Features I’d like to see become more-standard on smartphones


After reading Paul’s Pixel 4a articles it made me think what I’d like to see become standard on mid-range smartphone handsets. Some thoughts:

OPTICAL-ZOOM: digital-zoom algorithms are certainly a lot better than they used to be, but nothing will beat optical for quality. On premium/high-end handsets I’d expect the optical lens to be motorised, but I can’t see why on mid-range a non-motorised, manually-adjusted optical-lens (such as by rotating the lens, or using a physical slider-button) could become a thing.

BIGGER BATTERIES: 3000mAh is the norm now for most mid-rangers, though 3500-4000 is becoming more-standard, with 5000 only seen in some handsets (like the Moto G8 Power), and while greater chip-efficiency will certainly help, battery-life is still a main thing I look for. No-one expects 1990’s Nokia-era levels of battery-life, but 15-20 hours would be great to see.

SD CARD SUPPORT: I really see no reason why some vendors (like Google) choose not to support it. Yes, it can make some apps more-difficult to use, and confuse some users where their content is saved, but I’d prefer the option overall.

TEMPERATURE SENSOR: GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and proximity are all fairly-standard at mid-range, but rarely do you see a phone with a built-in temperature sensor — not sure why, given even cheap cycle-computers or digital wall-thermometers for the home (around $10 or less) can do this, so why not phones? (Also add to this a reliable odometer, so you can use your phone as a pedometer without relying on the gyroscope, which is often inaccurate for this purpose, or apps which rely on battery-draining GPS to be constantly on).

STEREO, FRONT-FACING SPEAKERS: for mid-range it feels inexcusable to have a single, mono, rear-facing speaker.

USB-C and FAST-CHARGE: I’d not expect wireless-charging for a mid-ranger, but USB-C and some standard of Fast-Charge should be standard.

FRONT-FACING FLASH: given the tiny cost for an LED bulb, makes me wonder why this hasn’t become a thing. Sure, some camera apps have an “illuminate” mode, where the screen will go white around the preview-area to provide a light-source, but it’s not the same.

HEADPHONE-SOCKET: all mid-range handsets should retain this.

OLED: given the battery-savings that can be made by using a dark-mode theme (especially for “always on” mode), OLED should be standard for the mid-range.

SMALLER SIZES: given the demise of the Sony Xperia XZ range, it would be good to see more mid-rangers available in smaller-sizes. Most Android phones now that are small-sized are mostly low-end specs. Not everyone wants a massive phone, or to have to choose Apple and iOS if they do!

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