6 phones we look forward to in 2016

by: Darcy LaCouveeJanuary 27, 2016
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Another year brings with it a huge range of new smartphones to look forward to. From top of the line flagships to pleasantly surprising budget offerings, we are sure to see plenty of interesting devices announced throughout 2016, but here’s a short list of 6 handsets that are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Samsung Galaxy S7

It’s impossible not to kick off our rundown with the biggest yearly announcement in the Android hardware world, Samsung’s next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S7. Whether you’re a Samsung fan or not, the unveiling of the S7 is going to set the bar for this year’s flagship smartphones and it will no doubt sell millions of units.

Samsung's latest flagships all sport the formidable Mali-T760 GPU

While the latest rumors suggest that Samsung will be sticking with a very similar design for the Galaxy S7 and its curved Edge variant, we are expecting a number of hardware improvements to this year’s phone. Camera technology will likely see another leap forward, with Samsung rumored to either be interested in the 25 megapixel Sony IMX300 sensor or using its own 12MP BRIGHTCELL technology, which features larger pixels for superior light capture. Other tweaks could include a USB-Type C port, a higher quality audio DAC, and a pressure sensitive display, with many more also rumored.

The Galaxy S7 will also be the first smartphone packing Samsung’s Exynos 8890 processor. This will be the first chip to feature four CPU cores designed specifically by Samsung, accompanied by a Mali-T880MP12 for some serious graphics performance and Samsung’s ModAP modem which supports Category 12 LTE speeds and carrier aggregation. With Qualcomm releasing its own Kryo CPU powered Snapdragon 820 around the same time, which is rumored to feature in some Galaxy S7 variants too, we are looking at some major competition between the two SoC designers.

samsung galaxy s7 first look aa-16Read more: Samsung Galaxy S7 rumor roundup: release date, price, specs, features30

Along with hardware, Samsung itself has decided that it needs to focus on improving its software experience in order to differentiate itself from other manufacturers. Practical ideas like Samsung Pay are great for consumers and some other new software features, along with tweaks to TouchWiz, could address some people’s complains about Samsung’s flagship smartphones.

HTC One M10

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In contrast to Samsung’s successful Galaxy range, HTC’s One M series has gradually declined in momentum, leaving the Taiwanese company’s smartphone business in a tough spot. The manufacturer clearly needs to switch things up to have a major impact this year and the HTC One M10, or whatever the M9’s successor is called, could just be the smartphone to do it.

There aren’t that many M10 rumors floating around right now, so really almost anything could happen. We are certainly expecting high-end hardware, such as a QHD display, Snapdragon 820 processor and a fingerprint scanner, and hopefully some better camera technology too. While some still love HTC’s familiar design language, it has become increasingly tough for the general consumer to tell each generation apart. Perhaps this flagship range is in need of an aesthetic redesign in order to kick start consumer interest, but only HTC knows how many radical changes it is prepared to make.

The M10 could be the smartphone that reignites HTC’s mobile success or it might be the swansong from a former industry leader. Either way grab the popcorn, it’s going to be interesting.

Huawei P9

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Huawei was one of the big movers in 2015, gaining not only a bigger market share in China, but also further expanding its presence in Europe. The company recently announced that its Honor 5X, Mate 8 and a smartwatch will be heading to the US. The next big announcement from Huawei is expected to be its flagship P9 smartphone. If this handset also heads to the US, Huawei will be going right up against the biggest Android brands in every major global market.

The Huawei P9 won’t just be a big deal for the company’s US ambitions though, it’s also a showcase for the best technology that the Chinese brand has to offer. The latest hardware rumors point to a 5.2-inch 1080p display, 3 or 4GB of RAM, and a fingerprint scanner, basically making it a smaller version of the company’s recently released and rather good Mate 8. The smartphone will likely feature the company’s latest in-house Kirin 950 mobile SoC as well.

Although not quite designing its own CPU cores like other mobile SoC designers, Huawei’s custom Kirin chips are helping to keep the company ahead in the cost effective smartphone market and certainly make a statement about competing with household names like Samsung.

mate8thumbSee also: Huawei Mate 8 review59

According to another rumor, the company may be preparing to release four slight variations on its P9 flagship. Along with the main model, there’s talk about a budget oriented P9lite, a presumably larger P9max and an “enhanced” edition P9, which apparently packs in some additional hardware features, including a deal rear camera and additional RAM. A slide spotted in China suggests that the P9 may arrive in April.

