Won’t Someone Build an Android-Based Anti-iPhone?

Hey, Google, phone manufacturers, and carriers: Would you please make me this phone? I promise to buy one if you do. Thanks!

By  |  Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm

So T-Mobile’s G1 has been unveiled. It looks neat–and it looks like the most serious rival to the iPhone yet, though the BlackBerry Bold could be a contender once AT&T starts selling the darn thing.

What the G1 doesn’t seem to be is transcendent–a phone that’s as impressive as the iPhone, but in different ways. And the world could use such a phone. Some stuff about the iPhone is a matter of personal preference: Lots of folks are OK with the onscreen keyboard, but there are at least as many hardcore smartphone users who won’t ever buy a phone that doesn’t have (to quote Steve Jobs) little plastic keys.

Then there are the things about the iPhone that may stress out even Apple’s biggest fans, such as the company’s monopoly on application distribution and its mysterious, troubling policies on what does and doesn’t get in. All in all, I think there’s an opportunity for somebody to build a phone that’s the opposite of an iPhone in some ways, and better than an iPhone in others, and maybe even open in ways that no phone has been to date. And Google’s Android OS seems like the best platform to build it on.

So what would such an Anti-iPhone (AntiPhone?) look like?

It would have a keyboard. A terrific one. One significantly better than any phone, ever. (The G1 appears to have a keyboard that’s typical of manufacturer HTC–better than that of most phones, but not as good as you could do in that amount of space.) RIM and Palm pretty much have itty-bitty keyboards nailed, so let’s give the Anti-iPhone a clamshell case that holds a larger, wider keyboard that aims to feel like that of a notebook, only in Lilliputian form. I know I’m repeating myself, but all you really have to do is imitate the keyboard the Psion Series 5 PDA had in 1997. Yes, it would make the phone chunkier than an iPhone, but for plenty of folks the tradeoff would be well worth it.

It would have a big multi-touch screen. Let’s not tamper with the iPhone’s recipe here. Actually, let’s improve it by giving the screen even more resolution than the iPhone’s 320-by-480 display. This Toshiba phone has a 400-by-800 screen, so it’s doable.

It would offer 16GB of internal memory, like an iPhone–and a MicroSD slot, like a G1. Assuming it’s possible to cram both in.

It would use its built-in GPS for step-by-step driving instructions. Neither the iPhone nor the G1 do this; a phone that did would eliminate the need for a standalone navigation device.

It would have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Like the iPhone 3G and unlike the G1.

It would have a removable battery. Probably. Actually, scratch that–I’m willing to deal with a sealed one if it helps keep the phone relatively thin.

It would have at least some of the polish of the iPhone UI, but with more depth. Let’s face it–nobody other than Apple is going to anything as slick as the iPhone. But other companies should try, at least–and I’m still curious whether Android offers more options to users for customizing the user interface than the iPhone does. (Shouldn’t be hard–the iPhone offers almost nothing.)

It would have an accelerometer and use it better than the iPhone does. The iPhone apps that auto-rotate the screen rock, but most don’t do it. My Windows Mobile-powered AT&T Tilt can rotate any app, so we know it’s possible to build it into the OS. (I’m not sure how Android in general or the G1 in specific handles this.)

It could be used as a tethered modem for a laptop. No third-party app needed–it would just be built in. I’d even be happy to pay extra.

It would have synching with online mail, calendar, etc. that really worked, all the time. Ideally, it would sync with multiple services from multiple companies–Gmail and Google Calendar, Exchange, you name it.

It would have excellent, Office-compatible productivity apps built in. With, of course, editing capability and effortless syncing with desktop documents. (I wonder if DataViz is giving any thoughts to a Documents to Go for Android?)

It would have an easy-to-understand and truly unlimited data plan. No chintzing on SMS or caps on bandwidth.

It would be really and truly open. Developers would be able to write applications of all sorts; consumers would be able to buy them from multiple online stores. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

It would be available unlocked. Again, I’m perfectly happy to pay extra; I don’t like contracts and phones that only work on one network, but understand that they’re what make $179 and $199 smartphones possible. I want the option of paying full price with no comitment–that’s what I did with my Tilt.

It would be available on multiple carriers. Both AT&T and Verizon, at least, so you could choose between international coverage and widespread 3G at home. Altrernative: Give it the ability to do both GSM and CDMA, like a BlackBerry World Edition phone.

If this phone existed, I’d weep with joy, pay a pretty penny for it, and switch carriers if necessary. Would you? And if not, what would your own personal Anti iPhone consist of?


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. mewoo Says:

    First impressions of the G1 and i feel its a genuine competitor to the iPhone!

    A great site to see all the G1 Video reviews & features is http://www.g1tube.com

  2. Kontra Says:

    “Won’t Someone Build an Android-Based Anti-iPhone?”

    Done. It’s called the G1, have you heard of it? Not fully loaded for you? I feel your pain, as in:

    The Big List: 30 critical issues with Google G1 phone

    While you’re at it, call for someone, anyone to build an anti-iPod, will you? I mean every other company on the planet had, what, only half a decade to do it?

    It’s just so easy, only if people could just put together a list of “features.” Yep, just get it done already.

  3. Constable Odo Says:

    You forgot to add your 5MP camera. Won’t your dream phone be somewhat heavy on top of being bulky? I’ve no doubt that a company will build the hardware to match your requirements sometime next year. I hope they improve battery technology to match.

    No doubt you’d end up paying a pretty penny for your dream handset. More expensive than an unlocked Nokia N96, I’m sure.

  4. Eswar Priyadarshan Says:

    I have recently had a chance to spend some quality time with iPhone 3G and some of the aspirants to the throne (such as the Nokia E71, Samsung Omnia and the Blackberry Bold). I’m sorry, I cannot type on the iPhone, period. Nokia inexplicably lowered the display resolution on the E71 (relative to their own E61 line) – the colors felt very retro/dim. The Omnia with Windows Mobile is actually pretty cool on display and overall usability (they’ve done their best to smother the Windows-isms) – with astonishingly crappy battery life. The Bold is big, the trackball ain’t bad…my favorite thus far. But I pine for the iPhone-alternative as well.

    Why can’t Sony wake up from their stupor, commandeer the PSP team and tell them to go build this beauty – with the kickass camera to boot?

  5. TorbenGB Says:

    A perfect summary of what a modern-day PDA should be. I am an avid Psion user and have been looking for YEARS for a replacement that really does everything as well, and it just does not exist. Your description would have me standing first in line at the store!

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