Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 waves goodbye to on-screen Android buttons: good idea or not?
Yes, the on-screen buttons taking out tons of screen estate are finally gone. For us, that is a huge relief - it seems such a waste of screen space to have those on-screen buttons on the display at all times! We could forgive this in a phone (and even then it seems like a huge waste), but in a tablet you end up with an abysmal waste of space.
Losses of screen space due to system bar
Now, all of this confusion started with Honeycomb and then transferred to Ice Cream Sandwich.
- 7.5% of the vertical resolution (1,280 pixels), or 96 pixels, (48 device independent pixels) are occupied by on-screen buttons on a Nexus 4/Galaxy Nexus. That space is wasted for real content.
- 4.4% of the vertical resolution (1,280 pixels)), or 56 pixels, on a Nexus 7 in portrait mode
- 8% of the vertical resolution (in this case, 800 pixels), or 64 pixels, on a Nexus 7 in landscape mode
- 3.75% of the vertical resolution (2,560 pixels), or 96 pixels, (48 device independent pixels) on a Nexus 10 in portrait mode
- 6% of the vertical resolution (1,600 pixels), or 96 pixels on Nexus 10 in landscape mode
With and without on-screen buttons
Sadly, while you can choose between high-end devices with on-screen buttons (Sony Xperia Z, Nexus 4 most recently) and without on-screen buttons (Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X), you didn’t have that choice in recent tablets as virtually all of them came with on-screen keys.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 brings that choice of having all the screen up for use by real content and not just buttons.
We don’t know whether it was Apple’s iPad mini that showed just how big of a difference a form factor makes with its full-screen 7.9-inch tablet, or what was it that caused the change, but we’re glad Samsung listened and decided to right that wrong. And we’d be looking forward to the Galaxy Note 8.0 launch because of that.
How about you - how do you feel about on-screen buttons? Did you realize how much of a screen space they eat up? Or do you think the uniformity of experience they deliver is worth that loss? Sound off in the comments below.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 images
1. valapsp (Posts: 484; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)
Both a bad and a good idea. I can't say for sure before working with it :)
53. Dinged (Posts: 12; Member since: 12 Jan 2012)
Coming from a nexus and galaxy device. I prefer a physical Home button for the most used functions such as waking it up, going to the default Home screen and checking the time.
It's simply easier to use a single finger and tap a physical button to "wake" a phone vs "waking" a phone with a side button than moving your finger to the virtual home button for a follow up function.
Additionally, I used the tactile feel of the Home button to return to a default screen while driving where I have my most useful driving apps so that I can minimize time spent looking down at my phone.
55. Dinged (Posts: 12; Member since: 12 Jan 2012)
Virtual buttons need to be awoken first with another physical button which can be a pain in certain instances.
59. Dinged (Posts: 12; Member since: 12 Jan 2012)
Google most likely focuses on virtual buttons to avoid any similarities to the iphone which may cause a lawsuit. Additionally, they can put a patent on the idea to prevent competing OS's from using the idea.
82. Nadr1212 (Posts: 741; Member since: 22 Sep 2012)
This is A TERRIBLE IDEA!!!! The screen pictures qnd words look way smaller 2 me
And 2 think u were gonna stay like ur old, good, original self Note Tablet!!!!!!
69. andro. (Posts: 1971; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
Definitely as good thing,many many people would love to have the option to auto hide the bottom bar on their android tabs
73. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
I dont like them. It takes up screen real estate. For me...its a good move. When I had the G Nex...my least fav feature were the on screen buttons. I have a Maxx HD now....and I still dont like them...lol.
They do disappear when watching Netflix. But I also still have the same problem I had with capacitive buttons and games...accidental presses and gettign kicked out the game. Android and the game devs are doing better with pausing games when this happens....I still hate it tho.
89. kclgphilsbsa (Posts: 765; Member since: 21 Jan 2013)
anyway, there is a 70% chance that these images are fake :D
i dont remember any valid leaks of Sammy new flagship models being uploaded everywhere a month before the official annncmnt..
if this wud be the real note 8.0 den Sammy has a month to listen from d consumers and put sermons against their DESIGNERS!!!! hahahaha
2. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
I personally like the on-screen buttons more.
Not for any reason I can point out, just a personal preference.
6. Aeires (unregistered)
Because they rotate with the screen. I like them too.
31. yougotkilled1 (Posts: 167; Member since: 27 Apr 2011)
Also I think the phone looks much better with no buttons to display when the phone is on sleep. The screens on the galaxy nexus and the 4 look awesome when the display is off.
34. Aeires (unregistered)
Agree with that, the solid glass fronts do look great.
41. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
Capacitive buttons can look just as cool - they are completely undistinguished on galaxy S3, when not in use.
I really prefer capacitive buttons for now - the current phones using the on screen ones are not having any less bezel compared to classic models.
Way too much of screen space is wasted on the Nexus 4, for example, and here I completely agree with the article.
I also think tablets should have capacitive keys (both for portrait and landscape mode ) because their bezel is abundant anyway.
But this particular solution by Samsung is hideous
57. jamrockjones (Posts: 345; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
I concur, I like the appearance of on screen buttons, especially on tablets. It's not always just about screen real estate, there's also convenience (like when you turn the screen), also in some applications more options come up. I think it's a forward looking approach and I'm all for it. Now if manufactures could figure out a way to make the screen go closer to the bottom and sides of the phone.
58. Zero0 (Posts: 583; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)
That and that it can change with advancements in UI. See the Droid DNA's lack of a menu button (which ends up taking up screen space anyway) and the general clunkyness of the Galaxy S3.
Want Google Now on the Galaxy S3? Hold down home, then press a button on screen.
For Google Now on a Nexus, just slide up from the home button.
It also looks really nice with the screen off.
62. rdaex (Posts: 97; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
Something I just found recently. On the S3, if you hold menu, it shortcuts to google now.
Yes, still a press, but its pretty easy, and you dont stand a chance of missing the gesture a la GNEX
84. blinkdagger (Posts: 81; Member since: 04 May 2012)
And also it can be tweak to show more than just those 3 default buttons. It can be arrange to personal liking too. *cough*aokp*cough*
43. ChrisG (Posts: 36; Member since: 22 Aug 2012)
I don't really *like* the on-screen buttons on my Galaxy Nexus, but they don't bother me at all, either. I don't miss the "wasted space." I do like the smooth, button-free glass front of my phone, though. Less places for dust to build up!
61. wendygarett (unregistered)
physical button increase bezel and the end reduce screen size as well, in order to keep overall size the same...
4. justme (Posts: 44; Member since: 09 Jan 2012)
Are we absolutely sure that this is a real image? (Still hoping it's not).
5. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)
THE THING IS IT LOOKS REALLY UGLY! IT's a phone on a tablet size. Not PHABLET, TABLET! oh god. why samsung whyyyyyy
14. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1385; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)
i kind of think the design is nice (confession bear)
28. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)
They should put an interactive capacitive button if they really want to separate it from the screen like what meizu did.
72. umadd (banned) (Posts: 40; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)
If they got rid of all the capacitive buttons and made it landscape orientation, it would looks really good, like the Nexus 10.
7. Techsplash (Posts: 41; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)
not an apple fanboy or android hater but this really looks ugly.the edges are too much rounded.
10. ogy_dogy (Posts: 453; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)
After having a froyo and gingerbread tablets and then switching to a jellybean one i must say the latter with no physical keys is more to my liking. one of the reasons is that buttons are placed to be used in either landscape or portrait direction, and you rarely have both, while with onscreen ones you save on construction costs, they can point to God allmighty if need be, and they can dissapear too. only problem is that google has not implemented a gesture or something to have them dissapear or reapear on screen like msoft did with w8 charms. all in all, i think samsung is taking a step back....
13. justme (Posts: 44; Member since: 09 Jan 2012)
Exactly! This device seems very much geared to portrait mode,which is odd. And it is ugly...I'm hoping it comes in black; it might look better then.
23. ogy_dogy (Posts: 453; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)
Never was a big fan of sammys design dept., i like my tablets thick and heavy :D
52. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
It's why I hate on screen buttons because there's no way to hide them
... They take up valuable space when playing games and web browsing where you want the full screen and in some games they just come in the way.. If they were to provide a gesture ie swipe up from the bottom bezel to show and hide buttons...its possible to do with root but I want it to be a stock feature...took then I will prefer physical buttons
66. ogy_dogy (Posts: 453; Member since: 29 Jun 2012)
I agree with you there, simply hiding them would solve everything, if im not mistaken a launcher allowed me to hide the status bar on my froyo tab, i see no reason why this can not be done in jb or ics...
12. TylerGrunter (Posts: 1058; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)
I like the on screen buttons, for me it's the physical ones the one that waste space, as the space they are taking could be used for a bigger screen.
Moreover, I don't really enjoy the 16:9 aspect ratio of most of the screens in Android, which is fine for video, but not so good for reading a book or browsing the web. The screen buttons both help to reduce that bad feeling and they dissapear when they are not needed (EG: when watching a film). Unlike the physical ones, that you have to keep constanly avoiding while in landscape.
