When it comes to mobile phones, just about every company pops a new one out before we can blink. With the end of 2016 right around the corner, it’s safe to say we’ve seen quite a few devices thus far.
The year’s not over yet, but I’ve scoured the top ranking sources, and the darkest regions of the internet to help you sift through the junk and arrive at the most remarkably designed phones on the market.
Phones that not only LOOK great, but operate the way they should (for the most part), and boast sleek features that’ll make enthusiasts foam at the mouth.
From Google to Samsung and Apple, we’ve seen some cool stuff all year.
But what about 2017?
The year has (so far) been an interesting one for mobile phones. So much so, that a lot of us are already hyperventilating at the thought of what Apple’s going to send to the shelves a year from now.
So let’s talk about it.
First, we’ll recap the highlights of 2016 in terms of innovative and captivating designs. Don’t worry, I was sure to keep this article junk-free.
So sit tight, and let’s get started!
Smartphone Designs of 2016 (Recap)
The OnePlus3 was graced with an overall design that anyone can appreciate. That’s not to say this thing is perfect, though it comes close enough. One of the few things you might find odd about it is that it doesn’t have a MicroSD slot, which is kind of weird.
Even weirder is what one of the cofounders had to say about the demand for this feature.
The manufacturers were sure to improve upon some issues consumers had with its predecessor and were kind enough to bless their baby with a new premium suit.
It’s a great looking device and one that works incredibly well. They were able to keep the price of this smartphone alarmingly low, which made it a threat to big names in the industry.
There’s nothing groundbreaking going on with the camera, but when you take the price into consideration AND give this thing a second look, you’re definitely getting bang for every last buck.
Now this is Blackberry’s first Android handset, and thankfully they got it right on the first try. The slider handset is huge — 5.4-inch display, offering all the benefits you’ll find in just about any of the latest android devices.
Even better, it has that physical keyboard that Blackberry loyalists will find appealing and homely.
The Blackberry Priv flaunts the Blackberry hub and a slew of shortcuts that have been revisited to suit Android.
I’m not trying to tell you this smartphone is perfect, however. There are a few somewhat questionable things about the manufacturer’s choices (with regards to design). The handset isn’t the fastest, not by a long shot, and you won’t be shooting any motion pictures with that camera.
Finally, it lacks a fingerprint scanner.
Overall, it’s a great looking product and Blackberry made some good choices when they went this route.
Whether your allegiance lies with Android or Blackberry, the Blackberry Priv would make anyone a happy camper!
If you’re looking forward to what they’ve got planned for 2017, you’re not alone.
Motorola Moto X Play
What made the Motorola Moto X Play stand out to me (and almost anyone who knows it) is that piece of heaven they decided to call a battery. Not only is the battery huge, it also packs a whopping amount of endurance.
This thing will last through the day, into the night, until the following day. Not many give the Motorola Moto X Play’s battery a run for its money.
What else do you have on your hands here?
A mid-range handset, offering Motorola’s motor maker customization.
While not the most powerful or exciting, and you do miss out on a fingerprint scanner, if you take a look at that photo you’ll see why I still think it’s one of the highlights of the year off aesthetics alone.
Sure the camera could be better, but overall the Moto X Play was designed to look great and offer a great experience.
Huawei Mate S
A design and build to die for. Coming from the company (Huawei) who put up with consumers butchering their name so much they released an actual video schooling people on how it’s done, the Huawei Mate S is probably in a league of its own.
It comes with full HD display (5.5-inch) but when it comes down to it that’s really a low point with this device. What I want to talk about is the pressure sensitivity, which adds a unique quality to the Huawei Mate S.
I mean Huawei mostly manages to pull off some fine work. Even models that lack pressure sensitivity are sure to give you a good time.
The Mate S is designed to display plenty of power. In terms of endurance, the battery won’t take you through the day and night, then into the next day like the Motorola Moto X, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Before I forget, let me talk about the EMUI software skin.
It’s not great.
