I wish more Android manufacturers would take vibration seriously31
But there’s still one major drawback that an all-screen device has and that’s its limited capabilities of giving you a nice tactile feedback. The “feel” you get that you have actually pressed something or interacted with a UI element in some way. The feel that kind of — but not exactly — simulates a keystroke or a mouse click.
Some manufacturers do it just right
Apple aimed to resolve this issue with its Taptic Engine back when it launched the iPhone 6s. It gave us a phone vibration that we hadn’t felt before — super-precise, accentuated, adaptable, and consistent. Instantly, typing on a virtual keyboard, pressing the camera’s virtual shutter button, or turning various toggles on and off in settings felt that much more real, that much more satisfying.
Android manufacturers, on the other hand, lagged behind on this feature for quite some years. In 2017, LG made a real attempt at good haptics with the LG V30. And you know what? It was among the best Android phones in terms of actual feel when using it, in my opinion. Later, in 2018, Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL came with their own super-accurate and accentuated haptics. Again, these are probably the best-feeling Pixels to date. And Google knows this — Android 9 Pie on the Pixels has so much haptic feedback built in that it can get annoying at times.
Why is bad vibration still a thing?
It is kind of disappointing that this small detail has been neglected for so long. For example, as big as Samsung is, and as awesome and all-rounded its flagships tend to be, their vibration motors still feel terrible. Small, raspy, and kind of lagging behind your on-screen actions. And this is coming from someone who has been obsessed with the Galaxy Note line for quite a while. Sony is in the same boat. I kind of loved the Xperia Z2’s strong and gritty vibration motor. However, that was years ago. Ever since the Z3 came out, Sony had also switched to a tiny buzz, which feels and sounds like a can of bees.
I realize that not a lot of people would see this as a big problem. Many users out there just go into settings and disable the vibration feedback, never thinking twice about it. But I dare argue that if their phones’ haptic feedback didn’t suck, they would think twice about that. And they would actually take note of and enjoy the feedback.
One could argue that the manufacturers need the space inside the phone, which is why they can't stick a proper vibration motor in there. But LG proves that point wrong — the motors inside the V30, G7, and V40 are not that different to what Samsung uses:
Is it an experience-breaking feature? Well, if you’re asking me to pay upwards of $800 per flagship phone, you’d better believe I will care about the way the device feels every time I take it out of my pocket to check my email. In fact, nowadays, bad haptic feedback will turn me off of a device faster than you can say “It has 8 GB of RAM!”.
In conclusion — Android manufacturers, please disassemble an LG V30 or a Pixel 3 and see what makes them “tick”... literally!