With 2017 coming to an end, it is time to wrap up the smartphone launches we saw this year. 2017 was the year of Displays, and it saw a huge number of phones improving on it. Possibly the most amazing thing was the price range in which these bezel-less phones were launched.
We saw phones go for nearly a thousand bucks yet with screen-to-body ratios less than phones that cost half as much. We also saw a huge diversity of devices from new companies.
Here, we will wrap up the list of phones, providing you with the names of the best phones in each price range. Let us start with the flagship devices.
2017 Flagship Devices
This year we saw the flagship phones of most companies tip-toe towards the thousand dollar mark. Which phones are actually worth it? There are many, but here are the best phones between S$600 and $1000.
Earlier this year, we witnessed the launch of the Galaxy S8 Duo. They shocked the whole world with their looks, and how they strayed away from the company’s DNA. They ditched the rather large bezels and the home button.
These additions and omissions changed the whole design of the phone, and it really attracted many new buyers. These changes also carried on to the later flagship, and we will discuss them later.
All in all, the specifications of the phone were beastly, and it was the first to introduce the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in 2017. There was a slightly more powerful version of the phone available in Non-US models that came with the all-new (at the time) Samsung Exynos 8895 Chipset. It is optimized for the Galaxy Phones more than the more universal 835.
Both variants came with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of Internal Storage. Some countries were able to get their hands on a more beefy 6GB of RAM and 128GB of Internal Storage. Even with the 4GB RAM, the phone was more than adequately performing.
However, the category which attracted most buyers was the display of this phone. They are right to be attracted by it because it is just too damn good. The 1440p 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch Super AMOLED Panels are seen to be the best even after 8 months.
In terms of battery, the Galaxy S8 was nothing special, while the larger variant had the lead in terms of battery size and lifetime. It managed to be one of the longest lasting phones this year, out shadowed only by a few other phones.
Overall, the Galaxy S8+ would be my pick of the two, since I am the guy that loves a bigger display, especially when it is such a small form factor. The only complaint that most people would have with these phones is the fingerprint scanner locations. That is indeed true for most people, for me, though, it was fine. The S8 felt completely natural, while the S8+ was a bit less comfortable. However, both of them felt completely normal to me, and neither was unusable.
To make things short, the Galaxy Note 8 is a Galaxy S8+ with an S-Pen and another camera. The only reason anyone would buy the Note 8 over the S8 or S8+ is the S-Pen. For 2017, the S-Pen has added functionality, and you cannot get most of them, even the Software-based ones on other phones. This makes the Note 8 the only phone for people that look for a stylus with proper functionality.
The added camera also had a fairly large improvement over the S8+ and provided a portrait mode and some other features that make it a better buy over the S8 for Camera Geeks.
In fact, the only thing holding back people from buying the Note 8 is the price. The phone is nearing the $1000 mark, and we really do not like that. I discussed the matter of $1000 phones here, so go check it out to see what we think about phones rising to such exuberant prices.
The phone still has a lot of features, but only serious users would make the most out of them. Those same people are those that would buy such phone and would be willing to pay so much for it.
Unlike the rest of the phones launched, the “+” version of the phone does not indicate the size of the display or battery, only the RAM, and Internal Storage. The LG V30 launched back in August has the same specifications as any other 2017 Flagship.
The phone has an 18:9 display, Snapdragon 835, 4/6 GB of RAM, Dual Rear Cameras, and all other good stuff. There is also a thing that is simply disappearing from other phones that just works better in the LG V30. That would be the 3.5mm Headphone jack. In the V30, the setup includes a Quad-DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). This makes the V30 the best smartphone in the Audio Department.
But we are not saying that it does not excel in any other areas because it actually does. The V30 has an outstanding camera setup on the back, capable of taking wide-angle shots with its secondary camera.
The display of the V40 is also commendable. The first time LG used OLED in their phones was this year, and it has fared really well. It has great potential as it is not lagging in any area. The display of the LG V30 is, in my opinion, on par with that of the Galaxy’s, which are simply dominating the display department.
Everything else on the phone is quite impressive, and there is no particular area where it lags. In fact, I can easily say that the V30 is the most underrated phone of this year. The price that you pay for it is not too high, yet it is on par with the rest of the more expensive flagships.
Earlier this year, we saw the successor of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. The phones were improved this year in areas they lacked last year. Those were mainly design and display, as well as some other smaller things.
Still, we were disappointed with the fact that we lost the headphone jack, and that the water resistance rating is behind the rest of the phones we saw this year.
