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The Best Gadgets Coming in 2017

Here are the likely standouts among the smartphones, VR headsets, and smart watches hitting the market this year.
January 1, 2017

Smartphone geeks have a lot to look forward to in 2017. Phones dominate our list of the six most significant gadgets we expect to see this year.

Apple iPhone 8

To mark the iPhone’s 10th anniversary this year, Apple is expected to overhaul the phone’s design. One model could swap its liquid-crystal LCD display for one made of OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) that will wrap around the gadget’s edges. OLED displays are thinner, lighter, and more flexible than LCDs. Samsung’s Galaxy Edge phones sport a similar design and have been called gimmicky; Apple appears to be trying to make the feature more useful by enabling the phone to react when you touch any of its sides instead of just one. 

Samsung Galaxy S8

As Samsung’s flagship gadget, the Galaxy S could rehabilitate the company’s reputation, which was tarnished by its botched Galaxy Note 7 recall—but only if the phone delights consumers and doesn’t spontaneously burst into flames. The upcoming Galaxy S8 is expected to be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress trade show in late February. The company has already revealed that the phone will feature a new virtual personal assistant based on technology from the startup Viv, which it acquired in October. The S8 is also rumored to pack an extremely high-resolution “4K” display, a second rear camera, and possibly an iris scanner for an added layer of security.

Foldable Samsung phone

This may also be the year that Samsung releases a foldable smartphone, a design it has been developing for years. As this 2013 Samsung concept video shows, such a device would let you read and view content on a tablet-sized screen that could convert to a smartphone-like size for convenient transport. Other companies, including Lenovo, the Chinese phone maker Oppo, and the Japanese display maker JDI have also created dual-screen and foldable smartphones, but none have been released commercially. Samsung hopes to beat them to market.

Microsoft Surface phone

CEO Satya Nadella has said Microsoft is working on the “ultimate mobile device.” What might that be? Its Surface series of laptops, PCs, and tablets is missing a phone, but one is expected to launch in 2017. You can expect it to have a metal body to match Microsoft’s other Surface devices and run the Windows 10 operating system through an emulator when connected to an external keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

HTC Vive 2 VR headset

A year ago, HTC’s pivot from making smartphones to focusing on virtual-reality technology seemed risky, but its Vive VR system has gained a solid following since its April 2016 release. For its follow-up device, HTC is expected to cut the cable that currently tethers the headset to its user’s PC. Startups have created accessories that let the headset be used wirelessly, and HTC is expected to offer a more integrated solution in the Vive 2.

Android Wear 2.0 smart watches

Last year wasn’t a banner year for smart watches. But 2017 will bring new watches based on Android Wear 2.0, an updated version of Google’s Android operating system. Because it will let users download and run apps on their watches via Bluetooth, cellular connection, or Wi-Fi, without relying on tethered connections from their smartphones, iPhone owners could use Android Wear devices. Android Wear 2.0 is in the “developer preview” phase and will be publicly released in early to mid-2017.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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