Best new Android smartphones in 2017
MARIE BLACK reveals the handsets we’re most excited about
It’s If you’re in the market for a new phone your choices available right now are pretty good, but it’s always the way that as soon as you take the plunge and upgrade something better comes along and you regret your decision. In this article we outline the phones that will be released in 2018 to help you decide whether or not to wait.
Google Pixel 3
Three new Google Pixel phones are expected to land on 4 October 2018, with one of them potentially poised as a rival to the iPhone X.
The Pixel phones are unlikely to be unveiled before early October 2018, with an on-sale date later in October probable. For the past two years Google has unveiled the new phones on 4 October, so 4 October 2018 is as good a guess as any.
They will come with the latest version of Android – Android 9.0 P – but as we saw in 2017 they may not be the first devices to ship with that operating system. It will be a pure version of the software, running exactly as Google intends, with regular security updates and no bloatware.
Early rumours suggest there will be three Pixel phones announced, but bear in mind that this was also the case in 2017 and we saw only two new Pixel phones announced. Alleged code names include Crosshatch, Albacore and Blueline, according to Droid Life, although there is talk that Google will simply reference them internally as A, B and C to hide their details from the outside world.
If it does happen, we could see a cheaper model with pricing more in line with the old Nexus phones than Pixel, which is more expensive than ever with the Pixel 2 XL retailing at £799 (although currently on offer at just £699). Alternatively, and as most rumours seem
to suggest, the third model will be a super-high-spec version that is a closer competitor to the iPhone X.
Google knows its users don’t want cut-down specifications just because a phone has a smaller screen, so we fully expect to see the Snapdragon 845 processor running the show on all Pixel 3 models. This is a 7nm chip that is faster and 30 percent more efficient than any before it, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores.
Qualcomm’s new super-fast X20 LTE modem is built-in, offering CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gb/s, as well as an enhanced Spectra 280 image signal processor. Qualcomm has bumped up video recording potential to Ultra-HD, and added in various AI improvements.
2018 might also be the year that Google bumps up the RAM to 6GB, while storage is likely to remain at 64- and 128GB.
We’d like to see Google retain the waterproofing (perhaps upgraded from IP67 to IP68) and aluminium chassis, and it’s probable that the 18:9 POLED display will also remain, but this time around the new Pixel might also feature an under-glass fingerprint sensor. We’d like to see the 18:9 panel in the cheaper model, too, and for Google to add wireless charging.
The camera is one of the most important specs for Google, and that found in last year’s Pixel phones is among the best you’ll find on a smartphone. We’d expect to see some improvements here, though potentially in the software rather than the hardware.
In 2017 both models came in Just Black, while the Pixel 2 XL was also available in Black and White, and the Pixel 2 in Clearly White and Kinda Blue. We don’t expect much deviation here.
It’s likely HTC will again be the brains behind the Pixel 3, now that Google has bought out its mobile business, so Active Edge and front-facing stereo speakers would not come as a shock.
The Huawei P10 is a strong contender in a sea of 2017 flagships, but we’re already focused on the 2018 Huawei flagship, unofficially dubbed the Huawei P11. While it’s still a long way away from release, below you’ll find some of the most notable rumours about the phone so far, along with our speculation on a possible UK price and release date.
Huawei’s Vice President of Handsets Product Line Bruce Lee has confirmed that the company will “probably launch devices at Mobile World Congress” in future as it wants to get the devices on-sale by the Easter period in Western Europe.
MWC 2018 is due to begin on Monday 26 February 2018 and judging by 2017’s P10 announcement, we imagine the Huawei P11 will be revealed the day before the show begins, on Sunday 25 February 2018. That would put it directly up against the Galaxy S9, which could also launch the same day.
We’re still some way away from finding out the official price of the upcoming Huawei P11, but we can estimate a rough price range based on previous releases.
Judging by the £449 price tag of the Huawei P9 and the slightly more expensive £569 price tag of the Huawei P10, we imagine that the Huawei P11 will cost somewhere in the range of £550 and £600. While Huawei’s flagship prices were once competitive when compared to Samsung and Apple, it’s slowly changing.
