One of the promises made with Google's new Android platform and the Open Handset Alliance is that we as consumers will finally be free from the tyranny of cell phone carriers. Thanks to Sprint and T-Mobile's agreement with the OHA philosophy of open and free cell phone usage, maybe we can finally truly find the perfect phone that'll match all our needs and be affordable at the same time.
But what does a perfect phone mean for me? Of course, right off the bat, I'm hoping for a compact device with generous screen real estate, a functional keypad or QWERTY keyboard, plus a 3-megapixel camera, but an open platform would not necessarily dictate the design of the hardware. So I'll focus mostly on software and desired features.
1) First and foremost, I want an easy to use OS. Sorry, Symbian and Windows Mobile--though both these mobile OSes have plenty of power, they're not the easiest for the smartphone newbie to understand. Palm is a fine OS, but it's getting to be rather dated and sadly underpowered. Ideally, the Android platform will be as easy to use as OS X on the iPhone, but with a lot more flexibility.
2) Google has already come to my aid with the second feature I want--the ability to install and use a wide range of applications. I would be happy with the Google apps alone--I use GMail and Google Calendar religiously, and Google Docs would be great to have--but if Google truly believes in the open-source movement, they would open the doors for their competitors to enter the gate as well. This means I want to see apps from Yahoo and Microsoft on here along with all the other third-party ones.
3) Following up on number 2, these are the applications I want on the phone: A fast and well-built browser that supports Flash as well as Java, a multiple IM client, an e-mail client that supports POP and IMAP, compatibility with Microsoft's Exchange server for work e-mail, and perhaps this is a pipe dream, but I want a VoIP client. Ideally, I'd like a mobile Skype app, as well as compatibility with something like T-Mobile's HotSpot @ Home, where I get to make free calls via WiFi.
4) It needs to be fast. That means I want 3G, and I want Wi-Fi as well (OK, so this is encroaching on hardware territory a bit). Thankfully, Qualcomm has mentioned that 3G will be a big part of Android, so this isn't too far from reality. That said, 3G and Wi-Fi together in one package would be ideal.
5) Open up Bluetooth as much as possible. That means I want stereo Bluetooth as well as the ability to tether my PC to the phone via Bluetooth and use it as a modem. This combined with the phone's 3G abilities would obviate the need for a separate EV-DO or HSDPA PC card.
That's a pretty hefty wishlist for sure, and I haven't even gone into the details yet. Perhaps there's a phone like this already and I'm not aware of it, but it would be nice to have Google's Android as well as the OHA produce something like this. I can guarantee you that if a well-designed phone comes out with all the above features and more, I might be willing to fork over my hard-earned cash for one.
How about you, dear readers? What is your ideal phone? And do you think the Android platform plus the OHA will come up with it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
P.S. OK, also, it'd be sweet if I could access my home computer while I'm on the road. All right, I'm done now.