Wish dreams could come true

I’m due for a new Android phone, since my Nexus One keeps running out of internal storage (I have about 80 apps installed, most don’t support installation into microSD). I keep cleaning up app caches all the time just to fit my shit in it. Not to mention that GTalk stops working altogether if you have less than 20 MB of free storage left. This is getting old, and I’m starting to curse on whoever at HTC or Google decided to only put 512 MB of storage on such a deemed “superphone” (superphone my ass). From that 512 MB, only about 200 MBs are available to the user. It’s a joke. The problem is, I don’t really like any of the current Android phones out there. They’re all so 2008 in my eyes. What I want is this instead:

* 1 Ghz CPU (or whatever is latest)
* 1 GB fast RAM and fast bus
* A modern, fast 3D chip
* 4.5″ or 5″ SAMOLED at exactly 1280×720 (16:9), 32bpp
* On-board kickstand (like the HTC Evo)
* Unlocked full-band GSM/3G/4G (I need it to work in Europe too)
* Gyroscope, along all the other GPS/compass/accelerometer/proximity/notification-light/etc standard hardware
* Power button on the top (rather than like Galaxy S’ that’s on the side, that makes me push the volume buttons on the opposite side instead by mistake)
* Thin bezel on top and bottom, like the Droid X (leave the goddamn company/cell logos for the back). The thin bezel will make the phone feel smaller, since the suggested screen is already pretty big. Overall, this design wouldn’t be that much bigger than a Galaxy S.

Mockup of my dream phone

* A “slab” edgy look, like the iPhone 4’s or Macbook Pro’s shape. I hate how most Android phones look so bumpy everywhere. Must be completely flat seen from the side (including its sides), like the iPhone 4.
* Real buttons at the bottom (not touch buttons that are so easily pressed by mistake while typing — what a stupid fashion). Designed to be flat, like on the GSM HTC Hero or the G1.
* 720p front web cam
* 5 MP still/video camera with exposure compensation and exposure locking (exposure lock is very important for video). Saturation, contrast, sharpness controls. Less rolling shutter compared to what we have now please.
* 720p video in the *MP4* container (rather than 3GP) with h.264/AAC (rather than h.264/AMR). 24 mbps bitrate (less than that is too bad quality for 720p). Let *us* decide between 29.97 fps (NTSC), 25.00 fps (PAL), and 23.976 fps (IVTC film). With these two last bullet-points, we can have a usable video camera rather than a toy! Best part about it: it’s mostly a software matter!
* Camera flash, somewhat further than the camera (I wonder why the put the flashes so close to the camera, because technically-speaking, the further the better it is for picture quality).
* WiFi chip that’s not as incompatible as Nexus One’s is (Nexus One is incapable of staying connected in congested networks at all times (for VoIP usage), when the paired router sends a specific format of broadcast messages but the chip is in semi-standby).
* Stereo front speakers (why the heck do they usually put speakers on the back and lose 50% of the audibility?)
* Second mic for noise cancellation
* 4-6 GB fast internal storage (no need for more, since music subscription is the future, and their offline clients support microSD anyway)
* microSDHC slot
* microUSB port
* Bluetooth 3.0
* Mini-HDMI out (and UPnP support for wireless streaming)
* Removable 2000 mAh battery
* 3.5mm headset port
* And why not, an FM radio.

* Promise for 2 years (as much a cell contract lasts) of major Android upgrades rather than just security fixes. This upgrade thing has been one of the biggest thorns for me on Android. I can’t DARE to buy from third party manufacturers, because they’re simply not trustworthy with timely updates for versions that are released within 1 year. Let alone 2.

* And the cherry on the cake, an optional accessory: snap-on mini-ND filters for the camera, at 2-3 various strengths. This could help control the high shutter speeds outdoors — especially useful for video.

Is this all too much to ask? All the technology mentioned exists, it’s just that nobody put it in one place yet. The device I’m describing is big enough to fit all that. I’d pay $850 for such an unsubsidized phone, even if I’m sure that this could easily cost $650 and still turn profit. Then I’d be able to stop bitching about this whole thing. One can dream though, right?

The iPhone 4 covers some of what I want hardware-wise (better than any Android phone), but where it fails me is on its software: without a user filesystem, iOS is dead to me. This is my No1 pet peeve with it. Without a virtual, mountable, filesystem where files can be read freely and directly, some kinds of apps simply can not exist (e.g. A/V editors, FTP clients, media players, OBEX Bluetooth, basically anything that needs direct access to user’s files, or requires to share files/info with another iOS app). Some iOS apps have to resort in including full (and buggy) SMB clients/server hacks in order to get access to user’s PC files. This is unacceptable from usability point of view. For me this is a show-stopper limitation of iOS, and so I can’t, and won’t, consider it. I prefer to deal with a less enjoyable Android phone, than to forgo basic amenities like a filesystem.


Jon Jensen wrote on November 4th, 2010 at 2:54 PM PST:

Real buttons at the bottom is one of the most important things to me now. The Droid 2 has touch buttons at the bottom, and they get touched accidentally, but worse, can’t be blindly felt while driving, in a bag, etc.

