4K screens and VR will dominate flagship smartphones in 2017

4K and VR set to dominate flagship smartphones in 2017

2016 has seen its fair share of flagship smartphones, from the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 to the Huawei P9 and HTC 10, and while we're still waiting for the iPhone 7 and Galaxy Note 6 others are already looking to 2017 and what it has in store.

One of those looking to next year is chipset design firm ARM, which has just launched its new CPU and GPU in the form of the Cortex A73 and Mali G71 for 2017's smartphones.

They offer an enticing look at the headline features of 2017's flagship phones, with the headliners being 4K displays and VR experiences.

Both chip deisgns are set up for what ARM claims will be the ultimate VR experience, and while we'll have to wait and see if that claim is valid, it does mean we can expect to see a greater focus on virtual reality from all the big manufacturers next year.

More of the same

Not that 2016 hasn't already offered up slug of mobile VR action, with Samsung's Gear VR working with its new S7 handsets, while LG, Huawei and ZTE launched rival headsets.

Our first taste of a 4K smartphone was given to us back in 2015 with the arrival of the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, although few have followed in its footsteps since. ARM expects that to change in 2017.

Manufacturers and supply chain partners want to push the VR envelope further, and the inclusion of a pixel-packed 4K display – alongside low latency – will help create convincing VR experiences on our smartphones.

The new chip designs will bring the usual performance enhancements and power efficiencies that we hear about with every new iteration – in short, expect more power and better battery life.

ARM says it expects production from chip manufacturers to start towards the end of this year, with the first handsets packing its new cores due for release in the first quarter of 2017.

Rolling back a year, we saw the Huawei Mate 8 and Huawei P9 launch in the first quarter of 2016 using ARM's current top tier chip design – giving you an idea of what to look out for in less than 12 months.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.