There is very little online about the design of the Huawei P11, but we can take a look at sister company Honor’s 2017 flagship, the Honor 9, for inspiration. The 2016 Honor 8 had a very similar design and feature set to 2017’s Huawei P10, including the dual-camera setup on the rear.
With that being said, the Honor 9 is the first Honor phone to ‘do an Apple’ and remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the smartphone, suggesting that it could also be removed from next year’s Huawei P11. It’s a move that Apple has faced much criticism for, and is something that many Android manufacturers have avoided thus far.
In a concept video published in August 2017 ( fave.co/2CnJIsI), the Huawei P11 is shown to have a titanium body, a full-screen display and an underglass fingerprint scanner:
However, just like Apple’s iPhone X the upcoming Huawei P11 is thought to maximize screen space on its 6.01in display by replicating Apple’s notch.
We expect it will feature the 10nm Kirin 970, which is the chip that will feature in the Mate 10 and is said to deliver 25 times better CPU performance and 50 times greater energy efficiency.
Huawei leaked the Kirin 970 at IFA 2017 ahead of CEO Richard Yu’s keynote speech where he announced the chip will be inside the Mate 10. That phone will be announced on 16 October.
We’re assuming that the P11 will get it, too. The Kirin 970 is an octa-core chip (4x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 and 4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores) with a 12-core GPU all built on a 10nm process like the Snapdragon 835 co-made with Samsung.
It’s Huawei’s first mobile AI computing platform featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) and will be open to developers. The firm says it will bring ‘AI experiences to life and changing the way we interact with our devices’.
Samsung held all the strings last year when LG was forced to make the tough decision of launching its new flagship with an older processor or waiting a few months until after the Snapdragon 835-toting Galaxy S8 arrived. It chose the former option, which has almost certainly harmed its sales against the faster S8.
So it’s no surprise to learn that LG is in a rush to update its flagship, and that it may unveil the successor even earlier than usual – potentially in January 2018. Business Korea suggests the smartphone will be unveiled at CES 2018.
With rumours of a Snapdragon 845 on board, Samsung is then the one forced to update its flagship quickly or risk lost sales in the meantime. Of course, that’s if rumours that Samsung once again holds exclusive rights on the first batch of chips are
untrue – the company claims that a Galaxy S9 launch at CES is unlikely.
The new LG G-series flagship typically arrives a day ahead of MWC, which in 2018 would put its probable launch date as Sunday 25 February.
However, The Investor claims that the LG G7 may arrive much earlier than expected, with LG announcing the new flagship in January 2018. That would place the announcement at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.
Business Korea also cites CES 2018 as the launch date for the new LG smartphone.
LG could take this strategy to get the flagship phone on the market quicker than rivals (largely Samsung and its Galaxy S9). It is also understandable that it might want to update the LG G6 earlier than expected due to its inclusion of the older Snapdragon 821 processor.
We’re speculating on the LG G7 price for now, since there are no credible rumours. Phones have increased in price recently – partly due to Brexit and the value of the pound – so it’s expected that a flagship device costs in excess of £600. The LG G6 cost £649 and we expect the LG G7 price to be about the same... and then fall quickly in the months afterwards.
It seems the phase of modular phones is pretty much over and even if it’s not, we don’t expect LG to go back to it for the G7. We’re expecting another combination of metal and glass.
We wouldn’t be surprised if the fingerprint sensor is moved from the rear of the phone to underneath the display. This is a feature we’re about to start seeing a lot more of, even in 2017 so it may well be normal by the time we reach 2018.
As well as the fingerprint scanner there is expected to be an iris scanner, and a patent has been unearthed for just such a feature that will allow you to lock the phone and protect sensitive data. Although iris scanners usually work with infra-red, LG has developed a camera that can switch from IR to a regular one.
The LG G7 is almost certainly going to come with Qualcomm’s new 7nm Snapdragon 845 chip.
