Samsung-Galaxy-S3-Blue-16GB-Verizon-Wireless-0
Galaxy S3 in 2012.

The Galaxy S6 was my first Samsung smartphone. I meant to join the Galaxy club around the time of the S2, but HTC had my attention more. I was expecting the S3 to be my entry, but while the world embraced its debut with open arms, I was taken aback. Nothing was inspiring about the design. Maybe it was aiming for the future, but in reality, it looked and felt cheap from head to toe. And that unflattering Home button was the cherry on top. I didn’t get why the market was infatuated with the S3. But I was clearly the minority, because it was a huge hit.

Alas, it wouldn’t be until 3 years later when Samsung would actually build a phone with an effort that’s worth its hefty asking price, and where I could jump on board. But that darn Home button. Even today, it’s still there!

Sure, the prevalence of fingerprint readers made the button a convenient place to slap the scanner on, but should Samsung continue with it just because? I’d argue that there’s more reasons to dump the physical Home button than to keep it.

The biggest of those reasons is contact. The button is raised from the glass surface.

Therefore, anytime the front rubs on anything (i.e. phone face down on a table), it’s guaranteed to make contact at that spot and scratch it up. This concern isn’t helped by the fact that many Galaxy users have reported that the surface of the button scratches more easily than the phone’s glass (including myself).

Another consequence is accidental presses. Personally, I had more of a problem with this on the S6, where I too often felt the button depress while the phone was in my pocket. Samsung must have since made it firmer, because it rarely happens with my S7 Edge. But accidental presses while fumbling the phone still of course happen. Also, having a button on the front that turns the screen on certainly doesn’t help the potential for butt calling. And is anyone else simply annoyed by its unflattering appearance and audible click each time you want to go to the Home panel?

A capacitive button, like the HTC 10 and OnePlus 3 use, fixes a lot of concerns I’ve raised: it’s flush with the glass, it doesn’t have to wake the phone when pressed (unless you want it to), it doesn’t click, and it’s less invasion to the design. It’s also slightly faster to initiate the action by touching a button rather than pushing it in. If you’re a hardcore user and are speedy with your phone, that can be crucial. I know I could operate more quickly with a capacitive button.

Actually, I think Sony has the best fingerprint scanner implementation – in the power button. It’s efficient, because the power button has to be physical, and you use the fingerprint reader following turning on the phone. What’s more, it’s not invasive in the design; you don’t need a special cut-out on the front or back of the phone.

You guys will have to tell me the benefit in the Home button being physical, because I can’t find one. I think Samsung is just holding on to the Galaxy’s signature look, where practicality should instead take precedence in a smartphone. I surely hope the reason isn’t because that’s what Apple does.

Do you agree, disagree, or don’t really care because it’s just a stupid button? We’d like to know if there’s many users out there who are also continually annoyed by its existence.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Its a matter personal preference, I like it and I want to keep it. In fact going from GS3 to an LG g2, LG g3, then a Nexus, and now a GS7E, I am totally glad to have the physical button back. It gives me more screen real estate and a physical button to push when taking a picture. Also, it is a great spot for the fingerprint reader.

  2. Double click the home button to take a snap is frigging awesome! I don’t want Samsung to get rid of that. And please don’t tell me twisting your arm several times is just as convenient, because it’s not.

  3. Apparently the author thinks his personal preference outweighs Samsung’s market research on the matter. Newsflash, it doesn’t! Samsung has obviously done their homework on whether or not users of their phones prefer a physical home button or not and have concluded that they prefer it. Hence the reason every Galaxy phone has a physical home button. I won’t get into why the physical home button is better, I’ll just leave this well reasoned article here; http://www.zdnet.com/article/thank-you-apple-and-samsung-the-physical-home-button-is-essential-for-efficiency-and-security/

  4. Be gone!!! I have been using the nexus 6 for almost two years and prior to that a Note 2. Give me more real state. Get rid of it ???

  5. I have a Lenovo tab with no physical button, and it’s appalling! Some apps remove the button for brief periods e.g. when loading so you suddenly lose control of your own device.

  6. IMO, Having an option like OnePlus to switch from Physical and On-Screen keys is awesome. I think Samsung should implement that, just a software update will do that. Instead of the Plastic Home button, sapphire can be used to prevent from scratches.

  7. I hate the physical button too because if you leave the double-click trigger for the camera app on, that means that the phone always waits a split second before actually taking you home. It is not instantaneous like with the on-screen button (or with this features turned off). I need a quick way to open the camera, but don’t want to wait long to go to my home screen. Why didn’t they use the power button to trigger the camera like with Nexus devices? Also, the click noise is annoying at night in bed, for example, and the actual time it takes to press it down means you can go back or to the multitasking screen faster than you can go home. Makes no sense.

  8. I have the note 5 and my wife have the s7 edge and neither of us use our finger print scanners . I have co workers that have galaxy phones and don’t use it either. If you trust and carry all your personal info on your phone then i can see using it, but i don’t trust no of this stuff. I like the button because it’s samsung look . Cars have certain distinctive style so you know its a certain brand . Most big brands do that to let there customers know this is there product. Samsung changing the button might put alot of people off. Remeber what happen about people complaining about the built of the phone then they took stuff away. Im happy with them fixing the software alittle more and adding a ir blaster back.

  9. Don’t listen to this fool Samsung, his next advice is probably that you should get rid of that headphone jack.

  10. I used Samsung Android phones for years (Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 3), all of them had physical Home buttons which I liked for the simple reason that I can wake the display easily as it’s easy to find the Home button without looking. I avoid using the power button to wake the device because that’s probably how I quickly wore out the power button on my Galaxy Note. To turn off my phone’s display without using the Power button, I always install a widget that turns the display off when I tap it.

    I switched to an LG V10 and I was wary of missing the physical Home button. But I didn’t. Because LG had a cool feature: double-tap on the display to turn it on and double-tap while on an empty area of the home screen to turn it off. Much better than a physical home button because now I can tap anywhere and I didn’t have to go my main home screen to tap on a widget.

    This is a feature that every phone manufacturer with a touchscreen should have.

  11. I completely agree with the writer. For me looks are just as important as functionality, and I much prefer the clean button-less look of LG phones. I am on an LG G4 and still love the button-less, slim bezel look. I am ready though to make the jump to a bigger phone like the Note and would be ecstatic to see it remove the raised physical button.

  12. I completely agree with you, specially in devices like the Note series: you can be using the phone with the stylus and since the button isn’t capacitive it forces you to press it with your fingers if you want to go back home, breaking the workflow. It could be fixed by making the button capacitive, as the article says.

  13. Most of the reason’s for its removal are fixable flaws rather than fundamental problems. Accidental presses? Lower it and make it firmer like the iPhone. Easily scratched? Add a glass/sapphire crystal/ceramic layer like many phones. Audible click? Design a quieter button. Still accidentally waking it? Implement a software control to disable waking the screen with the home button.

    A fingerprint scanner on the power button requires the phone to have thick sides in order for a decent contact patch, and the metal frame on the Samsung phones is way too thin. Besides, making the button taller reduces the structural strength and no matter how tall you make the button, the contact patch will be smaller than the current Samsungs or iPhones.

  14. So which is easier: To acidentally press a button you can’t even feel or know if tapped without looking, or a physical button that requires pressure, and makes a satisfying ‘click’?
    I’m glad Samsung is going against the stupid trend on this one.

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