This week I had a brilliant thought:
would be kinda sick if snapchat made its own phone with a proprietary camera app, juss sayin'!— Ashley Carman (@ashleyrcarman) January 30, 2017
This prompted my dear pal and editor Paul Miller to ask whether my imaginary phone would be better or worse than the failed Facebook phone. I replied:
@futurepaul if it's a flip phone, way better. if it's a regular smartphone, prob just fine— Ashley Carman (@ashleyrcarman) January 30, 2017
My response shouldn’t shock you. I talk about smart flip phones whenever someone gives me a venue to write or talk, which surprisingly happens a lot. But my tweet prompted a larger discussion around the concept of a “dream gadget.” What’s your dream gadget? Mine is a smart flip phone with iMessage and native (unbranded) Snap lenses. I realize those words make no sense next to one another, but hear me out. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
As far as the flip phone aspect, I’m willing to broaden beyond the flip because what I really want is a smart phone in a different form factor. A flip feature works, or I don’t know, maybe a slide phone? Just give me something, gadget makers, because I’m bored by big screens. Everyone seems to think bezel-less devices are the immediate future, and I agree. Bezels are inherently ugly and bad, so less of them is a good thing, but I’m asking for a different kind of device: a gadget that stands out and makes my friends be like, “Ooh girl, what is that phone?”
When I was in high school, the cool phones were the Sidekick and the Razr. The BlackBerry Pearl eventually became kind of cool, too. All these devices iterated on design. But once Apple released the iPhone, its competition decided to push their wild phone concepts aside to instead focus on one-upping Apple by releasing similarly designed phones, except with incremental improvements, like USB-C, better cameras, and different display sizes. Bring back the days of choice, I say. Rose gold isn’t choice.
Samsung makes smart flip phones — one of which served as the basis for the Photoshop above — but only releases them in Asia. Why, Samsung? I’d be willing to buy a phone from a company other than Apple, of course, but I’m also incredibly dependent on iMessage. I’m sorry this is my reality. My dream gadget needs iMessage. I also appreciate Apple’s emoji, so that would be an added benefit of iOS.
Form factor and color aren’t everything, though. I also want an enhanced camera, arguably the most important phone spec. Listen, we all use our phones differently. Some of us like to shoot gorgeous landscapes; others like to play games or watch Netflix. I like to play with Snapchat’s lenses, mess with photos, and take selfies. So what’s most important for me on my dream gadget? A camera that has those Snap lenses natively built-in. Hello, puppy dog filter. It’d be convenient if I didn’t have to access Snapchat’s app or any other third-party app to get the selfie look I want. I won’t apologize for my selfie love.
I realize there’s an approximate 0 percent chance Apple will ever release a flip phone or even allow other phone manufacturers to incorporate iMessage into their devices. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop dreaming. What gadget do you dream about that will never happen because no one but you would buy it?