Huawei was a brand to watch in 2015 and no doubt this will remain the case throughout 2016.

BlackBerry mid-ranger

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Speaking of more reasonably priced smartphones, BlackBerry CEO John Chen not long ago indicated that the company will release at least one new Android phone in 2016 and he previously mentioned that this may be a mid to high end smartphone.

The phone likely won’t appear until the second half of the year and probably won’t be a budget offering. Instead, BlackBerry may be developing a “super-mid” tier smartphone, which could grab the attention of value seeking customers across the globe. The slow and limited global availability of the Priv has been acknowledged by Chen and might be the biggest complaint that the company will look to address with its next smartphone.

It’s too early to talk about potential hardware specifications, but surely BlackBerry intends to keep its iconic physical keyboard. Chen also recently confirmed that it was continuing to work with Samsung regarding display technology, but didn’t confirm if this partnership would extend to BlackBerry’s next generation smartphones.

blackberry priv review aa (14 of 32)Not quite perfect: 7 problems with the BlackBerry Priv and how to fix them20

The Priv may not be selling in huge numbers, but it seems to have done well enough to encourage BlackBerry to try its hand at another smartphone or two. With a physical keyboard and some top notch security and productivity features, perhaps BlackBerry’s mid-range smartphone will bring some new supports to the mobile old guard.

Lenovo’s Project Tango

Project Tango Lenovo logo

One of the more interesting looking smartphones that we know is on the way is Lenovo’s Project Tango handset, which was confirmed at this year’s CES. While we don’t have the device specifics, Project Tango integration will open up a load of interesting new augmented and virtual reality applications , along with some other truly unique software experiences.

In case you missed it, Project Tango is a Google run platform based around computer vision technologies. The software uses motion tracking from accelerometers and gyroscopes, along with a specialized camera setup to collect 3D information about a space, such as depth and distance. From this data, application developers can do things like overlay augmented information on top of an object within the camera’s field of view or recreate a real space in virtual 3D.

Google has already released two developer kits, one tablet and one smartphone, the latest of which made use of an infra-red depth camera and specialized image processing chips to calculate all of this data. Lenovo’s smartphone will likely be the first consumer product to make use of Google’s technology, which is very exciting indeed.

Lenovo’s Project Tango smartphone is scheduled for release in the summer of 2016.

HTC Nexus?

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While we’re on the subject of slightly more out their ideas, we have heard rumors about not one, but two Nexus smartphones that might be manufactured by HTC later this year. Given HTC’s rather poor smartphone performance sales lately, a couple of Nexus branded smartphones might give the company a sorely needed revenue boost as well as some extra global brand exposure.

The only hardware rumors that we have right now are that there might be two variants, one low and one high cost, with 5-inch and 5.5-inch display sizes respectively. This would follow in Google’s 2015 Nexus strategy of releasing two Nexus smartphones at different price points.

However, the HTC designed Nexus 9 seems to have been a bit hit and miss with consumers last year, as were its smartphones. This especially applies when it comes to camera quality verses the recently Nexus releases, which boast some of the best image sensors in the business. This rumor could go two ways, some input from Google combined with HTC’s eye for design could produce some wonderfully well put together Nexus phones. However if HTC can’t revive itself with the One M10, does Google really want a company that looks to be on the way out designing this year’s Nexus handset?

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2015 saw some excellent smartphones, but we have high hopes for even better models this year.

Of course, this barely scratches the surface of the major releases heading our way this year, and there is plenty more to be excited about. Will the LG G5 surpass the Galaxy S7, can the Mi5 boost Xiaomi to topple some of the big players, or perhaps the OnePlus 3 will finally see the little company breakout into mainstream success?

What devices are you most looking forward to this year?

  • My list

    LOL at the list
    I’m looking forward for Samsung, LG, Sony, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola
    But I don’t care about BB midrange (or any BB) at all.

    • balcobomber25

      No one cares about BB.

    • Mila Kumis

      Agree with you.
      No one want BB since 3 years ago.
      That’s why BB only sold 800,000/quarter, while others brand can sell more than 10 million phone/quarter.

