2016 will be another major year for the smartphone marketplace, as the industry attempts to prove to consumers that it can offer something genuinely new. There is absolutely no doubt that smartphones are now a major part of people’s lives all over the world, and indeed tapping into emerging markets and the Third World is a central part of major manufacturers’ strategies.
But the Western marketplace has perhaps stagnated to a certain extent, with smartphones delivering what can reasonably be described as diminishing returns. When the first iPhone launched in 2007, it was naturally a massive innovation, and played a huge role in the rapid demise of BlackBerry. But delivering such jaw-dropping technology in 2016 is considerably more challenging, with smartphones having to rely on incremental improvements and new features in order to impress consumers.
So what can we expect from the smartphone marketplace in 2016, and what are the hottest devices due for release? Here are five key handsets scheduled for the next 12 months.
Apple iPhone 7
There really is nowhere else to begin when assessing the smartphone marketplace. The Apple iPhone has become one of the most iconic consumer products in any industry, and this has been recognised both with awards and commercial success for Apple. The California-based company became the first corporation to break through the $700 billion figure for market capitalization this year, and even though its share price has dipped significantly from those highs, the Apple success story has still been a pretty relentless one in this decade.
Meanwhile, the popularity of the iPhone and the attendant familiarity of Apple contributed to the incredible achievement of knocking Coca-Cola off the top of the authoritative Interbrand survey. Considering that Apple has achieved such incredible market penetration, it is hardly surprising that the iPhone has become such a massive success for the corporation.
The iPhone 7 will be a major release for Apple, as the new number indicates that this will effectively be a revolution in the smartphone series. Thus, the iPhone 7 is expected to be a total overhaul of the iPhone system, possibly featuring a major redesign of the device.
There have already been many rumors is linked with the iPhone 7, with the idea of a liquid metal and glass combination for the design particularly striking. Elsewhere, it has also been suggested that Apple will eliminate the Home button from the iPhone 7, instead relying on the recently introduced 3D Touch to deliver its functions.
The iPhone 7 may also be waterproof and dustproof, while Apple may produce the first ever full HD iPhone smartphone, with a quad HD phablet also possible. Certain to be the biggest smartphone seller of 2016, the iPhone 7 will unquestionably be the most anticipated release of the calendar year.
Samsung Galaxy S7
If Apple has a major rival, and indeed this concept is debatable, it is certainly the Korean company Samsung. However, the fact that the Korean corporation has had to endure numerous quarters of declining profits indicates that, for the time being, steadying the ship is more important than challenging the market-leader.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 was considered a step in the right direction for the company, and the Galaxy S7 is expected to continue this process. Samsung is renowned for packing its mobile devices with the most impressive specs in the industry, and the Korean company has also become particularly associated with outstanding screen technology.
With this in mind, it has been recently reported that the Galaxy S7 will launch in two separate models, with a curved screen addition likely to be significantly more prominent than in previous releases. At one time it was hoped that Samsung may opt for a 4K display for the Galaxy S7, but it now seems unlikely, with a quad HD display expected.
Samsung will probably also produce two models of its Galaxy S7 flagship, with Snapdragon-driven units bound for the Western marketplace, and its own proprietary Exynos technology to be utilized in East Asian releases. Reports have also indicated that Samsung is working on a pressure-sensitive display to rival the 3D Touch technology that Apple debuted earlier this year.
4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, Android 6.0 Marshmallow and a USB Type-C port have all been linked with the Galaxy S7 as well, while Samsung may finally include its fast-charging and foldable screen technology in this device as well.
Leaks from close to the Samsung supply chain suggest that the consumer electronics giant will produce 5 million Galaxy S7 units, with Samsung intending to tap into the post-Christmas marketplace with a February release.
Xiaomi Mi 5
The Xiaomi Mi 5 may not be a household name in the West yet, but it certainly deserves a place on this list. An innovative and affordable unit, the Mi 5 also features some very strong specs.
Early rumors suggests that the Mi 5 will feature a 5.2-inch Quad HD display, protected by Gorilla Glass 4, a 20-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash and optical image stabilization, and an accompanying 8-megapixel front-snapper. 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, a 3,000mAh battery and Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based MIUI 7 ROM have also been linked with the handset, while Xiaomi will also probably offer a biometric scanner, USB Type-C port and quick-charging technology.
OnePlus released two new smartphones this year, and it is expected to update the OnePlus 2 in 2016. This is the flagship smartphone of the manufacturer, but OnePlus has remained pretty quiet about what we can expect from it. Fans of the series would like to see the screen increased to quad HD, while there will also probably be an updated Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset included. The OnePlus 3 is likely to hit the store in August, shortly before the iPhone 7.
Google Nexus 6 2016
Finally, Google hasn’t quite had the impact on the smartphone market that it would have hoped, but the Google Nexus 6 2016 will be its latest attempt to do so. Mooted to run Android N software, this handset has also been linked with the Snapdragon 820. This chipset has an Adreno 530 GPU, with 40 percent better performance and efficiency than previous chips. Super fast-charging is also expected, as the 820 supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.