Creating a well-rounded, high-end smartphone requires a lot more effort than stitching together a list of top of the line specifications and throwing the latest software on the end product. It requires consideration of the end users' wants and needs, strength and longevity of materials and much, much more. Some cell phone makers have realized this, others have lost sight of what truly matters in light of a specification arms race.

In today's market, time is of the essence and a matter of an extra month or a week (or even days in some cases) can be the difference between a top seller and a flop. Manufacturers have to decide which corners to cut and what features or designs are better on the fly and have little room for error. This on the fly decision making process and loss of true focus has led to a number of popular devices slightly missing the mark. Manufacturers have cut the wrong corners and created devices that lack that extra oomph to push them over the top. Simple things like creaky hardware or a poorly thought out design can ruin a device.

I think the picture says it all – below are the top five things that can ruin a flagship phone for me:


1. Bottom of the bucket camera lens

Let me begin by saying that the megapixel rating of a camera, whether it is in a cell phone or a dedicated digital camera, is nothing but a marketing ploy. More megapixels does not mean the camera will take better pictures. If you're not sure what I mean, look here.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can firmly say that mobile cameras are currently functioning at half capacity. I'm not a photographer or a lens expert – far from it, actually – but cameras in 95 percent of current smartphones were clearly an afterthought. Phones like the myTouch 4G Slide and iPhone 4 are clear evidence of this and are a testament to what a little extra effort in that department can yield. Take the T-Mobile G2x by LG as an example. The camera is rated at 8-megapixels; therefore, one who knew no better would be forced to believe that it comes with a great camera. But that certainly isn't the case. I used the G2x as my personal phone for several months and could not force myself to use the camera. In fact, that's why I no longer use it. Pictures taken with that phone were always washed out, blurry and if the flash ever fired, the white balance was completely thrown off and ruined the picture.

Video recording isn't as important or as big of a problem as stills, and LG isn't the only one to blame here either. There are a handful of other manufacturers who simply can't put together a phone with a decent, consistent camera. Seeing as I use my phone for the vast majority of the pictures I take, I need a phone with a camera I can rely on. To date, the only phone that has never let me down in the image sensor department is the iPhone 4. That said, the next wave of devices are rumored to be coming with advanced lens cameras, so hopefully this will become a problem of the past.


2. Squeaky or loose hardware

Besides a poor camera, the easiest way for a manufacturer to kill their efforts in the hardware game is to produce a phone with squeaky and loose hardware. I haven't ran across many phones with this problem as of late, but there are certainly a few that have stuck out from the crowd. Keep in mind that by "squeak," I don't necessarily mean it's audible. I mean that if I grip the phone firmly I can feel that the hardware is not exactly tight, or when I depress a button it rubs the button or bezel around it.

The worst "squeak" problem that I've experienced was with the physical buttons on the myTouch 4G. I had three different myTouch 4Gs and after a few weeks, the buttons would start squeaking every time they were depressed. The ThunderBolt's battery door, a plethora of BlackBerry handsets, the Droid X and even my current Nexus S were all victims of the squeaks, too. It's like nails on a chalkboard for me and I will almost always get rid of a phone that squeaks right away – but only if it is blatantly noticeable.


3. Poor speaker and/or microphone quality

Although the majority of us don't use phones for voice calling anymore, a poor microphone or earpiece speaker gets under my skin quicker than anything. While my mom was using a ThunderBolt, she would call me and it would always sound like she was in a tunnel. Likewise, my friend using his Infuse on AT&T sounds the same. Of course, there are a lot of factors that come into play here: carrier call quality, signal strength, radio software and the combination of the caller's and receiver's speakers and microphones. But this is one area where OEMs have gradually been slipping since the initial smartphone rush. Seeing as a phone's primary feature is still technically calling, manufacturers need to focus more attention on these two aspects.


4. Poor placement of ports and buttons

Port and button placement isn't something that has really been a big issue since I was using my BlackBerry Tour, but there have been a select few devices that have slightly bugged me out of the current crop of devices. With the Tour, the microUSB port fell right between my middle and ring fingers on my left hand. It wasn't an issue when just reading or looking at something. But when I needed to use the keyboard, it made me completely change the way I held the device. It wasn't natural and actually made using the phone quite difficult while charging. If the port had been an inch lower, it wouldn't have been an issue at all. As for button placement, the lock button was literally the entire top right edge of the device. The top left edge was the mute button. These buttons were not only squeaky (shudder), they were also extremely easy to push. The phone would constantly come unlocked in my pocket and I would dial or text people at random.