  • Justice Anthony

    LG G5?

    • 29

      P9 but no G5, lol

  • jdiamjr

    Most looking forward to what LG comes out with (both G5 and next version of VG10)

  • Al Fickensher III

    What about the Nextbit Robin? That looks like it promises to be a good device

  • Sandy

    lol most funniest article by AA. Where is G5 dude ?

  • Bob F

    My Galaxy S5 is still fine and I have no plans to upgrade. In fact, I just bought used ones on the cheap for the rest of the family.

    • Andre Senge

      Good for you, nobody cares about your shitty Samsung phones.

  • Paulo Fidalgo

    Sony Z6 FTW!

  • patstar5

    Project Ara

    • Jonathon Melander

      Yasssss!

  • Mohammad Hussain

    Was the writer drunk? Where is G5 and MI5?

    • Mila Kumis

      The writer really drunk.
      They think BB more interesting than G5 and Mi5.

  • Jasdeep Singh

    AA has been losing readers because of articles like this.

    • Mila Kumis

      agree.
      AA should understand that no one likes BB.

  • Darkmyth CH

    No phone can beat SG note line.. I am waiting for the SGN 6 hope its not like the 5 though :)

    • balcobomber25

      The Note line has excellent hardware but it is expensive and it runs the worst UI on Android, TouchWhiz. Plenty of phones can beat it.

      • Darkmyth CH

        You re right it is a bit laggy because of touchwiz and also bloated, but the pen functionalities make me kinda look away from all the note problems :) there are somethings you just cant do with other phones

        • Andre Senge

          A pen for a smartphone is the dumbest idea ever invented in my opinion.

      • DKBNYC

        For what the Note can do, there are ZERO phones that can beat it. I could care less if an app takes .0535 seconds longer to open. For production, nothing beats the Note line. NOTHING!

        • balcobomber25

          Depends on your idea of production, and it’s not apps taken longer to open it is a broken system full of bugs and loaded with crapware.

    • Eklavya Verma

      No phone ‘could’ beat the Note line, until July 2015 that is. In August, Samsung released the Note 5, which was then immediately beaten by its own Note 4 lol. Except for the camera that is…

      • Darkmyth CH

        Hahha true story…

    • Andre Senge

      Its already been beat by the Huawei Mate 8, get your head out from your anus and quit being obsessed over Samsung already, there’s better phones out there. Lol

  • Stevan Gomes

    Will Asus Zenfone max get Android Marshmallow update.

  • balcobomber25

    I am willing to bet more people are looking forward to the LG G5, Xiaomi Mi5 and One Plus 3 than a Blackberry….

    • Luminati Maserati

      Agree.
      LG & XiaoMi were on the top 10 manufacture
      BB maybe in top 50 or 100
      Nobody care about BB

  • Jarl

    was looking forward to the G5 but not if the leaks are true and the volume buttons are on the side…

  • Anthony Stewart

    HTC making both the Nexus 2016 smartphones is a disaster waiting to happen.

    • balcobomber25

      Depends on the pricing. HTC’s biggest problem is price, they make some very good devices.

      • Josh Gilman

        not with those crappy cameras

        • balcobomber25

          Would fit right in with most Nexus devices. Camera has never been their strong point.

          • Teledude87

            I thought the camera on my galaxy nexus was pretty darn nice. I didn’t think the nexus 6 was bad. And the Nexus 6P has a pretty killer camera.

          • balcobomber25

            The 6P I haven’t used so I can’t comment but the 6 was average at best, the 5 and 4 were both terrible.

          • Teledude87

            I can’t speak for the 5 and 4. But the 6 did a fine job. It isn’t the top cellphone camera by any means but it definitely wasn’t bad.

          • balcobomber25

            I never said it was bad but it sure wasn’t great especially compared to some of the best on the market.

        • Kevin Eldridge

          As a HTC One owner for both the M7 and M8, I disagree. The camera had produced nothing but amazing pictures for me.

  • Joshua Miller

    This list is horrible. No I’m not looking forward to the HTC 10. I wasn’t even looking forward to the HTC 9

  • FranchisePlayer

    What no Windows phones? Is Blackberry still around and what is “super mid-tier”?

