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What is the perfect smartphone?

This is a question I don't get asked very often, but when I do, it's impossible to answer. There is no – nor will there ever be a – perfect smartphone. Each person weighs different aspects of a phone differently. For instance, the size of the display may matter more to me, whereas the clarity might hold more weigh to the next guy. And with increasingly intricate as spec sheets and other detailed info on smartphones, creating a phone that appeals to everyone is, well ... impossible.

But that doesn't keep us from dreaming. Since we're the only ones that can definitively know what we want in a phone, down to the very last spec, constructing a "perfect" phone in our minds is both easy and can be fun.

Twice now I have written about what my idea of the perfect smartphone (or "superphone") is. The last time I wrote about it was in August. While that may only have been four months ago, things have immensely changed – new processor technologies have debuted, new displays are available and even three major software updates have arrived. Likewise, so has my idea of the perfect phone.

Yesterday, I wrote an article detailing why the iPhone works well as a secondary device for me. I carry two devices because no platform or single piece of hardware fits my every need (or wants, for that matter). But it occurred to me just how much my preferences have changed in a matter of a few short months. That's why I find it to be the perfect time to revisit the idea of the "perfect" phone for me.

 

Hardware

Before, my idea of perfect cell phone hardware was a modified BlackBerry Bold 9900. I absolutely love the 9900 form factor – I am, after all, an ex BlackBerry junkie. Stretch the display size a bit from 2.8-inches to 3.5-inches (give or take), and it would be one seriously slick piece of hardware. That was then.

For the last two weeks, I've been very impressed with the hardware of the Galaxy Nexus. I like the design – from the curved display and button placement (also the lack of physical buttons on the face of the phone) to the materials used. For the record, it's as close to perfect as any phone has ever been. But even that phone could be improved upon. That's why my idea of a perfect phone would have Samsung's 1.2GHz Exynos processor instead of the 1.2GHz TI OMAP found in the Nexus. And instead of a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display, I would opt for a HD Super AMOLED Plus of the same size. Throw in a micro SD card slot, micro HDMI out and match the battery capacity of the Galaxy Note (2,500 mAh), and it would be golden.

The only other change I would make to the Galaxy Nexus would be to put some more oomph in the camera. A physical camera shutter button and either the optics used in the iPhone 4S or the 12-megapixel shooter with Carl Zeiss optics as featured on the Nokia N8 would easily make this the phone of my dreams. For now at least.

 

Software

In a smartphone, hardware is only half the battle. You can pack a phone with all of the best specs mobile manufacturers have to offer and still encounter glitchy and sub-par software. In August, I would have fitted the modified BlackBerry with webOS-themed MIUI, if I had my way. But now that I've had some hands-on time with Android 4.0, it easily takes the cake.

The changes debuted in Ice Cream Sandwich don't make it flawless. You will still run into the occasional glitch or random hang up – the worst is the lag in rotation transitions, which somehow take 3-5 seconds to complete. But it is leaps and bounds beyond Gingerbread.

Random glitches or no glitches, Android is my platform of choice. I have way too much invested in Google services to run off with another platform at this point. Fortunately, Ice Cream Sandwich makes that an easy decision to make and has rejuvenated my once-dwindling love for Android.

 

Carrier and connectivity

This is the tough part. I've missed LTE since the ThunderBolt. But what I I don't miss is the respective battery drain caused by LTE. I've been a loyal Verizon customer for years now (since the Alltel merger) and have explored with all other national carriers at least once. I've mainly been a CDMA user since my start with mobile.

More recently, however, I've taken to GSM. The speeds of HSPA+ don't quite compare to LTE, but the battery trade-off versus speed is fine by me. I'm not fully ready for LTE, nor are phones or their relatively small battery capacities. For now, I'll stick to HSPA+. I like the fact that at any time I can take my unlocked Nexus from T-Mobile to AT&T without a hitch.

 

Extras

Instead of elaborating on battery life like the two times before (I've come to grips with the trade-offs of performance versus poor battery life), I figured I would mix it up a bit by talking about some plausible (yet unlikely) extras.

As I've made it well known by now, I love my QWERTY keyboards. Typing on a touchscreen is certainly getting better with time, but it's nothing in comparison to typing on a nice, roomy physical keyboard – especially one from Research In Motion. But I would never want to sacrifice display real estate in favor of a keyboard. It's a step in the wrong direction. So I would love nothing more than a removable QWERTY keyboard like this concept for the iPhone 4/4S. I could enjoy a physical QWERTY as needed and remove it when I don't need it. While it would require me to carry a small keyboard in my pocket at all times, it would reduce the overall weight and size of the phone itself without completely sacrificing a physical keyboard option.

I would also like a solar panel on the battery door. Solar panels have been used in cell phones before (twice, actually), and I love the idea. It isn't meant to replace AC charging, but at least your phone can trickle charge when you're in view of the sun. If nothing else, it's a cool feature to show off and at least serves some purpose.

 

You know the drill ...

This isn't your first rodeo, you know what to do. What's perfect for me might be completely wrong for you. I may love certain features that you hate, and vice versa. So I want you to tell me what your idea of a perfect phone is, no restrictions. You can have Apple hardware running webOS with an Exynos processor. Be creative and hold nothing back. Share your perfect phone in the comments below!


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