BUT with a bit of a tweaking, you do get a solid big screen experience, and at a lower price than some other big names out there.
The LG G5 has a module based design, meaning it makes room for accessory units as it relates to new features and overall operation.
What is the LG G5 working with?
A Quad HD screen that enthusiasts will appreciate. There’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB RAM, and Quick Charge 3.0.
In other words, you have all the power in the world.
The metal body looks and feels plastic, maybe some won’t like that. Others might ignore it.
As for the fingerprint sensor, it’s a really nice gesture. However, it’s kind of small, and isn’t quite as efficient as others. But they do get points for clever positioning.
From a completely objective standpoint, the LG G5 isn’t designed to appease everyone, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
It still looks gorgeous, and its overall design makes it worth being on this list.
Here we are at the Google Pixel.
Where do I start?
This smartphone is graced with top of the line QHD display. It packs no ends of power under the hood, so it’s superb for VR and it’s an overall great performer.
The latest Android software is worth anyone’s time. Designed for a pleasantly smooth performance — Google saved users a lot of hassle.
The Google Pixel features a 12 MP rear shooter that’ll make the competition shiver in their boots. The fingerprint scanner is always a welcome addition, especially when it does the job right and keeps the phone secure.
The weak points?
Battery life is nothing to write home about, and the lack of waterproofing may put some a bit under the weather. But it’s not enough to overshadow what Google has accomplished here.
And if you like what you see in the Google Pixel, then go ahead and check out the Google Pixel XL.
If I was going to mention one thing and one thing only about the HTC 10 it would be the audio. Pair that with the fact that it’s designed to be a treat for just about anyone who happens to pick it up, and you’ll understand why I think it’s one of the highlights of the year.
HTC hit a snag when they shipped out the One M9. But shortly after that they vanished and popped back up on the map with a better camera and extended battery life.
That’s not even the best part.
The best thing about this phone is when you decide to listen to your favorite playlist.
They could probably campaign this thing (successfully) off promoting its audio playing capabilities alone. And even better, that’s not the only thing the HTC 10 has up its sleeve.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the iPhone, have been of all the predecessors and it’s the same for the iPhone 7. That being said, I’m not going to sit here and act as though any of these devices have been perfect.
But I’m not going to bash the iPhone 7 for the sake of bashing either.
It comes with a good low light camera, and it’s water resistant. The battery life has improved, which isn’t saying much when it comes to iPhones — but hey, I’m just throwing that out there.
Aesthetically, you’ve got this thing all figured out, more or less, once you’ve owned any iPhone over the past few years. I just think what Apple has going on with the design (at face value) is pretty timeless, or at least they’ve somehow managed to get away with it up until now.
The power boost and solid camera upgrade are the only things that make the iPhone 7 stand out among its predecessors. For some people that may not be enough, understandably so.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Samsung has been going through it with the S7 Edge exploding and all, almost crumbling their fan base. Sad part is the S7 Edge is an impeccable device (a part from the whole blowing up thing of course).
But we’re going to talk about the S7, which is also a great smartphone design-wise.
It’s waterproof and has a gorgeous screen. The Samsung Galaxy S7 wasn’t just designed to look great, it also offers a lot of power.
A major con with this phone was its price on release, which was pretty high. But that’s a weak point, depending on your own financial situation. Someone like Todd Chrisley would hardly notice the difference between this price tag and the one on a 2004 Motorola Razr.
At first glance, the Galaxy S7 looks just like the S6 from last year. When you grab one of these things and turn it on that’s when the differences come to life. The rear of the phone is sleeker thanks to a curved back, so God bless whoever came up with that idea. I’m no expert, but I’m certain this was made possible through a process called 3D Thermoforming.
The MicroSD feature deserves a welcome back party, after someone (who I probably wouldn’t get along with) decided to drop it last year.
If you’re a selfie addict (yes, I said selfie addict) you’ll love the camera.
