I'm fortunate enough to have used almost every flagship smartphone released in the last five years or so. From the explosive Note 7 to the inexpensive iPhone SE to the Pixel 3 XL and OnePlus 7 Pro -- I've used them all.
Not a single one of those phones have been perfect. There's always something that could be improved, altered, or flat out removed.
If I was able to wave a magic wand and create my dream phone, here are 9 features the phone would have to have.
Android and iOS are really the only mobile operating systems that matter in today's market. Each one has its fair share of pros and cons.
My dream phone would be a mixture of the two operating systems. More specifically, I would want the security and privacy aspect of iOS blended together with the flexibility of Android.
In other words, I want to be able to pick my default email app, arrange app icons wherever I want, better notification management, and yes, widgets on the homescreen, with the added with the peace of mind of knowing that my phone will receive timely updates.
Naturally, whatever that hybrid operating system looks like it has to have iMessage. There's no room for negotiating here; the entire iMessage experience, from apps to Apple Pay needs to be on my dream phone.
Apple's Lightning connector has served its purpose, and valiantly so! But it's time for Apple and the entire gadget industry to move to USB-C. It's more versatile, provides faster charging speeds, and far more commonplace.
USB-C on all the things.
Curves in the right places
Phones used to have hard edges and blocky exteriors, over the past few years, primarily thanks to Samsung, we've seen device makers begin to soften up the front and back edges, making large phones feel thinner and easier to hold.
Forget all of the fancy edge lighting and notification stuff that Samsung adds -- just give me curved screens and edges.
Apple and OnePlus both have a toggle or slider that can put a phone on silent with the flick of a switch. You don't have to fuss or mess around with any software buttons or volume rockers. Reach down, move the slider, and know that your phone won't interrupt your date or meeting.
From brightness and saturation to clarity and color quality, my favorite smartphone displays for daily use are on Samsung's phones. I realize the iPhone XS's display is widely considered one of the best -- but to my eyes, the Galaxy displays are at the top. More specifically, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
Ideally, the display would measure 6-inches, have a single hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera and still manage to have facial recognition sensors similar to Face ID.
The backside of the Google Pixel 3 XL is one of my favorite looks on a smartphone in the past few years. I enjoy the multicolored approach that Huawei and Samsung have come out with recently, but the subtlety of the Pixel's design is something I admire.
Camera with a wide-angle lens
I've struggled with which camera system I would want in my dream device. The truth is, the vast majority of flagship smartphones have reliable, high-quality cameras.
At the end of the day, I think I would go with the Galaxy Note 10's camera system. The ultra-wide lens, combined with the slightly higher saturation, is something I find appealing.
I honestly could do without any sort of Portrait Mode feature on any phone; it's just not something I use a lot. And truth be told, I've yet to use one portrait mode feature on any phone that is consistent. There's always some sort of caveat or concession required in order to capture what I want.
Finally, NFC isn't common enough to leave my wallet behind and use my phone to pay for groceries, gas, and everything in between. Samsung Pay gets close, however, thanks to its MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) technology that tricks most card readers into thinking you've swiped a debit or credit card and securely transmits payment information.
Samsung Pay, or some form of MST, should be commonplace.