A letter to Android Santa / Meet the FrankenPhone!

by: Mike AndriciDecember 3, 2012

Disclaimer: This my personal letter to Smartphone Santa, so please keep in mind that certain sections of my request are subject to personal preference. However, I remain confident that a vast majority of our readers would instantly trade their current smartphone for the Android device I’m now telling Santa to build.

This year, I’ve decided I’m not going to ask Santa to get me an Android smartphone that’s already out there. Also, I’m not going to ask Smartphone Santa to get me an Android smartphone that’s already designed and awaits mass production. The thing is, I really want to feel special this Christmas, so I’m asking Santa to build a smartphone just for myself.

Although the specs I’m asking for are well beyond reasonable, the reality is that all these components that I’m about to enumerate and describe have already entered mass production. In addition, most of the specs I’m talking about have already reached the consumer market, in one device or another.

So, as you can see, I’m not asking Santa to build specific components (he’s probably way too busy for such a thing). Instead, I’m asking him to build me a mutant smartphone, a Frankenstein Smartphone if you will, one that crams together all the best specs currently available in the Android ecosystem!

Sounds interesting? Oh, we’re just getting started!


Although I’m not the tallest guy in any group, I’m not tiny handed. That means that I can comfortably work my way around an Android smartphone with a large-ish footprint, but I don’t really want a phablet. With that said, Santa should outsource a display that’s roughly 4.5 – 4.7 inch in size.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but (at least for the moment) I’m not actually into the 5-inch 1080p displays that manufacturers are planning to flood the market with. I’ve discussed their pros and cons in a previous article here, but in a nutshell, I believe that they put too much stress on the GPU and the battery.

The Droid DNA is the first smartphone in the US to feature a full HD display

What I do want is a 4.5-4.7 inch Super LCD3 (the same technology used on the 5-inch display on the recently launched HTC Droid DNA) that works at a 720p resolution. For me, pixel densities between 310 and 330 are more than enough, and such a display would be smack in the middle of that sweet zone.

If Santa cannot get me a Super LCD3 display, I guess I could be satisfied with a SAMOLED display. But it goes without saying that Samsung (they are the only meaningful SAMOLED manufacturer out there) should get rid of the PenTile pixel arrangement that they’ve used on the Samsung Galaxy S3. Color reproduction should be extensively calibrated, as this is the main problem I have with SAMOLED displays.

galaxy note 2 vs galaxy s3 display 3

The RGB display of the Note 2 is noticeably sharper than the PenTile display on the Galaxy S3

Internal Hardware


At the moment, the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro seems to be all the buzz in the Android smartphone market. Granted, the 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait processor is blazing fast, as is the new Adreno 320 GPU.

We’ve already witnessed the launch of a number of smartphones that carry the new SoC from Snapdragon: the HTC Droid DNA, the LG Optimus G and the LG/Google Nexus 4 all use the Snapdragon S4 Pro, and they are all very very fast. But there’s a new kid on the block that I would like Smartphone Santa to get on my XMas Android.

The Samsung Exynos 5 Dual, the SoC that you can find inside a couple of Google devices, the Chromebook and the Nexus 10 (both manufactured by Samsung), has proven its prowess in both benchmarks and real-life use.

Here’s our review of the Nexus 10, to get a better idea of what the Exynos 5 Dual chip is capable of:

The 1.7GHz dual-dore ARM A15 Cortex processor runs faster than anything else we’ve seen on Android devices, while the Mali-T604 GPU (also designed by ARM, Samsung is the first SoC manufacturer to integrate it so far) is also faster, in most tests, than Qualcomm’s Adreno 320 GPU.

What I’m really saying is that I want my FrankenSmartphone to use the guts of the Nexus 10. Given that my smartphone will only run a 720p (1280 by 720 pixels) display, compared to the 2560 by 1600 resolution used on the flagship Nexus tablet, I would expect this to be the first Android smartphone to completely do away with the “lag” problem that seems to have haunted the OS ever since its beginnings.

2 GB of RAM memory, the current high-end standard for Android flagships is enough for multitasking to be buttery smooth, as long as you don’t make it a purpose to throw everything you can at the OS and hardware.


The LG Optimus G has some of the best specs around

Internal and Expandable Storage

As far as the internal storage goes, I guess 32GB/64GB is enough space for me (and a large segment of smartphone users), but that’s only because I’m going to ask Santa to include an SD card slot so that can I expand that storage with up to 32GB more (not to mention that SD cards make it easier to transfer data).


