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Welcome to leak season

It's the end of the year, which means cold weather in North America, hangovers for the festivity-goers, and beginning of what we inside the baseball diamond refer to as "leak season." It's slippery during leak season, so bring some salt.

There's a cycle in tech media that resolves in an arc: the early inklings of a story that, initially vapor, builds and eventually coalesces into something tangible. We hear rumors that begin in an ephemeral state, eventually casting themselves in prescient rays of light that you can see but not touch. Over the months, the light hardens and becomes more coherent — photos, videos, specs — as the thing's release date approaches.

The early inklings of a story that, initially vapor, builds and eventually coalesces into something tangible.

Given that CES begins in just a few days, it's the perfect time to remind you that leak season is in full swing and, like snowfalls in the northern hemisphere, the severity ebbs and flows as we approach spring. Over the past few days, we've seen (and reported on) various aspects of phones that will likely be released in 2017: the Galaxy S8, the LG G6, the HTC whatever. We take leaks seriously, and, internally, debate the credulity of each one before reporting. We also judge the reliability of the source, too, the past success of which also dictates whether we follow the story down the proverbial rabbit hole.

At the same time, we also receive leaks, and have to decide whether or not, in the interest of protecting our sources, we publish the information. Of course, there's a business benefit to posting leaks, since the intensity of public interest in pre-release hardware often outweighs (at times dramatically) the equivalent once it has been announced. This is doubly true of devices from manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, Sony and others that have small, loyal followings: the discourse is often hopeful and the communities disproportionately loud, which tends to die down in the weeks and months following availability.

The main issue I see around leaks today is that there are no consequences for getting it wrong. Many publications weave snippets or glances of an outer casing or a spec sheet into a cohesive narrative, large swaths of which is incorrect. But once the product is announced, and gets into people's hands, all is forgiven and forgotten, and we move onto the next cycle. This is nothing new, but it's worth keeping these points in mind as we move into leak season in earnest.

Be skeptical of what you see. Much of what you see out there is either partially or entirely incorrect, and while we're not going to point at individual leaks or sources, I'd encourage you to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism while you enjoy what should be, for all intents and purposes, a piece of entertainment.

Have a happy and healthy new year, and we'll see you in 2017!

