By Taylor Martin | May 30, 2013 7:01 AM
Everyone has their own idea of what “perfect” means. What I, personally, see as the perfect device may be a hunk of useless junk to the next guy. And every existing smartphone – and any other device or product, for that matter – comes with its own set of flaws, large or small.
So the term “perfect” in a broad, general sense is virtually impossible. It’s very unlikely for a company to deliver one product that not one person has a single complaint about. It’s also unlikely that everyone can and will agree on that same product being great. One person might not like the way it looks, another how it feels, and another how it operates.
In terms of mobile technology, the term “perfect” is used sparingly. But we all dream of one phone that does it all – one phone that meets all our standards, blows our minds, and leaves us with absolutely no complaints whatsoever. Naturally, we here at Pocketnow all have our own idea of what the perfect smartphone would be if it were ever to exists. And below you will find us elaborate on that highly unlikely hypothetical.
Take Windows Phone, and bake in Android’s App Ecosystem and set of services – Gmail, Maps, Music. But I still want a review system for apps – Google’s is just too…
stuipid blind. I never had a problem with submitting an app for webOS, so let’s take that. And speaking of webOS, I want cards, and stacks, tossing cards away, and accessing the cards by swiping up – the whole card UI. But I still want the tiles on the home screen – you can have both. From Apple, I want Siri to have a baby with Windows Phone voice rec and put that in there. Give me Blackberry’s VKB, but make Swiftkey and option as well. Android notifications FTW.
Now Hardware – Take the Lumia 925 as a base, but give it Nokia’s color schemes. Add Qi wireless charging built-in, without the ugly hat. Same screen size, wide angle front facing camera, and rear facing 8-UltraPixel camera with OIS, and Samsung’s suite of camera software. Keep the Windows Phone buttons at the bottom and the dedicated camera button, but make the search button configurable to search engine of choice. Add in BoomSound.
Take. My. Money.
Back in 2003, I thought the perfect smartphone was just a PDA with all of the goodies built in; a detachable headset, GPS receiver, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera, screen, and software that took care of all of the day to day needs. That was great 10 years ago, but smartphones haven’t really changed much since then. They’re still slabs of plastic with a touch screen and all sorts of apps that you can install and interact with. Today’s most popular smartphones are still just sacks of apps with a touch screen for launching those apps.
The perfect smartphone should actually be smart. Google Now is now starting to get it. The smartness comes from integrating content with extensible functionality and allowing the system to understand your content and use it to be more helpful. Extensions should appear in their proper place within the UI, not just strewn about in an app drawer. Speech enabled extensions should be accessed from a single speech activation command. Camera enabled extensions should be accessible from the camera. All social related functions should be accessible from a person’s contact card.
Not only should the perfect smartphone be smartly designed within itself, but it should also be an intelligent part of a wider ecosystem. If I’m sitting in front of a desktop computer working on something that requires a larger screen and full keyboard, my notifications, text messages, and incoming caller ID announcements should appear on the screen that I’m currently looking at. If I’m at home watching TV on the couch, the same reminders and announcements should show up on that screen and announced audibly via speech if the system notices that my eyes aren’t currently directed towards a connected screen. There’s still plenty more to do!
For me the perfect smartphone would combine speed, build quality, exceptional camera, and awesome battery life. Speed is no longer an issue on Android as Jelly Bean is fast and fluid (and it was not a problem on Windows Phone and iOS to begin with). It could be plastic or aluminum, and I don’t really care about thickness, as long as it’s decent. It could run either Android, Windows Phone, or iOS, as all the apps that I’m using on a daily basis are available on all platforms.
That being said, it has to have a camera at least as good as the 808 PureView. Not that the iPhone 5, Lumia 925, or Galaxy S 4 are not good camera phones. But it’s the “perfect smartphone”, so let me dream a bit. :) And maybe throw in an optical zoom lens that expands when you fire off the camera app. As far as battery life is concerned, it needs to be enough for me to torture it for 15 hours.
My perfect smartphone doesn’t require my hands to do acrobatics to use it. Anything above 4.5″ is just too tall for my smallish hands. In terms of screen, the more pixels the better, though sometimes my eyes can’t distinguish between 720p and 1080p. The hardware has to feel high quality and special so that every time I pick it up, I feel a slight sense of delight. Then, there’s the camera. I care a lot about taking pictures, and so I need a shooter can take super crisp images with excellent contrast and color reproduction. Low light performance is sort of important, but my days of late nights at the bar are over, so it’s not critical. Battery life is important to me as long as I can get through a full day using the phone how I use it. I absolutely don’t mind charging in the evening if I’m headed out for the evening. I have a charger in every room of my house!