Since I do not live in a country where carriers have rolled out LTE yet, I’m set to go with 3G capabilities. However, I’m going to do you guys a favor and tell Android Santa to make an LTE-enabled version as well, just in case one our regular readers needs one. Wi-Fi is a must, as are Bluetooth, NFC and USB 3.0 support.


I’m obviously inspired by the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx when asking for a 3500 mAh battery to make sure that, no matter what I do, my smartphone makes it through the day. But why not go the extra mile and make it removable as well, so that three fully charged batteries is all I really need when going on a trip. Large batteries also take a bit more time to fully charge, so I would like not having to use my smartphone with its power plug in the way for long periods of time.


Now I’m no smartphone designer, but it turns out a lot of the Android smartphone manufacturers don’t seem to know any either. There are just too many ugly Android smartphones out there for me to be wrong.

On a more serious note, I’m a big fan of the Nexus 4 in terms of design. One thing I would change is insert a kevlar battery cover (also in the style of the Droid RAZR line) instead of the glass back. It’s not that the holographic pattern is ugly, but Kevlar is a lot more durable, and that’s a quality I need since I’m not that careful at all times.

Nexus 4 [aa]

The glass back of the Nexus 4 has been criticized for its tendency to break

The huge 3500 mAh battery that I have asked for in the hardware section means that I’m not going to have a very slim smartphone. Fortunately, I’m not one to believe that that anorexic profiles are preferable to a large battery. The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD is 9.3 mm thick, and I’m sure Santa’s little helpers can make it to 9 mm on the dot if they really put their mind to it!

Android Version and Tweaks

I’m an Android blogger, meaning that given my passion for Android, I would really like to have vanilla Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and an unlocked bootloader. It’s just that a bit more can be done to properly design my dream Android smartphone.

One of my favorite features in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is Photo Sphere. Check out our hands on below:

What I’m talking about is the range of Samsung Smart Functions and software tweaks that can be found on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (minus the ones that require an S-Pen; I won’t ask for one, as the display is too small for such a thing). Obviously, all that Samsung wickedness should come without a splint of its TouchWiz UI.

Samsung jam-packed a lot of features in its TouchWiz UI. Here are some of the best:

I’m not going to get it though

I’ve taken the liberty to ask for so much in my letter to Android Santa since I am so not going to get anything from Saint Nick these holidays.

I’m planning to be better next year. By the end of 2013, Santa’s helpers will not have to go through all the work of manufacturing a device especially for me, since Android smartphones bearing the specs above (probably even better) will already be on the market by then!

What do you guys think? Could my FrankenPhone be any better? Let me know if there are ways to improve it using the comment section below!

  • I’ve had 4″, 4.3″, 4.5″, 4.65″, and now a 5.5″ phone, and I absolutely love the Note 2. I guess it just depends on the person. I’m a guy with big hands and the Note 2 is the first phone that hasn’t just felt so small in my hands. I do wish they would make it easier to move apps to an external sd card though, without having to go through things such as tricking the phone or using directory bind.

    • Dennis

      Agreed, a large SD card is not a “fix” for a low-memory phone. I have space problems with my 8GB phone with a 32GB SD because many apps and things EXPECT to live in the internal-memory. I do not want to root my phone just to get around this very annoying issue. I would rather that the ext-SD replace the internal memory instead of the nearly-worthless way it works currently.

  • BrainOfSweden

    My Frankenphone would be sporting a ~5″ 1080p display, Mali-T604, 2 GB RAM, at least 16 GB of storage (with SD card slot) and 12 Mpix camera or greater (if the sensor can handle it). And it has physical back and menu buttons, I don’t want a nav-bar.
    But what I’ll probably get from Android Santa (myself) is a Nexus 7 32 GB :)

  • sluring

    Why settle for 32 gig SD cards? I’ve seen 128 gig cards in stores. We should be able to use them in our fantasy phone.

    • MasterMuffin

      And why settle for that, lets put a 128Gb SSD in and i7 and possibility to watch DVDs in it x)

  • Peterson Silva

    HDMI-out, maybe? =)

    • Even better would be DisplayPort so it can drive a 2560×1440 or 1600 monitor. We already know the Exynos 5 can handle that resolution in the Nexus 10.

      • Peterson Silva

        Hmm had never heard of these. Sounds awesome!

