This could easily be a 20-page column. 2017 will see companies that were doing well try to surge further ahead, brands that were coming in from behind put in more aggressive efforts, companies that were dead and buried rise from the ashes and some under threat to die make a last all-out effort to survive. And each of them will do it based on a kick-ass phone that will be born in 2017. Some of these made it to my anticipated gadgets of 2017 column earlier. Even then, it’s impossible for me to list them all, so here are the ones that will be the most interesting.
Samsung Note 8
I’m not listing the Galaxy 8 as that’s going to take forward a very successful story. The Note 8 is where most of Samsung’s 2017 story will be written from. It’s where we will see whether Samsung turns into a lion and takes innovation risks with the Note 8 or morphs into a lamb and plays safe! Rumours talk about an AI assistant that makes ‘Hey Google’ look like a joke, a camera that may beat the Nokia Pure View 42 megapixel and a new revolutionary note-taking ability. Rumours also suggest that the battery will have materials inbuilt to make sure the phone can’t burst into flames. I can relate to that!
Apple iPhone 10
I’ve been mocked and made fun of for sticking to my theory that the next iPhone will be called the 10 (to celebrate the 10th Anniversary). Let’s just say I’m sticking to it for certain reasons I cannot reveal. The next iPhone may have an all-glass design, OLED curved screen, wireless charging, Touch ID sensor embedded in the screen, dual camera on both models, a jet white colour option, completely new battery technology and may be even a Touch Bar like second screen on the top. September will tell us how much of this comes true!
Xiaomi Mi 6
This has got to be one of the most interesting launches of the year. Not just because of the phone, but also due to the story behind it all. Hugo Barra, the international face of the company and the man who turned launch events into a giddy fanboy art form, is gone. Xiaomi also struggles with mounting criticism for its service centres and spare parts. The phone that will launch in the midst of all this melodrama is the Mi 6. Expect it to have a ceramic body (aka Mi Mix), dual-curved display, 6GB of RAM, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset and some serious battery life. Also, expect it to have a very tumultuous launch in India.
You can call this the new BlackBerry as this is the all-new BB phone that will come into existence due to a licensing of the BB name to TCL. A phone with a classic BB physical keyboard that you can use like a trackpad, a fingerprint scanner embedded in the space bar, a USB Type-C port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, 3GB RAM, 18-megapixel rear camera and a 3,400-milliamp hour battery pack. BB is back!
Nokia’s new portfolio
I’m not singling out one phone for the new Nokia as they will build an entire portfolio this year. Part of it will be some classic Nokia style feature phones and multiple smartphones. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona should be the start of this journey. One smartphone announced there may just create the kind of euphoria and buzz that all of us want Nokia to be associated with. Expect an India launch right after.
HTC new flagship phone
If the new U phones shown at the CES were any indication, HTC could be the dark horse that stomps the competition into the ground and gallops ahead. A new flagship HTC is expected in April 2017 that creates a ripple in design, optics, hardware and features. Rumours also suggest a breakthrough innovation with sensors that has never been done before. The last part is a new-found aggression in prices. Put it all together and HTC seems to be standing tall in 2017.
2017 will also be the year to see what Micromax will do as it’s lost tremendous market share, whether Oppo and Vivo will continue to dominate offline sales, whether Huawei and Honor continue their dream run, and if the One Plus 5 can rewrite history books again. We will get to see how Indian brands will woo back the consumer and whether Microsoft with its Surface phone will finally have its first ever successful mobile phone (they’ve tried nine times before) that human beings will actually buy!
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, February 5
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