A letter to Android Santa / Meet the FrankenPhone!

December 3, 2012
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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!

Display

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

CPU, GPU & RAM

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.

lg-optimus-g-4656

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).

Connectivity

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.

Battery

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.

Design

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!

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