Nov 2, 2009

What I want in a phone

It's getting down to the holiday shopping season again.  This means that the Cell phone carriers are putting out their holiday deals and newest devices.  While I think the smart phone industry has come a long way in the past three or four years, I always feel like I'm see-sawing between what parts of my phone are great, and what parts aren't

This post will serve a reminder to me about the type of Phones I have had and what I did not like about them, and what I wished as different.  Hopefully I'll remember this and not get blinded by all the shiny things.

Things my Phone needs:

1) A good reliable network.

I've had phones on three of the four major networks (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile).  The thing I really like is having a phone that works.  This is #1.  If I can't make/take calls, the phone is useless.

2) A Physical (Slider) Keyboard in Portrait

One of the major gripes I have with my current phone (Storm 9530) is the lack of physical keyboard.  I do enjoy the Virtual Keyboard, and don't think it is too bad.  There are times I wish I had a physical keyboard, but not enough times that I want it out all the time like I had on my Moto Q.  I liked the Keyboard on this phone.  I've realized I'm not too happy with Landscape Slide out keyboards, like the one on my XV6800.  I don't like having to turn the device on its side and then type out.  Sometimes I just wanted to enter some information quickly and the Virtual keyboard wasn't working out.

3) Wi-Fi

Even the best of networks has its dead spots.  Case in point: I get almost no cell reception in my house with any carrier.  I do have a Network extender but it only does 1x.  This works for Phone calls, but If I want to quickly check a tweet/web post on my phone there is no quick about it.  Also, the Server room I work in is in a basement where there is no Cell coverage, but we do have a WAP which my 9530 can't talk to (no Wi-Fi on my storm).  I like the idea of using a wi-fi enabled cell phone to make calls over Wi-Fi as well like the T-Mobile @Home service.

4) Productive apps

If I'm going to have a premium plan for my phone (mostly because all Carriers require it, and it's nice to know that I'm paying a consistent amount every month) I want Applications that boost my productivity.  I want to be able to justify the data plan.  There's also the fun apps, like Pandora or Twitter, that don't attribute directly to productivity, but do help get my mind off work for a bit to come back and attack a problem.

5) A working Browser

Three or four years ago, I could forgive a crappy mobile browser experience as it was just starting to be a cool thing.  In 2009, almost 2010, I want a decent browsing experience.  I also want that decent browsing experience to be builtin, not a third party app.  If I can't use the browser for EVERYTHING, then it isn't good.  I"m looking at you RIM/Mobile IE.

6) Integration

I use Gmail and Google apps a lot.  If my phone can't sync my Calendar, Contacts and Mail in an easy fashion, I don't want to do it.  BlackBerry does it pretty good (aside from the fact I need to run Google Sync to Get my calendar on there), and the Active Sync Support in Windows Mobile is awesome.  I haven't tried Android yet, but it if doesn't deliver a great Google Experience I would be surprised.

7) Email has to be solid

One of the main Reasons I got a smartphone was for Email.  IF it doesn't give me my email a fashion that works for me, it really frustrates me.  The reason I went BlackBerry was for Push email, and it works and I love it.  Phones are starting to get better about it, but I don't like having to Poll/Pull messages as it can waste battery.

8) Rock Solid Hardware

Along with the hardware requirements I mention above, I also need that Hardware to be protected and dependable.  my Xv6800 had a lot of good hardware, but the case/shell fell cheap...because it was.

9) GPS unlocked

This is pretty much a dead issue now, but I want a phone with GPS that works with ANY GPS app, not just the one from the Carrier, which usually means another monthly fee.  Verizon was last to the game on this, but they turned around and it has made me happy.

10) Removable battery

I don't liked Sealed Batteries.  For all of my phones (save the Storm) I had an extra battery.  Why?  I'm horrible at remembering to bring the charging cord.  I do keep the USB cable for my phone in my bag, but I'm not always near a computer that I can charge off of.  I don't use the backup that often but it is nice to have it ready in case.

To Wrap this up, My ideal phone will have A reliable network.  When I'm in a dead spot, my phone should be able to connect to a wifi network to make calls.  I want a physical keyboard, but I don't want it to get in the way of a gorgeous touch screen that has a virtual keyboard for the quick browsing/tweeting.  IT should have an unlocked GPS so I can use Google maps/what ever GPS enabled mapping app I choose.  I want apps that will help keep me productive, but still have some fun ones when I'm not at work.  I want the phone to be as durable as it is usable.  And finally, the Battery should be removable and easy to replace.

I know I glossed over some things, like expandable memory, but I'm not sure how much that matters to me.  I'm sure I"ll come up with more, but this is just at start.

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