More recently, I have ran into a few road bumps with a handful of devices, most notably, the HTC ThunderBolt. The microUSB port was along the lower left edge of the device – the edge on which the device rested while using the kickstand. Therefore, if you want to listen to music (the speaker is hidden beneath said kickstand) and charge your phone at the same time, it is only possible to do so by standing the phone in portrait mode. In portrait mode, the kickstand is clearly not as stable and the weight of the charging cable alone is enough to pull the device over.

Placement of ports and buttons can entirely change my impression of a device. It's the difference between OEMs using logic and consideration when designing the phone and just slapping some components together and calling it "the next big thing." Personally, I prefer ports and headphone jacks to be on the top and bottom edges of the device while volume and power buttons take the sides. It seems to lead to less issues in the long run. After using the Nexus S (which, in my opinion, has the most ideal button and port placement), it's going to be hard to switch back to something else.


5. Awkward humps and chins

When I hear the words "Jay Leno," the only thing that comes to mind is the T-Mobile G2x. That particular phone has the most awkward looking face of any phone out there. If the "chin" were cut in half, it would be a seriously sleek and sexy device. It isn't necessarily ugly, as is, but that extra long chin just doesn't make sense to me; it's wasted space that makes the device unnecessarily tall. Both Motorola and Samsung are becoming notorious for throwing strangely placed humps in their devices. The Droid X is probably one of the worst, followed by the Nexus S, Galaxy S II, and many others.

The way I see it, if you can't make the entire phone as thin as the thinnest part, don't make the phone that thin. Think your design through a little more and make the thickness uniform – with the exception of a contoured display, of course. An unsightly chin or random hump in the back of the device entirely kills the look of the aesthetics. They may slightly set the phone apart from its cookie cutter-stamped brethren, but I still prefer chin-less, hump-less devices.

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"What are your biggest mobile gripes?"

