4.3-4.5” screen on a full featured smartphone is my dream
The bezels are though getting smaller, however there is a limit to how much the overall profile of the device can change.
Having recently had hands on with the LG G2, I was mightily surprised at how it didn’t actually feel much bigger than the S4 despite the additional 0.2” to the screen.
Every phone, tablet or phablet has a place in the market, otherwise they wouldn’t be produced. What works for one person does not work for another.
I have for the last 18 months at least, been using a Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 which are pretty much identical in terms of size.
Within that time I have had long periods of hands on with many other devices and now I have really come to the conclusion that I want something smaller, I just find the device too big to use comfortably.
I want to be able to use a smartphone in one hand without fear of dropping it, but with the S4 I never feel like I have a really firm grip of it and one handed operation is awkward, especially if I need to access something in the opposing top corner.
Let me give you a real life example to contextualise my issue.
I have a dog, that I take out daily. He likes to run around and being a Labrador he is always wanting to chase things. On a warm summers day I may be wearing only a t-shirt and shorts with a limited number of pockets. I need generally to carry my phone, wallet, keys, dog lead, ball thrower and maybe some dog treats.
I can’t put all of these in my pockets, so I need to use my hands. But if I am out for an hour or more, I am inevitably going to get a text, a call or want to check social networks (this is my time to relax too), and do the thing all pet owners do, take a picture of their animal; but at the same time carrying everything and still throwing the ball for the dog.
A smartwatch solves some of the issues, but really I need my phone and this then becomes a bit of a struggle with the S4. Something smaller makes the job a lot easier.
The Galaxy devices are excellent, I can’t on the whole fault them. Yes some features are gimmicky, but some are useful.
I love the big screen for watching video or browsing a web page, it is easier to view more and is more immersive, but these are not enough to make me feel really satisfied.
I wrote in the Sony Xperia SP review how much I liked that phone. It felt solid and fitted comfortably in the hand. The S4 mini is similar.
However, there is a problem and this problem is pretty much universal in the smaller phones; and this is that the specification is worse and the great new features take longer to arrive.
When I say worse, I mean not as powerful or cutting edge as the high end phones, this is for very solid commercial reasons but I think there is a space in the market for an excellent phone that has that slightly smaller screen but can afford to retain the higher price tag, does anyone agree?
The situation is improving gradually with the likes of the Xperia SP and the HTC One Mini, but we are still not quite there.
Of course the cheaper the better, but having experienced the best in smartphone technology, downgrading can be difficult.
Losing out on features like video out or USB hosting whilst not deal breakers, halt my current desire to transition to something smaller.
Features like the camera are too also important more and more. I take more pictures now than ever before, but I want to capture those images in great detail often without the need to carry a dedicated camera. This is where the phone comes in.
You or I will never be able to get the phone of our dreams (well not yet anyway), but I do believe we should be able to get close to it.
Naturally a smaller device packed with features will chew though the likely smaller battery, be thicker and as heavy as a larger device, but to a point I can handle these if there is a good range of accessories, wireless charging and replaceable battery options.
If I had to make a quick list of features then this would be it:
- Google Android with mix of HTC & Samsung UI tweaks
- Google/Samsung approach to updates
- 4.3” display with HD resolution
- IP rating
- Removable battery
- MicroSD card slot
- 32GB internal memory
- Nokia PureView camera
- Physical home, menu and back buttons
- Dedicated camera key but support for voice control
- MicroUSB connection (on the bottom of the device) with USB hosting and MHL out
- 3.5mm headphone jack on the top
- Lanyard attachment
- Wireless charging
- 4G, WiFi, Bluetooth etc.
- AllShare/wireless screen sharing
- IR blaster
- Metal casing
- HTC BoomSound speakers
- Nokia’s call & signal quality
- Wealth of accessories
There is enough choice on the market today to fulfil most users requirements, but I am sure everyone can find something to criticise about with their phone. You can see how my requirements are not met by the S4 currently.
The Xperia SP for me is the closest I think I have come. The S4 Mini is good but it lacks some of the connectivity options.
I believe the root of my desire comes from owning the Sony Ericson Xperia Arc. I think this is the smartphone that I had a real soft spot for. I used it a lot and loved everything from its connectivity to design. Today it is left in the dark by newer handsets with more features but picking it up the other day reminded me of how much I liked it. It just felt right. I believe I have a dim flame still burning for this phone. To say it is the benchmark is wrong, but I have yet to use a phone that I feel so compelled to use.
The Arc was at the time a great all round performer and looked good too.
In addition to my own personal requirements, there is need for me in my role to use the higher end phones like the S4, Xperia Z etc. which is a positive and a negative. I am sure many are envious but sticking to one phone and not changing has many advantages.
I used to swap out my main phone for the one I was testing, but now it is a bit of a hassle and I prefer to carry 2 devices and keep my main phone just that.
To conclude what I am trying to say, is that whilst smartphones are more evolved than ever with more choice and scope, not all of us are satisfied with what we have got. Customisation and personalisation is slowly creeping in, but we are still a long way from being able to create our ideal smartphone.
If anyone can create what I want soon then I will certainly be interested.