With the announcement of the touch-screen iPhone, it looks like every cell phone makers out there are announcing their very own touch-screen cell phone. Are keypads really a thing of the past? I, for one, dislike touch-screens for the following reasons:
We get beautiful widescreen displays onto which we can watch full length movies, but a touch-screen is always dirty with fingerprints. Even if we use a stylus, eventually we’ll get lazy and press a few buttons with our fingers, especially if it’s to make a phone call.
Fingers are much less precise on a screen than on a keypad. With a keypad, we can actually feel the keys making their ‘click’ when we press them, and even with large fingers it’s usually easy to apply pressure on the right keys. On a touch-screen however, we have no tangible reference when pressing the keys. While the iPhone is supposed to come with a software to help correct typos, it will have to work like magic if we’re to type on an on-screen keyboard with our big fingers.
3. Large on-screen keyboard
On my touch-screen PDA, the on-screen keyboard takes about one third of the display. The keys are so small I can’t even dream of typing on the keyboard with my fingers. On touch-screen cell phones, the keyboard will probably take much more of the available display to make it easier to press the buttons, thus leaving us with only a small viewable area while using the keyboard.
I carry my cell phone in my pockets a lot. Imagine if it were an iPhone? Without any kind of protection, the screen would get scratched by my spare change and keys a lot. Furthermore, unless they find a way to make the screen very robust, they’re going to get scratched by fingernails.
Alright, the new touch-screen cell phones probably won’t require a stylus. Styluses are far more precise than fingers on a touch-screen though, but they are a hassle to carry – we always end up losing them. Steve Jobs was right in his keynote when he said styluses are a pain to carry around and to take out every time we want to dial a number. He’s doing the right thing making the iPhone operable without a stylus.
6. Look ‘ma, no … eyes?
Real keypads make it easy to dial without looking. With an on-screen keypad, we’ll have to keep both eyes on the screen while dialing.
7. Screen protectors
A cell phone is a device I want to carry in my pockets, leave under a pile of junk and lose somewhere in my car. The touch-screen looks like it would make the phone much less robust, and without a screen protector I would probably break it under a few months. The screen protector is also needed to help prevent scratches.
I don’t think touch-screens will ever replace the need for a good keypad. Apple’s new patented touch-screen technology called ‘multi-touch’ might be worth trying, but so far my experience with touch-screens has been average. I even bought a thumb-keyboard extension for my PDA because the on-screen keyboard and text recognition software were troublesome to use.