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5 smartphones to watch out for in 2016

Expert Reviews logo Expert Reviews 04-01-2015 Seth Barton

With a new year upon us, I thought I'd run down the handsets that are going to make the biggest splashes in 2016. Whether you're looking forward to your next straightforward upgrade or thinking of jumping ship to a different manufacturer I'll summarise what's coming when and whether it's worth getting excited about. We've gone with the flagship handsets here, as those generally attract the most attention before release and we've stuck to the big guns too, rather than include niche or unusual designs that will probably never see the light of day (we're looking at you Project Ara).

Can't wait for a new handset? Here are the best smartphones you can buy today

1. Samsung Galaxy S7 - March/April

Samsung's handset plan for 2016 is as predictable as Apple's. The Samsung Galaxy S7 will follow the current Galaxy S6 as night follows day. The timing of the announcement might be edged forward a little in the year but I can't see the phone being available much before March even then and I wouldn't be surprised if it came out in April as usual.

With the move from plastic to a metal chassis handset in 2015, I'm not expecting another radical redesign this year. A bigger question is whether Samsung will continue to produce standard and curved screen variants of its flagship handset. Personally, I'd like to see the current design tweaked to make it less slippery, as it's very hard to get a grip on at present.

There's also talk of a 4K display, but given that there's no support for such resolutions in Android at present, which caused problems for us in the 4K Xperia Z5 Premium, I can't see that happening quite yet. Other rumours point to a return to a Snapdragon chipset, at least in some regions, as Samsung again confuses us with multiple iterations of the same handset - see Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Olixar case render© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited Samsung Galaxy S7 Olixar case render

2. iPhone 7 - September

Apple will undoubtedly continue its usual tick-tock strategy of handset releases. 2014 gave us a the iPhone 6, 2015 brought the updated iPhone 6S and so 2016 will provide a whole new hardware design in the form of the iPhone 7. I'd be amazed if the new phone wasn't called that (although I suppose iPhone Air is a possibility) and it will certainly be launched in late September, as in previous years.

Not much is known about the new design yet, but some rumours are circulating. There's much talk of the phone getting rid of the headphone jack, using Lightning port and wireless headsets instead. This could, in turn, allow the phone to become slimmer still, although battery life could be a concern. There's also talk of a camera with multiple sensors to improve image quality and focus speeds.

iPhone 6C rumours hero shot© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited iPhone 6C rumours hero shot

3. HTC One M10 - April

HTC will also be releasing a new Android flagship in the spring. Unlike the Galaxy S7 though, the new HTC handset is due a big design overhaul from the look-a-like One M8 and One M9 models. In fact, given the update, I'm not even sure the name M10 will be used. We were most impressed by the recent HTC One A9 and hope that some of that design is moved across to the new phone.

One thing that looks certain for the new phone is the inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, which should improve performance and battery life across the board. Other than that though it's hard to know what to expect, the A9 used an AMOLED screen so I'm hoping for one here too, while a different approach to the camera is in order too, after the last two failed to impress.

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

4. Surface Phone - August

Rumours have been circulating, mainly coming from Windows Central, that Microsoft is working on a Surface-branded phone running Windows 10. The new handset has now been placed under the development of Panos Panay, now in charge of the Devices Division at Microsoft, and is completely separate from previous work done by Nokia on such hardware.

With the success of the Surface Pro 4 and the allure of the Surface Book (yet to be released in the UK), such a phone could easily be the most exciting handset of the year, and not just because it would be something truly new. Rumours point to an Intel-designed chipset along with the usual magnesium alloy chassis. There's little more to say at present except I'm, very excited about the idea of this handset.

© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited

^ This mock up is a pretty exciting idea of how it would look Credit: Nadir Aslam

5. LG G5 - March/April

Yes, it's another Android heavyweight and the only phone here to have a plastic-bodied predecessor in the form of the LG G4 (though you could get a stylish cowhide rear panel). With everyone else moving to metal will LG follow suit? It would certainly be odd to be the last plastic flagship around but if the design is right LG might get away with it.

Again rumours point to a move to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, though if everyone listed here switches to it, you might find a shortage of handsets to go around, so order early. It's an attractive proposition with big increases in performance and battery life. The camera doesn't need any extra work from the LG G4, with its optical stabilisation and laser autofocus. Not a lot to go on here, admittedly.

For all the latest read our LG G5 release date, price and specs rumours

LG G4 Ceramic model© Provided by Dennis Publishing Limited LG G4 Ceramic model

We'll be updating this article as rumours develop and new handsets are revealed.

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