We are now in 2017 and many tech enthusiasts have been analytical in picking their smartphone of the year. But deciding on the “smartphone of the year” shouldn’t be reduced to simply selecting “the best phone.” That’s because each person has varied considerations when deciding on which smartphone is the best. In any case, if you were to choose this based on what the majority wants, then you wouldn’t have the best phone but instead “the average phone of the year” in which least number of people was upset.
The smartphone that carries such an award has to be all rounded. It must provide a reflection of itself, manufacturer and the smartphone industry in the past 12 months.
Thus, after a detailed research and testing, we have ended up with three positions for the smartphone of the year.
Position Three: iPhone 7 Plus by Apple
Having began at a low selling speed, the iphone 7 Plus quickly caught up to become one of the best selling handsets of the year even as it sparked a range of negotiations while the third party developers continue to make a huge chunk of money from its platform.
You get the slickest iOS experience from the iPhone 7 Plus, courtesy of its fast processor, dual-lens camera and improved graphical capability. Even though it has not yet to integrate OLED display, the screen has extended the capability of the LCD display as far as it can while the battery life remains acceptable due to the extra internal space. In addition, the 256GB space is welcome as it can take up any iOS app you have in mind.
But iPhone 7 Plus has its own set of failings, particularly on developing a pocket computer. Apple has been instrumental in trying to ensure safety of your personal data but each new software and hardware from the firm has been challenged in the courts worldwide.
iPhone 7 Plus biggest setback is not the phone but rather the company itself. Apple defines its own opinion on how the future smartphone has to look like. The company decides on a roundtable in the Silicon Valley and then imposes to you. If you have the intention of continuing to be their customer, you have to change your viewpoint. Consider what happened with the 3.5mm headphone jack, the default email client and the default browser for you.
This is a sharp contrast with Android’s platform that offer a variety of hardware and software with each issue.
Apple made one of the most courageous decisions in 2016 – dropping the headphone jack. Many felt bad about it even as the firm struggled to stand its ground. Most definitely the decision will accelerate the use of wireless headphones. However, many will feel under duress to make the change. Removing a port, and then immediately putting a dongle in the box to return the port suggests to me that Apple’s courage only reached as far as the opportunities for the short-term balance sheet. When Apple added the lightning option, it was in other sense admitting that most users would rather use the 3.5mm connection.
Position Two: Jolla C (Jolla)
Before you say anything, remember what we are talking about here – “smartphone of the year” and not “best smartphone.”
Ever since it was launched, Jolla C just seemed as a smartphone to contend with. Within the first six months, it was already on the lineup for the award, but time wasn’t yet over. One can consider it as one of those devices that ‘proved by negation’ what was required of a smartphone in 2016.
Its hardware may seem underpowered to you but consider the price at which it was built (170 Euros). With a SnapDragon 212 System on chip, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 2500 mAh battery, the real strength is in the software. The Sailfish software comfortably runs on these presumably low specifications.
Around one thousand handsets were released (as ‘developer editions’) and offered over the summer months – a short run that was almost instantly snapped up by the faithful. Jolla C indeed raised eyebrows in 2016. Here we have a small company that made the hardware, put in the software and then sold the machine – on its own! Sailfish OS is compact, designed for a ‘buttonless’ smartphone relying solely on touchscreen input, with genuine multitasking on top of a robust Linux-based OS.
Jolla C is all you need for your everyday smartphone functions like picking up text, diary management and light web browsing. You will of course enjoy the service offered by Jolla C but in the long run realize it is based on a vision that is history to us.
The Jolla C failing as a consumer device happens when it doesn’t recognize that so much of what defines a smartphone in 2016 (and into 2017) is not in the hardware, but in the cloud services that attach to the software on the device. Apps like Outlook & OneNote by Microsoft have become as essential part of our lives – even Android has admitted that and its recent times platform supports them. We haven’t even talked of Netflix and Spotify.
In other words, Jolla C is an eye opener. It tells us that the market is well mature that establishing a new player is not as easy as saying the alphabets A, B, C.
But in recognizing that, Jolla is moving more towards a software-based solution and recent developments show that the company has pivoted away from the brutal hardware-first market.
Position One: Galaxy Note 7 by Samsung
Hey, hey, hey… I am aware of that. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was cancelled and there is new software that automatically disables it from charging. Within a twinkle of an eye, Samsung is going to erase it from its history. But there is no question that the Note 7 would have been the best smartphone of the year before the fire incidences caused by lithium-ion battery. Remember the battery is not manufactured by Samsung and that it also caused the same problem in the Hoverboards.
Forgetting about all the upsets, let’s fast forward the Galaxy Note 7. Samsung used the same approach as Apple, get the maximum benefits offered by the hardware in all sphere.
But there is a difference here. Samsung did not depend on gimmicks to advance but rather it developed everything from scratch to give a brand new technology. It didn’t need to switch to dual-lens to improve the camera yet the Note 7 is still one of the best cameras in a smartphone.
The Note 7 also signified a mistake that Samsung admitted to have made by reinstating the SD card. The ability to use either of the two main wireless charging systems was carried over from the S6 and S7 handsets. Samsung’s message of innovation was kept on the forefront with the curved screen. As much as the dominance of this smartphone has been understated due to a slight catastrophic issue, the Galaxy Note 7 remains not only the smartphone of the year but also the best smartphone.
The South Korea-based company used this opportunity to push for changes in every area of technology. September would have been a year when Note 7 would triumph had it not been for the day-in-day-out explosions. But instead, the opposite happened. There were announcements banning the phablet from almost every airline in the sky, urgent messages to return the handsets and more.
And even as Samsung stepped into October and November, its PR team had a rough time clearing the damaged image and place focus on the upcoming Galaxy S8.
To ensure the mistakes do not take root, Samsung released software update that would keep the Note 7 from charging. Unfortunately, even that move itself has become news as more partners question the safety of the decision. The impact of the Note 7 continues to be felt, and it won’t truly be out of the picture until the Galaxy S8 sales pick up, presumably in May 2017.
The immense impact of the Note 7 on Samsung and the Android world in general cannot be understated. It did not only just affect the sales but also provided numerous lessons for every other person to learn from.
But 2016 still remains Samsung’s year.