However, the XL version of the phone was finally given a better screen-to-body ratio. That is all good, but then, the display panels proved problematic. A number of them have shown some color shift issues, while other units showed premature burn-in.
Still, the phones were especially great in one very important department: cameras. Both phones have identical camera hardware and software, and both are great. So great, in fact, that they were given the highest score by DxOMark at launch. The most amazing part is the ability of the phones to take beautiful portrait shots with only one camera. This results in both the front and rear camera can take equally great shots in portrait. The feature works especially well, and the borders are really accurate.
We saw the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro from Huawei not long ago, and they were rather controversial in some ways. The differentiation between the regular and Pro model is confusing. The regular model comes with a higher resolution display, but with a lesser technology.
Both devices come with an all-new Chipset designed by Huawei’s in-house HiSilicon. The Kirin 970 specializes in Artificial Intelligence, on which it is based. Unlike other phones, which have a Chipset built around high performance, and then has AI capabilities added to it, the Kirin 970 is built to excel at AI, and then has the great performance added to it.
That does not mean that the performance is compromised in any way because it really is not. It might not be able to out-perform the Exynos 8895, Snapdragon 835 or the Apple A11 Bionic, but it is plenty powerful enough for any task you might want to throw at it.
The cameras are also really good. In fact, DxOMark gave it the second highest score, falling behind the Pixel 2, and tied with the iPhone X. The design is also really attractive, and unique color options make for a compelling device offering.
The iPhone X, also known as the phone that made paying $1000 for a phone OK, was launched in September and caused a lot of controversies. It was the most expensive phone ever made by a mainstream company.
Despite the very futuristic look, the screen to body ratio of the iPhone X is still lower than most of its direct competition. This is due to the thick bezels all around. This simply gives the illusion of a bezel-less phone, even though it is not. The notch stood out, and while it is ugly, it is cool in my opinion. It is a symbol of what we are able to do nowadays.
Spec-wise, the iPhone X is easily the most powerful phone of 2017. The Apple A11 Bionic is a monster of a chipset and simply blows all the other chipsets on the market out of the water. The performance is absolutely stellar, and it is like nothing else on the market.
Another really exciting feature of the iPhone X is its video shooting capability. While it might not be the most stable, it is certainly the highest quality. 4K @60 fps is unlike anything we have ever seen on a phone. The photos are also very good. The portrait mode is very high quality and really shows the depth of the scene.
The iPhone X also introduced Augmented Reality capabilities, something we do not see very often. New games can be played using the phone’s AR capabilities, and more apps and services are under development. The use of AR does not seem all that useful to me just yet, but we are yet to see more uses.
When Xiaomi launched the Mi Mix last year, it took the world by storm. Even though it did not sell well, it set the bar high for all other companies. In other words, Xiaomi is to be credited for all of 2017’s display madness.
However, once we saw the second generation of the Mi Mix 2, we were disappointed. It just looked so “normal” and just blended in. The original Mi Mix set the expectations very high, and we were expecting something a lot more unique. It excelled in many areas and improved a lot over the previous generation. The problem is that we are just missing the core experience of the original phone.
The specs of the phone are very much 2017, though. The Snapdragon 835 helped power the phone through its rather heavy software skin fairly easily and smoothly.
The phone is great, do not get me wrong. It just does not immediately stand out in any particular category. The only thing that makes it special is it’s build materials. Ceramic is a very strong material and is no less premium than all the other phones. The problem is that you would not know it unless you know it.
All in all, I just wish that the Mi Mix 2 lived up to the Mi Mix name. We wanted more insanity, more craziness. On my opinion, the Mi Mix 2 is one of those phones that simply did not live up to the hype it has generated prior to its launch.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are in a weird position this year. Despite being really good phones, they have been heavily out shadowed by the iPhone X. The internals of the 8 and 8 Plus are the same as those of the iPhone X, which makes them just as powerful as the most powerful phone of this year.
They built on the design of the iPhone 7, which built on the design of the iPhone 6S, which in turn was the exact same as the iPhone 6. In other words, the design is a bit old. Still, they managed to make them compelling enough for many people. The price is a lot more reasonable than the other iPhone, and they have some relatively new features.
No features are unique to this duo of phones, but some are new to iPhones. The main thing we are talking about is Wireless Charging. In fact, apart from the glass back, it is the only thing that has changed with the iPhone 8.