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Eugenia wrote on November 4th, 2010 at 3:01 PM PST:

Exactly. I really, really, don’t understand this terrible fascination with touch buttons. They’re just really bad for usability. When the soft-keyboard comes up to type, the lower part of the thumb often presses one of these buttons by mistake, and the keyboard goes away! And with the Droid, where buttons are located at the edge of the device, I keep pressing them even when I simply hold the device in my palm (while the phone is ON) in order to just walk somewhere.

I know people in the industry, who work on such phones, and they have the exact same usability problems with touch buttons in their personal lives. And yet, more and more of these fucked up phones are released to market. I really don’t understand it. At this point, the only thing I can think of it, is as I wrote on the blog post: FASHION. Because no usability engineer in his right mind would root for such a design.

Jon Jensen wrote on November 4th, 2010 at 4:31 PM PST:


I don’t believe i *ever* accidentally hung up on a call with my HTC Magic / Google Ion. With the Droid 2, it happens about once a week, or more.

I understand that touch screens give a ton of flexibility to developers. That’s great. I like that I have a general computer in a phone package. But keep a minimum of real buttons around to perform the core functions of a phone — you know, answer, hang up, home. I don’t see why that’s too much to ask.

James Duncan wrote on November 4th, 2010 at 4:34 PM PST:

Well now Eugenia, you of all people should know the right people to ask about what’s coming up…

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Eugenia wrote on November 4th, 2010 at 4:47 PM PST:

I don’t expect any manufacturer to create perfection as I see it, so there’s not point asking anyone about it. On every new announcement I just laugh at all of them for creating half-assed crap. I just have lost my hope.

memsom wrote on November 5th, 2010 at 5:08 AM PST:

iOS 4 (well, 4.1, but I guess 4.0 had it too) lets me put whatever files I like on my iPhone using any PC or Mac with iTunes installed – so long as the app developer is using the new iOS 4 API’s. So like – taking VLC as an example… I have added movies to my iPhone 4 at work using my work PC (iTunes is the media played I tend to use on all machines, so it’s installed there too) and had zero issues. My iPhone 4 syncs with my personal MacBook, so therefore, this feature is available even thought he iPhone only syncs with a single computer. It’s a two way street too – you can take files off from the apps too (if they choose to support that feature.)

Is this a user file system? No, not in the way you want. Is it a PITA? Well, no, no more than using iTunes in general.

I’m guessing that it could only be a matter of time till someone works out how the protocol works and creates a standalone app that does the same thing (or even some kind of file system plugin maybe?)

Glenn wrote on November 5th, 2010 at 7:45 AM PST:

I can highly recommend the Sony Xperia X10. The new 2.1 Android update they’re rolling out now (hasn’t reached Australia yet though) has some great features. They’ve updated the video camera to 720P with continuous autofocus (much like the NEX cameras I would guess???). There are 5 home screens which can fit even more icons, and a bunch of other nice features. Unfortunately no front camera. They’re a lot more comfortable to hold than an iphone 4 due to the nice textured and rounded back panel (IMO), and if you drop it, no cracked screen either. They’re also releasing a bluetooth wrist watch device for it which tells you what’s happening on the phone itself. Emails, twitter, messages, news feeds, photos etc.

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Eugenia wrote on November 5th, 2010 at 9:19 AM PST:

The Xperia X10 doesn’t seem that it will get any new Android versions. 2.1 is already ancient by my standards, and it just got it. Besides, I really want a web cam.

Glenn wrote on November 5th, 2010 at 9:43 PM PST:

What exactly do the newer versions of Android offer? 1.6 works fine, I’ve never had any problems with it. The new features that interest me the most in X10 2.1 update like 720P HD are Sony only updates specific to these phones. I’m not fussed about having Flash or the gimmicky pinch zoom.

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Eugenia wrote on November 5th, 2010 at 11:54 PM PST:

I personally need multitouch. And also a lot of the voip apps I use don’t work with 1.x versions. Among other things.

Glenn wrote on November 7th, 2010 at 3:08 AM PST:

Yeah, Skype requires 2.1. But multitouch, I think it’s useless on a mobile phone. You see iPhone users, and they always use two hands. One to hold the phone and the other for pinch zooming, typing etc. The great thing about Android is how you can do everything with just one hand. Scrolling, typing and zooming using the + and – buttons which only appear if you touch the screen, so never get in the way. My old phone had a stylus, so I always needed both hands to use it which was a bit annoying. But now, I just hold the phone in one hand and control everything with my thumb. Only if I’m writing a long message will I flip the phone and type using both hands.

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Eugenia wrote on November 7th, 2010 at 12:06 PM PST:

Sorry but for me multitouch is very important. The +- buttons suck. Also, I need the clean implementation of not allowing data, and the sped of jit, as found on 2.2.

Michael C. wrote on November 8th, 2010 at 10:02 AM PST:

Round buttons with 45-degree angled symbols. Three (or four) speakers in the corners, because you will watch your HD video in landscape format, will not you?

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Eugenia wrote on November 11th, 2010 at 8:02 PM PST:

Engadget just posted this: a next gen Samsung Galaxy S phone. If this is true and not just an unfounded rumor, then it will probably be my next phone. It’s not exactly as I want it but it’s the one that comes closer to my ideals, it seems. We’ll see.

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