Thursday, 4 October 2012

What I really want from a mobile phone

    Every week it seems, there comes a new smartphone launch. Despite the fact that they are increasingly becoming identical black slabs, we're told that this one is different, special somehow because of one of its new features. It has an extra few mm of display width, it's 0.5mm thinner or it has an extra core in its processor.

    All very nice, but y'know what? I don't give a toss.

    For me, a technophile, to say that indicates that for me at least the multi billion dollar mobile phone industry has failed. Its products are all pretty much indistinguishable, but more importantly for me they don't do what I want from a smartphone.

   My perfect smartphone must have these features:
  • Nuke-proof hardware. Tough enough to survive my pocket, clever enough to conjure a signal out of almost nothing.
  • A useful and popular operating system. And a realistic chance of OS upgrades over its life, if I buy a phone from you that gets Osborned you simply will not get another chance. I'm looking at you, Motorola, I haven't forgotten my DEXT with its official support for Android 1.5 only.
  • No stupid manufacturer front ends or resource-consuming bloatware.
  • A QWERTY keyboard. Hey phone companies, I've got NEWS for you! We don't all have tiny fingers, and sometimes we use our phones in environments where touch screen keyboards are quite frankly shit. No, let me qualify that. Touch screen keyboards are ALWAYS shit.
  • A kick-arse camera. No, simply having a gazillion megapixels is not enough. It has to be a decent quality camera module in the first place. Nokia cracked this one a decade ago, wake up at the back there!
  • Enough screen area and resolution to be useful for browsing, enough processor power to keep up.
  • Decent hardware expandability. 3.5mm audio, Micro SD, USB, no weird and expensive proprietary connectors. 
That's it. I don't give a toss about device thickness, dot pitch, chipset willy-waving, Angry Birds, tinny built-in speakers, cheap music deals or all the other crap. If I could buy a bullet-proof QWERTY Android smartphone with a camera like the Nokia Pureview 808, I'd pay full price. Five hundred quid, there and then. Until then, you can keep your shiny black slabs, and I'll keep my money.


  1. Personally I've had a keyboard phone, it's pretty pointless, just takes up space. If you need a keyboard there's Bluetooth (or a laptop).

    I thought you couldn't care less about cores yet you want resolution and processor power? That needs more cores if you want low current. Doubling the clock quadruples the power consumption while doubling the cores merely doubles it.

    To me the number one issue is battery life. It has to be able to do at least a weekend of busy use - Friday afternoon to Monday morning. I don't care if the next phone is more powerful if it's got no volts it's a dead weight in my pocket.

  2. You really want to have to carry around an extra piece of kit? Mini Bluetooth keyboards are very neat, but inconvenient. A slide QWERTY phone is not inconvenient. Yours was quite an early effort, a clamshell IIRC.

    I want *enough* resolution and power, not far too much at the expense of a 5 minute battery life. I suspect some models are specification-packing rather than thinking what the punters need.