Smartphones don’t need a gimmick

2 min read

I don’t want a borderless display, and I surely don’t want a phone I have to squeeze. The industry seems to be enamored with gimmicks. There are multiple ways to innovate on smartphones, but I think OEMs are going about it the wrong way.

The newest fads seem to be going in the wrong direction for ergonomics and user experience. From the removal of all bezels to the latest rumored HTC of having some sort of “squeeze” feature, I don’t think we are improving the functionality of these devices. Much like the rush to the thinnest phone, I feel like manufacturers are simply trying to prove they can do certain feats of engineering. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always come as a positive to us end users.

Now, I’m not saying the new Galaxies in all their screened out glory don’t look amazing, but I am concerned about how they will function in the real world. Am I going to constantly be launching apps or unintentionally swiping through home screens? I already have a tendency to hit the multitasking button on phones with on-screen buttons when using them in landscape. Will this be multiplied as top and bottom bezels get reduced? Apple is also supposedly moving to a bezel-less design on the next iPhone. As good as it looks in photos, I have stern reservations on actual usage.

And then…there’s this HTC with its rumored “squeeze actions.” The official name may be Sense Touch, but the rumored functionality is that specific apps or features can be accessed by short or long squeezes of the phone’s frame. There are numerous ways this could go wrong. Let’s start with the puns on the name itself. Sensual Touch. Sensitive Touch. This is another example of OEMs giving us a feature that no one asked to have.

It’s fairly easy to see mistaken inputs using this feature while doing tasks as simple as pulling the phone from your pocket. Hopefully there’s a toggle kill switch for this function built into the software from HTC. Plus, what happens if you’re using a case?

Personally, I would much rather OEMs find ways to increase the functionality of my handsets. Motorola has done an excellent job of finding ways to innovate that directly affect the end user with battery life, durability, and even modularity. I would challenge other manufacturers to do the same. Stop giving us options no one is asking for and listen to the consumer. People want more battery life out of their phone and quick charge is a stop-gap, not a solution. More phones are offering water resistance, which is great to see, but can we find a way to not destroy a phone when dropped from 4 feet? Smartphones are quickly becoming the main computing device for most people. Let’s stop treating it as a gimmick commodity.