The perfect superphone part deux

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: August 19, 2011

Last month, we visited the topic of the “perfect superphone.” With any choice of manufacturer, any specifications and any mobile software, the sky was the limit. Through a lengthy explanation, I came to the conclusion that my perfect superphone would be a Nokia-made, webOS phone with a dual-core processor, a Carl Zeiss camera lens and a 720p HD display. Beyond that, I wasn't too picky as far as individual specifications go.

But HP dropped a big bomb yesterday, stating that it plans to “discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones.” This, of course, does not mean that webOS is completely done. HP has detailed plans to license the software. But webOS has been the recipient of a lot of disinterest from carriers as of late and in a market where there are already two, more popular, licensed platforms, I'm not sure other OEMs will take the risk with the web-based software. HP's webOS is taboo right now.

For the sake of this article, I'm throwing webOS out of the picture. Yes, I know, I'm jumping the gun here. But a month has passed since I concocted my “perfect superphone” and a lot has changed. Google has revealed plans to purchase Motorola, Samsung hired Steve Kondik and BlackBerry is somewhat back in the smartphone race. My interests have changed and so has my idea of a perfect phone.

Hardware

Over the past four years, the general idea of the smartphone has drastically changed. No longer are they equipped with email-friendly QWERTY keyboards. Instead, they are fitted with large, high resolution, capacitive displays, accompanied by various software keyboards. That said, not all of the changes have been for the worse. Thanks to the smartphone boom, touchscreens have come leaps and bounds, much like processors, flash memory, cameras and several other aspects of mobile technology.

Spending a little hands-on time with one of RIM's latest devices, the 9930 on Verizon, has brought back memories of my BlackBerry days. And if any of you remember, I used to be one of the biggest 'Berry addicts around. Just like that, I have the itch. The itch that won't go away until I buy a Bold 9900. I now want RIM to make my superphone, and I want the 9900 keyboard. The 2.8-inch display is still a bit small for my liking, so we need to stretch it to at least 3.2 or 3.5-inches. No need for too much display, though, as typing will be done on that luxurious keyboard.

Even though the 9900 is ridiculously fast for a BlackBerry, the software I'll be running on this superphone needs a little extra horsepower – not overkill. A dual-core Snapdragon or Tegra 2 with at least 1GB RAM will do. I'm a memory hoard so I'll need at least 32GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot. And we all know BlackBerry cameras are far from noteworthy. I'll take at least an 8-megapixel shooter with a Carl Zeiss lens, please. Oh, let's not forget that NFC either.

Software

The news of webOS stood us on our heads yesterday. We've all been secretly wishing HP could turn webOS around, but that obviously didn't happen. In fact, they've made matters worse. This, of course, doesn't mean instantaneous death for HP's mobile platform, but the odds definitely aren't in its favor. As aforementioned, I'm making this concept phone without webOS as an option.

I want something with long-term support and plenty of applications for my superphone; that's why I've chosen Android. But I didn't just choose any old version of Android. I've put CyanogenMod through the paces and while it may be one of the most supported custom ROMs out there, it gets a little bland over time. I've recently fallen in love with MIUI, a Chinese-made ROM with hundreds – maybe even thousands – of fully customizable themes, which can be mixed and matched to the heart's desire. It's the most versatile and beautifully polished version of Android around that gives Android a more pristine feel. (As a major plus, there is a webOS theme available. If you use it with Wave Launcher, it almost feels as if you're actually on webOS. Okay, not really … but a man can dream, right?)

On a more serious note, MIUI almost feels like an entirely different operating system of its own at times. The ability to constantly and completely change the look and feel of the software puts MIUI as the number one choice of platform for my superphone.

Battery

Unlike RIM, the 9900 series has not lived up the BlackBerry standards when it comes to battery life. This is likely due to the battery capacity being so low (1,230 mAh), doubling the processor speed and adding a touchscreen. Nonetheless, I expect great battery life out of a BlackBerry … even if it is running Android. I want at least an 1,800 mAh battery that can make it through the day. If have have power left over when the sun goes down, I'll be ecstatic.

Carrier and connectivity

As I stated in the past superphone article, Verizon is my carrier of choice. I've been a faithful customer for many years now and their service has served me well. I've had issues with all other national carriers (and even some regional) in more rural areas. CDMA may not be the best technology around, but it serves its purpose and I usually have service, no matter where I go.

Furthermore, 2011 is the year of 4G. I can understand RIM passing up on LTE at the moment, especially if the battery is as unimpressive as it already is. LTE is a battery hog and several manufacturers have passed it up for the time being, solely for this reason. That said, I want my 4G. But let's throw a software toggle in the mix so I can choose when I want to use it. If my battery drains in a few hours, at least I know I'm the one to blame.

Your turn … again

Not everyone likes BlackBerrys and many have already passed the days of physical QWERTYs (on smartphones at least), which means my perfect phone may be totally different from yours. Remember, we're not counting webOS, we're assuming the worst. What if webOS was gone tomorrow? I'm handing the mic over to you guys. What would your perfect phone – software and hardware combination – be? What kind of specs would it have? Sound off below!