Key new features offered by the Snapdragon 845 include a secure processing unit (SPU) that Qualcomm says offers “vault-like security” with the microprocessor, memory, crypto engine and random
number generator all sitting on its own power island. Performance and battery life will also improve, thanks to an octa-core Kryo 385 CPU with four 2.8GHz high-power cores and four 1.8GHz low power cores; the 845 is 30 percent more efficient than the 835 for gaming, video and AR/VR, says Samsung.
Qualcomm’s new super-fast X20 LTE modem is built-in, offering CAT 18 speeds of more than 1Gb/s, as well as an enhanced Spectra 280 image signal processor. Qualcomm has bumped up video recording potential to Ultra-HD, and added in various AI improvements. LG fitted the G6 with the older Snapdragon 821 (rather than wait for the 835) so being the first with the 845 would be a big win.
We’re expecting another dual-camera setup and decent core specs. The main question is what LG will
do with the display after introducing an 18:9 aspect ratio with the G6. There are rumours that the firm will switch to OLED for the G7.
Keeping an eye on LG Display is the best bet as the display using in the next flagship phone is typically announced in advance. This branch of the company recently showed of a 77in flexible and transparent OLED display (on page 49) so we’re wondering if some of that technology might find its way into the LG G7.
Microsoft Surface Phone
Microsoft’s Surface Phone has been the stuff of rumours for more than two years, and only a couple of months ago we believed all hopes were dashed with news that Microsoft was killing Windows Phone.
But the company has filed fresh patents for a foldable mobile device, reigniting rumours on the possibility of a Surface Phone. It’s still no more than a maybe, making estimating a release date impossible.
But if the Surface Phone does eventually see the light of day, we could see a foldable phablet to rival Samsung’s Galaxy Note X.
The Nokia 9 is thought to be an upgraded version of the Nokia 8 with a larger 5.7in 18:9 display and an extra 2GB of RAM, with some key specs now confirmed by an FCC listing. Recent images (see page 52) show it in polished orange – and it’s gorgeous, looking just like the Galaxy S8.
Nothing has been officially confirmed with regard to the Nokia 9 launch date, although My Drivers believes it will be announced in January 2018 along side the Nokia 6 (2018). That would put its release date close to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and LG G7, and as it will likely compete with those phones in terms of specs and design this does seem very plausible.
The fact it’s also recently appeared on the FCC database suggests a launch date is imminent.
The new Nokia 9 is thought to be priced at around £634 with 128GB of storage, and or £753 with 256GB.
Many of the specifications for the now on sale Nokia 8 and rumoured Nokia 9 are similar, but the Nokia 9 is thought to be larger and to feature a higher screen-to-body ratio. While the 5.3in Nokia 8 has
a 16:9 IPS panel, the 5.5in Nokia 9 could see a 18:9 virtually full-screen display, putting it in line with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6.
The FCC listing confirms that this 5.5in display is an OLED panel made by LG. It is expected to be a Quad-HD display with Gorilla Glass 5, though recently leaked images (via Slashleaks) suggest the Nokia 9 will also have glass at the rear.
The FCC also confirms a Snapdragon 835 processor with Adreno 540 GPU, 128GB of storage, Android 8.0 Oreo and a 3,250mAh battery, with dualrear cameras (12- and 13Mp) and a 5Mp selfie camera.
GSMArena has pointed out that this 5Mp selfie camera – listed as a Chicony CKACE16 module – is in
fact a dual-camera. It says the camera has autofocus and f/2.0 and f/2.4 apertures. Suddenly the 5Mp selfie camera sounds a lot more exciting.
The camera is now known to be a key selling point for the upcoming smartphone, with HMD Global confirming that Nokia’s collaboration with Zeiss optics is back on. Zeiss is reportedly “rekindling its commitment to set new imaging standards for Nokia customers”.
GSMArena has found references to new photography features not found in a current Nokia Android phone in updated code for the Nokia 5. It suggests that the Nokia 9 will indeed have a duallens camera, referring specifically to a wide-angle photography option and 2x telephoto zoom.
