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May 23, 2009

Mobile Illusions, part 2: Hardware illusions

by snoyt

There are so many technological innovations nowadays. I wonder how many of them are really innovation and not mere eyecandy? Consumer lure. How practical are all these fancy options? Do we really want them, do we need them or are there better solutions?


Why in heavens name would I want OLED in my phone? It sucks in direct sunlight.  I prefere transreflective screens for decent quality everywhere instead of topnotch quality in dark places. My phone should be useful in as many environments as possible.

Capacitive touchscreens

With gloves they do not work, nor with dry fingers. And any screen big enough for a fingertouch menu is big enough to digitize sketches and handwritten notes. Which will not work with out a special pen on capacitive touchscreens. So in fact a GOOD resistive touchscreen seems far more practical!

Screen resolution

At 10" distance the pixel size of a 640x360 pixels screen with a diameter of 3.5" equals the resolution of your eyes. Which is sufficiently good. Though two or three times that resolution will create a crisper image, but also requires more battery power and its price is less economical.

Abolishing real keys

So I could buy a phone with a large screen that technically could be superb for message and document-composition. However because there is no qwerty keyboard I get to use a tiny screenspace for text composition. In fact the practical screenspace during text-entry is much smaller than I would get on a normal T9-phone because the virtual touchscreen qwerty takes nearly all the available screen space. Blimey!

The pragmatics wishlist

- A transflective resistive touchscreen with a pixel density equal to 640x360 at 3.5" seems a good idea.
- Sliding/folding qwerty and dropping T9 in favour for a larger (touch) screen
- GPS with AGPS support and compas.
- 5+MP camera, 640x480 or better  video
- Wifi, VoIP/SIP, Bluetooth
- Voice control for satnav (gasstation, rout change/break, blocked road) and reading incoming messaging while in the car.
- Decent and secure e-mail features.
- full memory encryption. Remote device locking by SMS.
- fingerprint scanner for easy unlocking.
- Multiple-role syncing (syncing workstuff to work, private stuff to private servers)
- Go anywhere format of 100x55x20mm.
- Scratch resistant, water resistant. My old mechanical watch has it. Why does my phone not have it? It's nice to have GPS with satnav for city cruising, but if it is raining I can't use it to find my car! It's not like I am asking for IPX7 (= survive for 30 minutes, 50 cm deep in water).
- A user-configurable battery reserve level warning. We all forget to check the powerbars when gaming or listening music! Let's make sure I have enough power left to 'phone home', not all of us have a glowing indexfinger as a backup battery ;-)
- Setting recurring tasks! Setting tasks that should happen at some days, but not neccesary at a given time. Very practical, very useful, but missing in lots of smartphones. Place tasks using the GPS would be nice too!

Fashion nerd or functional geekdom?

So? Next time you buy a phone? What do you want to spend you money on? A shiny blinging ringing thing showing you are a painted eggshell? Or form and function showing depth and a toughtful mind? No don't answer that question to me, only to yourself. But do let me know if I missed some non-standard practical/time saving/productive feature anyone could use.


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Sounds like n97 except for the waterproof stuff, of course. :)

Snoyt here: Nokia did get a few hardware things right. But so did LG with the Prada II, SE with the Experia and some other phones around. Still they all are: Close but no sigar!


I would have thought of the N97 as well except for the waterproof and scratch resistance stuff. It will be nice to see when other phones are able to incorporate these features as well. I am surprised at how long it is taking to build a good quality phone with these features.


We don't need 5+ MP. Optical zoom and better lens would be far more useful.

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