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

65 Comments
  • Great title. This is one of my favorite times of year.
  • I take seriously the leak that extra large cooling fans inside the S8 will be able to double as an inboard motor in a flash flood situation and tow you to safety (the S8 can float obviously). Good to see Samsung being cautious after the Note 7. Any other leaks I take with a pinch of salt.
  • Since CES is coming soon, I could care less for the leaks.
  • Do you mean that you couldn't care less? Because if you could care less, that means you do care about leaks... Personally, I couldn't care less. Most of them turn out to be wrong anyway.
  • I usually like your comments, but don't be one of those people.
  • Wow.
    I am disappointed. Like @wezi427 said, I usually like your comments as well. I typed that too fast, I guess.
  • Fuzzylumpkin is, however, completely correct. I COULDN'T care less is the correct way to say it. Saying 'I COULD care less' does not even make sense in the context in which it is being used. The fact that every single American says it in the incorrect way does not change the fact that it is wrong!
  • Every single one? I guess I better start saying it wrong or change my nationality!
  • Lol. That was a massive generalisation, I know, but you know what I mean - it generally seems to be Americans that say COULD instead of COULDN'T.
  • And it was generally Americans who voted Trump. Go figure.
  • Hey Americans voted for Hillary too, and Stein as well. In fact pretty much only Americans voted.
  • I'm pretty sure a lot of non-Americans (illegals) voted too....for Hillary.
  • I am aware that fuzzylumpkin is correct. It was an unintentional typo that I couldn't correct after realizing it. That doesn't change my disappointment though. I would have never thought that they would stoop down to that level, as they normally have decent, thoughtful and reasonable comments.
  • Stoop down to what level? Is this kindergarten? Are feelings hurt so easily?
  • He could be using it sarcastically. Anyway, I personally think it's petty to call someone on a grammatically error if you understood what they meant.
  • But I didn't. The meaning of what was written was polar opposite of whatever the intention was.
  • Fortunately, the Note 7 saga has left the Android community with a steady supply of salt.
  • You act like the Note series is the only thing the Android community cares about.
  • No, he's just saying it left us with a hefty supply of salt. That doesn't mean nothing else matters
  • And the very first leak usually happens the week after New Years, almost as if orchestrated by the OEMs themselves.
  • Nope. I'm gonna believe every single leak there is and then complain when a manufacturer doesn't deliver on those leaks, because internet.
  • Bwahahaha
  • I like you, haha
  • I enjoy people that start loving or hating a device solely from the leaks that come out.
  • Normally what happens is that people see leaked photos and read about possible specs, and then we'll see 300 comments of negativity. The phone is officially revealed, and then about 50% of the comments turn positive, and so the cycle repeats.
  • And most complaints come from people who never intend to buy the device in question regardless. They just complain to justify their choice.
  • If you're looking forward to a new phone by your preferred manufacturer and you end up disappointed, then I can understand that you would want to voice your opinion.
  • Hey wait -- that's me!
  • Would love to hear rumors of non-Google (Nexus/Pixel) "Project Fi" ready phones coming available. I'm loving Project Fi. Just wish there was a wider selection of phones.
  • The writing in the first paragraph was pretty good.
  • I was gonna also say someone got a thesaurus for Christmas and used it fully. The second paragraph I think we mean. Well written.
    Happy New Year to Daniel and all here.
  • Let's hope the rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S8 having no headjack is fake. Let us also hope that the rumor about the LG G6 having a non-removable is also fake, or all hell break loose!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Prepare for all hell to break loose... lol
  • It's going to be tough for the competition to top the Google Pixel!
  • Agreed... Bells and whistles aside. The Pixel is the best Android phone available IMO for me. I'm not worried about water proofing, wireless charging or an SD card slot. I'm worried about everything working well and ALWAYS working well.
  • For a certain segment of the Android community, this will be true. But the beauty of Android is the no one phone represents the entire community... Ever.
  • Hopefully the Pixel starts to sell in decent numbers. Not enticing at all for me but competition is good.
  • The pixel is the Android iPhone. Don't need that. I want expandable storage wireless charging etc etc etc not an iPhone that runs Android.
  • That's exactly what I want! The pixel Combines the best strengths of Nexus and
    the best strengths of iPhones and combines the 2.
  • I want a Kirin 960 powered phone, sort of over the Qualcomm battery issues...
  • There will be no leaks of the Note 8 because it's dead...right?
  • Uh, oh, Andrew! http://www.androidpolice.com/2017/01/03/looks-like-samsung-keeping-note-...
  • Need more salt, it's gonna get icy soon!
  • I followed baseball for many years and have never heard of "leak season"?
  • Me either. "Rumor Mill" is one I'm familiar with but sounds as terrible as "leak season" and doesn't fit the context of this article
  • Same.
  • They call it "silly season" in Formula 1. Maybe a better term here also?
  • This is for Leak Season. Copy/Paste as you see fit. No headphone jack is a deal breaker.
    No expandable storage is a deal breaker.
    Huge bezels and ugly. Deal breaker.
    No removable battery. Deal breaker.
    Can't OEMs make a thicker phone so the camera is flush and put in a bigger battery?
    (Insert item) is gimmicky.
    All phones made by (insert OEM) are crap.
    But (insert phone you own) is so much better because it has (insert a feature)
    It's 2017! All phones should have (insert feature)
    It is too big!
    It is too small!
  • You Sir/Ma'am have solved the puzzle. Well played!
  • Brilliant! Lol!
  • Is it fair to say you couldn't care less about leaks?
  • Lol. Actually, I could care a bit less, I suppose, since I seem to care a tiny bit. The fun is reading the outrage from those that feel that the makers of smartphones are targeting them personally by not making the perfect device as they see it. 😉
  • That's a fairly comprehensive list. I'll throw in one you forgot though: "Edge displays are crap, no flat screen is a deal breaker."
  • How to prepare for leak season; 1) Prepare lots of salt
    2) Keep your Google Now feed updated with new leaks
    3) Prepare for the inevitable when the "5000mAh battery in a 5.2-inch device" leak turns out to be a fluke
  • #2 could not be more on point.
  • HTC 10 is so awesome, I love the unlocked version. Sad HTC keeps losing market share. Looking forward to their next release but I'm sure no one will buy it.
  • I love the leaks; especially because I've read leaks about devices I have had in my hands that bear no rational relationship to what the leakers are describing. Fiction is great.
  • Samsung burned themselves in the foot with the Note7, and that was before the thing even had the design fault which caused the combusting - the phone just didn't get the specs/components it deserved and Samsung has signaled they intend to keep the Note reduced to being just a side model of the S, something that sadly started with the Note 6- we thought it was just a unfortunate coincidence in the manufacturing/tech advancement cycle. It's because of this that I would like to see another company take advantage of Samsung while they are down for the count. I really want to see either HTC and/or Xiaomi step up and release a phone with a stylus and all the top specs that a just-released flagship should have - and I believe HTC may do this in 2017 sometime.
    On a side note, HTC just dropped a video preview of a new device and it does not signify the button arrangement, which pleases me as they may have switched to the window/home/back configuration and not been in a position to reveal this yet (it may also been onscreen-keys only though).
    I'm a Note 3 user and will not buy a device that has the back button on the left, companies like LG, Motorola, HTC, Huawei and Sony don't realize they aren't attacking Samsung's market share, and are instead trying to steal sales crumbs off of each other. HTC is by far the most likely to change, as they have a freer corporate and development structure that doesn't hinder creativity from within. What I find interesting for 2017, is if Samsung will release a Note replacement device line at the same time the S8 is expected to land:
    *If they do this, they would then have no (now) faux-flagship to release around august-september where the Note usually does.
    *If they don't, then they leave themselves exposed to another manufacturer releasing a flagship stylus device 2 months or so ahead of the next Note, with no existing device to compete with (Unless you count Note 6s which some stores still have- which would be almost 2 years old).
  • Note 6? Note 6s? Leak Season from last year may have you confused.
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  • Note 5 w/e
  • I'm like Samsung, but, screw their backwards buttons. They are actually about the only thing that I do not like about their hardware.
  • it only made us more hungry for the note 8!
  • The s8 plus sounds like it'll be a beast I'll take mine now ,please
  • So then you mean to say that the leak that the HTC 11 will have dejarik holochess built-in may not be true?