Nine things I want in a mobile phone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008
This is a response to a story I read today at A VC. It got me thinking about convergence, which ... I'll say is a great idea ... but sits as a "Nice To Have" for me, rather than a Need To Have.

When the phone receives a call, it should instantly begin ringing

My current phone, the Verizon XV6800 waits about 5 seconds. Unfortunately, I have a 1.5 ring forward from my desk and that extra five seconds means I lose the call.

If I miss a phone call, upon turning my phone's screen on I should be greeted with a large, ominous notification

Generally, that call will need to be returned and when you hide that information within a silly looking icon at the top (that is *always* there no matter what), I'm going to ignore it.

A battery life that allows for me to have an average day's worth of conversations and usage without having to plug it in, even once, until it's time for bed.

My old phone would go days. My new one is lucky to make it to 7:00 PM.

A form factor that is smaller than a bar of Dial Soap

Point #1: If a phone is so bulky that after two days the silly little belt clip actually breaks in half, chances are it's time to redesign the phone.
Point #2: Since the phone is so big, it looks a little strange sitting in my pocket. "Is that a bar of Dial Soap in your pocket or are you just happy to ..." Those are not funny jokes, guys.
The reason my phone is so large is because of the last point. The extended battery is mandatory if you are expecting to actually use the phone.

Reception that is spectacular

Part of this can be blamed on The Network, but a lot of blame lies with the phone. My old phone worked in several parts of my home that my new phone starts to drop calls in.

The ability to use it, comfortably, without a Blue Tooth Headset

Really, I'm carrying enough around already. Holding a bar of soap up to my ear both looks silly and is very uncomfortable.

The ability to predict when an incoming or outgoing call is going to be sent to my BT Headset or my Handset, and a dead simple way to switch between them if it goes to the wrong place

Why must the Pseudo-Random Number Generator built into my phone be the single biggest predictor of whether or not the call is going to go to my headset? Generally speaking, if it is, in fact, connected to a BT Headset ... shouldn't the phone default to sending everything to it? And if it doesn't, why do I have to go through a menu to find the Turn Handsfree On/Off? Try managing that while driving 70 MPH down a Michigan Freeway and then consider why there are so many accidents on I-696.

Names for Caller ID should appear on my cell phone regardless of whether or not I have them in my contact list

I have never understood why my silly home phone gets the last, first name or company name but my state of the art cell phone running over a The Network doesn't. I get many calls from people I don't necessarily have listed in my contact list. The information is clearly built into the Caller ID system. Is it so hard to come up with a standard way to deliver it to a "Smart Phone"?

The software and features of my phone should never trump the single biggest reason I use my phone: To talk to people ... on the phone

That's why I bought a cell phone, instead of a two-way. That's why I own an iPod, instead of using my phone to play mp3 files at the cost of precious battery life. That's why I have a removable GPS system for my car, to provide me navigation where I need it most ... in my car.
I'll admit, it's nice having e-mail, and Instant Messaging. When I absolutely have to, browsing the web at a resolution of 320x240 is possible, though never enjoyable.
But if my phone can't make phone calls and receive phone calls, I don't want it.


I'll admit that most of my gripes are centered around the current, miserable, state of Windows Mobile 6 and the XV6800, which is ... positively ... the worst designed handset ever made. I've played with an iPhone, and it is impressive, but I'm tied to Verizon and WinMo due to things outside of my control.
As I said with the last gripe, I think that most of what is wrong with today's "Smart Phones" is that they're a little too "Smart" and a little too little "Phone".
While it'd be nice to have location aware software, twitter clients, a Bike Odometer (WTHeck?), Shazam (again...), can we agree that the first priority should be making the phone work?