Ask me what my favorite food is and I'll say Thai Red Curry. Ask me my favorite car and that's a BMW M3. But if you asked me what my favorite smartphone is I'd have no answer for you. There is not a smartphone on the market that's 100 perfect for me. (I know I'm ridiculously picky.) I'm thankful for all of the flavors in the kitchen but it's getting harder to find what I want on the mobile menu.
I understand you've got to have tough skin to be a smartphone manufacturer these days. You're either revered for a single feature or criticized like Lance Armstrong. It must be tough reading about a lack of NFC support if you're Apple, the resource requirements of Sense if you're HTC, and the criticism of plastic hardware as Samsung. These complaints are justified and I'm ready to spill the beans of what I'd consider a "perfect" smartphone.
I've narrowed it down to two all encompassing categories: Software (including OS features and skins), and Hardware (including build, display, and specs).
Software (OS features and skins)
The smartphone market is comprised of three main operating systems: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. If you believe BlackBerry has what it takes to come back, consider them number four. As a unit, they make up the market, but individually they're lacking in one way or another.
There are certain features of each OS that I'd like to see mashed together. There's a certain sense of empowerment that I get using Jelly Bean that no other operating system comes close to. In fact, stock Jelly Bean might offer less "features" but it's in no way less capable. It's hard to believe the first device running my favorite OS was launched just four and a half years ago because it's come so very far. If I had it my way, I'd throw in the gestures of BB10 as well. I'll be happy when all on-screen and physical buttons are eliminated.
If you prefer Android like I do, you probably have an opinion about the skins on devices. I like Vanilla Jelly Bean. There's nothing better than running in the nude; smartphone streaking, if you will. There are certain features of TouchWiz that I like, too. I'd take Multi-Window view on any device with a screen bigger than 4.5-inches. Multi-Window view is a feature that makes me jealous of the Galaxy line daily. Ideally, my device would run Vanilla Jelly Bean, with the iOS camera app and gallery, along with BB10's gestures, and Windows Phone's People app.
From Sense, I'd take their clock widget and messaging APK's. I love to watch the clock widget flip and I also like how you can launch your alarms, calendar, and weather all through the widget itself. Like our Aaron Baker, I really dig the customizability Sense 4 (and Sense 4+) offers in the messaging app. The background in each message and the colors spice up text messaging. I'd request that Quick Reply be built in as well so that I don't have to open the messaging app to reply.
Hardware (Build, Display, and Specs)
The mobile market is the antithesis of the automobile industry. OEM's are cramming more features into smaller devices and making subtle "sacrifices" like non-removable batteries and non-expandable storage along the way. On the other hand, cars are getting more luxurious by the minute. Features like power windows, windshield antennas, and heads-up displays are slowly trickling down into budget vehicles. And they're getting bigger, heavier, and safer, too. Since you already know how I feel about smartphones and their fragility, I'm going to tell you my ideal hardware configuration.
It would be dust, shock, and waterproof. The frame would be a black or gray aluminum. It would be glossy and contoured to easily fit between the ear and mouth. Think Galaxy Nexus. The edges of the frame would mimic the Galaxy S III's curved edges which feel great in-hand. On the backside of the device, I'd want it to be made out of a kevlar-polycarbonate mix. Think DROID RAZR HD but with a removable battery. It would have to be removable and at least 2,500mAh. I'd like to see a hinge holding the back cover on to increase rigidity. In regards to the polycarbonate back - mix HTC's polycarbonate sturdiness with the Samsung Galaxy S III's slick texture and you've got my ideal mix.
On the front, I'd be content with something of the 720p variety like the SLCD2 display on HTC's One devices. But I wouldn't say "no" to the 1080p SLCD3 variant gracing the HTC Butterfly and DROID DNA. If time was no factor and Doc was around, I'd go back to the future for a Youm Flexible Display which would gracefully outline the curved nature of my device.
Internally, I think the Qualcomm Snadragon S4 Pro running at 1.5GHz would do the trick until Samsung decides to show us their Exynos 5 Octa in action. The standard 2GB RAM would also work well. I'd be content with 16GB on-board storage so as long as it's expandable by MicroSD. The device should also be global to play nice with the HSPA bands in Europe and 4G LTE-Advanced technologies that we may soon see in the states. (Yes, I realize no chipset and modem exist.) I'd have to go with the PureView 808's 41MP sensor on the backside, and a 2MP front-facer for clear video calls.
That's all, folks, but what say you? Do you wish certain features of iOS were available on Android, Windows Phone, or BB10? What about the hardware and muscle powering it all? Tell me your ideal hardware and software mashup in the comments below! Let loose. There's no rules in this game!