1. Frustrating placements of the power key
Alright, seriously, what's up with manufacturers placing the sleep/wake button on the top of smartphones? They can't possibly not realize that reaching for a key placed there on anything that has a screen bigger than 4-inches is downright impossible unless you have a basketballer hands! And, yet, they do it anyway.
And this is an issue that is far from resolved, even though such (mis)placements are becoming rare. The HTC One M8, for example, is a pretty tall phone, and it's power key is placed on the top, making it an annoyance to operate. Sure, you can wake up the screen with a double tap, but you can't lock it after you're done, so you're inevitably reaching for it all the time.
2. Lack of oleophobic coating on displays
While pretty much every flagship currently on sale doesn't suffer from this issue, quite a few mid-range and entry-level phones lack an olephobic coating. If you're scratching your head right now, an oleophobic coating is usually applied to the topmost surface of a phone's display and essentially serves to repel oil, at least to a certain extent. And, like it or not, the human hands are greasy.
The result? A screen that is so thoroughly smudged that you constantly have to wipe it with something (usually your clothes). We understand that these devices are usually on a budget, but the resulting mess is honestly oftentimes worth the extra dollar it will cost the manufacturer to get this sorted.
3. Raw spot: microSD cards
Yeah, yeah, we know. Companies like Google have a somewhat compelling case against microSD cards, claiming that they're not secure, can cause system instability, and also not perform to a good enough standard. But empirical observation continues to suggest that people want their smartphones to have the coveted slot, just in case.
And who can blame them? Sure, not all microSD cards are created equal, and some do underperform, but the truth is that even if you shell out for a quality card, you're still likely saving money. Which gets us to our next point...
4. Storage upgrades that cost a fortune
Yep, storage upgrades can cost a fortune, and that's a big reason for the popularity of the microSD card slot.
Consider Apple (whose products have no support for memory expansion) -- a 16GB boost from 16GB to 32GB costs an outrageous $100! And even Google is charging $50 for the same deal with the Nexus 5. A high class 16GB microSD card, on the other hand, will cost you a fraction of either of those two sums.
While still on the topic of storage, let's not forget manufacturer and carrier bloatware on Android. It's bad enough that most of these apps and services are resource hogs and rarely ever fool anybody into using them, but they're practically impossible to remove unless you're an advanced user and know how to root your device, and what to do from thereon.
There's a reason the South Korean government outlawed this practice and told companies that bloatware should be removable like any other app.
Image courtesy of BriefMobile.com
6. The tiny earpiece syndrome
We're not exactly sure what engineering problem manufacturers sometimes run into, but every now and then a phone comes out with an absolutely tiny earpiece. This may not be a common problem, but it's not exactly rooted out either, and can often result in a constantly frustrating experience for the poor user who realized what a problem this is too late. Unfortunately, sooner rather than later, you come to realize that such a speaker basically forces you to glue the tiny speaker to your earhole, which is hard (not to mention, frustrating) to do all the time.
This issue is only compounded by the fact that, nowadays, OEMs seem to be putting too little emphasis on call quality. The tiny earpiece syndrome is especially nasty if coupled with poor call volume.
7. Devices that weigh a ton
Bigger devices will generally weigh more than smaller devices, that's a given. But when manufacturers like Acer come out with phones like the 231 gram (8.15 oz.) Liquid S2, there's a problem.
Putting the way a device feels in words is a tough job, but lets just say that the Liquid S2 feels like something that can be quickly re-purposed for other uses, like throwing it at an assailant in an act of self-defense, and putting him in the hospital. Yeah, it's that heavy.
8. Android skins that are way too heavy
The Samsung faithful never like this issue being brought up, but it's true -- Android skins like TouchWiz are simply way too poorly optimized, and slow the device down, regardless of the hardware. That's right, stutters are quite visible even with the Galaxy S5, but we can't say that this is limited to just Samsung. LG's skin, for example, while much lighter, is also somewhat problematic in this regard.
9. Using plastic that is downright cheap
There are numerous examples of OEMs making plastic look sexy, but that's not always the case. With phones like the Nokia X, we honestly felt like we're handling a reinforced toy, and the same can be said about phones like the HTC Desire 310.
Once again, we understand that this a mostly budget phones-specific issue (but not completely), yet we can't help but call it what it is, cheapo plastic.
10. Fingerprint magnet back plates
This last one is kind of related to the previous issue, but it deserves special attention: back plates that are fingerprint magnets are a nightmare!
Typically, this is an issue with plastics that have a glossy finish, but the issue is definitely not exclusive to them. The black Moto G, for example, while an awesome device in its own right, is completely ruined aesthetically by the never-ending barrage of fingerprints.