Ergonomics are also super-important to me. There are a lot of phones that probably look beautiful in pictures and on paper, but once you spend hours per day using the phone, you come to appreciate devices that feel like an extension of your hand by fitting into your palm and feeling nice when resting against your fingers.
Finally, software matters. And it’s the little stuff. Textures, colors, and animations should all be balanced and should not negatively impact the user experience. Sometimes I see interfaces that are so graphically-intense that it slows down the phone and causes distraction. That’s just not right. I like stock Android, but I think it’s a little too bare-bones. I like a little decoration in my UI, because I’m a human and I like nice-looking things.
I’m sure that at some point we’ve all mixed apples with oranges in our wish list. I’ve always wanted Android running on an iPhone, or on Nokia hardware, but that doesn’t mean that Android solves all my problems. The fact of the matter is, smartphones are all stacking up to be too similar to differentiate themselves lately, and those that try, end up falling on the side of just offering the next new gimmick that never takes off.
My perfect smartphone sadly doesn’t exist yet. We’re flocked with slate devices that prove that we’re in a sort of smartphone comfort zone lately. When it comes to software iOS bores me, but has all the apps I need. Android doesn’t have the best app experience, but it has them all, and still I find myself bored after all the widgets I want are arranged. Windows Phone has the potential but none of the apps that I need, and the same goes to BlackBerry.
I guess my dream is a better phone. Not just another me-too device, but a new and revolutionary operating system that is extremely power efficient and runs everything smoothly, and a phone that is made of materials that are sturdy enough to last two years, even through a pool dive. Whichever company figures out how to do that without compromise takes my money.
My perfect smartphone is the one in my hand. It doesn’t have a 1080P screen. It doesn’t have a removable battery. It doesn’t have an sdcard slot. It doesn’t support Bluetooth 4.0. It doesn’t have LTE. It does, however, do what I need it to do. I have voice and data coverage virtually everywhere. Data speeds are fast enough for me to not care about throughput any more. The battery is sufficiently large and charges quickly enough that I generally do not have to worry about losing power in the middle of something important.
Sure, there are “better” and “faster” phones on the market today, but mine suits me just fine. So, although I’m not calling the Nexus 4 “the perfect smartphone”, as of right now, it’s perfect for me.
“I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what the perfect mobile device would be – my ideal Frankenstein phone, the communicator that would meet all my criteria for excellence. As listeners of the Pocketnow Weekly will attest, the core of this mythical device is little more than a Windows Phone running a suite of Google-sourced apps.”
Chief News Editor
If we’re talking “perfect” perfect, I’m going to step outside the box a little – I don’t want a Galaxy S 4 in the shape of the HTC One, or anything quite so simple. I want a properly modular smartphone. That needn’t mean an easy snap-together arrangement, but I want to see choices of screen type, SoC, radio configuration – all that jazz – and want to be able to pull out a screwdriver and pop in some new boards if I feel like updating next year.
As for software – well, I’m of a couple minds here. Android’s the best we have ATM, but I’ve got some serious reservations about just how “open” the platform really is (and that includes custom ROM development) – I don’t mean that in the “open source” sense, but how it places limits on what you can do. What I’d love to see is a new open platform with a Linux framework that’s made by an entity wholly disinterested in anything but the development of a flexible, highly functional platform – a mobile OS built for users, not to appease content providers or app developers. I’m not sure who might bring us something like that, but I’ve got my eye on this year’s crop of upstarts (Firefox, Ubuntu, Jolla, et al) to see if any deliver.
I’ve dabbled with the idea of the “perfect smartphone” more than once to date. I’ve photoshoped some renders of what my idea of the perfect smartphone would be, Frankensteined some software together, as well as some hardware, and, in my mind, have previously created some pretty awesome things. But, that was quite some time ago and some of those “perfect smartphones” happened … in a sense. And they didn’t turn out to be perfect. (The Q10 is a perfect example of a former “perfect phone” for me.)
So I’ll spare you the long, elaborate details and get right to it. I want a phone in the chassis of a DROID DNA, sans the charging port door and with the button configuration from the Nexus 4. Keep the 5-inch 1080p S-LCD3 display, add a 3,500mAh graphene battery, a camera with the consistency and balance of the iPhone 5′s shooter, BoomSound front-facing speakers, Qi wireless charging, stock Android, and a chipset that isn’t going to turn the phone into a hotplate while playing some lightweight games.
Honestly, so long as I can message and keep up with my social accounts all day, take pictures, browse the Web, kill some time with games, and not have to charge two or three times throughout the day, I’ll be happy.
The Pocketnow Reader
Now it’s your turn, reader. Tell us what would make the perfect smartphone for you. Is it all about screen size? Battery life? Build quality? Or is it a combination of the best of everything?
Hold nothing back, and sound off below!