyfox, BLU and OnePlus have all impressed and that’s unlikely to change.
Many consumers like a challenger and devices from these manufacturers offer top–end features at a lower price point. With the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 set to be expensive, cost-effective alternatives will never be that far away from the headlines.
7. Wireless charging comes of age
Wireless charging has always been a bit naff. Charging plates still require you to stick your phone in a set place for a set number of hours to get it up to full power.
That’s why Apple’s rumoured plans for wireless charging in the new iPhone 8 are so exciting. It’s said to be working with start-up Energous, using special wireless hubs which can be placed around the home to charge iPhones using radio waves.
It’s even thought that Apple is switching to a glass design so that its new phones can receive wireless power more easily.
8. Paying on mobiles set to boom
Paying with your mobile has become easier than ever, thanks to the growth of Apple Pay and Android Pay. 2017 will see Samsung Pay launch in the UK too.
Samsung is also working on an Android–wide service called Samsung Pay Mini, allowing consumers to pay for goods online using just one tap on their screen. This is a feature Apple Pay already offers, but with Android backing, there’s scope for major growth.
9. Cheaper SIM-only deals
SIM-only deals are getting cheaper than ever. And that looks set to continue in 2017, with the advent of PlusNet Mobile and Sky Mobile helping consumers save cash.
It’s also a counterpoint to the growing trend of networks charging high prices for 24 month contracts and top–end phones. With older smartphones lasting for longer, MVNOs are cottoning on to the fact that many consumers want to keep their smartphones and pay less to use it.
10. 5G launching
Ofcom had planned to auction off the 5G spectrum in 2016. That’s now been pushed back to next year. The delay isn’t ideal, but it does mean that we should soon be getting rapid, faster-than-home-broadband connections while out and about.
Speeds are set to be around 3.6Gbps, 12 times faster than EE’s top end 4G LTE network. It’s unlikely to be commercially available for a while, but 5G will be a big talking point over the next few months.