Blog
Time to read: 4 Minutes, 45 Seconds

Ways that Android Phones Could Improve

Android is a very versatile and expandable platform, especially compared to iOS. But in my opinion, there are still some major ways that the Android OS and hardware can be improved.

1. Continuous Near-Indefinite OS Updates (Like a real computer)

Android is a graphical UI operating system. Windows is a graphical UI operating system. But Android OS updates are tied to the manufacturer, and often stop dead after 2-3 years. Why? I can't think of a good reason. Perhaps drivers and phone-specific features. But those things can be added in a modular fashion without too much difficulty, whilst significantly improving the longevity of phones, making users much happier. Everyone wants this feature. Stop making us buy expensive new phones every 24 months. Apple provides long-term updates (they do stop them eventually), but Android could go one step further and provide an OS image much like Windows and Linux. Where you can install it on any 64bit SoC, or effectively any 64bit SoC can have indefinite updates (despite maybe the hardware not being up to it). What a concept..

2. Bring Back Physical QWERTY Keyboards

I had a Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro phone back in 2011. It has a really nice slide-out qwerty keyboard that was very satisfying to use. Compared to a touch screen, my typos were dramatically reduced, and it had a pleasing tactile response when typing. This is an improvement over touch screen keyboards, you can't deny it. There are some wacky attempts to bring it back, like the Unihertz Titan and the XDA Pro1-X. Both aren't quite as cool looking and nicely designed as the 9 year old Xperia Pro.

3. Bring on Convergence - PC Mode When HDMI Over USB-C is Connected

A few phones now have a desktop mode when you plug in a USB-C adapter with HDMI. This is awesome, but should be on more (arguably all) phones (I'm looking at you, Xiaomi). I have a desk setup at work with a USB-C dock. It would be nice to just drop in, plug in my phone and start browsing and doing brief tasks. Making this a standard feature, perhaps by Google themselves, would be a big step forward.

4. Removeable Battery - Bring That Back Too!

Everyone experiences low battery anxiety, even today. Despite manufacturers best efforts, phones still only last about a day (with some exceptions). But if it is a particularly intensive day of phone use, that battery can drop to <25% by the end of the day. But what happens if you then go out at night? Say you need to call an Uber to get home. Your phone could possibly let you down! Sure you can carry around a big bulky USB battery. But who does that. A much more elegant alternative is to carry around a slim battery and just slide it in when the phone goes flat. Genius.

5. Vanilla Android Option

I also had Nexus 4. I also loved that phone (depsite it's lack of physical keyboard). Pure Android is quite a nice thing. A lot of manufacturers try to do their own take/theme on Android. I honestly have yet to see one that actually looks and feels better than stock Android. Many people would like to switch all that UI jazz off and go back to basics. The ability to switch to a pure Android ROM, without having to mess around with custom community ROMs (unlocking, installing TWRP, etc) would be really nice. Most phones now are just a black slab, there's much less need for a custom theme to match the hardware design. Imagine if this was a standard on all phones. That'd be pretty great.

6. I Can Dream - Upgradable Chips

Imagine if phone SoC manufacturers could develop some kind of standard interface so that you could drop in a new CPU/GPU/RAM System on a Chip (SoC) when you needed it. Same with storage, if you could just plug in a new solid state flash chip. This is a highly unlikely thing to ever happen on big name phones, but it definitely would be a nice thing to have.

Conclusion

I know there are some understandable counter-points to these (like phone designers hate removeable batteries because they add bulk). But there still should be options. This is the power of Android. It should be different to iPhone, offer features that set it apart. Instead, we've (mostly) got the same black rectangle, but with some downsides (like poorer OS updates and no vanilla option). Android needs to start justifying itself again. Why are we buying Android over iPhone? Because Android gives you options. More options than just different price points.

Sidenote - I'm thinking of switching to iPhone (eventually)

For the biggest reason by far above - OS updates. Come on, Google, you've had over 10 years to fix this problem. I would like to buy an expensive phone, then have updates for as long as it makes sense to have updates. That is, when the phone hardware cannot run the lates OS any more. This is pretty much what Apple does. This is not what Android phone manufacturers do that often. Also, it's about time I tried team Apple for a while. I've been on Android since 2010 and I'd like to see the other side, just because, why not?

PS - New Innovations

Yes, I'm well aware of dual-screen, folding, rotating screen phones. But all of these phones are well out of affordability for a vast majority of people. They're like concept cars almost. My points above in my opinion are more important than concept phones (that you see lots of YouTube reviewers play around with).

Next Post Previous Post

Page views: 1