The best phones of 2017 will offer faster performance and longer battery life, thanks to the new Snapdragon 835 chip for which headline performance figures include 25 percent faster graphics rendering and half the power consumption compared to the Snapdragon 801. It’s also got 20 percent extra performance vs the Snapdragon 820, according to Qualcomm. You can expect this processor to be paired with at least 4- but potentially as much as 8GB of RAM, a minimum amount of 32GB of storage, large Quad-HD screens and class-leading cameras.
However, if you are waiting to upgrade you should note that no phones running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip can launch until after the Galaxy S8, which has first dibs. Samsung’s phone is expected to be announced at the end of March and go on sale in mid-April, so if you can we recommend holding off buying your new phone until at least then. Best new phones 2017 Highlights: Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy X, Google Pixel 2, Xiaomi Mi6, LG G6, HTC 11, OnePlus 4, Nokia Android phone, New Sony Xperia flagship, Moto G5 & G5 Plus.
Apple iPhone 8 & iPhone 8 Plus
Apple is set to go big on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, which could go some way to make up for this year’s relatively minor upgrade. A combination of design and hardware changes should make the iPhone 8 the most radical new iPhone to date.
The iPhone 8 could be the iPhone with which Jony Ive finally gets his own way: an iPhone that resembles a single sheet of glass with an edge-to-edge OLED screen. According to an Apple supplier, at least one of the company’s new iPhones for 2017 will have a glass body. The TouchID scanner is thought to be hidden within the glass, while the physical Home button will be gone.
Other rumours suggest the iPhone 8 will feature wireless charging for the first time, and possible biometric features such as facial recognition or iris scanning. It’ll run the Apple A11 processor and motion co-processor, and be devilishly fast.
One iPhone we won’t see in 2017 is an upgrade to the iPhone SE, which Apple allegedly fears may hurt its iPhone 7 sales.
Google Pixel 2
It’s rather early to be talking about the Google Pixel 2, but we already know a few things to look out for. The next Google phone is said to include waterproofing an improved camera that excels with low-light photography. However, the price is likely to go up as a result – by at least $50.
We know that the new Google phone will run Android O, which is likely to be outed by Google at its I/O 2017 developers conference on 17 May. Allowing for a few months of various Android O betas, we’d expect to see the new Google Pixel 2 running the final version of Android O in October.
HTC has launched its new phones at MWC in recent years, but skipped the show in 2016 and held its own event to unveil the HTC 10 (pictured). We expect its successor to be unveiled at MWC in February and onsale in March 2017 with the upgrades you’d expect: a faster processor, more RAM and – hopefully – better battery life. Also see: How to watch HTC January event live – HTC Desire U incoming
An early leak suggests HTC is about to reverse its fortunes with the HTC 11 – if you thought the last two HTC flagships were a little boring, prepare to be blown away by the HTC 11. If true, it will have a Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a higher-capacity battery with Quick Charge 4.0 and a 5.5in Quad-HD screen. That’s a very high-end spec, so we’d guess that the standard model would have less RAM and storage.
Unfortunately, that’s not overly likely – especially if the HTC 11 does indeed launch at MWC. That’s because no phone running the Snapdragon 835 can launch before the Galaxy S8, which will be announced at the end of March. The HTC 11 is more likely to come with the Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM.
We’re referring to the next HTC flagship as the HTC 11 here, but it’s unlikely to be called that. No-one knows for sure, but the phone codenamed HTC Ocean could potentially arrive as the HTC U or HTC U Vive.
LG is rumoured to ditch its modular design for the G6 and potentially adopt a new glass front and rear. It is also likely to be waterproof, but with no removable battery. In common with the Samsung Galaxy S-series with which it competes it is likely to feature fast wireless charging and see a processor and graphics bump to ready the phone for VR.
One of the most interesting rumours about the LG G6 is that it will feature a new type of iris scanner that uses the same sensor as the phone’s front camera, a space- and cost-saving measure that is made possible through use of a special filter.
Unfortunately the LG G6 will not run the Snapdragon 835 because Samsung has the exclusive on it until the Galaxy S8 launches. Instead we’ll see a Snapdragon 821 with likely 4GB of RAM.