Because it’s brilliant, that’s why. It may be lower in megapixels, but the quality is through the roof. Just don’t get carried away with the selfies and forget to, you know, live your life and all that other stuff.
Honestly, I could go on and on about all the cool stuff that have come our way since the dawn of 2016. Some of them were out of this world, others not so much. But we’ve definitely had quite the lineup.
Let’s look onward to 2017, and some of the interesting designs we expect to surface in the coming year.
A peek into 2017 Smartphone Designs
While the iPhone 7 wasn’t quite what some would expect in terms of aesthetics, that’s where the iPhone 8 comes in.
This smartphone resembles a single sheet of glass and features an edge to edge OLED screen.
Here’s what’s most interesting, a touch ID scanner will supposedly be hidden in the glass body, and the physical home button is gone bye-bye.
The absence of the home button doesn’t have to be bad, does it? I’m not sure myself, but it’s still pretty exciting.
The iPhone will also make wireless charging possible, and Apple is throwing some biometric features into the mix. Some facial recognition, iris scanning — the works!
Seeing as the LG G4 was launched in April 2015 and the LG G5 hit the scene April of 2016, I don’t think anyone needs to be psychic to ‘predict’ that the LG G6 just might be here somewhere around April 2017.
The month seems to be an LG favorite.
If one can believe the rumors, LG is supposedly cutting ties with the modular design when it comes to these devices, and are likely to adapt a glass front and rear, which should be interesting in a number of ways, aesthetically, and with regards to the feel of the device.
Following the Galaxy S route (which isn’t a bad route to take), the LG G6 will possibly feature speedy wireless charging, and experience a processor upgrade and sharper graphics, equipping it with great VR capabilities.
A huge standout is the new iris scanner that will use the same sensor as the phone’s front camera.
There should also be a space and cost saving measure implemented, courtesy of a special filter.
Microsoft Surface Phone
Possibly the most interesting smartphone on this list to me. And my interest has nothing to do with the design. Why am I intrigued? Because there was such vague information on this device, at one point its existence was about as legit as a Big Foot sighting.
Some consumers may find themselves feeling underwhelmed by a new Microsoft device after the whole Lumia thing that didn’t turn out as great as it could have for the company. But hey, people (or in this case billion dollar companies) deserve second chances too.
So, if it turns out that the Microsoft Surface Phone does exist, what can you expect?
5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, 4 GB RAM, 64 and 128 GB storage. This thing is rumored to support MicroSD and features a 21 MP rear and 8 MP front camera.
Let me not forget the 64 Intel processor, the possible inclusion of a surface pen, and a USB-C port.
Latest news says there should be some actual news (or even a launch) around January 2017.
So here’s to hoping.
Here’s another device that’s interesting for more than just the decisions that went into its design. The OnePlus 4 has been subject to a lot of rumors and questionable assumptions since its development has been in the works.
At one point it was believed that OnePlus would be steering away from the AMOLED display and take the LCD route. Supposedly because the company had trouble sourcing AMOLED panels.
According to Carl Pei, this isn’t the case, and they will be sticking to their guns. The OnePlus 4 WILL be launched flaunting jaw-dropping AMOLED display.
Can’t think of anyone who’d complain about that.
You can also expect an upgrade to the Snapdragon 821 processor, which is nothing short of glorious news. Read more about the Snapdragon 821 here. Another possible upgrade is the 5.5-inch full HD display to the Quas or HD model. It should come with 8 GB RAM, a 21 – 23 MP camera, and 3500 – 4000mAh battery (with Dash Charge).
Sounds glorious, I know.
Unfortunately, the only thing I can tell you for sure is that this device will be running the Oxygen OS, a custom UI inspired by Android’s Nougat 7.0.
It’s suspected that the OnePlus 4 may hit the market sometime earlier in 2017 than the OnePlus 3 did in 2016.
If you’re biting your nails in anticipation for the next year, I’m hardly in a position to judge you. And if you’re still dying to know more about what the market will be like in the coming year, feel free to check out more details here.