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Ateeb Tallaat Khan Battery life
Ismael Sergio Molina Lack of updates, battery life, little grace period between new better phones and tablets, unstable software. I bought the Motorola Bravo this June and have been slightly P'Oed due to the lack of Gingerbread, and Android as a whole. I've had to remove my battery many times just doing feeble things and it's getting pretty stupid. Doesn't help that the Bravo has a locked bootloader in which I am more cautious about rooting it. Hopefully for Christmas I will be getting a more well-off phone in the likes of a better Android phone or even a Windows Phone.
Nick Reyes Battery life. (or lack thereof)
Eric Alan Holloway Most have been said and the big one is cost. You buy it and months to a year later it is so much cheaper and just wait until the end of your contract and the stupid thing is old news. Then what? Spend another $150-$300 on a new one or risk keeping your old one and hope they keep producing updates. Why should a phone cost close to the price of a laptop. Just think of adding the cost of the data plan each month and there you go. Crazy and I'm dumb enough to do it! You should get a nice free case and screen protector for all the money we spend each year on these things but do we? No! They can't afford it or what? Nickel and diming us is what they are doing.
Vincent Hung Antenna problems *cough*
Vici Johnson Kelley not enough internal memory
Vanna Sem They need to fix how carriers do business! Big business is scaming the public but where to dumb to notice!
Aydemir Ilker Has anyone mentioned battery life yet?
Jamie Layel The names these companies come up with for these phones. Their worse than car manufacturers. You can tell very little thought is put into the names.
Mario Rivas Data cap!!!!! Why would these phone carriers offer unlimited data and there is no such thing.
Kyle Mallory Updates. My Thunderbolt is hungry for Gingerbread!
Chris Cunningham That phones went from nice and small to bigger than my hand, and apparently that is better. Battery life, updates, cost for 4g even if it's not in my primary service area.
Vince Gutierrez Having a new phone having a worse signal reception then a 2 year old phone. Its like getting super computer on a 56k buzz line.. Battery life2nd.
Shawn Meadows Durrability and keeping it thin! I would love to not have to have a case on my phone 24/7!
Andrew Johnson Battery life and no one cares
David Castaneda Battery life ,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Juan Carlos Munoz Android os! No true multitasking!
Ben Garcia Having a 4G phone & living in an area that doesn't have 4G coverage. :(
Chris Taylor Battery Life, and waiting for updates.
Norleena Davies Battery life and not being able to see the screen outdoors very well. Plus the need ti release phones more often. Im still pissed the galaxy s2 didn't come to verizon. I waited a year on this phone. Can't understand why all carriers can't get these powerhouse phones. If a carrier don't want to carry a phone then you should be able to buy from another carrier and transfer it to the carrier that you are on.
Mark Fisher Jr. Just like everybody else, battery life. Its the only thing that's wrong. And im tired of trying to find a task killer that work to save life. None of them really works good enough.
Dean Hazen battery life and no high speed data here to take advantage of having a smartphone.
Orlando Gonzalez #1 Battery life. #2 Timely updates. I have a BB & Android and find myself always doing my own updates. #3 software bugs/force closes. #4 COSTS!!!! :D
Mark Orlowski F#@king Battery
Jesse Bryant Sprint's data speeds
Marrion Bell @wayne jones at&t is garbage and their true reason for still being here is iphone and that's it
Chad Richter Too many android phones. Manufacturers need to slow down if they want to make more money. Having 25 android phones out for one carrier at any given time is way to confusing for average consumers. The real irk I have is that each one of these phones basically has the same capabilities as all of the others.
Kyle Cordiano That updates seem to take forever to get to a device. :( Wonder when/if ICS will get to the GSII?
Evan Pilkington No MIUI on thunderbolt yet:\
Wayne MacLeod I would have to say battery life is one of of my grievances. Next would be keyboards. I have the Motorola Photon and the keyboard is super sensitive. But I have think an instructional video or website to teach you how to use the features would be awesome. The thing with the photon I don't like is not being able to assign ringtones to contacts. I could head a ringtone and know whos calling before.
Frank Valle Does anybody know if the Samsung Hercules will have NFC support??
Hector Portalatin No underground service ! (Joke) but seriously tho battery life .
Mark Charlton Battery life, lag, the time it takes to update the firmware of a phone and how often they come out with newer models.
James Miller Daryl may, maybe you are just hard on phones, I had my g1 for 2 years still is like new, my dad has had his for 4 or 5 years now, your phone is used everyday in and out of your pocket getting dropped, your laptop isn't.
Devin Shoemaker Battery life, if some hackers can make a rom that nearly doubles the battery life of my phone then the manufactures needs to do some more work. Also I think the batteries that ship with phones are almost always too low, 1800mah should be the standard with 2000+ on better phones.
Nathan Sherlock Battery and signal!
Anthony Gross Taking too long to release their device after being shown. ie Samsung Galaxy Note.
Frankie Paz Battery life and...oh yeah...BATTERY LIFE! And honestly...sometimes battery life!
Shawna Crowson That there's no real worse in iPhone 5, & my husband still uses a Razr!!
Susannah Scranton battery, random restarts
Diogenes Jimenez I love my Galaxy S II. It's easily the best and most powerful phone money can buy right at this moment. But Android's fragmentation sucks. Some phones run Eclair, some run Froyo, while others run Gingerbread and dual core processors. The same will be true of Ice Cream Sandwich. Without the latest software on all devices, some users miss out. Don't even get me started in NFC and poor battery life.
Christopher IHatemyself Matamoros I love coupons and floss
Shawn Poling Bloatware
Miguel Castaneda 2 year contracts!
Guillermo De León Battery life
Daryl May I have yet to have a phone last more than 2 years. Let's face it, these things are very expensive, almost the price of a laptop. If I had to buy a laptop every 2 years I'd be pissed. I think they make these things to fall apart after a year or two.
