My ideal mobile setup is a high-end smartphone and mid-sized tablet

Published: January 25, 2013

Earlier this week, I explained that my week spent carrying nothing but the DROID DNA every day was great and that switching back to a two-phone setup was both annoying and difficult to cope with.

As much as I like having the option to switch between operating systems on the fly, duplicate notifications for every single call, text, Twitter mention, Facebook comment and email is noisy and redundant. And smartphones – as well as their respective operating systems – have advanced to the point that shortcomings are minimal.

I stated that I would much rather prefer carrying just one smartphone full-time moving forward. And instead of a second smartphone, I would upgrade to a small or mid-sized tablet with wireless connectivity. But rather than corner myself into a single platform, I would prefer to alternate the mobile operating systems between devices.

I took the last three days to contemplate exactly what my ideal mobile device setup would be. I don't need three, four or five mobile devices, and I want to consolidate. Below I have detailed the two variations of mobile devices that I want; unfortunately, what I truly want does not yet exist.


Nexus 4 and an iPad mini

First, it's time I get back to the roots with Android. I've explored both HTC's and Samsung's latest (current) iterations of their customized Android interfaces: Sense 4/4+ and TouchWiz Nature UX in intimate detail. They both are vast improvements over previous versions and are versions of Android that I can live with.

Still, they are not my primary choice. They do not speak to my inner geek quite like vanilla Android, stock Jelly Bean 4.2.

When it comes to Android handsets, wanting stock Android drastically limits my options. There is only one serious handset to choose, the Nexus 4, and it has to be on a GSM carrier – in my case, AT&T. So that leaves my small tablet choice to Verizon. Through Verizon, there are only a few tablets in the mid-range sector: iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and DROID XYBOARD 8.2. Considering I don't want to narrow myself into a single ecosystem or platform, that leaves one option, the iPad mini.

However, I have reservations with the mini. The display resolution is questionably low, making the density and, likewise, the quality well below par. The specifications are nothing to get terribly excited over, nor is the price.

If there were an iPad mini with a Retina Display, this decision would be a no-brainer. I would be looking desperately for a Nexus 4 and I would be working towards getting my hands on a Verizon iPad mini. But this configuration leaves me without the one thing I need in a smartphone. An awesome camera.


iPhone 5 with Nexus 7/Galaxy Note 8.0 with connectivity

The opposite of the Nexus 4 and iPad mini setup is a similar Android tablet paired with the iPhone 5, of course.

I already have an iPhone 5 – 32GB black – in my possession. And I'm perfectly content with it being on Verizon's LTE network, which is respectably fast in most areas I spend my time. So I would keep it that exactly where it is.

The conflict comes from the choosing an Android tablet between 7- and 8-inches compatible with AT&T. The options are: iPad mini, Lenovo IdeaTab A2107 or a Nexus 7 with HSPA+ compatibility. I want to split between operating systems, so if I'm carrying an iPhone, the iPad mini is off the table. Basically, it boils down to the Nexus 7.

For $299, the unlocked Nexus 7 is not a bad deal, by any means. But like the iPad mini, the display resolution is noticeably low in comparison to many other devices out there in different size categories, such as the Nexus 10 with a 10.055-inch 2,560 by 1,600 pixel display or the HTC DROID DNA with a 5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 pixel display. That is 300ppi and 443ppi, respectively, versus the 216ppi (7-inch display with 1,280 by 800 pixels) of the Nexus 7.

The only thing that gives me pause are the rumors of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. But it, too, is plagued by a comparatively low-density display, an 8-inch panel with 1,280 by 800 pixels for about 189 pixels per inch.


Either way I look at it, there is no perfect setup. One way or another, I have to make a compromise to get a mid-sized tablet, I have to settle with a sub-par display (at least in respect to the astronomically high-density panels of other devices). The other problem is availability. I could buy a Verizon iPad mini today to accompany the Nexus  4. But the Nexus 4 is still in and out of stock at T-Mobile and has yet to return to stock on Google Play. As for the other setup, the one I'm less inclined to go with, I already have an iPhone 5 and could buy a Nexus 7 with an AT&T SIM today.

Here's to hoping the Nexus 4 comes back in stock soon. If it does, I'll make a move. If it hasn't come back in stock in a couple weeks, I will likely order a Nexus 7 from Google Play and won't look back for a while. This setup will save me money each month and relieve the stress associated with carrying two phones everywhere I go.

What is your ideal setup, folks? A smartphone and a mid-sized tablet, like me? Or do you have a different ideal setup? Sound off in the comments section below and share what yours is or what is currently keeping you from achieving that model configuration!

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