The iPhone 8 is the only flagship phone I think of with such screen size. 4.7” is a dying breed. In fact, anything below 5” is unheard of nowadays. It is really compact, but when you think about a phone like the Galaxy S8, which has a 5.8” display, and comes in almost the same form factor, it gets ridiculous.
All flagship phones in 2017 have at least %80 screen-to-body ratio, and a mid 60’s number is just too low. Even budget and midrange phones have reached the 70’s, and in my opinion, %65 is not acceptable in 2017.
When you think of a 2017 flagship, Nokia is probably not the first company to come to mind. The Nokia 8 plans to change that though. The phone is a high-spec device with some simple new features. The problem is that the phone, just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 does not stand out.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, Dual Cameras, those are all things we have been seeing all year. It simply is not special, and it could have been and must have done more to bring Nokia back into the Smartphone Game.
Another thing that is keeping the Nokia 8 from truly standing out is that display. It simply is not good enough and does not meet the 2017 standards. It is not the quality, it is the design. The big top and bottom bezels make it look like a 2016/2015 flagship, rather than one of 2017.
It is a good buy for its price, but you can do much better. There is no reason to buy the phone unless you really value the Nokia brand, and you are really nostalgic about it.
This phone was a big disappointment for most of us. Even though it came with great specs, it was heavily underthought. The phone had a design that did not match the level of the 2017 standard.
It had big bezels, boxy design, and was really repelling. There were some quality issues as well, mainly regarding the display. There was some light bleed in some units right next to the secondary display.
The phone also ditched the headphone jack, even though it obviously had room for it. This is the reason behind the “poor use of space” slogan that the consumers/ reviewers gave it.
All in all, you could have done better, and the same can be said about HTC. This was truly a bad phone, and I personally would not recommend it to anyone.
The Razer Phone was really great, and I believe that it lived up to the hype it caused. Launched in late 2017, it has all the flagship specifications you would expect for 2017. 8GB of RAM made it into the phone and a beautiful display.
While it lacked the bezel-less display and the 18:9 Aspect Ratio, it still has a great display. With a 5.7-inch display and 1440p Resolution, the display on the Razer Phone is absolutely Stellar. The reason the bezels are not a big problem is what they contain. Dual front-facing stereo speakers. Those really add to the immersion when playing games on the go.
The design is different, and you will either love it or hate it. The boxy design of the Razer Phone is unique and high quality, even though it is based on the Nextbit Robin, not exactly a very high-quality phone.
It has a sizable 4000mAh battery on board, and it works it out really well. A full day of use should be achievable, no problem. You might even be able to squeeze 2 days out of it if you use it lightly.
2017 Midrange Phones
This year, we saw a huge improvement in the midrange smartphone market. We were blessed with great phones at low prices, some with insane value. Let’s take a look at the absolute best mid-range phones of this year.
In the second quarter of 2017, we saw the OnePlus 5, the successor to the OnePlus 3 and 3T. The phone, just like its predecessors, has the latest Qualcomm Chipset, beastly specifications all around, and the most affordable price you can pay for such specs.
It also had the option of 8GB of RAM, which is absolutely insane and is in laptop territory. It combined all of those great specifications with a fairly sizable battery and a 5.5-inch FullHD Display.
For 2017 standards, the display is the only weak point for the OnePlus 5. However, this is exactly what the OnePlus 5T aimed to change, which it successfully improved. The 5.5-inch Panel was replaced with one that has a diameter of 6-inch and an aspect ratio of 18:9. What it does not have is large bezels, which is great to keep the phone in shape for 2017.
The 5T also made the 8GB of RAM standard, and that is about it. No other changes were made to the hardware, though there were some small yet subtle design changes. The fingerprint scanner was moved to the back of the phone, and the camera hump has been given some curvature.
The 5T keeps the things we liked about the OnePlus 5, which have to be the cameras, software experience, and most importantly for a OnePlus phone, the price. Priced at around $550 at launch, it is half the price of a 256GB iPhone X.
The Mi 6 really caught me by surprise. I was not expecting it, and certainly was not expecting a device that competed with the OnePlus 5 so well in every category.
It shipped with a Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM and a 5.2-inch FullHD display. The aspect of the phone that attracted me the most was the design and build quality. The curve on all sides of the phone is really attractive and makes handling the phone a breeze.
The Glass and metal design also add to the premium feel while holding the phone. All packed in a nice package, you really cannot go wrong with it. The only problem, in my opinion, would have to be the software experience. It is too bloated for my taste, but of course, you can easily change that with a launcher.
