5 Features Every Smartphone Should Have

I’ve been rocking an HTC Hero (Sprint Version) since the beginning of October ’09.  When I bought it, it was the end-all-be-all for Android phones.  While I knew that even better phones would be right around the corner, I didn’t predict the onslaught of dope phones that was to come.

Less than a month after the Hero was released in the states, the Verizon started a media blitz for the Motorola Droid.  I was fortunate to be able to review one a couple weeks before it came out.  At the time, I was pretty jealous.  Faster processor…bigger screen…new version of Android…Google Maps with Navigation.  It was pretty darn perfect.  I was still within my 30-day return policy for Sprint and Best Buy.  I thought about returning the Hero for the Droid.  But I knew, something better would come out in 2010.

Fast forward a couple of months, and guess what? Something better came out. Behold the Nexus One.  Faster processor…bigger screen…a new version of Android…Goo..wait a minute.  Didn’t I just say that?  Anyway, the Nexus One is a sexy phone.

Oh yeah, about a month after the Nexus One was announced, HTC released a couple new phones.  This is never going to end.

Anyway, to the point.  Looking at all of the phones that are available, the perfect one still eludes me.  The Nexus One is close, but still doesn’t get a 10/10.  Here are five features I’d like to see on every mobile phone in the future (in no particular order).  Also, let’s assume that there’s a fast processor, touchscreen, camera, GPS, accelerometer, etc.

You’re probably well aware that I’m an Android fanboy, so this feature should be no surprise.  Do I really think EVERY smartphone should have Android? I guess not, but this is my perfect world.  Android [should] lower the cost of the unit, since there are no licensing fees.  It’s able to be customized by the hardware manufacturers and carriers to make the experience unique, while still retaining the solid Android base of features and applications.

Camera Button
One of the things that I liked about my G1 and the Droid was the physical camera button.  It was a quick way to launch the camera app and it made it easier to take pictures.  I’m not a super vain person, but sometimes I like to take pictures of myself or of Kate and I.  If you’re going to try and replace my point-and-shoot camera, act more like a point-and-shoot camera.  Plus, in Android, a developer can hijack the camera button for another function.  One more hard buttons to do one more task. I like.

Improved Camera Functions
If you’ve ever tried to take a picture with a cell, and weren’t standing a foot from a 100w bulb, you know what I’m talking about.  Most camera phones take okay pictures in good light, but once you’re indoors, forget about it.  I’m not suggesting that everay phone should have a DSLR slapped on the front of it.  I’m talking about a basic flash, auto-focus, and maybe some digital zoom.  My Hero has two of the three…no flash.  The digital zoom has worked out well.  The auto-focus (with touch focus) is pretty good.

On-Screen Navigation
I’m not talking about turn-by-turn directions.  I’m talking about some sort of input device to move around the screen.  I don’t care if it’s a trackball, optical sensor, or directional pad.  Something to offer a finer method of getting to where you have to go.  Frankly, I don’t know how the iPhone folks do it.  It’s nice to be able to use a trackball to quickly jog around an email correcting typos or specifically selecting a link on a webpage.  I have ‘fat thumbs syndrome’.  If there are a group of links bunched together, I inevitably select the wrong one.

Multicolored LED
In the Android SDK there is a way for developers to be able to display several different LED colors.  Something like 12.  This is only possible if you have a tri-colored LED built-into the phone.  The G1 and several other HTC phones have this.  The Hero does not.  It can only turn green or orange.  The benefit of true multicolor is the ability to customize the color and blink rate for your various apps (if the developer built it in).  I used to have a super fast flashing blue LED for SMS messages, my email would come through as a green steady blink, and Twitter mentions would be a lighter blue (to match the Twitter color palette).  On the Hero, no matter what the message is, it just blinks green…and at the same rate.

Let me know what features you wish you had on your phone.

Love and robots,

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