thoughtsThe Cel Phone Challenge

I do not own a cel phone.

If I'm going to be buying a gadget and carrying it around on my person at all times, there are just certain minimum standards I expect it to meet, and they have not yet been met. I believe, though, that it is just a matter of time. What follows are the stats I envision for my cel phone. When the phone described here exists, I will purchase it.

The major phone companies may consider this a formal challenge.


It should be between nine and eleven centimetres long, between four and six centimetres wide, and fit comfortably in my hand. The buttons should be large, and sensibly placed. The screen should be full colour, with backlighting, very high resolution and (this is optional) touchscreen capability. If any pixels on the screen do not work, I should be able to stroll into the store where I purchased the phone, verify my identity, and have the screen replaced while I wait.

There should be retractable earbuds inside the phone itself, which should also be able to be replaced at my request. When the earbuds are deployed, all sound will automatically go to them.

A phone that folds and flips up would be acceptable, so long as the user interface is large enough.

There should be not one, but two cameras: a wimpy one on the face for video conversations, and a better one on the back that I can point at things. When carrying on a video conversation, I can switch between the two cameras to show the other person what I'm looking at.


I expect to be able to make phone calls from absolutely anywhere on the planet, from behind any obstacle, while moving at any speed. There should be no static, and my phone should hop from network to network seamlessly as the situation demands. The only thing that will prevent me from connecting would be jamming fields, which would probably be set up in certain private businesses. I have no problem with that.

I want to be able to set up conference calls and use services like *69. I want the capability to record my conversations (even if they're video calls), although a distinctive tone should play first, because, of course, it is illegal to record a phone conversation without the other party's knowledge. I want my conversations to be multimedia, so that I can at any time communicate with voice, video, or text.

My cel phone will keep a detailed listing of all my contacts, which I can sort and modify at my leisure. It'll also have a record of everyone I've called in the past x days, and how long that call lasted.

I want to be able to use any sound clip - even recordings from phone conversations - as ringtones. I should be able to set up custom ringtones for different people (ideally, a recording of that person themself saying "Hey, pick up!"). When in vibrate mode, my cel phone should make no noise whatsoever, unless it is rattling against something.

If someone calls me while my phone is turned off or while I'm ignoring them, they should be directed to a free answering service, which will store up to a hundred five-minute messages for up to six months. I should be able to turn off phone reception while keeping the unit turned on.


I expect my phone to hold at least a gigabyte of data.

I should be able to connect to the Internet at any time, and surf any web page. There should be a service that will allow me to download not only music, but books, comics, radio programs, movies, and even commercial-free episodes of TV shows currently in syndication, each for less than a dollar. The files should come to me free and clear, with no bundled ads or convoluted copy protection.

I should be able to pick up regular broadcast TV signals, as well as AM and FM radio, and those new satellite radio stations that are becoming popular. CB, I don't need.

I should be able to record video, audio, or still pictures at any time. There should be simple software on the phone that allows me to do basic media editing - cropping pictures, blending audio, cutting together video footage, etc. When I take a photo, I do not want there to be a loud click noise.

There'll also be text editing software, of course. And I can send faxes. Not that I ever would, but it'd be nice to have the ability.

Of course, I'll be able to organize my music into folders and play it either at random or in sequence, like an iPod. Audio will come either from the earbuds, out of the telephone speaker, or out of the audio port. With the proper attachments, I should be able to hook my phone into a TV and display photos, music and videos from it, as though it were a DVD player.

There should be a docking mechanism for my desktop (or, possibly, a little wireless peripheral that detects the proximity of the phone and acts as though it were docked). When my phone is connected to my computer, my computer will treat it like just another hard drive (and also, if possible, like a modem).

I should be able to send even very large files to other people, or at least point them to where the files can be downloaded.


Only certain built-in firmware applications will run on my phone - media players, the telephone software, a single instance of the web browser, and the media editing suite. Any other .exe will simply fail to initialize (unless, of course I purposely turn off strict mode... which would void my warranty, but should still be possible). I can, of course, download .exe files and run them elsewhere.

If, at any time, I have a problem with my phone's configuration, I want free 24 hour tech support. If my phone is still capable of connecting to the network, the tech should be able to log into it and fix the problem from his end.


I will accept three options for power management.

1. It takes regular double As.
2. It has battery packs I can interchange, to have one running while the other charges.
3. I should be able to charge it simply by shaking it, even while it's turned off. This is by far the coolest of the options, as my phone would remain charged simply by being on my person as I walk around.

Whichever option they go with, it should be able to operate at full capacity for three days before running out of juice.

Other Options

The camera on the back of the phone should have a heck of a zoom (optical zoom, not digital). It'd also be really great if it had a light-amplification mode and (this would be really cool) infrared. Because, of course, anything you target with the camera shows up on the viewscreen as you record it, the camera could therefore be used as a sort of digital nightvision telescope.

There should be, of course, some sort of security on the unit, probably a password, but I wouldn't say no to biometrics.

If possible, it would be nice if the whole interface were one large touchscreen, with buttons that rearrange themselves according to context.

One idea for a possible attachment is a flat panel magnifying glass, like the ones old people use to read books, that will clip into place and expand the little screen to a larger, toast-sized viewing window.

The ability to give it voice commands ("Call Jared", "Begin Audio Recording", "Nine-one-one", "Google Biophoton", etc.) would be nice, but not necessary.

None of the features I have mentioned are particularly outlandish. This is all technology we already have, it's just a matter of the phone companies putting it together and offering it in a reasonable package. The phone I described should cost less than fifty dollars for the unit itself, and the service I connect to should cost less than twenty dollars a month.

I'm giving the phone companies five years to put it together. If it's there, I'll buy it. 2010. You can do it, phone companies. You can do it.

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