I've been reviewing cell phones and smartphones for more than seven years, and the mobile space has changed a lot in that time. We've gone from smartphones with monochrome screens, no cameras, and basic PDA functions to handsets with glassless 3D displays, dual-core processors, robust Web browsers, and much more. As they say, we've come a long way, baby.
Yet, even with all these advancements, I can't help but feel like I've been reviewing the same device over and over again in recent months, just in a slightly different package. So when a reader e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago asking me what I would want in a dream phone, I thought this would be a good time as any to come up with a list.
I could go over the top and come with something like the fictional Pomegranate phone (which was actually a clever ad campaign for Nova Scotia, of all things), but I decided to create my Franken-phone with features that exist today. I know, I know--boring.
Anyway, let's start with design. The advent of all touch-screen devices has certainly done wonders for how we interact with our devices and how we consume data and media on our phones. However, it's also led to devices that all look alike, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the physical keyboard of my old BlackBerry Bold. There are certainly models with slide-out QWERTY keyboards, and handset manufacturers have done a good job of slimming them down, so they're not so bulky (see: T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide).
However, I don't want to deal with any moving parts and just want to be able to pull out my phone and start typing. That's why the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 was so appealing to me. It combines an excellent keyboard with a sharp touch screen that's smaller in size compared to today's 4-inch displays, but it's something I'm willing to compromise on for this kind of form factor.
What I'm not willing to compromise on is build quality. Yes, I like my smartphones compact and sleek, but I don't care that the phone is the thinnest this or that; if it feels like a plastic toy, I will take a pass. If I'm paying $200 for a device, I want something that feels like I'm getting my money's worth. The Bold has a solid, premium design, but unfortunately, it's running a mediocre operating system, which leads me to my next point.
I'm not loyal to one OS. I think each platform has its pros and cons, so my ideal OS would be a combination of several systems. I'd want the user interface of Windows Phone; the ease of use and app catalog of iOS; the customization abilities of Android; and the multitasking capabilities of WebOS. That's not too much to ask for, right?
As I said earlier, we've come a long way since the days of the first smartphones. Nowadays, we get caught up in specs and are quick to criticize a phone for not having this feature or that feature, which is certainly fair, but I think it's just as important to stop and realize all the things that smartphones are capable of. Just think, we're going to be seeing quad-core processors in our phones within the next year.
So when I think about what features I want in my dream phone, I'm pretty happy that we can already easily browse the Web, get navigation guidance, play music and video, and take photos and video. I could care less about some of the more flashy things, like 3D; instead, I'd like to see continued improvement on existing features. But above all else, I hope we see battery life start to improve on future smartphones.
Obviously, my needs and wants will be different from yours, so I'd love to hear about your dream phone. Let me know in the comments selection below, and I'll pull some of the best responses and post them in a separate blog later this week.