Android Phone Desires
I’ve now had my LG G5 Android phone for about 5 months and I’m generally happy with it but there’s a few things I’d like to change from a hardware perspective in order to improve it. LG’s software and support sucks, plain and simple, but that’s not the point of this post (why do I not even get quarterly security updates!?!?!?!).
The LG G5 has a 16 MP main camera, an 8 MP wide angle camera, and a selfie camera. The cameras, including the default camera app, are just ‘meh.’
The 16 MP camera is OK but I actually prefer using my wife’s almost 5 year old iPhone 5S camera. The images produced by my G5 look pretty good when taken outdoors in sunlight but anything in low-light conditions is full of noise and shoots with a very low shutter speed, so my pictures of my kids are almost always blurry. The main camera has OIS (optical image stabilization) which takes out my shakes when holding the camera and seems to have influenced the design of the shutter speed to ISO choice algorithm used in the camera software but it doesn’t prevent the kids from moving and so many of my pictures of my kids are blurry, which sucks. The main camera also produces HUGE jpeg files, due to what seems like excessive amounts of noise in the images. 5 to 9 MB jpeg images are normal with my G5 where as I have excellent looking 24 MP images from a Nikon SLR clocking in at 2-3 MB in size.
The wide angle lens is neat but I rarely use it. The distortion near the edges is easily visible, it lacks OIS, and it is not needed.
The selfie cam works fine, but the camera app has this slider on it which will “touch up” blemishes automatically. I’m sure this touch up feature was great in all the reviews but it’s amazingly annoying, I know that I have pores, just take my damn picture!
In my next phone, I will gladly trade off mega pixels to get less noise and higher shutter speeds, especially in low light. 8 MP is plenty, heck I’d take 4 MP in low light if I could get 1/60 shutter speeds in typical indoor shots so that I can avoid blurry kids.
Also, when I press the shutter button, take the damn picture! Why there’s random unpredictable lag between when I press the shutter and when the actual picture is taken is beyond me. My wife’s iPhone 5S is very consistent and almost instantaneous about taking the picture when the shutter is pressed. This shouldn’t be that hard but apparently LG is special.
The 5.3” screen in 16:9 ratio is quite nice. I wouldn’t change it, but the resolution is 2560x1440 which is higher than is really needed in this size, a 1920x1080 resolution would be plenty. But after trying out a Google Pixel 2 with it’s only 5” screen, I definitely noticed the missing 0.3” (although I have no idea how).
In my next phone, I’ll likely be looking for a screen between 5 and 6 inches. Big enough to be easy to use but I don’t need a tablet in my pocket. 1080p resolution is plenty, even on a 6” screen, going higher isn’t needed.
But the bezels around the screen, they need to be smaller. My G5 is just slightly too big for me to do everything one-handed. If the bezels were slim like the late 2017 to early 2018 phones are all sporting, with a 5.3” screen, that would be a perfect size for me.
The G5 has an IPS LCD which can do “always on” ability to always show the time and notification icons. I really really like this! But it needs to be more “always on” because the way LG implemented it uses the proximity sensor to actually turn off the “always on” screen when the phone is face-down or in a pocket. But LG’s implementation doesn’t react quickly enough to a change of location for the phone, it takes a few seconds to realize I’ve pulled it out of my pocket. If it reacted quicker, like sub-1 second, that would be much appreciated.
RAM and Flash
The G5 has 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash. I thought that this would be enough since I could add an SD card to increase the flash. I have changed my mind.
I bought a 128 GB SD card as I figured that’d be plenty, and it will be. 128 GB of SD card storage is more than I really need, even a week long trip to Disney world only resulted in me taking about 20 GB of photos and videos. But 32 GB is not nearly enough, I’d say right now somewhere between 64 and 128 GB of internal flash is the sweet spot. Plus, the way Android seems to deal with SD cards and permissions isn’t quite consistent with how it deals with permissions on internal flash devices, which is annoying, so I’d prefer to simply have enough internal flash (plus, SD cards are slow as hell compared to modern managed flash which is integrated into the phones).
4 GB of RAM is OK for 95% of my needs. Only sometimes do I notice laggy operation which is likely due to RAM usage. On my next phone I’d like more than 4 GB of RAM, definitely not less than that.
I’d like to have some water resistance, more of a “just in case” thing than a real feature.
I’ve not been using a screen protector on my G5, I’ve come to the opinion that they are useless if the phone has a proper modern glass screen. The fancy new glasses used on screens are hard as hell, adding a protector is just a waste.
But I do not like needing to buy a case. Just make the phone 1-2 mm thicker and integrate decent drop protection into the phone itself. Integrated design of drop protection will always be superior to some fat case but all the phone makers seem to just want to make the slimmest phone which will have a huge Otterbox wrapped around it. The Fairphone design or the apparent durability of the LG V20 (go YouTube for V20 drop test videos) should be standard now so people don’t need to buy stupid cases. To go along with this, stop making phones so damn slippery!
I do like that I can replace the battery easily, but it doesn’t need to be as easy as my G5 makes it. If I could just unscrew the back panel to replace the battery or something that’d be fine, I’m only wanting to replace the battery like once per year at most, I just don’t want to deal with sticky tape all over the damn place to get the battery out.
Dual chain Wi-Fi ac in 2.4 and 5 GHz is plenty. I don’t need more. A few hundred Mb/s LTE is also plenty, going to Gb/s LTE will just let me rack up my data use faster than I’d feel comfortable with. Pretty much every modern phone has fast enough radios for my needs, I don’t care to improve them in my next phone.
I do like having NFC, although I can’t say I actually use it for anything useful, so I probably wouldn’t miss it if it went away. I don’t use the “tap to pay” systems.
My car doesn’t have Bluetooth, but apparently most new cars do, and there’s the aptx profile (or something) which makes Bluetooth audio sound less like shit, so I’d like that on my next phone. But most phones seem to have this standard now.
My next phone must have a USB type C port with host and device and SuperSpeed capabilities. It must also support USB PD (power delivery) charging, this Qualcomm quick charge stuff is stupid, I want standards order and decorum damnit! :)
It’d also be nice to be able to hook up an adapter to output HDMI/DisplayPort video from my USB type C port, although I don’t find I’d use it that often really.
Basically, I want Google’s Pixel 2 phone but with smaller top and bottom bezels, a slightly more rugged mechanical design, and a slightly easier to replace battery.