What is the best phone, right now? The answer is obviously…? My current phone is considered ‘old’, and it may be the time to look for a replacement. However among the flagship phones, any choice will come with compromises. So, I have decided to compile the best parts of all phones, to describe the ‘perfect phone’ for me. Manufacturers, take notes!
- My Current Phone.
- The Perfect Phone. My general usage, and things I want.
1. My Current Phone
The LG / Google Nexus 4 was released in late 2012. Summary of the specs and my general opinion of the phone, in one paragraph(!): It has a 4.7” HD LCD screen which works beautifully in day or night, on a body that would be considered ‘mini’ in today’s standard (i.e. it completely fills the average palm). The design is somewhat unique with a glass back, which has a sparkling effect when light shines at certain angles – very cool. Its Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU is old. However, it does not feel old as it runs the latest version of Android (4.4.4), and everything performs smoothly and quickly (with 2GB of ram). The photos and videos from the 8MP back camera and 1.3MP front camera are nothing to boast about; the day shots can be acceptable, but it’s a huge gamble at night. Speaker-wise, it’s nothing special with a mono speaker on the back which can get tinny. No expandable memory, LTE nor replaceable battery. Overall it is a solid phone for the general user. However, it’s ‘old’, and it may be time for a new phone…
2. The Perfect Phone
How do you use your phone?
To find the perfect phone for you, you should know how you generally use your phone, and what you want to do with your (hypothetical) new phone. For example, you may use your phone for just calls, messaging / texting (SMS, Hangouts, Skype, Whatsapp etc.), the occasional internet browsing, and not want anything more. In this case, it would be a waste of money for you to buy a new iPhone 6; the phone itself is capable of so much more (arguable!) than just your general usage, and it costs a few hundred goats. A smarter choice would be to pick a phone that absolutely meets your needs, not buy the new iPhone and save many of your goats for a rainy day.
How do I use my phone?
As for me in general, I browse the internet on my phone, and watch YouTube videos, along with the usual calling and messaging. With my new phone, I would like to browse the internet, and YouTube at the same time (YouTube’s got heaps of awesome music, and the app doesn’t support background playback 😦 ), on a high quality screen. I also listen to music in the shower, and so nice speakers would be… nice. The phones I have considered to replace my current phone, are:
- Samsung Galaxy S5.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
- Sony Xperia Z2.
- LG G2.
- HTC One (M8).
- Motorola Moto X (original and 2014 version).
The conclusion from my research, is that the perfect phone does not exist (for me); any choice will come with big compromises. So, the following is a description of what goes into my perfect phone – a mix of most of the mentioned phones.
I like my current phone’s narrow construction, which makes it easy to hold in one hand. I also like the rubberized sides, which provides the assurance of good grip. However, the glass back sometimes leaves me paranoid about it getting scratched. The HTC One’s metal back (and Sony Xperia Z2) is also ‘susceptible to scratching even from the minor incidents…‘ (PocketNow). Based on this, I would like the hardware to:
- be completely operational in one hand.
- be ‘thin’ and ‘light’, like the Nexus 4 (less than 9mm thin, 139g (4.90oz).
- not have a glass nor metal back.
- have a rubberized frame.
The Nexus 4 gives you little to no hope, in getting quality low-light shots. So unfortunately, I have had to forget about taking photos / videos at night. I would like Samsung’s ISOCELL camera. This is the camera that comes with the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, and the Galaxy S5. With its 16MP sensor, so you can expect sharp, zoomable high quality photos. Night shots are not an issue (with the help of its image stabilization mode), according to Erica Griffin (the ‘technology nerd who likes to film stuff’). This camera also produced the photos that were voted as the best, through blind tests (PhoneArena).
I honestly have no issues with the current pixel density (~318 ppi) on my current 4.7” LCD panel (resolution is slightly more that HD; 768 x 1280). Panel-wise, I would like an AMOLED panel, for its power-saving properties. What I mean by this is that black parts of the screen, uses no energy! (So, black wallpaper = power saved, on this screen technology.) (If you are worried that I may get screen burn-ins from using an AMOLED screen, fear not! The burn-ins you see in the phone shops occur because the screens are on 24/7, and I have never met any user who has had this issue.) Also, the color production should be ‘natural‘! – Things should look like how they look in real life, rather than being underexposed or ‘punchy’ (saturated). (This is because I like to watch videos with the intended colors, not processed.)
Bezel wise, thin bezels please! Take the LG G2 as a reference, which impressively manages to cram a quality 5.2” screen, on a phone not much larger than the Nexus 4. Based on this… I would like a mix of LG G2’s screen (bezels and size), the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (colors and technology) on a resolution that is at least HD.
When you are watching videos, what good is an awesome screen, when you have tin-can speakers? HTC One‘s BoomSound speakers are front facing stereo speakers, They are apparently and simply, the best sounding speakers to be on a mobile device, bringing a balance of lows, mids and highs. Therefore, you get rich stereo sound towards you, rather than tinny sound going away from you. I want this.
2.5 Interface and Software
Honestly, I will be happy with whatever OEM interface, as long as I can install CyanogenMod (for these reasons). However, I want certain apps (software). Motorola’s Touchless Control. This allows you to wake up the phone and essentially use Google Now, without turning your phone on. That’s right, you can ask for the time in your bed, without even touching your phone – I want this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvQlrLvhtNU I absolutely want Samsung’s Multi Window. This essentially allows you to do have two (or more?) apps running at the same time. My favorite combination would be YouTube (for music or just normal videos) and Chrome (for internet browsing), with the former running ‘full screen’ on the top 1/4 of the screen, and Chrome filling up the rest of the space.
Samsung’s Phonebook. It’s the most effective phone / phonebook app that I have used. Do you want to call that person? Swipe their name to the left. SMS that person? Swipe to the right. Too easy. Samsung’s Blocking Mode. It essentially blocks the assigned people from contacting you, and you won’t even be notified if they tried to call you; good for breakups. LG’s Knock Code. With Knock Code, easily wake up and unlock your device, by tapping the screen in a set pattern. It’s both convenient, and secure; brilliant! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8aTC5Zccew Samsung’s or (LG’s) Notification Panel, is efficient and simple. A single finger swipe down, from the top of your screen, reveals a brightness bar. It also has customizable quick toggles on top (like screen rotation), which you can turn off / on at the touch. Notifications are shown below.
HTC’s Zoe, only because it can produce a ‘living’ gallery; very cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmB1LztzEVM
Storage does not have to be expandable, but must have at least 10GB of usable internal memory. (This has been good enough for my usage, as I backup my photos / videos on my computer, and do not dump all my media on the phone!) Battery life should be able to easily be able to last a day. The Nexus 4 cannot do this, unless I constantly remind myself to ‘ease up on the usage, amigo‘. The LG G2, though old, is a very good model for my battery needs. IP certification, for water / dust protection, is not needed for me. I have owned phones for over 300 years, and have never dropped it in some puddle.
As you can see, there is no single phone that meets my expectations (…for now. This is your chance, manufacturers!). Most of the flagship phones these days have something that is more or less unique, making it difficult for knowledgeable consumers to pick and be fully satisfied. For now, I will be sticking with my Nexus 4. It is a very comfortable phone to hold, it looks good, and I have no complaints with it (besides the useless night photography). It’s pretty much all I need right now, and I have just saved a few goats.
Have I missed any good software? Am I missing the point? Let us know!
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