Why Are Smartphones So Dumb?

My contract with Verizon is up, and it’s time for me to upgrade to a new phone.  I currently own a Motorola Q and I’ve been very disappointed with it in terms of functionality and performance.  It works, but it’s sluggish; it provides just enough capabilities and power to make it bearable as a smartphone.  One of the most important devices in a mobile-tech user’s gadget bag is their phone.  As technology continues to become cheaper and improve, I predict that we will see the lines blur between netbooks, smartphones, PMPs, and MIDS.  Here are a few reasons why current smartphones aren’t getting good grades.

  • They are difficult to navigate & The home screen needs major overhaul.
    Many of the smartphones I’ve used rely on Windows Mobile 5/6, and their Windows-like start button to select programs is cumbersome.  Apple got it right with their easy to navigate icons.  The screen of a mobile phone is simply too small to navigate tiny menus.  While some want the windows feel, many want easy access to important functions, applications, and files.  Although there are different XML home screen editors, themes, and applications to improve the default home screen, the home screen on most smartphones I’ve used needs lots of help.  The time is usually in an awkward place, and there isn’t enough room to fully display calendar events.  Thank goodness for Pointui and their implementation of an attractive, useful, touch-friendly home screen.
  • Their performance is sluggish.
    When I push a button on my Motorola Q there is an observable one-second delay before a menu or program appears.  This is largely specific to the type of smartphone that you purchase, but many smartphones I’ve tested feel underpowered.  This is likely due to the fact that battery life is more of an issue because of their extra features and larger screens.  Manufacturers should do a better job tailoring the operating system that runs on their phones so that it runs quicker and less buggy.
  • They are ugly- literally.
    Not only is the operating system ugly, the exterior of these devices take me back to the eighties.  Much like the early beige boxes that sat on everyone’s desk, early smartphones like the Treo 700 series were ugly.  How do they change future versions?  Remove the antenna and keep the thick, boxy look.  Not much of an improvement.  Although many of these things don’t offer up the eye candy, this is an area I feel is improving.  HTC is coming through with phone choices that are sleek, bold, and make you want to own them.  Let’s get rid of the idea that they have to be plain and boring because they’re only intended for business environments.

The cost of many of these devices is also outrageous.  When they were first introduced, they cost well over five hundred dollars.  Many are still that expensive or more, but we’ve recently we’ve seen prices beginning to fall as more competition enters the market.  Until smartphones start showing major improvements, I’ll probably stick with my slow Moto Q.  It may not be the fastest, most attractive device, but it rings when someone calls. Here’s to hoping Android delivers.