        • Justin W

          DIsplayPort is the tech used with the Nexus 4 – I had to look it up, but it seems pretty promising if it can be kicked off the ground like Micro HDMI was.

  • Zenz_D

    Throw in IR so it becomes the TV remote,

  • Nitinart Nunthong

    your frankenphone sounds awesome.
    For me , I wish a 5″ 1080p super LCD3 with red and black (just like a red htc j butterfly) . but SoC I ‘d prefer A15 instead of snapdragon. RAM 2gig , memory 32gig. battery is about 3000mA. And make it a nexus , pure android. and use USB3 too.

  • RhythmicNature

    Ahhh….. THANK YOU!

    I’m really tired of buying phones that just either don’t have the foresight to include the necessary features to be high-end or future-looking. I’m currently on the the EVO 4G LTE and I’m so ticked off at the lack of RAM, etc.

    I don’t see any reason why these phones don’t exist right now except maybe the fact that manufacturers/carriers are trying to spam the market with different phones so they can make more money off of the “Next Big Thing”.

    The next big thing comes from new tech – not from artificially adding in old tech and calling it something new.

    Ok. Rant = off. :) … but seriously – thank you for voicing this.

    Speaking of a wish list – somebody earlier mentioned HDMI. I’d be happy with Miracast. Also OTG would be lovely. I wouldn’t expect either one of those two in today’s “Santa Phone”. But everything @Mike asked for is totally doable and desirable.

    sluring – where did you see 128gb sd cards?? :) I’m on a 64gb right now and happy but 128 would be awesome for all my movies!

  • How is this dream phone not the Nexus 4? Aside from the back cover.

    Oh, and I guess the storage and the poorly calibrated display and while the quad-core A9 is nice, it’s no A15.

    • The Xiaomi MI-2 is just about my perfect phone. 4.3″ 720p LCD, quad-core Krait, DC-HSPA.

      No micro SD slot, but that’s ok.

      Only things really missing are a physical home button and a nice aluminum two-stage camera shutter key.

  • great phone, just make it come in 4.3″ 4.7″ and 5.5″ sizes with a quad core version of the xynos 5

    • MasterMuffin

      And why not great camera when we’re at it?

  • rdeleonp

    Google Nexus Omega (Ω):
    – Google’s latest Android.
    – 6 inch, 16:9, 4K (3840×2160, 734 PPI), Super PLS screen with ZeroGap and billions of colors.
    – Nano Frame (~1mm bezel, all sides) + Kevlar Body.
    – 16-core ARMv8 CPU @ 3.0 GHz with async-core.
    – PowerVR’s latest GPU.
    – 32 GB RAM.
    – 512 GB storage.
    – NO SD CARD SLOT (Use The Cloud, Luke).
    – 50 megapixel rear camera + Tri-LED Flash + 4K videos @ 120 fps.
    – 10 megapixel front camera.
    – WiFi, Worldwide 3G and 4G, NFC + All other freakin’ sensors available.
    – 9000 mAh battery.

    Google, you saw it here first!

    • Justin W

      I’m smelling the 2013 Nexus! /dreaming.

  • Carsen Yates

    Dual core? Are we poor or something ?

    • Justin W

      It’s a Cortex A15 – it’s extremely fast, even while powering that 2560×1600 display. Trust me, that processor working only 1280×720 pixels would probably win out over the S4 Pro.
      I do have to admit, though, I’d prefer a quad core Exynos 5, just for the fact that it’ll be more “future-proof”.

  • Erik

    If my Note 2 had a finger print reader… and a larger screen I would be a happy man…

    and then if Samsung released an 8.9 so I could have a paper replacement.. I think that would be SET.

  • Sorry that you won’t get your phone during these holidays. This really is a great article. Also, thanks for sharing the link to the video about tips and tricks for the Galaxy Note 2.

  • iav

    Physical home button like samsung galaxy and iphone required.

    And, maybe, one + side button for user-assigned flash function – like photo, flashlight, or voice recorder.

  • stunxjbapu

    Why does he only want a dual A15, when he can have a quad A15.

  • heenan73

    Nice article, your only mistake, of course, is that it IS a Frankenphone!

    The design error of so many manufacturers, including Apple, is to assume that one phone can be the perfect phone for everyone. It can’t.

    A more useful exercise would be to plan a range of phones that, between them, reach 80% of the market. A Frankenphone reaches one person – assumed by the designer to represent 100% of the market.

    The 80:20 rule rules: design that range of features, and your name must be Samsung ;)