Last month, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6S at its annual conference, pushing the smartphone game forward yet again with a host of new features, most notably 3D touch and improved photographic capability. But next year's iPhone 7 should be an altogether bigger upgrade, which got us thinking about what features the model could borrow from some of the other, lesser-known smartphones already on the market.
1. 4K is the future
The first and only thing you need to know about the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is that it's a 4K smartphone, which uses the same technology Sony pioneered in its 4K television range, only packed into a phone with a screen 5.5 inches in diameter, rather than 55 inches. You might find yourself asking who asked for this and why anybody would need 4K in a smartphone, and the answers are nobody and they don't, but nonetheless for sheer wow factor it's pretty hard not to get excited about the Z5 Premium.
The screen, with a truly unparalleled 3840 x 2160 resolution, packs in 808 ppi (pixels per inch). For comparison's sake, the iPhone 6S with its 1920 x 1080-er, clocks in at a mere 401 ppi. There are two pretty big problems with the Z5's powerful screen, the first being that almost nothing you'll be looking at on your phone is actually shot in 4K to begin with, and that the sheer density of pixels will almost definitely have an adverse effect on battery life if you're using your phone a lot for anything other than music.
Still, it's a pretty impressive piece of kit, and Apple might want to look at sizing up the resolution of the iPhone 7's screen when it launches next September - even now, some flagship rivals do a lot better than 401 ppi for less money, and the visual difference is evident to the trained eye - just don't expect 4K capability any time soon.
The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium costs a mere £629 (or $965) from Sony UK.
2. Totally OCD about your music?
Marshall have had a reputation for their high quality speakers and earphones for a while, but now the company have made their first smartphone, the London. Designed expressly with audio fanatics in mind, the phone comes with a dual stereo jack so that you and a friend can listen to music together - so no more giving them the left earphone whilst you take the right, and missing out on all of the finer details in the opposite stereo channel.
But that's not all. Dual front-facing speakers give the London what Marshall claims is the loudest music playback capability of any smartphone on the market, whilst a global equalizer app allows you to adjust the settings and save your favourite custom sound profiles. Included with the phone are Marshall's acclaimed Mode in-ear headphones. The design itself a stunner, all retro gold detailing inside a sleek black case.
If it sounds a bit too good to be true, it's not without drawbacks: the London's 4.7 inch screen is 720p resolution rather than full HD/1080p, internal memory is not great at 16GB (expandable via microSD) and the processor is a Snapdragon 410, which is pretty basic compared to what you'll find in most pricey phones. But Apple could certainly take a few of the London's classiest audio features and incorporate them into the iPhone 7 if they wanted to give their next flagship additional appeal to the devoted music fans and amateur DJs out there.
The London retails for north of $400. Get it from Marshall's website.
3. Sometimes, one screen just isn't enough...
The smartphone market in 2015 is so competitive that manufacturers are finding solutions to problems we never even knew were problems in an effort to make their product stand out from the crowd. Take the Samsung S6 edge, for instance, with its gorgeous curved screen along the right edge of the handset. LG have now gone one step further by introducing a small second screen immediately above the main screen of their V10 handset.
See that small horizontal strip above the screen? That's the second screen, a 160 pixel-tall slimline notification bar that can be set to remain permanently on, keeping you informed about incoming messages, Facebook alerts or weather updates without using any additional battery, or so LG claim. On the black model this looks pretty smart, but the verdict's out on the other colour schemes. The iPhone 7 could look at alternative ways to deliver notifications with the screen turned off, but honestly, this feels like one innovation nobody needed.
4. And sometimes, fifteen cameras just aren't enough...
The Light L16 is a fairly revolutionary digital camera the size of a smartphone which sports no fewer than 16 lenses, using up to 10 simultaneously to stitch together a single image of around 52 megapixels. Not only does this make the L16 a match for much bigger, much heavier cameras like your typical digital SLR, it allows you to choose depth of field after the image is taken, all ten of the lenses having taken the photograph at a slightly different depth of field.
Obviously this is super impressive - which it should be, considered it's priced at around $1300. Technology this sophisticated doesn't come cheap, and it would also be very hard to pack anything so advanced into the much slimmer profile of an iPhone, but there would be nothing to stop Apple developing a similar, scaled down system using two or three lenses rather than sixteen, which theoretically could fit into the iPhone 7 without expanding the exterior dimensions.
So - which features would you want incorporated into the iPhone 7? Insane screen resolution, a pro camera or sixteen, a tiny second screen or enhanced music playback? Leave a comment and share your thoughts below...