The year 2016 has seen a lot of development in the technology market. Like every other sector, there have been products based on new concepts, and the year has also seen the decommissioning of certain devices. This, however, only implies a promising future in the days to come. Smartphones are set to be way sleeker than they are today, faster than before and smarter than you’d expect.

This year saw the trends that newer models like Moto Z tried to set, as well as the implementation of high-end technology in budget devices. A significant move came from Apple in their latest smartphone series when they did away with the 3.5mm audio jack, making way for Bluetooth speakers. We speculate that the coming year will witness virtual reality being spread to devices targeted for budget markets, of course with enhancements made to the screen resolution, graphics processing, and user storage space. Also given the fact that smartphones are now becoming the gateway for monetary transactions at merchant outlets, the upcoming year will also pave for a more popular method of transacting online.

Based on speculation (derived from a number of reliable online sources) and opinions taken from experts in the field, listed below are a few changing trends we expect to see in smartphones in 2017.

Improved, Newer Designs 

Even with a wide array of hardware changes, most smartphones makers did not focus much on new designs for their products. From Apple to Samsung to LG, there have hardly been any design changes in their models that we could label as refreshingly beautiful, or smart. This year, however, one could expect fresh designs.

There have been rumors about Apple giving a facelift to its characteristic iPhone design, and let’s not forget the customizable capabilities offered in the G5 by LG and Moto Z. In the month of June 2016, electronic devices manufacturer Lenovo also showcased a prototype of CPlus, a flexible smartphone that could be wrapped around. Furthermore, there have been reports of engineers working on foldable displays in the research labs of Samsung and LG.

Faster Processors 

Smartphones nowadays need more computing power, thanks to the applications which keep working in the background, as well as other apps and games that need resources to execute. Needless to say, chip manufacturers are working hard to come up with hardware that will power next gen phones. Apple and Samsung have joined in the race too, manufacturing their own chipsets. The MediaTek Helio X30 is one such unit produced (featuring 10 cores) that we expect to see in the premium handsets launched next year. The Snapdragon 835 is another chipset that we hope to see in the premium handset sector.

Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality is a technology which allows the user to see 3D generated simulations of objects and environments. In the simplest terms, it means that you get to interact with your surroundings in a more personalized, and enjoyable way. However, not all models support VR (abbreviation used for virtual reality), and the next year will see a rise in the devices supporting this technology. VR makes heavy use of a phone’s resources (for example, memory and screen), and there are already some devices which offer good hardware specifications at affordable prices. It, therefore, would not be a big surprise to see VR enabled handsets coming from budget handset manufacturers.

Wireless Audio 

While all know that Apple is not afraid of experimenting with its products (largely because of the fact that they have a huge and loyal customer base), the idea of replacing the 3.5mm audio jack was nevertheless a bold move. The trend could rise in the upcoming year, and we expect to see an increasing number of manufacturers getting comfortable with this idea. There are handsets from Motorola and LeEco which already feature Bluetooth powered headsets. Now, this may add up to the extra task of recharging and replacing those batteries within, but it also implies that headsets in the future would be even lighter and hence, more mobile.

Smarter Devices 

Smartphones are becoming smarter with each passing day. Take for example the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The handset features augmented reality hardware and gives the user a far more enriched and interactive experience when compared to other phones. Additionally, with Internet of Things (IoT) making its way to more conventional devices used in households, it is only expected that our phones will be smarter, even more than we’d expect.

The concept also allows us to think that these devices would be more friendly. For example, they could learn how a specific app that you often open interacts with the hardware, and over time, this could help in forming a trend that your smartphone recognizes, giving the user a more personalized feel, as well as saving battery power.

More Storage 

Storage has always been a concern for smartphone users. Right from when internal memory was limited to a few megabytes, smartphone manufacturers have been implementing and testing various ways to give a sufficient amount of storage. Sufficient, however, in this case, has varied meanings for different users. Regardless, internal storage capacity at this time is limited to 256GB, and SD card memory tops up at 512GB. This is set to increase in the upcoming year, especially with SanDisk already showing a prototype of a 1TB SD card.

These are only a few trends we expect to rise in the year 2017. This is not an exhaustive list, instead, just a speculation of the more common trends. We also believe that quicker charging of the battery is already a concern among handset manufacturers, and thus the next year will feature devices with USB Type-C cables, allowing more power to reach to the batteries. Bluetooth v5 is another addition that we look forward to in the coming future, given the fact that this technology is almost twice as fast compared to its predecessor, and allows connections at a range four times greater than version 4.2.