When Google invested in having navigation buttons reside on the screen, with never a look back, I think a lot of us assumed that capacitive buttons were done for. Actually, quite some time has passed since the debut of on-screen buttons on the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) in 2011. But here we are, close to four years later, and we still see devices appearing with old-school capacitive buttons. Yes, they’re the minority in the sea of device choices, but there happens to be one big presence that keeps them relevant – Samsung.
Galaxy devices make up a large chunk of the Android population, and you’ve guessed it, they still rock capacitive buttons. So from this perspective and in the midst of the development over time, I think it’s still relevant to ask, what is your ideal setup? Why? Is the answer not cut and dry? Or are you completely convinced and believe the other way is wrong?
What I enjoy about this debate is that we’re merely talking about buttons. In immediate thought, they are a simple thing. Yet we each have our own strong, arguable opinion on the matter. This is because they happen to make quite a difference in our Android experiences. Let’s briefly run through it.
I would say the biggest differentiating factor between the two approaches is screen real estate. The result of on-screen buttons is a somewhat-permanent black bar taking up a bottom portion of the screen. Thus, that screen size you drooled over on the spec sheet isn’t necessarily so. It is roughly 0.2 inches less than that, unless you’re watching a video or playing a game. This is pretty frustrating when you want the most of that huge screen you invested in.
But Google knew what they were doing when they made the decision, didn’t they? When the navigation buttons are on the screen, manufacturers are able to use the space under the screen for other components or less bezel. It can also be viewed as a more seamless user experience, with complete focus on the screen. Further, the virtual buttons may be customizable, allowing you to add more buttons/functions. You’re not stuck with just one layout.
I believe Google recognized that the on-screen solution isn’t perfect, but for them, there was more benefit than loss. Do you agree, or are you glad that some manufacturers are still refuting it? Vote down below!