    • Eklavya Verma

      Website’s called “Android” Authority. Hence why you don’t have an iPhone here either, get it? Blackberry is mentioned because of the Android-powered device they are rumoured to release (which is also explicitly written in the article)

      • FranchisePlayer

        Not that it really matters but AA has mentioned other phones besides Android. As others have pointed out, the article was lacking a few obvious choices (G5, OnePlus 3, etc) so the reference to a WP probably went over your head.

        The article doesn’t say “Six ‘Android’ Phones we look forward to in 2016”

        • Eklavya Verma

          Of course it doesn’t say ‘six android phones’. Of course they have missed out on fan favourites like the LG and One Plus. And Android Authority may have mentioned phones from other platforms before as special articles, simply to fulfill subscribers’ curiosities. But ‘questioning’ an Android fan site because they did NOT mention phones from a competing platform? That is what went over my head, like you rightly pointed out.

    • Mila Kumis

      Nobody care about windows phone.
      Nokia will make a comeback with android, and that will be interesting.

  • Armaan Modi

    Mi5!!G5!!

  • cyric0

    looking forward to anything not named HTC on it.

  • Kyle Ong

    LG G5 shd b there if the magic slot (removable module) is true…and perhpas shd be H1 2016. IP7 could b something to look(yes..its not Android)

  • Mista_Mr

    As long as oneplus has the stupid invite system they will never catch up to the top tier oems!

  • ErnChen

    BB “mid-ranger”. Nice one. I had a good chuckle when I read that. If the Priv didn’t sell in large enough numbers, how many people are actually looking forward to the midrange version?
    OEMs need to realize that “high-end” device sale is dwindling down. Consumers are less willing to shell out $700 for a phone now that most major carriers are getting rid of device subsidies. That said, I look forward to see Samsung’s and LG’s pricing strategy for their flagship devices in 2016.
    Meanwhile, devices that I actually look forward to are: Xiaomi Mi5, LG G5, Huawei/Honor offerings in the U.S., ZTE’s follow up to the Axon Pro, the next Nexus phones, new Moto X Pure Edition, and new One Plus devices (minus their shameless marketing schemes).

    • Luminati Maserati

      The best Midrange CPU right now is SD 652, and SD 650.
      Xiaomi have SD 650 device for less than US$200…. Redmi Note 3
      Samsung have SD 652 device for almost US$500…. Galaxy A9 2016

      Seeing how BB priced their device, I don’t think BB can have a super-mid-range at affordable price. If BB made the SD650 device, it will priced about the same as samsung, which is almost US$500!!!

      BB is dead!!! I think AA should accept that fact!!!

  • HumanLiveStock

    Hoping one day smartphones will have modular ram for upgrading like SD cards.

  • Chmulder

    Really waiting for the Oppo Find 9. I’m using the Find 7 for more than 1,5 year now with only small bugs. Still running like a charm. All my smartphone’s didn’t last for a year. Had the OPO to, but this one I like more.

  • Kristian

    Am I the only one really disappointed in what we’ve got to look forward to in 2016? I’ve got an M8 I’m due to upgrade from in a couple of months but I don’t see anything that excites me. I’ve totally lost faith in HTC after my M8 developed a crack due to overheating and they refused to do anything about it despite the fact that American M8 owners qualify for a free repair. Way to lose my custom forever HTC.

    I’ve never been a fan of the Samsung interface and I don’t like their plasticky designs either. Thought the A5 looked a smart phone but its specs let it down and it still had crummy Touchwiz on top.

    Perhaps Sony will come along and smash it out the park with their next Xperia. They seem to generally boast decent specs but the design isn’t particularly great.

    LG phones are too plasticky and cheap like the Galaxy S range.

    Come on people, we could do with something a bit special to rival the iPhone.

  • Meri

    I’m curious of Asus zoom, with its analog zoom and decent stabilisation it should provide above average camera experience as well. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

  • Mister R

    You forgot the Xperia Z6 line.

  • Gurjinder

    What about Zenfone 3

  • Jeena Bittenbender

    Looking forward to the Nextbit Robin and the LG G5. HTC making a Nexus is not good. Although, if they want to make a strong comeback, that’s the way to do it. Better have amazing specs. Still, nothing beats the Asus 2013 Nexus 7, not even Asus’s new line of tablets. It’s sad really…