Poll results: Do you prefer physical or software navigational buttons?

Poll results: Do you prefer physical or software navigational buttons?
On Monday, we thought we'd finally settle for good a question that has been bugging us for a while: Do people really like software navigation keys, or is it an unanimous decision in favor of physical and/or capacitive solutions that don't eat up screen real estate (at least that's how we saw it)?

To our surprise, the outcome of the vote was anything but unanimous. Indeed, out of the 5112 people that chose to cast their vote, 2191, or 42.86%, voted in favor of software keys. According to the comment section, the justification for that choice lies in the fact that many (somewhat rightfully) feel that on-screen buttons mean smaller bezels and, thus, smaller devices. Some also claim that accidental pocket presses are less likely (we tend to agree, our Note 4 constantly turns on in our pocket for some reason), while others still cite software keys' dynamic orientation. In other words, you can flip your device each and every way you want to and the keys will follow.

And in favor of physical and/or capacitive keys? 2921 votes, or 57.14%. As we pointed out already, preserving screen real estate is among the most cited reasons among people that prefer them, though some folks also argue that they provide better feedback and can also be used to wake up a device (Samsung handsets being an obvious example). That last one perk comes in handy if your device's power key is located on the top and is, therefore, out of reach unless you have giant hands.

Does as even a split as the one we witness here surprise you, too?

Do you prefer physical or software navigational buttons?

I prefer physical/capacitive buttons
57.14%
I prefer software buttons
42.86%

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37 Comments

1. wargreymon

Posts: 764; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

2663 people havent accepted the future yet.

2. Bondurant

Posts: 780; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Yea they want the Ice cream sandwich android and that holo style back. They dont see that with onscreen buttons a lot more

8. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

It's called choice.And Samsung gets it so they always provide capacitive/physical keys. Personally, i am so much used to the capacitive keys on my Windows Phone, i can't imagine using my phone without them!

26. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

All companies should forget buttons, make it like N9....no buttons required. Less bezel and compact phone.

27. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

But unfortunately they don't have a thing that Nokia had - The great Swipe UI

14. Switch00

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 04, 2013

Not much of a future if it ignores the possible advantages of physical buttons and with it the advantages of the sense of touch. Wiping glass can't replace buttons that make possible a no-look (at-the-buttons) gameplay, taking photos, ...

28. ausnote4

Posts: 40; Member since: Nov 25, 2014

No i don't thing so. You haven't accept reality. Two of the most selling phones brand are the galaxy and iphone which both have physical buttons. I so much love to use the sony xperia ultra as a full time phone but the on screen button make the screen estate not much bigger than my note 3. Finally had to sell my xperia ultra and got a note 4. In saying that i much wish note 4 was 6" screen. Oh well waiting for pantech secret note 2

32. skyline88

Posts: 697; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

nope. 2663 people dont want any wasted space on their beautiful screens. and that is part of the reasons why Samsung gained a solid fanbase. it is better to occupy the bottom bezel with something functional rather than leave it blank for nothing, or put in a stereo speakers to make a long phone even longer.

33. shtacson

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 28, 2014

Nope! There will be a lot of phones with physical buttons and Lollipop. And it's right

3. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

The ideal solution is what Oneplus did - Youe can choose, physical or software. I prefer physical, software ones are very often mistakenly pressed and they only take screen space.

4. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea but physical buttons require force to press and usually that requires you to re-position your hand to counter the force required to push the button. On a large screen they're absolutely horrid if you want to use your phone comfortably in one hand. Plus they take actual physical space, something that will get in the way of the bezel shrinking revolution going on right now.

5. Hashed unregistered

Yeah I see your point Finalflash,, I had sever arms muscle tears from using the physical buttons on my previous Galaxy phone.

10. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Muscle tears? Are you sure it was a physical button and not a rock?

12. bendgate unregistered

He was pressing sarcastic button.

20. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Apparently not hard enough. Seems he could use some workout tips....where's darkjedii when you need him?

29. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

Large phones are no longer meant to be used with one hand, is the sacrifice you make for that nice and big screen, btw capacitive keys don't need extra force to be pressed.

6. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

I don't really care. I have used both, and it isn't really a factor for me when I buy a phone. Unless you can't hide the software keys. Then it is a no buy. Going from captive keys to software keys, I didn't really feel it. Now going from physical keys to captive was a pain.

7. pwnarena

Posts: 1129; Member since: Feb 15, 2013

there should be an option for capacitive keys

9. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Lol. More like option for software navigational buttons :)

11. Klamba92

Posts: 212; Member since: Jun 25, 2012

Personally I think software keys are much better than physical they are more functional and then physical ones and will rotate when landscape. Its just that not many people don't know that with Kitkat onwards you can force virtually all the apps running in immersive/full screen mode without root! However you have to the choice of both I'm just hoping Samsung finally get on board with the software keys!

16. moaning_bimbo

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 20, 2014

Problem is software keys on a Galaxy would be touchwiz themed and God knows nobody wants to see that. Besides the physical buttons on the Galaxy and IPhones have biometric security. Which beats any reason for software keys being better

13. jcass5467 unregistered

Two words, immursive mode.

15. Mrmark

Posts: 389; Member since: Jan 26, 2013

The only phone that has done on screen buttons right on a phone to date is the moto nexus 6 ... But people will argue that the phone is to big. Look at the placement of the on screen buttons... It's were the chin is.

18. moaning_bimbo

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 20, 2014

They bottom bezel is shorter than the top to make room for the on screen keys on the nexus 6 and. Moto X better use of space

17. MrTzr unregistered

I hate on-screen buttons. They are good for nothing, they only waste screen space.

19. mrblah

Posts: 577; Member since: Jan 22, 2013

iPhone FTW!

21. GeorgeDao123

Posts: 432; Member since: Aug 20, 2013

It's better to have an option to enable Virtual keys on Samsung devices. I always use Nav Bar when I'm on any AOSP ROMs.

22. DaveElliott

Posts: 147; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

I know that Google wants to be the smart kids on the block. They also get things wrong. Deliberately and purposely forcing the end of physical keys simply for the sake of doing so on an "open" platform would be pretty poor on their part. There simply is no reason for it other than ego. Let the manufacturers provide what their customers want, whatever that might be.

23. zacsaturday

Posts: 262; Member since: May 09, 2014

Double tap to wake, it is much better, if you want to conserve as much battery as possible, limit the function to an area of the screen.

24. Tritinum

Posts: 471; Member since: May 06, 2014

software keys ftw! they are great and imo better than physical ones.

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