While for the most part, I'm liking Android as a tablet system, I'm increasingly frustrated with it as a phone. By that, I mean I want to be able to use my phone as, well, a phone. Hindering this are several issues:
- My Galaxy Nexus really doesn't understand the necessity of prioritizing voice quality over data availability when I'm on a call. As a basic example, it recently switched, mid-call, from a 2GSM tower with five bar coverage to a UMTS tower with no bars (yes, no bars, which is one above no signal), with the result that my wife couldn't hear a thing I said, and I could only hear "Hello? Hello? Are you still there?" That's an example, the reality is it pulls this shit all the time, and the only way to actually make it reliable is to, well, switch it to 2G-only mode...
- Voice dialing has gone from merely "attrocious" to "what the f--- are they thinking?" over the last few years. Here's a brief history:
1. Google's first attempts actually involved listening to you say who you wanted to call, and then presenting a list of possible interpretations on the screen, requiring you to select, by viewing the screen and using your finger, which one you wanted. Pointless.
2. They semi fixed it, though it was far from reliable, and went in the wrong direction, going ahead with a call without any chance to confirm or easily cancel the operation.
3. At various times they tweaked it, usually breaking something in the process. At various times we've had confirmations. At other, none.
4. They then added Google's patented "You don't want few relevent results, you want as many irrelevent results as possible" feature that has made their search engine such a joy to use in recent years - not. Result, if I call my wife by her nickname, which is how she's listed in my phonebook, it'll translate the nickname into a full name (ie "Trish => Patricia", "Art => Arthur", etc) and then list everyone with that first name asking me who I wanted to call. And then, to add insult to injury, it doesn't recognize my answer ever and ends the session, requiring I go through the entire process again, and again, until I give up. To date, I have not successfully placed a call using the voice calling feature since it was implemented.
Stage 4 is so bad that I actually did something dramatic, I disabled the Google Search app (which is the only way to disable voice dialing) on my phone. Why? Because I didn't want the risk I'd be tempted to use it when driving. Being frustrated by something that isn't road related when you're driving is dangerous.
So... thinking of switching to a tablet/feature phone combination. To do this, the tablet needs T-Mobile data capabilities or else the phone needs some kind of Wifi or similar tethering. I suspect the latter is going to be tremendously inconvenient though, and I'm not sure there are any phones out there with that support.
The tablet needs to be pocketable, making 7" the very largest I can go for. Ideally it needs a front camera and microphone, as I assume the feature phone will have a decent camera for day to day use. GPS is also a must. Operating system? I'm not sure. I like Android but I'm not wedded to it. That said, if it were Windows 8 (are there any 7" W8 tablets?) or something like Ubuntu, I'd want things like an ix86 compatible CPU, expandable storage, and HDMI-out/USB-in ports, and I'm about 99% sure there are no tablets out there that meet that specification - not 7" anyway. To make it clear what I'm after it can be either of:
1. Android tablet, 7", decent modern ARM CPU, 16Gb storage+, front camera, microphone, GPS, T-Mobile compatible 3G or 4G
2. Win 8/Ubuntu tablet, 7", Intel Atom or equivalent, expandable storage, HDMI, USB-in, front camera, microphone, GPS, T-Mobile compatible 3G or 4G
So that's where my brain is at. A decent but portable tablet with a dedicated feature phone, rather than a jack of all trades that manages to suck as an actual phone.