Roydon CerejoJan 27, 2012 16:10:19 IST
The term ‘smartphone’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but if you look a little closer, you'll know that they aren’t really all that ‘smart’. Previously, phones that could multi-task were considered to be smartphones and today, all the major operating systems do support that feature in one way or another. But with time, the smartphones have evolved into much more than that and they are actually coming pretty close to PC standards, in terms of processing power and functionality, which is why we feel the definition of a ‘smartphone’ should be more than just the ability to run two programs at the same time. Here’s a short list of the must-have features every smartphone in this day and age should possess if it has to be termed ‘smart’.
We’ve longed for the ability to transfer files to our phones without the need for an intermediately, like a PC and USB On-The-Go (OTG) came as a blessing. However, not all smartphones support this feature yet and that needs to change. USB OTG let’s you plug in your pen drives directly to your phone or even a portable hard drive directly to a tablet and transfer files back and forth through an adapter. USB OTG certified devices have a dual-role, which means they can act as the host or a peripheral, meaning that it should be technically possible for you to transfer music or videos directly from one phone to the other. Sure, you can do this via Bluetooth, but it’s obviously going to be a lot faster this way and with USB 3.0 and Embedded Host supplement coming to USB OTG, it’s only going to get better.
No big deal!
Onboard storage for media
Smartphone makers should take a cue from Microsoft and Apple and give users a decent amount of useable onboard storage space to start with. We still have phones in the market that cost upwards of Rs.30,000 and don’t offer any onboard storage for media files (Yes, I’m talking to you HTC!). We don’t think it’s too much to ask for. Including at least 4GB of onboard storage in phones that cost Rs.15,000 and above is essential. While smartphones of today do come with onboard memory, it’s usually a very small amount that can only be used for apps and nothing else.
Good quality bundled headset
Is expecting a good quality bundled headset a little too much to ask for? Most smartphones come with really poor sounding headsets that either never fit in your ear properly or sound horrible. Using your personal earphones is one solution, but then answering a phone call becomes bit of a hassle, especially if you’re traveling using public transport in India. We want to see good quality in-ear phones bundled with every smartphone, price no bar.
Brilliant hearing headphones. FTW!
Good build quality
This goes without saying, but all smartphones should come with superior build quality, especially if they are priced at Rs. 20,000 and above. In order to win the ‘lightest smartphone’ title, manufacturers have the tendency to use a lot of plastic in their chassis (you know whom we’re talking about), which makes the final product feel and even look cheap, to an extent. If you’re going to be pricing the phone above 25K, we want to see some aluminium or stainless steel used in the construction, just so we know it won’t shatter the moment you drop it. The obvious side effect is the increased weight, but to be honest, we don’t mind a little heft in our pant pockets.
Dedicated camera button
Some may question the validity of this point, but we’ll still hold on to our point that a dedicated camera button for a smartphone is an absolute must. We did a camera phone test, earlier this month and we noticed that ones with a dedicated camera button performed slightly better, as compared to those, which lacked one. A dedicated camera button also helps in that extra bit of image stabilization, along with better focusing.
Let us explain this one first. Ever hesitated to showcase your swanky new phone to your friends, because you’re worried they’ll access stuff you didn’t want them to? Enter – Guest Mode. It’s a pretty simple feature, but surprisingly hasn’t been included in any smartphone we know of. You activate guest mode on your phone and all your personal data like login information, files, social networking updates is locked and doesn’t show up on your phone. Deactivate it, and your phone works normally again. This feature does have a lot of benefits and is one of our top priority must haves on any smartphone.
Video codec support and EQ presets
So often have we seen certain file formats failing to play on our smartphones, that we end up wondering if it really is a smartphone. If it is, it has got to play at least the basic and popular formats out of the box. For example, a lot of the Nokia smartphones we reviewed could play 720p .MKV files out of the box, but a large number of Android phones lacked that capability. Oh and WP7 phones sweetly converted all the files to their desired format with Zune. Convenient for them, but not for us! Apple needs to buck up as well, as they’ve got extremely limited video codec support.
In terms of EQ presets as well, we’d definitely want to have the power to at least minutely adjust how the music sounds to us. The ‘what you hear is what you get’ standard adopted by many manufacturers receives a big thumbs down and we’d love to see some more customization for playing media files on our smartphone without getting any third party apps.
Where's my phone?
Ability to locate your lost/stolen phone
Smartphone manufacturers should take a leaf out of Apple's book and figure out a way to find their lost or stolen phone. Imagine paying a bomb for your brand new phone, only to have it nicked and then find out there’s no way you can recover it or at the very least wipe your personal data. Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’ app lets you find the nearest location of your phone through iCloud. If you still can’t find it, you can at least remotely wipe all the data on your phone.
MicroUSB slot? Proprietary charging port? 30 pin connectors? MHL port? HDMI port? A big NO. Manufacturers need to set a standard port for all their connectivity options, just like they’ve done so amazingly with the 3.5mm headphone jack. Universal connectors is our preferred way of going forward and we’d love it, if manufacturers took note of that and started sticking to a common standard.
Time and again we’ve stressed on the impact battery life has on the longevity and usability of a smartphone. These days, with super fast processors, crazy graphics and some awesome multitasking, the battery life of a smartphone has taken a big hit. Compare this to the yesteryears, where a phone could go on for at least two days, and you know that this department needs to play catch up with the other ones. As a bare minimum, we’d like our smartphone to have at least enough juice to run for a full day – 24 hours. Put in wireless charging, solar charging, lunar charging or whatever you want – let the smartphone stay powered on!
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