Galaxy A Series
At the very beginning of 2017, we saw the Galaxy A Series. The 2017 versions of the A3, A5, and A7 were unveiled in January and really upped the game for their prices. They were filled to the brim with features you would only see on flagships.
The most important feature simply has to be the IP68 Water and dust resistance rating. They were pretty much the only phones at this price to even offer an IP rating, let alone an IP68.
Of course, the specs are very much midrange. Exynos 7880, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of Internal Storage make them worthy competitors to the rest of the midrange smartphones out there.
However, you should not buy any of them now. You should wait a month or two. The reason is that the replacements to those phones, the Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus are literally right around the corner.
They now come with infinity displays, which makes them a huge upgrade to last year’s model. Still, if you do not want to get the upgraded model, there will obviously be significant price drops on last year’s lineup.
The Honor 9 is a phone I was eagerly waiting for in 2017. The Honor 8 was my favorite phone of 2016 at its price range, and that made me even more excited to see the next iteration. It sure did not disappoint, and man is that one good looking phone.
The Honor 9 came packed with the HiSilicon Kirin 960, manufactured by Huawei. It is a great, lively chipset with plenty to offer. 6GB of RAM also made their way into the phone, making it one of the most powerful devices in its class.
The design took quite a bit of inspiration from the Honor 8. The only changes are the curved glass back and the position of the Fingerprint scanner. This is good news because the back of the Honor 8 was a beautiful random reflection pattern. It made it’s way to the Honor 9, thankfully.
The Nokia 6 is in sort of a weird position this year. It is a great phone for its price from a reputable brand. While it might seem slow and cheap, the Snapdragon 430 is actually really good. It flies through the UI smoothly and is surprisingly good at gaming.
Honestly, holding the phone in my hand for the first time and using it for a bit made me realize just how good cheap phones are getting. It felt premium and snappy, and the display was more than good enough. I would prefer a panel slightly brighter and larger, but the display currently on the phone does the job pretty well.
The overall experience the phone provided was very smooth and in my opinion, better than the price might suggest. This a good indicator of where Nokia is going with their smartphones, and they might just be on their way back up.
Those were the best phones to come out of this year. However, you cannot make your choice out of all of those phones. To help you make up your mind, we will give out 8 awards to 8 phones, so here you go:
This has to go to the Google Pixel 2/ Pixel 2 XL. Great, sharp photos, great detail, color reproduction and portrait mode. Available on the front and rear cameras of both devices.
You simply can’t deny the OnePlus 5T. Flagship Specifications for half the price. Great design and build quality, well thought out and most importantly, very affordable.
2017 was the year of the bezel-less display, making the choice much harder than it would have been normally. The award goes to the Samsung Galaxy S8+. Absolutely beautiful design and display, rounded corners, curved edges, and 1440p resolution. Cannot go wrong with this phone.
Most Feature Content
There are really only a few phones that can actually compete in this category. The award has to go to the Galaxy Note 8. Huge display, headphone jack, S-Pen, Iris Scanner and much more. This cannot be denied, the Note 8 is a beast in that regard.
Longest Battery Life
There is a huge difference between Battery Size and Battery Life. Battery life is how much the phone lasts on a charge, and the phone that lasts the most is the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Huawei really could not have done this wrong, with a 4000mAh battery.
To me, this one is easy. The most underrated phone to come out of 2017 is the LG V30. It has a great camera, great software, great build quality and great display. The problem is that no one is buying it.
The biggest disappointment of this year was the HTC U Ultra. This was a truly bad phone in my opinion, and I would not buy it under any circumstances. Poor value, low quality, bad value for money, you really can not go right with this phone.
There were many surprises this year, but the one that really got me was the Razer Phone. A gaming centered Android phone was a great idea, and it worked out. Buttery-Smooth 120Hz Display, latest and greatest specs, it was a shocker to me, despite the leaks.
What Would We Buy?
So there are all of those phones! Which of those would we choose? Why? Here is what we think!
My pick out of the huge launches of 2017 phones is controversial, and many people might disagree. However, that does not stop me from declaring the LG V30+ as my favorite phone of this year. Despite being a Samsung Fanboy, I have to admit it, the V30 is just amazing. The reasons to that are rather unconventional. The thing is, I would better describe it as a rebranded, improved upon Galaxy S8+.
