Today's smartphones always lack some important feature. Even supposedly community-oriented companies like OnePlus don't listen always to their customers, removing features such as the headphone jack despite all the backlash. If you're fed up with it too, you can make a small statement today. Vote in our survey and tell us which older smartphone should be redesigned and re-released?
Something has gone really wrong on the smartphone market. Headphone jacks and removable batteries are a thing of the past and spare parts are hardly available or astronomically expensive. The battery life could have been improved years ago; instead, more and more cameras and larger displays are being used.
One could argue that we as customers wanted this ourselves, because we keep buying these smartphones year after year. On the other hand, however, what else should we have bought? The choice of alternatives is getting smaller and smaller. The bottom line is the same everywhere:
- Power in abundance
- A great camera
- Waterproof, but fragile craftsmanship
- A battery that lasts just over a day
- No headphone jack
- No replaceable or removable battery
However, if you look back at devices from 2014 or even earlier, you can see that there was a lot more going on - above all, more variety. While the development of computing power and cameras is going in the right direction, the rest has been neglected. Smartphones have become disposable products. And that's all the more questionable, as almost all flagships exceed the $1000 mark. I don't even want to get into the waste of raw materials - many resources can still not be recovered from old equipment for recycling.
Considering these factors, it's not hard to understand why so many are nostalgic for the devices of old. So today we pose this question:
If you could, which smartphone would you redesign with modern hardware and software?
Samsung Galaxy S5
With the Galaxy S5, Samsung reached its technical peak for that smartphone era. However, the company abandoned many of the predecessor's virtues in the Galaxy S6 and gave in to the trend of 'glass sandwiches', as I call it. What were the virtues that make the Galaxy S5 a classic?
Until the Galaxy S5, Samsung was regarded as the manufacturer with three advantages over iPhones of the time:
- The battery was replaceable
- The memory could be expanded with a MicroSD card
- Splashes of water did not penetrate the device
The Galaxy S5 was protected against water penetration by rubberized flaps. It was better in three ways than its successor the Galaxy S6. Nevertheless, the S6 sold like sliced bread, simply because it followed the current fashion trends and showed customers that it was new. And being new was more important than being better.
The Galaxy S5 is still kept alive by loyal fans. Thanks to meticulous reverse engineering, the Snapdragon 801 chipset it uses is extremely modder-friendly. Accordingly, current versions of Android are circulating until today: the Android-Oreo-based Custom-ROM Lineage OS 15.1 for the Galaxy S5 (klte) is still updated daily.
Paired with inexpensive replacement batteries, a smartphone first presented in 2014 still runs like clockwork. If we want Samsung to re-launching a similar device with the same positives, it should probably sport these specs:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
- New flash memory
- A dual camera as seen on the Note 8 / S9
- Fingerprint sensor instead of a scanner
- USB type-C connector
- Qi Charging + Adaptive Fast Charge
- Modern software without too much bloatware
However, this new imaginary Samsung should get the legendary features of the Galaxy S5, so it should be/should have:
- Replaceable battery
- Repair-friendly design
- Headphone jack
- Expandable memory
I'd buy it instantly.
Google/Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Smaller and simpler: together with Samsung, Google introduced its third Nexus in 2012 and eagerly filled it with features. iPhone users looked in awe at technologies and options that they would be denied for years:
- Interchangeable software keyboards
- Third-Party App stores
- MicroSD slot
- AMOLED screen
Just as with the Samsung S5, the Galaxy Nexus still had a replaceable battery. The Nexus 4, launched in 2013, ended this trend for Google's series, along with the MicroSD expandable memory. A new edition of the Galaxy Nexus should look like this:
- Modern chipset and flash memory
- A competitive camera
- Edge-to-Edge display
- MicroSD slot, removable battery and a headphone jack
- Pure Android with updates on the first day,
- Unlockable bootloader
- Strong community support for mods
HTC One (M7 and M8)
Wow, the sound was on full blast! With BoomSound, a dual camera (in the One M8) and beats headphones, HTC were trend-setters. And unlike Samsung or LG it could do without the oh-so-praised removable battery. Instead, the aluminum unibody design was beloved by many. The 16:9 display at the front was flanked by two stereo speakers that sounded amazing for a smartphone.
The only weaknesses were the poor software maintenance and the second-rate main camera. A new edition of the HTC One M8 could, however, learn from modern HTC phones and thus merge old and new strengths of the company into a brilliant product. The dream features for a newly launched HTC One M7 or One M8 would be as follows:
- Current chipset and flash memory
- Good camera
- Android One
- BoomSound + headphone jack
- Aluminum unibody
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
At just 4.3 inches, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, released in 2014, fulfilled all the wishes of smartphone enthusiasts. It had high-end hardware, expandable memory, a triluminos display, a headphone jack, and most importantly, it fit comfortably in your hand or pocket.
After some trouble with water damage, Sony backtracked and changed the wording of its advertising: Sony smartphones were no longer considered "waterproof". However, since almost all competitors now offer water protection, a high IP rating alone is no longer a unique selling point.
The compact format of the Xperia compact is one, however. Unfortunately, it seems like Sony will neglect this more than ever in the future. As if it wasn't enough for the compacts to get bigger and bigger in the past years, they will now disappear completely.
Sony has taken more and more out of the appeal of the Compact range over the years. One could only hope for a revival of the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact with a model equipped as follows:
- 2:1 display, OLED, Edge-to-Edge, Full HD under 4.5 inches
- IP67 certification
- Stereo speakers
- Headphone jack with Sony DAC and noise suppression
- USB-Type-C with a quick charger in the box (not sold separately)
- Main camera with the latest Sony sensor and optimized software
- Android One (Sorry, Xperia UI. You have to go.)
- The fastest Snapdragon and Flash memory currently available
Nokia Lumia 1020
The Lumia 1020 was ahead of its time. Shortly after its launch in 2013, Nokia's smartphone division was transferred to Microsoft for a short time. Today we know that the hoped-for success of the mobile operating system Windows Mobile failed to materialize. The app developers were working at full capacity with iOS and Android and did not see the cost-benefit of creating a Windows phone app.
That's a shame, because that's how the Nokia Lumia 1020 turned into a compact camera that could function as phone and that had about two apps. Yet, a new edition would perhaps become a big hit. HMD Global currently owns the rights to the Nokia brand, so it could actually surprise us with such a revival, similar to the Nokia 8810 or 3310. The new Lumia 1020 would then need:
- Android One
- The same or a better camera
- A 4.5-inch display, but in full HD
- A larger battery; at least 3,000 mAh
- USB Type-C
- An IP rating
A protective cover with an additional battery was also introduced for the 2013 model. These or similar lifestyle accessories could make a new edition a hit.
If your dream candidate is not here, then let us know about it in the comments. We can then discuss which retro smartphone would be a hit if re-released. Have a good time!