Buttons on smartphones could soon be a thing of the past

Buttons on smartphones could soon be a thing of the past
We've already seen Meizu introduce the Zero last January, a phone with absolutely no buttons and no ports. Meizu considered it a concept and attempted to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo where it was priced at $1,299. But the campaign fell far short of the goal (only $45,000 was pledged) and the Zero was canceled. Too pricey? Too far ahead of its time? Meanwhile, the HTC U12+ released last year replaced real buttons with sensors that resembled buttons. When they were pressed, the user would receive haptic feedback to simulate the click of a real button.

So we get it, buttons are on the way out as far as smartphones are concerned. And today, Reuters reports about a company called Sentons that is trying to replace all buttons on all handsets. The start-up company's founder is an engineer named Jess Lee, who sold his previous firm, InVisage Technologies, to Apple. Sentons new system uses ultrasound to replace button touches and swipes on a smartphone's metal edge. The technology relies on a custom chip that sends out ultrasonic sound waves. The component also includes a processor and uses algorithms to interpret a number of different gestures. The technology is already used on the Asus ROG Phone II Tencent Edition sold only in China. The gaming phone can be held in landscape and as users tap the screen with their thumbs to play a game, their index fingers press virtual buttons on the top edge of the device called "Air Triggers." Besides Asus, Sentons says that it is working with two other smartphone manufacturers that the company wouldn't name.

Sentons is also working on a virtual jogwheel that will make it easier for those with large screened phones to scroll through apps. It also is prepping a virtual shutter button for handsets that will allow a phone's camera to focus with a light tap of the virtual shutter. Lee sees a need for Sentons' technology on smart devices with limited screen sizes; for example, he says that it could be employed on the frames of smart glasses and on the bands of smartwatches. He also can see car makers putting his company's sensors on automobile steering wheels.

The company currently has 50 employees and has raised $37.7 million from venture capital firms.

Related phones

ROG Phone II
  • Display 6.6" 1080 x 2340 pixels
  • Camera 48 MP / 24 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus, Octa-core, 2960 MHz
  • Storage 512GB
  • Battery 6000 mAh



1. torr310

Posts: 1724; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

I enjoy touch screen but also value physical buttons. The all touch screen control in the cars is too difficult to use!

2. User123456789

Posts: 1345; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Waterfall screens suck. Nice the fact with no buttons you need to wake screen up to turn volume on.

3. Poptart2828

Posts: 498; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

My next phone will have waterfall display. Can't wait

4. lyndon420

Posts: 6915; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

How many of us are actually wanting no physical buttons or ports on our phones?

9. AlienKiss

Posts: 314; Member since: May 21, 2019

Actually I dream about a Note10+ with a sliding querty keyboard (laptop like).

5. surethom

Posts: 1748; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Silly ideas you always need atleast a button to reset the phone when things go wrong or freeze.

10. AlienKiss

Posts: 314; Member since: May 21, 2019

Exactly. You need to press 3 buttons simultaneously on my phone to enter recovery mode. I guess this buttonless concept is one step forward, 3 steps back, at least for power users. But I notice that many china brands are very determined to stop regular people having root on their phones. Why do people defend them??

6. Vancetastic

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 17, 2017

Don't ask me about this. I still like physical keyboards.

7. lyndon420

Posts: 6915; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

The HTC Dream/G1 was amazing and definitely before it's time in my opinion.

11. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 456; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

I really hope not

12. Poptart2828

Posts: 498; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

The Vivo nex 3 has only one button used to power down/boot up in case of freezing. Otherwise everything else is haptic. Thats a good implementation IMHO.

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