2016 was kind of a weird year for mobile. We had some great new additions like the Google Pixel; we saw the Galaxy S line go from good to better between the S6 and the S7; the HTC 10 was a remarkable improvement over the HTC One M9; both LG and Lenovo had some creative ideas with their modular G5 and Moto Z, respectively; even Apple had a pretty solid year with the release of the iPhone SE and the iPhone 7. However, we’ve had some blunders as well. The Note 7 is probably the most notable, and recently reports have been surfacing stating that some Google Pixel and Nexus 6P devices have been mysteriously shutting down at 30-40% battery life. There’s also that weird phenomenon where manufacturers seem to think that removing the 3.5mm headphone jack is a good idea, but I would argue that most consumers don’t feel the same way.
Thinking about the things I would like to see happen in 2017, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s really not a whole lot on my list that I’m hoping for. I’m actually quite impressed with how far smartphones have come in such a seemingly short amount of time and feel that I really don’t have much of substance to complain about. Still, nothing is perfect, and there are still a couple of things that I would be happy to see come to fruition in 2017’s smartphone lineup.
I don't think I’ll ever feel like battery life shouldn’t be improved upon. The longer I can go without having to plug in my phone, the better. At this point I’m just happy that I can last an entire day (and often more) without absolutely needing to plug in my phone, but I would love to safely go a few days or longer without having to worry about charging my phone at all.
Although more and more OEMs seem to be hopping on board with the idea – or are at the very least rumored to – I still don’t consider the move beneficial at all. I’m hoping this situation ends up like microSD cards; maybe it is old and outdated technology, but a lot of people still find it convenient and useful.
I’ve always harbored a resentment towards Apple for their chargers. Apple has always had different chargers even after smartphone manufacturers agreed to streamline their proprietary connectors to one universal connector, micro USB. I saw the usefulness in Apple’s chargers, but as somebody who frequently switched between iOS and Android it was somewhat of an annoyance to have to carry around two sets of chargers, and then later replace an entire collection of 30-pin connector accessories with Lightning.
Fortunately, Apple seems to be embracing the new standard that the rest of the tech world is heading towards using, USB Type-C, as evidenced with its presence in Apple’s MacBook laptops. A Type-C port existing in MacBooks make me think that it’s possible for Apple to ditch Lightning in favor of Type-C in iPhones eventually, although probably not in 2017.
Aside from aesthetically, I never understood the appeal of designing a phone with glass fronts and backs. It’s bad enough when you drop your phone and it lands face down and you spend a moment or two praying to your deity of choice that the glass didn’t shatter, but it’s kind of dumb when you do the same thing for the back of your phone as well. I didn’t understand it with my old iPhone 4S and I don’t understand it with the Galaxy S7. Glass is breakable, slippery, and a fingerprint magnet. It’s just not a good material to use on the backs of phones.
I’m excited to see what 2017 brings us, but I really hope to see some of these ideas implemented as well – particularly better battery life and keeping the 3.5mm headphone jack around. Readers, what do you want to see from smartphones in 2017? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!