I have a confession to make. I hate most of the Android phones on the market today. Each one of them bears some critical flaw that really just sits on my brain and forces me to think about what I would be doing differently if I were running the show. In the Android market of today, my ideal phone is a pipe dream – it will just never happen right now. Too many things would need to change in order for that phone to exist. What am I talking about? I’m talking about a phone that is sold with Root enabled, offers a bootloader that encourages me to install roms, rather than makes it a puzzle. The phone would have a slide out keyboard that did not suck for when I was mad at Swype, and a front facing camera so when I have a 15 day convention stretch I don’t have to run back to my laptop to see my family. I want tethering and VOIP enabled out of the box, and I want a trackball (not an optical thingy, not a touch thingy, a TRACKBALL), and I want to be able to use it on whatever network I want. That’s more than just a tall order, that’s borderline impossible. Just borderline, though. This weekend I met up with Tim Riker, the CTO of Saygus. Tim was walking around with a phone I had never seen before, and when I asked him about it, he told me a story about his company, and their new vPhone, otherwise known as the closest anyone has come to my dream phone.
Tim’s phone is not pretty. It’s not light, it’s not got a ridiculously spectacular screen, and it does not have mind blowing processor and gpu specs. Honestly, if you look at those things first when looking for an Android phone anymore, you are doing it wrong. It’s become clear to me that the specs of a phone mean absolutely nothing. They mean nothing because a carrier can disable features, add useless layers of security, and install unremovable garbageware without incident. Now, the typical counter-argument I am used to is “well we will just root it and fix it.” and that sounds great. So I bought this phone, and now two months later I have root. Two or more months after that I have an unlocked bootloader, and now I can start seeing roms. By the time I am truly enjoying this phone, six months and 10 new phones have gone by, and I have likely already sold that phone and bought another, only to continue the process. It’s the truth for many of us. So when I saw this vPhone, I was really unimpressed. It’s a thick plastic slab, and very little is appealing about it at first glance. Fortunately I ask questions, and Tim was more than willing to answer.
The vPhone will be sold Rooted. It will support flashing your rom of choice from the moment you turn it on, without any issues or work. The phone has one of the most comfortable, solid keyboards I have ever used (despite being four row) and is noticeably lighter than the Droid, despite being a little larger. The USB port on the device is the first to natively support host mode, meaning that with a small adapter you can plug in a thumb drive, a keyboard, a mouse, etc. and it just plain works. Part of their deployment strategy is to make sure that developers like Cyanogen already have the phone, so that roms are readily available.
This is a phone for the Community. It’s not a phone for the general public, although they can still use it should they buy it. It’s not trying to win any beauty contests, and it’s sure got my attention, and it’s a trackball away from being my dream phone. What are your thoughts?