The reason I like that is because of my want of something more unique. The V30+ has a gorgeous display, beautiful design, and a huge feature set. The V30+ really is my cup of tea, as a power user, and as an Audiophile. Everything about it suits my needs, and it does not lack in any area. The phone I would have picked is the Note 8, but the design of the back put me off. The V30+ is the best phone of this year in my opinion, despite the fierce competition.
We saw some really great phones this year and choosing one of them is really tough. Every flagship we’ve seen is better in some way or the other. I think the Oneplus 5t will prove to be the MVP here when it comes to overall score. The phone seems to be perfect in terms of price and the features provided for the same. The camera is really great. The company adapted the “bezel-less” trend led me to choose this phone. The best part about the phone is that the headphone jack is still there!
The iPhone X is definitely not worth a thousand bucks at the price point. But then After using It for the last couple of weeks, I can guarantee that this is one beautiful phone that has spoiled me for good. I love the gestures, the performance on every app as I use it and how I never had to think about app crashes or dropped frame rate. The camera is spectacular and though the Pixel camera app just kills the competition, the iPhone X camera is pretty good too.
The iPhone X will iOS 11 is reported to have many bugs but the latest beta fixes them all. And at any point, having the files app has been a very big help with a lot of productivity tasks. AR is perfect on the iPhone X on iOS 11 but then the applications are still getting ramped up. The form factor of the iPhone X makes It the best for one-handed use plus it maintains the perfect screen size and utilise that screen real estate.
Choosing a phone to be the single most supreme offering of 2017’s smartphone market is nearly impossible for someone like me, who falls in love with every device he sees. But if I had to choose one device for the championship throne, it would be the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Any phone lover will be aware of the sheer power and elegance of the Note 8, and the spectacular comeback that Samsung pulled off after last year’s setback with the Note 7. The Note 8 is almost perfect. The iPhone X was a very close candidate for this position, but I decided to crown the Note 8 as the king of 2017 smartphones just because of the feature set.
The Note 8, true to its family heritage, has every feature imaginable in a smartphone to offer. If only the fingerprint sensor was a bit easy to reach with my relatively smaller hands, I would buy one for myself.
Some people find the Note 8 to be a little boxy for their pocket. But that’s the whole point! The Note is not a shy, gentle device at all. It’s a monstrous, performance powerhouse with brawn and brains to boot. Almost everything about the Note 8 is fascinating to me and hence, it’s my choice for the Best phone of 2017.
If I were to choose only one smartphone released in 2017, it would hands down be the Google Pixel 2 XL. It is not perfect by any means – display issues (though a bit overblown), cannot be accepted at this price point and it’s not the best-looking device either (and yeah, RIP headphone jack). But the software and camera on this thing make me look past every other flaw it comes with.
Not only the Pixel 2 XL gets latest and greatest in terms of software, it flies through tasks no matter what we throw at it. Both front and rear cameras just crushed the competition, that too without fancy dual-camera setups. Front facing speakers, Now playing, bigger battery, Active edge, AR stickers….the list just goes on. Even though OnePlus 5T seems to be a more practical pick, given a choice, I’d go with the Pixel 2 XL.
It is really difficult for me then to choose just one phone among all the brands, such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei. I also cannot forget about OnePlus, Google and LG, and the return of Nokia. I have to admit though, that a couple caught my attention more than others this year: the fine camera on the Google 2 XL, the cinema-style video on the LG V30+, and what about the bezel-less OnePlus5T, all superb. The new Apple iPhone X with that new (about time) look, display and design, wow, almost got me converting to IOS, almost.
However, I have to say that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 checks the majority of my boxes. The Note 8 is ideal for my necessities, by being a productive phablet-like phone, but also super for movies, YouTube, and gaming, with that fine 6.3” display you won`t be let down. Samsung once again offered a phone that has a Super-AMOLED display which turns heads, a fine snapper on-board launching the dual-lens on Sammy`s phones for the first time, 6GB RAM and hey that S-Pen, upgraded with, I would say magical features. The S-Pen always offers that extra edge on competitors, for those consumers who use it that is.
Maybe it won`t be everyone`s cup of tea, with its lengthy body, but that won`t be an issue for my big hands. Is it perfect? Of course not. Ill-placed fingerprint scanner, while I would have also added stereo facing-ya speakers, to name but one. As I mentioned though, it comes the closest of all phones released this year to accommodate my requirements when assessing a phone.
Now that you know what we would buy out of 2017, we want to know what you would buy! Tell us in the comments below, we would love to know what you think!