Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Ideal Cell Phone

It is the season of wishing, so I'm going to add my wishes for the perfect cell phone :-)

My iPhone has been my single most enjoyable and useful device purchase ever.  That says a lot.  And it's despite the device's shortcomings (in order of annoyance level):

  • no Flash support
  • mediocre reception and voice quality
  • tight control over application market (which keeps users from being able to buy MP3s directly from competitors)
  • dependence on iTunes software on desktop (can't update software over the air; can't even synchronize with iTunes software over the air)

With this in mind, what would a cell phone bring to the table in 2011 to move me to buy?  Here's my wish list (in order of importance):

  • Quality Design and Material.  If I'm going to plunk down $500-600 (or $200-$300 under contract) for a new cell phone, it should not exude cheapness by being made of cheap, reflective plastic.  That's the area where Apple has always shined and other devices - even with better hardware feature sets - have always failed for me.  An aluminum body with a "hefty" feel would it for me.  Throw in some gorilla glass to prevent screen scratches and I'd be ecstatic.
  • A higher resolution, slightly larger screen.  The iPhone 4 with its "retina display" certainly has the pixel resolution I want, but the 3.5" screen is really too small to let the user take advantage of the resolution - at least when surfing the web.  A 4" screen at 1024x800 pixels would be nice.
  • Flash support.  No matter what Mr. Jobs tries to lead the huddled masses to believe, Flash-based web sites are not some 'fringe" that can be ignored.  There are lots of good web sites that I can't get information from because Mr. Jobs declared Flash technology as not worthy for his i-devices.  Either Apple changes its stance (either by including it in iOS directly or giving the users the option to install it somehow), my next phone will not be an iPhone (yeah, I can hear Apple quaking in its boots - the mighty Tom is threatening :-)
  • Front- and rear-facing cameras.  The rear-facing cameras should be at least 5-megapixel.  If the manufacturer could give it an optical zoom, I'd be thrilled - I could finally ditch my separate point-and-shoot camera.  I realize that with the typical 10mm thickness of phones these days, that may be difficult, but perhaps they can accomplish it by making that part of the phone a bit thicker.
  • Over-the-air purchase & management of media as well as "sync"ing.  I've always bought all my music through Amazon (thanks to Apple's proprietary AAC format that used to be DRM encumbered).  Recently, I've started buying e-books from Amazon as well.  I can buy & manage my e-books via the Kindle application (and the browser), but I can't do the same with my music.  Whenever Apple updates the system software, I have to get out the cables, start up iTunes, and synchronize that way.  That is practically medieval in this day and age.  Common, Apple, if Android can do this over the air, you can too!  If my laptop is on, there should be a one-click ability to backup/sync the cell phone with the laptop.  Both devices have wireless and, in the case of the Mac Book Pro, bluetooth.  There's no excuse for not allowing this to happen without pesky wires.
  • HDMI Output.  These days, every TV comes with HDMI.  I'd love to be able to share the music, photos, and videos on my cell phone with my family by simply connecting it to the TV.  The cell phone could become a rudimentary media server!  I already have Netflix streaming on my iPhone.  Why not let me show it on the TV?!
  • Printing.  Have you ever felt the need to quickly print out a contact or a google map or a coupon or a boarding pass while on your cell phone?  It doesn't happen often for me, but when it does, I *really* need it. I don't know what the state of printing in the Android world is, but my iPhone can't do it.  Apple recently came out with "Air Print" - but, as usual, it's something Apple-proprietary and only works with certain newer model printers.  I want printing on my iPhone, but I'm not going to buy a new printer just so I can.
Well, these are the things *I* would look for in a new phone.  Right now I don't see a phone that has all these features.  The new 'Optimus 2x" from LG seems promising - it will have HDMI output, looks well-built (although I'd have to hold it to be sure), and will have Flash support and non-proprietary media management, thanks to it running Android 2.3.  We shall see.


t3knoid said...

In lieu of HDMI output, how about a mini projector instead?

Here's a Chinese N70 knockoff that sorta have what I am talking about:

When are you going to tweet? The work needs to hear from the Land of Wolf.

Tom Wolf said...

This wouldn't be as useful as HDMI: (1) you need a nice wall to display on, (2) sound coming out of a cell phone is crappy. HDMI output would make the cell phone a perfect portable streaming device.

A projector is only useful if you're desperate to share your videos when there's no HDMI capable device around (e.g. while camping or when you need to present something and the conference room's projector doesn't have HDMI inputs) - but how often does that happen?