15. SportDriver (Posts: 30; Member since: 07 Nov 2012)
I like more on screen buttons.Irelly do not like that middle buton becuse you need some power to press it and it may work with phones and it may even work on this 8" tablet but i can not imagine how this would work on bigger tablet (9,7" or 10,1" ).
16. appleandsonylover (Posts: 7; Member since: 17 Jan 2013)
The on screen buttons for me is better than the physical ones specially for tablets/phablets. It's easier to use on landscape mode. They should try to come up with solution similar to Huawei's Emotion UI wherein the onscreen buttons disappear when not in use so that they could use the whole screen. I saw the Emotion UI at Youtube and I really liked it.
17. mio15 (Posts: 27; Member since: 21 Mar 2011)
Simply make them optional.
Switch On / Off
-> All Happy
maybe something like autohide would be great
21. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)
Ubuntu is working with this concept for context menus i think and that's why they advertise -- "Content, not controls" on their site --
I am sure Samsung must be itching to copy this concept sooner than expected :)
18. McJobs (Posts: 106; Member since: 08 Jul 2012)
another awful plastic design from Samsung, iPad mini looks like it's from another planet. A planet with better designers.
22. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)
I am allergic to aluminum and all artificial jewelry stuff. Gold is ok for me to touch.
19. deadstroke (Posts: 113; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)
look better wizout the phyiscal buttom. it will look much better a cleaner screen
20. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)
Samsung teasing Apple by copying the idea as Apple made %screen space not wasted as USP. Someday maybe they will have all buttons on the stylus :)
24. BadAssAbe (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 Apr 2011)
I like the onscreen button setup in Honeycomb, ICS, and Jellybean 4.1
4.2 uses too much space with a bottom and top bar on 10.1 devices, looks good on 7in and under though.
Overall, I'm not a fan of on-screen buttons unless there no bottom bezel.
If there must be bezel room add hardware buttons
Even the Razr M has too much bottom bezel, waste of on-screen space and bezel
25. christianqwerty (Posts: 460; Member since: 05 May 2011)
I actually prefer actual physical buttons. I don't really like on screen or capacitive buttons..
26. N.Reynolds (Posts: 257; Member since: 15 Feb 2011)
I love the on screen buttons on my galaxy nexus. That's one thing turning me away from the new phones is still a lack of on screen buttons on the new galaxys and Droid DNA. So I strongly disagree with this article praising physical buttons.
30. bparkerson (unregistered)
We share identical thoughts, taste in devices, and opinions on this article!! No...I won't share my Woman!!! LOL
29. rodpe (Posts: 6; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)
i like on screen bottons in tablet and cell fones
32. shnibz (Posts: 161; Member since: 18 Sep 2011)
I never liked capacitive buttons. I much prefer on screen...even prefer physical buttons over capacitive
33. jedpatrickdatu (Posts: 157; Member since: 24 Jan 2013)
I prefer non-screen buttons to maximize screen space. Also, that tablet looks swollen. It looked better on the SIII and the Note 2. I hope it's not official.
35. Aeires (unregistered)
Samsung said they had four fake prototypes they leaked of the S3 before it launched, just to throw people off the track of knowing what it would look like. Wouldn't be surprised if this was is a fake prototype.
36. Feanor (Posts: 334; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
Rather stupid article. If you replace on-screen buttons with physical ones, you have to either sacrifice screen real estate in a given size of device, or add bezel on a device with a given screen size and end up with larger device. With on-screen buttons you waste space only when you need them and when you don't need them, they disappear... How is this bad???
54. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
On screen buttons are still there when web browsing or playing games etc...it only seems to disappear during video..also look at the nexus 4 and s3 they pretty much same size yet the s3 has bigger screen and physical button so your 1st point isn't necessarily true..also even though the nexus 4 is 4.7" actual usable screen is 4.5" in other than videos...
71. Feanor (Posts: 334; Member since: 20 Jun 2012)
It's stupid to even compary dude. Physical buttons are always bigger and always fixed, so already by concept they cannot save any space. Now if LG didn't manage to reduce bezels on the Nexus 4 is their design problem, it doesn't have anything to do with their on-screen buttons. The Xperia ZL has on-screen buttons and it manages to reduce bezels admirably and thanks to them it has a 5 inch screen and smaller real estate than the GS3. This is really possible only with on-screen buttons.
37. r2d2_sw (Posts: 5; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)
I think the idea of on-screen buttons is great if used the right way. By "right way" I mean the on-screen buttons should be placed were you'd normally put hardware keys, making your real estate bigger at time instead of smaller most of the time (except when watching movies). Currently, manufacturers have not been using it the right way because phones with on-screen button all have a huge lower bezel with plenty of space to fit those button. That is the problem. This problem is existent on Nexus phones and tablets as well.