It’s no doubt that 2016 is going to go down as a memorable year for smartphone technology. Taking into account the good, the bad and the explosive, there was not a dull moment this year. Now that it’s winding down, and since there don’t seem to be any major releases set for the near future, it’s time to start formulating an idea of which OEM is going to come out on top of the year 2016.
When speaking about how the year as a whole went for Samsung, we tend to say “exploding Note 7’s aside”, but we’re going to take this fiasco into account full force. The beginning of 2016 was a homerun for Samsung. The launch of the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge Sky rocketed the Korean OEM to the top of 2016. Back when we thought that there was actually going to be a “Note 6” Samsung asserted its dominance over other Android OEM’s. The final nail in the coffin for other OEMs’ was going to be the Note 7. A device that was the stuff that dreams are made out of, the Note 7 did nothing but boost Samsung in every way possible. Not long after, the whole ordeal with the combusting units caused the sudden, yet not all too unexpected death of the device. Taking it into account, does Samsung’s other devices have what it takes to save the company from having a failing year?
2016 for LG could potentially be 2016 for Samsung, only in reverse. The LG G5, along with the Galaxy S7 made a huge noise during the Mobile World Congress in February of this year. These two phones were going to go toe-to-toe with one another, but the G5’s questionable design and all round poor reception dashed to bits any chance of that happening. To most, the G5 was a flop, and it’s implementation of modularity only sweetened the deal. In essence, the G5 is a really good phone, but its faults gave it a bad rep, ultimately causing LG immense losses. But the V20 is soon to be unleashed and there seems to be some potential to turn this year around. The G5 was an experiment in several ways, but the V20 is LG’s way of getting back to what it knows best. The company actually dodged a bullet, the V20 was potentially going to get modularity, but the back lash of the G5 put a stop to that. It’s a feature packed phone that focuses on being everything you want it to be. LG has a chance to make a name for itself in 2016. It’s a small chance, but only time will tell.
Apple is a company that focuses on quality over quantity. There have been very few releases this year from the company (but then again, this isn’t different from other years). The thing that Apple is good at is making large waves with the few devices is launches. Being ultimately quite this year except for the launch of its iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7 and of course the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple knows when to strike. The main story deals with the iPhone 7. The next iteration of the iPhone brand brought the usual horde of iOS fans funneling in to Apple stores and mall worldwide. What people seem to be drooling over more is the Plus variant. This singular release has put Apple in a very desirable position for top of 2016.
If you look up the phrase “meteoric rise” don’t be surprised if your results consist of nothing but images of the Huawei logo. Starting from later in 2015, Huawei has been building itself up, launching stellar device after stellar device and dethroning Xiaomi as king of the Chinese smartphone market in the process. The company has had a number of notable release this year including their flagship P9, the Honor 5x and the recently released Honor 8. The Huawei has a strong task force of quality devices under its belt for 2016, and it’s still ushering its way in to the minds of consumers. Even thought it’s still scrambling to have more of a presence in the American market, it’s still a great contender for best of the best for 2016.
HTC was much like Apple in the sense that it had very few launches, but those launches caused waves. Most notable of its launches is the highly regarded HTC 10. HTC has suffered from immense losses over the past couple of years. By the end of 2015, it was looking pretty dire for the company. Fortunate for them, they did the smart thing and waited. Missing out on launching during MWC seemed like an odd move, but judging by all the attention that the S7 and the G5 got, it couldn’t have been a better move. The 10 launched mere months afterwards, though, and it was such a great phone, that people marked it as HTC’s return. HTC then goes on to manufacture the Pixel phones for Google. The design of the Pixel phones is a design you either love or hate. There was inspiration from the HTC 10 in the design of the Pixel. Bringing the latest specs and the latest version of Android, this device has its appeal. HTC, unfortunately, isn’t getting credit for building the phone, but those of us in the know about smartphones know who to praise.
Google’s launched a lot of fun and interesting stuff this year. While it’s true that Google’s technically not the OEM behind the Pixel phones, the fact that the company’s marketing them as “Made by Google” puts the company on most peoples’ minds when they think about the Pixel, so they might as well be the OEM. One product that Google did build is their Pixel C. A fine device overall, the Pixel C was going to be the most premium version of Android presented on the tablet form factor. It had gotten mixed reviews, as the software didn’t seem properly optimized for the larger screen, but it’s still a compelling device. Moving away from Pixel products, Google Home seems to be the start to a very interesting and inexpensive concept on the “Smart home”. It’ comes with the popular Google Assistant and can do a little of everything. It’s going to be a rival to Amazon’s Alexa. Day Dream is also something to look forward to. A far departure from cardboard, this VR headset is set to rival the likes of Samsung with its design and the fancy little remote. These are just a few launches thus far, and now that this whole Made by Google thing is going on, we can only expect more exciting products from Google (and maybe other companies).
So, who’s your pick for the top OEM of 2016? These companies brought out the big guns this years in the race to snag the crown. A robust year indeed, 2016 showed companies rise, fall, misstep, launch questionable devices, launch practically the same device, get back into their prime, quit manufacturing their own devices, strengthen the premium mid-ranger smartphone market and much much more. This does nothing but make us all excited for 2017. So again, who do you think is the top of 2016? Let me know in the comments below.