The Nokia 9 may additionally feature an iris scanner and fingerprint scanner, and is said to have an extra 2GB of RAM over the Nokia 8. It will likely feature IP54 waterproofing.
Also new in the Nokia 8 is 360-degree Ozo audio recording, which we’re sure will also make its way to the Nokia 9.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Set to be one of the biggest releases of the year, we’ve rounded up everything we know so far on page 62.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Mini
You may have read rumours about a Galaxy S8 Mini. However, as we approach the Galaxy S9 release date it’s looking more likely that if such a phone exists it will be the Galaxy S9 Mini, not the Galaxy S8 Mini.
There’s very little to go on right now, but one mobile leakster has suggested Samsung is working on a 5in screen phone with a full-screen Infinity Display.
It sounds a lot like a potential Galaxy S9 Mini, but it could equally be an update to the Galaxy A series. We’ll have to wait and see.
Samsung Galaxy Note X
Samsung is tipped to be creating a phone with a foldable screen, and having recently passed certification and now popped up on Samsung’s support site it could be much closer to completion than we expected. Bloomberg says the company plans to announce a foldable phone under its Note brand in 2018. Could this be the Galaxy Note X, a fierce competitor to the newly announced iPhone X?
Bloomberg reports that a foldable smartphone will debut under the Note brand in 2018. Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business at Samsung Electronics, said: “As the head of the business, I can say our current goal is next year. When we can overcome some problems for sure, we will launch the product.”
A device with the model name SM-G888N0 (previously rumoured to be the Galaxy X) has recently passed through Bluetooth SIG, the certification body that regulates Bluetooth device standards. The same model has also been certified for Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi Alliance, and has passed through the National Radio Research Agency, which is Korea’s version of the US FCC.
However, it now seems the SM-G888N0 is in fact a rugged phone rather than a futuristic device with a flexible display. We can hope for a glimpse of it as CES 2018 but this may be a pipe dream.
Yet another report claims the phone might go into small-scale production in Q4 2017, ahead of an “H2 2018 ‘clam-type’ mass production blastoff”.
However, Samsung Display Engineer Kim Taewoong claims the technology is not expected to mature until 2019. A year ago Sammobile reported that Project Valley would not be available globally at launch, but that the UK and Ireland, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Nordic countries, France and Poland were on the list. It appears the Note X will be more difficult to get hold of than we expected, though.
For months, we’ve been hearing frequent rumours about the Samsung Galaxy X, a smartphone that will
feature a folding display. The idea is that you’ll be able to use it as a smartphone, and then fold it out to full tablet size, creating a whole new mobile segment that mirrors the tablet-laptop 2-in-1 hybrids we’ve already seen from the computing industry.
But the bad news is that Samsung’s quirky folding phone might be tough to bag, with Forbes stating that “the expectation for the Galaxy X is as a limited-run device in a single territory – more than likely the home territory of South Korea”. Adding that it will be one of the rarest phones in 2018.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Premium
‘Bezel-less’ smartphones are a trend kickstarted by Xiaomi’s Mi Mix in late-2016. We’ve since seen industry heavyweights such as Samsung and LG apply the same full-screen thinking into their latest flagships, but Sony has yet to take the plunge with an 18:9 display. That could all be about to change as the company gears up to launch new smartphones at MWC 2018.
It’s worth mentioning the fact that there are loads of Sony phone rumours on the web right now, and what’s confusing everyone is they’re all discussing different upcoming Sony phones with wildly different model numbers.
If Sony follows previous behaviour, in 2018 we expect to see the following Xperia model numbers:
• H81XX: Sony Xperia XZ1 Premium (February)
• H82XX: Sony Xperia XZ1S (February)
• H83XX: Sony Xperia XZ2 (September)
• H84XX: Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (September)
We would also expect to see the XZ1 range continued at MWC 2018 (February), and the XZ2 line-up introduced at IFA 2018 (September). There will also be new XA devices with the XA1 Ultra supposedly coming with dual front-facing cameras and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner.
