Forget Android and iOS, this is the perfect superphone

Published: July 13, 2011

Being in the position I'm in, I often get asked which phone I am carrying, why I picked that particular device and even which upcoming phones pique my interests the most. Over the past year or so, I've obviously given a lot of different answers. They usually contain any given Android phone with a detailed explanation about how network or processor speeds, display size or even third-party development support make that particular phone the best at the time.

As many of you probably already know, I broke from the beaten path this past week and switched from an HTC ThunderBolt to an iPhone 4. Despite my reasons for making the jump, there are many things easily done with an Android phone that wish I could do with the iPhone. Both platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses, forcing me to carry two phones if I want the benefits of both. Truth is, I despise keeping up with two numbers and carrying multiple devices.

It doesn't require great understanding of mobile technology to know that there is no perfect phone. I learned this long ago, but only recently did I try imagining what that phone would be like if it did exist. What manufacturer would make it? What OS would it run? If I were the Dr. Frankenstein of the tech industry, what would my monster look like?

Hardware

About a year ago I would have quickly chosen HTC as the manufacturer of my "perfect" phone. The Nexus One sported some of the hottest hardware to date. Recently, however, HTC has slipped into a rut. The design and materials are primarily the same as they were last year, and that's the problem. They're bland and boring with little color differentiation. (Bring on the pitchfork riot ...)

The company that has easily stuck out from the crowd, though, is Nokia. With the announcement of the N9 and leak of the Sea Ray, I have my sights locked on the Finnish-based phone makers. They consistently produce topnotch hardware and have very little trouble differentiating their devices from the crowd with popping colors and quality camera lenses. Speaking of cameras, I'll go ahead and include a Carl Zeiss lens on my perfect phone wish list.

I'm not super picky about the individual specifications like what processor it comes with or what display technology it sports. I'm a firm believer in performance over excessive specs. But for the sake of future-proofing, my super-phone would have at least a dual-core processor; but I wouldn't complain about a quad-core. There's no doubt that there are some spectacular displays out there. My vote goes to a 4-inch 720p Super AMOLED Plus display. Then, of course, the usual greedy memory hog's requests: 2GB RAM and at least 32GB built-in memory. As long as my superphone runs buttery smooth, I'll be happy.

Software

There is no perfect mobile platform; each have their own pitfalls.

Again, a year ago, I would have quickly jumped on Android as the platform of choice. I love Android, I really do. But with all of the bugs and glitches I have run into as of late, Android and I aren't really seeing eye to eye. Sure, you could blame that on the custom software I'm constantly installing, but much of the time, this third-party software is less buggy than official software. Take MOTOBLUR and Sense UI as prime examples.

If not Android, what platform would I choose? I'll give you a hint, it isn't iOS, Windows Phone 7 or BlackBerry. The iOS platform is keeping me subdued for the time being, but it struggles in many areas. As strange as it may seem, my Frankenphone would ship with webOS. I loved my original Palm Pre and the Pre Plus, but Palm and HP's hardware is lacking. Despite the poorly stocked app catalog and ongoing infancy of the platform, webOS has some serious potential. Let's just hope with a change of pace, the platform can grow and attract more users.

The webOS platform does, however, leave one major flaw in my “perfect” phone: applications, or lack thereof. Syncing email, contacts and calendars on webOS are a breeze, but there are some apps I would have a hard time managing without like Lightbox, Instagram and Wunderlist. My minimum requirements for apps are half-decent social media clients (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, etc.), a RSS reader, Read It Later, image manipulation and third-party camera apps. Since all of these are available on webOS, in some form or fashion, I can see myself being truly happy on the OS.

Battery

Possibly the most important element to consider with my perfect phone is battery life. Over the past few years, cameras, processor and display technologies have come leaps and bounds. While all of these other components have vastly improved, battery technology has taken quite a blow. I do not want a processor or display that are “better on the battery.” I want a phone that actually has better battery life; something in the ballpark of two days with moderate use. For that matter, making it through a full day with heavy use would be nice.

Carrier

Being so willing to jump from carrier to carrier, this is also another difficult aspect of a phone to choose, and this will naturally vary per person. I've been on Verizon since the Alltel takeover (I was an Alltel customer before). I have also been with Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. In my experience, Verizon's coverage has served me best. I would prefer being on GSM, but in my experience with GSM carriers, coverage in rural areas tends to drop off much more quickly than CDMA, and I spend much of my time in places more rural than I'd like to admit.

Not only is it about coverage, it is also about the 4G race and Verizon is currently leading the pack right now. I've truly missed LTE speeds since switching back to the iPhone, but hey, you can't win 'em all.

Your turn

While my perfect phone is a 4-inch, Nokia-made, webOS superphone, this is likely far from "perfect" for others. There are several things to consider when imagining your own superphone: manufacturer, platform, specs, etc. The combination and possibilites are endless. Mixing and matching manufacturer with OS, even proprietary hardware (think Retina Display), what monster device would you create, my little Frankensteins?

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