7 Reasons why touch-screens suck for a cell phone

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:

1. Fingerprints

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.

2. Precision

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.

4. Scratches

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.

5. Stylus

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.

Riley January 20, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I’m pretty sure there were nay-sayers when the landline phones were converted from rotary to touch tone.

Moonsider Mobile January 20, 2007 at 11:17 pm

People are always reluctant to changes.

In my opinion, for having tried a few touch-screen devices in the past years, touch-screens are not ideal for cell phones. We’ll see how the technology develops though and how well the manufacturers can make the screens respond.

Don Rowe April 19, 2007 at 7:13 pm

There are people who have arthritic fingers, (Painful)who can’t stand pushing down on stupid hard to press key’s. Thank God for touch-screen’s, and touch-key pads. I put my stylus on a stringband around my neck. And the bigger the phone the better !

You don’t know what life is until you lose your hand’s, or fingers !

Spaton July 12, 2007 at 11:21 pm

touchscreen are a great new change to a keypad. for example, your keypad doesnt wear out and fall off on a touchscreen, and is one gets dirty just wipe it off. also if you have little scratches, just use a damp cloth with a bit of toothpaste to sand it outthen dry it off. GO TOUCH SCREENS! :)

RC August 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm

The touchscreen fad has come and gone before. And now it’s back again thanks to the iPhone.

The fad faded away before…mostly because dedicated touchscreens…are simply impractical.

They are tolerable as long as the device they are on also has REAL buttons (ie: slide away buttons). But a purel dedicated touchscreen device is simply very impractical.

I hope this renewed touch screen fad fades away like before.

If they can make a super-advanced touch screen whose flat surface can morph into tactile buttons when buttons are displayed…then I would be interested in that device. Btw…NOKIA is working on just such a thing…they are planning to use nanotech to achieve the effect. It’ll be a while before we see a prototype though…

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