Microsoft Surface Phone
Surface Phone rumours have been few and far between, leading some to think it’s nothing more than a myth. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last month raised the expectations of fans by saying that a Surface Phone could be “the ultimate mobile device”.
Should it truly exist, the Surface Phone is expected to arrive in 2017, with a 5.5in Quad-HD AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM, 64- and 128GB storage options (with microSD support), a 64-bit Intel processor and 21Mp rear- and 8Mp front cameras. The Surface Phone could also get a Surface Pen and a USB-C port, and there’s talk it could feature a foldable screen following a Microsoft patent for such a technology.
Microsoft is expected to hold an event in early 2017 to unveil its updated Surface Pro 5, so this is the next possible release date for the Surface Phone.
Moto G5 & Moto G5 Plus
The ninth and tenth models in the Moto G series, the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, should make an appearance at MWC 2017. They’re not the best phones you can buy in terms of specification, but they offer unrivalled value that puts them right up there in our book.
We’ve heard rumours that a Snapdragon 625 will feature, a processor announced by Qualcomm in February 2016 that offers a jump up from the Snapdragon 617 in the Moto G4 and G4 Plus. Specifically, the Snapdragon 625 promises improvements to battery life, with 35 percent lower power usage than the 617. It also integrates the more powerful Adreno 506 GPU.
Naturally the new phone will run Android 7.0 Nougat, and it’s possible we’ll see Micro-USB swapped for USB-C, and the Moto G5 will feature a 3,000mAh battery with TurboCharge.
Nokia Android phone
Nokia used to be the biggest and best-known mobile phone manufacturer, but in 2011 it made the fatal mistake of agreeing to produce only Windows phones. Fast-forward to 2014 and Nokia as we knew it was dead. But now Nokia is getting back into the mobile phone game, with the China-only Nokia 6 running Android announced in January.
The Nokia 6, which features a series 6000 aluminium body, 5.5in full-HD screen, Snapdragon 430, Adreno 505, 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 64GB of storage and a 3,000mAh battery, isn’t coming to the UK. But fret not, because the Nokia 6 is the first of many Android phones, some of which will be available globally. One of those phones may even be the Nokia Heart, a new Nokia Android phone tipped for MWC that is said to be a stripped-down version of the Nokia 6.
We know Nokia is launching new phones at MWC 2017, which will be held at the end of February, but we’re not sure exactly which ones. Rumours are flying around of a Nokia 8, and a Nokia P1, but we could also see a global launch for the Nokia 6 or Nokia Heart. One thing now sounding unlikely, though, is that Nokia will announce its Snapdragon 835 flagship at the show – apparently there will be no 835 phones announced at MWC.
OnePlus has just announced its OnePlus 3T, which is an upgraded version of the OnePlus 3 with a processor and battery boost, plus a new selfie camera. It’s an improvement sure, but OnePlus 3 fans won’t be in a rush to upgrade.
More exciting for OnePlus fans, then, will be the OnePlus 4 expected in May/June 2017. Its slightly later launch than other 2017 flagships could be a huge advantage this time around, meaning it could get the Snapdragon 835 while they are all stuck with the 821. We could also see the 5.5in full-HD display upgraded to a Quad-HD model.
Other rumours suggest the OnePlus 4 will come with 8GB of RAM, a 21- or 23Mp camera and a 3,500- to 4,000mAh battery with Dash Charge. One thing we’re sure of is that it will run OxygenOS, a custom UI that will be based on Android 7.0 Nougat.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Following the Note 7 problems there are a lot of whispers about Samsung at the moment. The failure of the Note 7 has badly bruised its reputation, and it’s hurt its bottom line. Some say it will look to mend its reputation by announcing the Note 8 in February 2017 alongside the Galaxy S8, while others say it will drop its Note line altogether. Samsung thinks differently, and it isn’t about to give up on its second annual cash cow just yet. We’d expect to see the Note 8 in August 2017.
Surefire specs include a 5.7in Quad-HD or SuperAMOLED screen with S Pen support, a powerful processor and RAM combo capable of the very best mobile VR experience, a dual camera, waterproofing and more.
