Smartphones in 2017: What's in the pipeline?

The latest rumors and trends in the smartphone industry. Apple, Samsung, and a few smaller players like OnePlus have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
Dual camera smartphones. (Image: file photo)

A new year is around the corner, and that means a fresh crop of smartphones from the top manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, are on the way too.

Naturally, way ahead of the release of these next-generation phones, there are several reports pointing to what the devices may or may not feature. We've heard mentions of trends including curved displays, 4K screens, virtual home buttons, and wireless charging, among other things.

If you want to know more about what the next high-end phones will pack, here's a look at the top five phones due out in 2017.

Apple iPhone 8

Although the iPhone 7 is only a few months old, there's plenty of rumors going around about the iPhone 8, which is expected to release on the tenth anniversary of the iPhone and thought to bring a complete overhaul in design.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

The iPhone 7 wasn't hugely different from the iPhone 6S - or even the iPhone 6 for the matter. So, if anything, that's a huge indication that the next model will sport an all-new look, as Apple likes to switch up the iPhone's design every couple years.

By the time the iPhone 8 releases, it will have been three years since Apple's decided to change how the iPhone looks.

Some reports have suggested the iPhone 8 will be mostly glass and maybe curved. It might also introduce wireless charging and ditch the physical home button. There's also talk about a special ceramic version coming. Keep in mind Apple recently released a ceramic version of the Apple Watch Series 2.

One of the most outlandish rumors so far is that there will be an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus to go alongside this drastically different iPhone 8 anniversary model - so, three new iPhones in total.

Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Edge

Samsung had huge hits with the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge. But the company will probably have to bring a lot to the table for its follow-up to these phones, especially in light of the Note 7's battery problems and subsequent fiasco, so expect the Galaxy S8 to be extra special.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Reports have suggested that Samsung might ditch the flat version of the S8, only offering curved devices in two sizes. These phones could also get a bump in screen resolution to 4K. If that's true, it'll need to pack the latest chipset for tones of power, so expect up a new, souped-up Exynos.

However, we wouldn't be too surprised if we did get a Snapdragon 835 version, too.

There's also talk of an OLED bezel-less display, doing away with the physical home button, and more. We expect Samsung to add USB Type-C to its flagship lineup, as that seems to be the go-to standard for the best phones now. As for software, the S8 will likely launch with Nougat and TouchWiz.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is rumored to unveil on February 26, though we may get an April 2017 launch.

OnePlus 5

Now that we've covered the two big dogs -- Apple and Samsung's next phones -- it's time to talk about some of the other big players in the Android space. One of the first that comes to mind is China-based OnePlus, smartphones' big disruptor. There's a rumor that OnePlus will skip the 4 number and release a OnePlus 5 in the coming year with a glass or ceramic body.

(Image: file photo)

The latest phone from the company is the OnePlus 3T, so if the current crops of reports are true, the next OnePlus flagship will be very different in terms of design. OnePlus isn't afraid of doing that after all -- just look at how it changed things with the OnePlus X. The phone has a dark glass back reminiscent of the glass back on the iPhone 4

So far the only other talk we've heard is that it might come with a 5.3-inch display and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset for oodles of power. And you can expect this all to come your way in May or June 2017.

ZDNet's review of the OnePlus X has more on the OnePlus' ability to provide a classy handset that's super affordable.


It's worth talking about what LG has in the works, because many people are wondering if it is going to stick with the modular approach.

But first, let's talk about LG's problem with its next flagship name: G6 name is currently also used by its flagship TV. LG will likely want to change direction on phone naming, but there's no clue yet as to what we can expect.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

In fact, there aren't many rumors about the LG G6. It's only been suggested that LG is going to ditch the mods it introduced with the G5. Motorola offers a better alternative with the Moto Z, anyway.

It's also been rumored that LG was planning a curved OLED display for the G6. Apparently, that idea was scrapped due to supply issues. We therefore suspect the next-generation LG flagship will be more simple in terms of design and functionality.

The new handset will likely launch at Mobile World Congress 2017. See sister-site CNET's review of the LG G5 to learn more about why its mix-and-match design didn't quite live up to its hype.

Microsoft Surface Phone

This final one is a stretch, but we must include it. We could've mentioned Google's next Pixel, but there are like no rumors on that so far. And we could've brought up the next phones by HTC or Huawei, but what Microsoft is reportedly planning seems a lot more interesting.

Plus, we've already discussed three other Android phones to expect in the coming year.

(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

The Surface Phone is something of an enigma. With Windows phones, we had Nokia, then Microsoft Devices, and now there's all sorts of guessing going on about a Surface-branded phone that will usher in the ultimate Windows mobile device.

However, given the recent sale of many of its phone patents, and an announcement Windows Phone development isn't a major priority, the Surface Phone is seeming less and less likely.

Still, Microsoft is rumored to be mulling a new Surface-branded phone for some time in 2017. However, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley said her sources believe the company may opt to wait until 2018 to release it. When and if the phone does ever materialize, it will likely be premium, Intel-powered handset. Mounting speculation has suggested it'll come in three different variants. It'll also be made by the same team behind the Surface Tablets, so expect a solid build.

There's also the suggestion that Surface Phone will run a new update of Windows 10. Other than that, the rumor mill is fairly quiet.

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