Terry Smitherman Battery life
Darryl Mouzone Definitely battery life. Especially on Android phones.
David DaRocha Not enough windows phone options on sprint.
Hector Portalatin Battery fuckin life n death situation !
Ed Plnia @mitch Toland jr i used to have the evo 4G rooted with cm7 also the 3500 extended battery the only good thing about the cm7 is getting better picture do to the fact that since the gingerbread update the picture are coming very dark other than that I don't see nothing special. Now I got the Epic 4G Touch from sprint so far the best Android phone out of 25 I already used.
Ever Alexander Iraheta Unstable 3g/4g connection *cough* tmobile *cough*
Andrew Hansen Battery life, hands down!
Gary Acebuche Mainly battery life
Wayne Jones Motorola doesn't have enough smart phones with AT&T that have a physical keyboard. I have a Motorola Flipside, great phone, but it needs to be a lil bigger & have more internal memory. Then there's the over priced data plans.... don't even get me started.
Janelle Jae Hunter Battery life
Agim Alion 2 year contracts, but new phone every 3 months
Frank Valle Having a Samsung vibrant since it was released n never expecting gingerbread to come :/
Lee Grip Gresham Why I can't move up from froyo to gingbrd after ice cream come out.....
Tim Shull ATT not releasing the Bb 9860and 9900
Kenneth Mills Battery, signal & data speed. No 4G here for my carrier.
David Dillard Phones? Phones are amazing. Carriers are the problem. Price of data plans, lack of competition, throttling, locked into 2 year contracts, bloatware, etc.
Bryan Dotman Battery life, Android phones lacking qwerty keyboards, limited data plans, fragmentation... and how plastic Samsung is.
Edwin Brian Davis I love Android, but I can't stand when it freezes and I have to pull the battery... pretty much all the [Android] phones I've had have done this.
King Josef I would have to save battery life & touch screen keyboard! It seems as if the more power you have on ur phone the less likely that you have long battery life throughout the day
Johnny Ezell Jr. Not enough Verizon smart phones with physical qwerty keyboard, battery life, and a new phone being released every other week.
Ateeb Tallaat Khan Battery life, and the huge screen turns my pockets inside out when I take it out
Max Edmond How one compnay can't learn from another companies mistake...seriously no led on the Samsung vibrant and then the G2X without one either... How these companies know our problems as consumers and still put out devices that are crappy
Giselle Springer The fact that rim is damn near bankrupt but sellin the bold touch @ an astronomical price!!!!!! Wtfff
Mark Bennett Samsung, period.
Al Cahawl Outrageous prices.
Daniel Bui Misleading camera pixels for a sub par camera. MP doesn't make the camera
Zach Carolin Speakers
Mitch Toland Jr. all the carrier bloatware....good thing I rooted and put CM7 on my HTC EVO 4g...now its way faster and I have it even more customized
Mark Orlowski Battery life and over-loaded 4G Verizon network
Matt Balcer The fact that AT&T only gets a new phone about once every 6 months. And they're not even that good of phones. Boooooooo!
Mo Kim Battery life
Ricardo Lopez android os updates and battery life
Keith Howells Carrier bloat, battery life and lack of timely os updates for android
Hayden Bridges Not enough feature phones with a wifi atenna
Kelly Imber My new HTC Inspire automatically links contacts with FacePlant, even when there is NO reason to!!
Cindy Holmes When I swype other words appear...and slow response between tweets
Nikki Bedell Battery life and not having 4g in my area!!!!!
Derick Williams not to be pedantic, but you might want to learn what "obsolete" means.. yeah, phones get old fast.. if you have a problem with it stick with a flip phone until the market settles some.. or buy a phone that can do what you want/need it to do and not worry about what comes out thats new. The phones going "obsolete" would mean within afew months they can no longer do what you originally bought them to do. And if you have a generic "Well I bought it to run the latest apps" then your buying a phone with only a few months life to begin with..
Gary Bowling I have a Sensation 4G and it will not make it one day on a single charge, I have Bluetooth off, GPS Off, Auto Adjust brightness, WIFI off, stilll.... HTC are superior phones with inferior battery life.
Fisher Outlaw HD recording w/ hdmi out ports
Alexander Sharp And battery life sucks.
Luis Reich Biggest gripe? Apple. Nuff said...
Alexander Sharp Plan costs are insane in canada
Rakein Shaw Bowens Battery life and then phones get boring when a new model refresh upgrade comes in stock.
Gordon Christie Lack if support from samsung for sgs2 battery life no ota for updates wish I had sensation not sgs2
Prabhath Jay battery life is crap on most devices.
Orga Price @Jersey Joe Da-Know -- What phone are you using? I've never had a message not save as draft if I get interrupted by a call. That said: battery life and subpar cameras are probably my biggest gripes. For now.
Eric N Chelsea Carter Battery life, no 4G, screen size and no flash...iPhone 4 but still a great phone overall
Zack Burns Battery life! I can barely make it through school, on a good day.
Joel Gomez Iphone's micro sim makes it inconvenient to swap cell phones, small screen, unremovable battery and battery life.
Sami Escueta Retiniano Verizon Data Plans -___-
Jersey Joe Da-Know my carrier is VZW & my biggest complaint is that there's NO phones that can TRULY MULTITASK!!! IE: If I answer a call while in the middle of typing a text msg, I LOSE ALL PROGRESS in the msg & have to START the text msg all over again. its bullshit*t !!
Kyle Wraij Battery, battery, battery. ... oh, and loud talkers.
Noneya Biz Having to deal with iPhone fanboys.
Reevan Lalchan All of the above
Aamir Jamal Battery battery battery life.
Ross E. Battery life!!!!!!!
Dominic Jessup Reid A new phone every other week.
Gary Bowling BATTERY LIFE!
Josh Therezo Few android devices when physical QWERTY keyboards! I love my Epic 4G.
Jaime Powers Photos, videos and contacts dropping off!!! Very frustrating!!!
Jerry Benoit That your phones becomes obsolete after a few months
Eric Quach ya battery life
Leon Smitherman iPhone Screen size and lack of Flash.
Prabu Gurunathan This is cool! You can see your profile views! www.goo.gl/ee5j8
Jeremy Davis Battery life

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