Samsung Galaxy S8 & Galaxy S8 Plus
Samsung traditionally holds an Unpacked event in which it unveils its new S-series flagship the day before MWC, but this year Samsung has confirmed it will not be announced at the show. It hasn’t said when the phone will launch, but there have been rumours that Samsung will instead announce the phone in a separate Unpacked event in March. The Galaxy S8 is apparently set to go on sale on 18 April. Also see: Galaxy S7 vs Galaxy S8 preview
For its now-discontinued Galaxy Note 7 Samsung merged its ‘edge’ and standard models, so perhaps we’ll see the same with the merging of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Edge. We think there will still be two Galaxy S8 models, but it will only be the size differentiating their screens. In which case the S8 edge might instead be known as the S8 Plus, or similar. In any case you should expect more of the same metal and glass front/back design it introduced last year in the S6 and in 2016 has extended to the A-series.
A big change in the design, though, is likely to be the loss of the Home button, with the fingerprint scanner built into the now ‘bezel-less’ (at least on three edges) screen. The headphone jack could go too, with Samsung expected to favour USB-C for digital audio.
When it arrives, you can expect the S8 to be the fastest phone money can buy, with a top-of-the-range processor and 6GB (or even 8GB) of RAM. There will more than likely be a super-high-resolution 5.1in screen – Samsung may even move up from Quad-HD to Ultra-HD, which is all the more likely given the importance being placed on VR in Android Nougat, which this phone will run – although there are rumours we could see a larger 5.5in or even 5.7in panel.
Now that Samsung has discontinued its Note 7, it’s going to want to make the Galaxy S8 an absolute belter to mend its reputation.
Samsung Galaxy X
The bendable phone will finally be a reality in 2017 if rumours are to be believed. Samsung is allegedly going to ship 100,000 units of its Galaxy X fold-out phone in the third quarter of this year, though expect it to be expensive.
The Galaxy X, previously known as Project Valley, is thought to be a smartphone with a dual-screen (one on each side) that folds out to reveal a 7in tablet. An 8in tablet that folds up into a 5in phone has also been rumoured.
Key specs are said to include a 4K screen, the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and dual-cameras.
Sony Xperia X2
Sony has gone a bit off track in the mobile world since it dropped its Z series, and we’ve been waiting for it to announce a worthy replacement ever since. We’re still hopeful it will bring back the Xperia Z6 we’ve all been waiting for (see the next slide), but at MWC 2017 it seems we are more likely to see a second-generation Sony Xperia X announced.
The Sony Xperia X2 won’t be at quite the same level as the other flagships in this round-up, and more in line with 2016 flagships if rumours are true, but it may be the best new phone coming from the Sony camp in early 2017.
Leaked photos look similar to the X but with thinner bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. It’s Sony rectangle design 101.
Sony Xperia Z6
Sony neglected to announce the Sony Xperia Z6 at MWC 2016, instead revealing a new Xperia X family comprising the Sony Xperia X and Sony Xperia XA. But this doesn’t mean the Sony Xperia Z6 is dead: never say never, says the company, which has since clarified that it isn’t ruling out the possibility at some point in the future.
The Mi6, successor to the Xiaomi Mi5 and Mi5s, was originally expected to be announced at MWC in February. However, the company has said it won’t be present at the show, claiming it has no new devices to launch. The timing is bang-on for a Mi5 update, though, so we wonder whether it has more to do with the sudden departure of Hugo Barra, who will now become VP or VR over at Facebook. We still think the Mi6 could launch in March, but perhaps without all the fanfare of MWC.
The phone is tipped to come in three versions, with the entry-level running MediaTek’s latest deca-core Helio X30 chip, and the two higher devices running Qualcomm’s brand-new octa-core Snapdragon 835, also expected to appear in the Galaxy S8, HTC 11, LG G6 and OnePlus 4.
We could see a new dual camera on the rear, and if rumours are to be believed the fingerprint scanner could be replaced with a retina scanner. The highest model in the range is thought to come with a dual-curved-edge screen, though all three have been tipped to fit Quad-HD OLED panels. If true, this will be the first time we’ve seen 2K screens on a Xiaomi phone.