You know what's bad design? The Bixby button on the Galaxy S9/S9+
Don’t get me wrong, the phones are good — some of the best on the market right now — and this irk that I have with the Bixby button is likely far from a deal-breaker for the vast majority of people out there. However, as a professional nitpicker and someone who appreciates sensible design, I just couldn’t ignore this. After I realized that every third time I try to press the power button, I also press the Bixby button along with it, I decided to ask around the office to see if people had also had similar experiences with the new Galaxies. Lo and behold, the same complaint coming from all sides. But it's not just us, the professional nitpickers! People have been complaining about it online as well, and for good reason.
So, what’s wrong with the Bixby button on the Galaxy S9 and S9+, and why is it so easy to press when you don’t mean to?
Unlocking a phone is easy – you just press the power button. However, when you think about it, pressing the power button necessitates that you prop the device on the other side. It’s a lot like squeezing the phone, actually, as pressure is applied across the upper half of both the left and right sides of the frame. And what happens when you have something almost perfectly aligned with the power button? You find yourself accidentally pressing it over, and over, and over again. This is why, on the new Pixels and HTC phones, the active Edge Sense area is so close the bottom. If it were somewhere around the middle, users would often times accidentally activate it when locking or unlocking their phones.
"Getting used to it" doesn't amount to great user experienceEver wondered why the volume rocker, when it’s on the opposite side of the power button, is positioned so high up? Same reason. If it’s directly opposed to the power button, you’ll be accidentally pressing it all the time. I didn’t really have this issue with the Galaxy S8. I mean, there were accidental presses of the Bixby button, sure, but nowhere near as often as on the S9 models. That’s likely due to the fact that Samsung has moved the button up a tad and made it wider. Now it's placed in such a way, that no matter which hand I'm holding the phone with, I always either have my index finger or thumb on it, but I guess this was Samsung's goal. Unfortunately, I find it really, really annoying.
"getting used to it" doesn't amount to great user experience. It's also the little things at times, especially when it comes to top-tier devices like these, that irk me a lot. In its efforts to push Bixby, Samsung has gone too far with this dubious design choice.
Don’t forget to tune in next week, when I’ll be ranting about how annoying Face ID can be, or how notches for the sake of notches are a terrible design choice. Or something else entirely, who knows.