Choices That Phone Manufacturers Need To Stop

I love technology, and I love smartphones. I really love switching between different smartphones to find the little things that manufacturers use to set themselves apart. Unfortunately, that also tends to highlight the annoying things that manufacturers do that provide a poor user experience. Some of these might just be on accident, while others very well could have legitimate reasons (though that still doesn’t excuse them, in my book).

This is a list of things that I’ve seen that absolutely need to stop.

1. Side-mounted power ports – I get that as phones and devices get thinner and more complex, you have to get creative with where you put things inside. However, there is absolutely NOTHING convenient about side-mounted power ports – in fact, they are pretty much consistently INconvenient in every way, shape, and form. Please stop. This one is multiplied by the fact that most power cords also end with about an inch and a half of hard plastic that’s NOT flexible, so you have this….thing sticking out of the side of your phone. HTC is horrible about this one.

Side-Mounted Power Port

2. Side-mounted power buttons – this is similar to the first one, but here I’m specifically referring to the power button. On most of today’s smartphones, it’s also used as the mechanism to wake the screen, since apparently touchpads and trackballs are so passe. Putting this button on the side makes it hard to find, especially since we’ve been conditioned to expect it to be on the top of the phone, where it belongs. Samsung is the major offender here, but not the only one.

3. Snap-on battery covers – Back in the day, battery covers had a release button that made it really easy to remove and re-secure the cover to get to the battery. At some point, and I believe it was Nokia who started this one, manufacturers decided it was somehow better to just make it ‘snap’ on, since it’s plastic anyways. The result is a terrifying experience every time I need to swap my SIM as I literally just pull the back cover off. Even worse, to ‘secure’ it back, you just press it on, somewhat like a sticker. Horrible. There needs to be a latch to secure this stuff. Samsung, HTC, Motorola – they’re all guilty of this.

Back Cover Latch

4. No hardware camera button – Let’s face it, the camera sensors that are in today’s smartphones are outrageously awesome, and more powerful than the vast majority of consumers really need. If you’re advertising that your phone is a ‘top-of-the-line’ cameraphone, it should have a dedicated camera button, easy as that. That button should be able to launch the camera app and then snap a photo. Bonus points if it’s two-stage so you can use it to focus. This is really table stakes at this point, folks.

5. Single LED flash – continuing on the camera stint, can we please all agree that we’ve graduated past the ‘my low-light software is good enough that I don’t need to include a flash’ statement? Let’s also push ourselves slightly to confess that a single LED flash is essentially completely worthless. Why even bother? Even if it’s an ‘entry-level’ cameraphone, at least do us the decency of a dual-LED flash. It costs like, a nickel to the BOM to add a 2nd LED in there.

Single LED Flash

I think that’s all for now. Any others that I’m missing? 

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