i do use another app for email since i can't stand the new Gmail look. the default Email.apk supports multiple accounts and i have three. but that doesn't help it when i need to use Play Store, and have to cringe every time i look at that pastel, oversized reminder of the early days of computing made-worse.
SD Cards and removable storage are very important. if cloud-services (Dropbox included) go away, so does your data. i find it better to have at least some sort of hard backup somewhere on removable media, not trusting it on some internet site. i prefer my music on my device or on removable media just in case one day, whatever music service i use goes belly-up and takes 1000+ songs with it. then there are the few times you're without internet or signal, and you have zero access to any of those features.
to offer a bit of correction, Android is open-source. for now. but Google's Play apps are all closed-source. there is no way to change them to the older look and most of the older versions of their apps (books, music, etc) ceased to function when they upgraded to version 4.0
As for the brick look of the 1980s, i was not being literal and suggesting the rubber antenna and old pixel display would return (actually it was an LED display), but the sizes of new phones seem to be trending towards the same dimensions of bricks that would remind anyone from that era of the DynaTAC. the future i was truly hoping for a phone that would be integrated into some kind of wearable tech, like Star Trek's combadge or a watch, but so far that seems to be only done via BlueTooth. sadly phones seem to be trending back to the brick era and those futuristic phones seen in movies haven't shown any signs of showing up. truth is modern tech is going backwards. the cartoon UI seen in Win8 and Google Play lately is a pretty good attempt at recreating DesqView from the 80's.
The stylus. once thought to be gone (finally) in favor of more accurate touch-screens with capacitive input is once again showing a sign of return. i'm already seeing folks sporting the Note and tapping with a stylus. none of them artists. but they all remind me of Palm Pilot users or those sporting a Newton. if the stylus comes back, what's that saying for the progress of touchscreens?
Ubuntu OS isn't an option. have you seen Unity? it is exactly the same crap Play and Windows is pulling.
Removable batteries are important to anyone who doesn't like being forced to replace their device when the battery no longer holds a charge. like it or not, there are people who hate planned obsolescence.
Samsung Galaxy Precedent (rooted, AreaRom 3.4 , sd-ext w/ 3.65GB internal space)
Kindle Fire (1st Gen, rooted, AOKP JB 4.1, Nova Launcher)
Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G LTE (rooted, Carbon ROM)