Monday, July 8, 2013

An open letter to Android smartphone manufacturers

Dear Android smartphone manufacturers,

Android's got a bad rap, and it's your fault.  You have built some really amazing phones, but you've also built a ton of really crummy ones, and quite frankly, we don't want to buy them.  Your focus is all wrong.  But I have some suggestions:
  1. Battery life
    If we have to charge our phones more than once a day, we're going to be dissatisfied, period.  This doesn't mean it should be able to play HD video for 24 hours, but a modern smartphone should be able to handle moderate use without having to be charged more than once a day.

  2. Stock Android
    When is the last time you heard someone say how much they love HTC Sense (HTC's customized version of Android), or Samsung's TouchWiz?  Don't even get me started on Motorola's Motoblur.  The answer is never.

  3. Smaller screen sizes
    We want phones we can use with one hand.  I think the ideal phone screen size is somewhere between 4 inches (iPhone 5) and 4.3 inches (Galaxy S2).  I have the latter, and it's big enough that I can't reach the opposite top corner of the screen without shifting the phone in my hand.  I definitely wouldn't want anything bigger.  And guess what?  Smaller screens use less battery!  It's win-win.

  4. Fewer models
    Don't build 100 different phones.  The real competition is Apple, which builds just one phone a year.  No need to go that extreme, but make just 2 or 3 models, and don't bother building a "low-end" phone; the profit margins are going to be too low and it will just muddy your brand.  Also, only release new phones once a year.  Releasing a new phone every month only devalues the high-end phone that you just released.  Plus it frees up resources to make sure your phones are stable, and so you can actually push out the latest versions of Android to your customers, which is a huge complaint among Android owners.

  5. No gimmicks
    Why would you dare add some completely unnecessary feature to a phone if we never asked for it, it's going to make the phone cost more, and/or it's going to decrease battery life?  Here are just a few gimmicks we don't care about, off the top of my head:
  6. Durability
    If you want to throw in features, give us a feature that will benefit us, like a phone that's water resistant or isn't going to completely shatter when dropped from a short height.

  7. Less bloatware
    No, I don't want Slacker Radio, UNO, a crippled GPS navigator, or some trial office suite.  I know a lot of this is dictated by the carriers, but I feel like the manufacturers don't try very hard either.
Want to differentiate yourself?  Build a solid phone, with no gimmicks, and stock Android.  That'll be enough differentiation.  If you really want to shake things up, build some cool apps.  S Health, for instance, has been a huge hit with Samsung users.


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