One of the best-known benefits to Android is the variety of devices on the market. There are so many Android phones available to choose from, but many people find criticism with the selection, and will find some features to be lacking no matter the Android device. This is true to some extent, and leads us to the question: what do we really need in the next round of Android phones, including the G2?
Everybody has their own opinions and areas they want to see enhanced in the next generation of Android phones. Some people want to see more graphics acceleration so our phones can be used as gaming devices, some people want HDMI and external connections so you can play movies and other media on your TVs. In my opinion, I want to see more devices focused on….
The Business User
As a business user myself, I have many of the requirements of regular users, but most business users need ease of use, stability, performance, and more. The latest versions of Android are already addressing the business user in its email software with integration into Exchange, IMAP, POP and most email systems, but media functionality is lacking. I want the fast graphics so I can chill in the evening. I want the media playback so I can fire up my Android phone on the plane and watch a movie. I know the larger corporate environments like to be able to control the phone’s configuration from a central location like the Blackberry systems do. The software is getting there and is almost business ready. I’m sure more of this will come, but for now the basic integration is upon us.
Here are some of the main hardware areas I’d like to see addressed in future devices, and a quick look at what we know of the upcoming G2 from T-Mobile.
The G2 in its many recent photos shows the full hardware keyboard and has the potential to meet one of the main criteria that I want from my next phone, and that is a good hardware keyboard. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the first phone I ever purchased, which had the best keyboard released for any Android device, the T-Mobile G1. So why haven’t we seen more devices like this? Is it because of the popularity of the iPhone that everyone has been trying to make a phone that competes with the soft keyboard, super-selling phone from Apple? I’m not sure. I’m extremely surprised that it’s taken this long for a successor to the highly successful G1 and I really hope that it’s all it’s made out to be.
I love my Nexus One and I can type fast using Swype on the soft keyboard, but turning your device sideways and using the screen keyboard means the contents of the screen are covered with the keyboard itself. Like everyone else, I like to be able to see what’s displayed on my screen, while still having the ability to type. So hopefully that’s the number one must-have for the successor to the G1. People complained at the first photos of the myTouch Slide with its reduced row keyboard, but as more and more people use it and report on it, they generally feel it works pretty well. The G2 follows this same design, so we’ll see how well it works once we get our hand on the device.
There is always lots of talk about the performance of Android phones and many people have been asking why the processor for the G2 is supposedly only running at 800MHz. Is this a concern? I really don’t think so. The G2 is using a brand new Qualcomm MSM7x30 chipset; the Scorpion processor has more hardware acceleration than the previous processor/chipset combinations like those using the Snapdragon. This means that even though the processor is running at a slower clock speed, the overall experience is enhanced by the additional acceleration of the chipset and secondary processing of other tasks like graphics and multimedia. We’ve already seen what can be achieved by community modification of the current Snapdragon-based phones, and the experience just keeps getting faster and faster. Google is also continually optimizing the code underneath the facade of the Android GUI. I’m expecting big things from the G2, and based on the reaction of many developers in the community, it will end up being a heavily modified device.
I haven’t had a phone yet that has provided good sound quality, especially from the built-in speaker phones. I frequently use my speaker phone for business calls or when I have other people with me who need to be involved in the discussion. My Nexus One is barely loud enough to be used as a speaker phone and even with the volume increased, the tiny speaker produces such tinny sound. I really hope that someone, sooner or later, will produce a phone with a better built-in speaker with enough quality to throw into the middle of a meeting table and allow the people around it to listen and talk without having to lean over the phone and strain to hear what’s going on.
Of all the devices I’ve used, the Samsung Galaxy S has by far had the best size and quality display of any phone available today. Four inches of pixel -pushing real estate seems to be the perfect size for portability and readability. I love the EVO with its 4.3 inch display, but it only just fits into my pocket without being noticeable. The 3.7 inch screen of my Nexus One and the upcoming G2 is the smallest acceptable display for a business user with an Android phone. Any smaller and it becomes harder to read and requires more scrolling to read your content.
Meet these simple requirements and I’ll be a happy business user and I guarantee that you’ll have a bestselling phone and hefty profit from all the sales. Has T-Mobile met these goals with the G2? Only time will tell and that time is only weeks away. Sprint is heading in the right direction with the Samsung EPIC 4G and Verizon has been getting serious with their releases for a while. The choice, while better than a single option, is almost becoming too much; with all the releases this is causing more and more fragmentation in the Android world as each manufacturer adds their own customizations to the Android GUI. Still, the most popular phones are like the Nexus One with the standard Google Android experience, with quick updates to the next latest greatest OS tweaks and enhancements.
The G2 looks like it will have the standard Google Android experience as well; this is a good thing. If you want to customize your experience, there is an abundance of choices available through the Android market without having the manufacturers’ choices forced upon you. HTC has the Sense UI, which is probably the second-most popular enhanced GUI for the Android platform, but why not make it an add-on and allow people to use it on any device? After all, it is just an add-on or framework that developers would embrace even more if it were made open with the source and libraries available to the world.
I’m very excited to see what the G2 will bring to the table, and even more excited that we should be able to get some first looks and a chance to test the G2 at the upcoming Big Android BBQ in Austin, Texas in October.
What do you want to see in your next Android device? What other areas would you like us to dig into and write about? Give us your shopping list of requirements, and maybe we can make sure the manufacturers get some feedback. What would be even more super cool is if we could get someone like HTC to build a community specified device. Just imagine, a full- on heavy hitting super-phone that we all have a hand in designing. Maybe they would build us an AndroidSPIN special edition….. Not likely, but a nice thought!
See you in the comments below