Our best guess is that Sony will unveil the Xperia XZ1 Premium at MWC 2018, which takes place at the end of February. The smartphone press conferences are usually held the Sunday before the show begins, which would place the Sony Xperia XZ1 Premium launch date on 25 February 2018.
The design will likely be standard Sony fare, which has a very distinct boxy shape, but with narrower bezels. The H81XX, which we expect to be the Sony Xperia XZ1 Premium, has been revealed through its user-agent profile. This reveals that it will have a 4K (3840x2160) screen and Android Oreo. Interestingly that is not an 18:9 panel, but a 16:9 display.
Specifications that have also leaked for a handset with the model number H8541 reveal an upcoming Sony flagship that features a 149x74x7.5mm body and an 18:9 panel. Given the expected model numbers at the top of this page and how close is its spec to the existing XZ Premium this may not be the XZ1 Premium, but if genuine it’s certainly a phablet model within that flagship family. Perhaps one to more closely take on the iPhone X.
Whatever this phone is it’s said to have a 5.7in 4K HDR Triluminus display with Gorilla Glass 5. Early leaked images suggest it will be an 18:9 panel, with super-slim bezels.
Core specifications include the Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of UFS storage and a 3,420mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0.
It’s odd that Sony would plump for the Snapdragon 835 over the recently announced 845, but it may be that Samsung once again holds the exclusive on this chip for its upcoming Galaxy S9. Waiting for this chip would mean delaying the release date, which Sony was forced to do last year when it announced its new
flagship at MWC but said it would not go on sale for several months. Connectivity-wise the new Sony phone will come with Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, NFC and USB-C. Running Android 8.0 Oreo it will also be waterproof (IP68).
Sony Xperia XZ1S
Yet another Sony phone with the model number H8216 has had its specs posted to Reddit, and they include the latest Snapdragon 845. As such, many spectators suggest this is the Sony Xperia XZ2, but we’re not convinced. We think it could be the XZ1S.
The model number is off and the screen is a 16:9 Full-HD panel. That’s no specification for a Sony Xperia XZ2, but it could fit an XZ1S.
Listed specifications for this upcoming Sony phone include Android 8.1 Oreo, a 5.48in Full-HD (1920x1080) Triluminos display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of UFS storage, a 15Mp f/2.0 selfie camera, a 12Mp dual-camera at the rear, a 3,130mAh battery and IP68 waterproofing. This handset measures 148x73.4x7.4mm and weighs 156g.
Sony Xperia XZ1 Premium
Renders of two unknown Sony phones have been created by
Vortex – it says based on Sony’s own design drafts, so of course they’re not the real deal. At this stage we don’t know which is intended to be the Premium. The more boxy model fits better with Sony’s usual design, though the bizarrely spaced rear cameras (one may be a depth sensor) and strange combination of matt and gloss at the back is much less ‘Sony’.
The second model, meanwhile, features a rearmounted fingerprint scanner. We’ve previously seen Sony embed these into the power button, but even better would be to embed it into the screen.
Interestingly the site suggests the Premium model will have the Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM and 128GB, contradicting the spec sheet leaked via Reddit.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
We’re still a long way from the potential Mi Mix 3 release date (likely October 2018), but it seems Xiaomi is already working on the new device if a leaked image of a rear panel is anything to go by.
This may be nothing more than a prototype, but if it sees the light of day we will see a Mi Mix with more rounded corners than ever, and a vertical dual-camera and central fingerprint scanner at the rear.
Recently leaked information suggests the Mi Mix 3 will come with the 7nm Snapdragon 845 processor.
2017’s Xperia XZ Premium
2017’s Xperia Z1
A patent application filed by Samsung in late 2016 shows some renders of what the eventual Galaxy X may look like
Rumoured image of the Nokia 9
Microsoft’s patent points to a foldable phablet
The G7 could come with a flexible and transparent OLED display. LG recently showed off a 77in screen
Google Pixel 2