The cell phone market exploded four years ago. Ever since, phones have become increasingly complex, functional and expensive. With literally hundreds of choices between brand, form factor and price point, it can be especially difficult to pull the trigger on one specific phone. But what if phones were made-to-order, custom-built down to the last spec to suit your every last need? What if you could build your own superphone?
Keep in mind that I'm not the first person to have this idea – this is not another one of my far-fetched, futuristic ideas. Thanks for the memory jog, Joe.
You may recall a German company by the name of Synapse that quickly gained the interests of tech journos and Android fans all around late last year with their unique (to this market at least) idea. Synapse had a website service where users could create their phone, made-to-order. Price, which started at a respectable $600 (or $410), increases accordingly, based on user-chosen features and specifications. The website (no longer available) offered features like Bluetooth, camera quality, processor, built-in memory, RAM, radio and many more options for building your perfect phone. Synapse did, however, fall off the map since they surfaced, so don't get too excited.
Despite the shadiness of the company, the concept remains strong and intriguing. And although they don't know it yet, this is exactly what die-hard mobile tech junkies have always wanted. But it makes me wonder why no one else has jumped on this opportunity. (Maybe it's just inefficient?) Building your own computer from ground-up has been a common practice for PC junkies for quite some time and can usually be done for much cheaper than buying a comparable, pre-built PC from an OEM like Sony or Toshiba. Even when buying cars, though you do not technically build them yourselves, you can choose individual features and specifications of your "dream car," like a sunroof, heated seats, etc. – something not every car will have.
Personally, I'm tired of smartphone manufacturers putting all of their focus in one particular aspect of a phone and skimping on others. All I want is the ability to create my own phone to my liking.
There are obvious pitfalls to this method like not being able to take this route and buying on-contract. Building your own phone would ultimately mean that you would have to buy unsubsuduzed. Also, building custom phones means that mass production is impossible from start to finish. This alone creates more problems like turnaround time and price.
But the advantages, if you can swallow the price tag, are obvious and abundant. If you can build your own phone, what are the chances you can upgrade the hardware periodically? Instead of buying a new phone every time technology improves, just order a component upgrade and send the bad boy off for a tune-up. Being in control of the hardware means you will have control of the software, too. Unlocked out of the box and rooted? No problem. Hello, custom ROMs and cross-carrier compatibility. An ultimate (yet highly unlikely) perk of doing this would be support from popular OEMs. Instead of blatantly drab, unbranded hardware (though I'll admit, that's why I love my Cr-48), you could upgrade from a standard chassis to a pre-fab HTC or Motorola housing. How nice would that be?
All of this may seem a bit far-fetched, but I honestly believe this will be a common option at some point down the road – it should be at least. Synapse kick-started the idea in 2010 and was met with a great amount of interest from Android fans around the globe. Unfortunately, they vaporized and we are left with nothing but an awesome concept with no execution. Who's willing to step up to the plate?
What say you, phone fans? Would you like to build your own phone ground-up? Or do you prefer OEMs making preset hardware? Given the chance, what kind of superphone would you create?
Image via Synapse