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Nearly one month ago, I asked an offbeat question: "Are button and port placement at all important to you?"

I imagine the placement of buttons and ports on a smartphone are the last thing that crosses most people's minds. And I can't imagine many are losing sleep at night over their favorite phone having and oddly placed power button or headphone jack. It's something that's meant to be subliminal, something that should just work and be at least somewhat ergonomic to the average user's hand.

To my surprise, quite a few of you chimed in on the matter and expressed your thoughts on the placement of various buttons and ports. A nice portion of you prefer the 3.5mm headphone jack to be placed on the bottom while others like it to be on the top. Few, I learned, prefer it on the sides.

The most mentioned in the comments, however, was power button placement. With a handful of new devices – announced and unannounced – on the horizon, I want to briefly touch on that topic once more.

As smartphones continue to grow in size, some handset manufacturers are beginning to move the power button around. Depending on where the manufacturer decides the best placement is, that can be a good or bad thing.

HTC continues to fit their smartphones with power buttons located on the upper side of the right corner. One the One X, I constantly have to adjust my grip to bump the power button. Samsung seems to prefer slapping the power button on the upper portion of the right edge, intelligently placing it where the user's right thumb or left index finger would comfortably lay.

Acer, a less popular Android handset manufacturer, recently announced two new budget smartphones at IFA last week, the Liquid Gallant and Liquid Gallant Duo. What's unique about these two phones, however, is that the power button is not found on one of the four edges of the device. Instead, as you can clearly see in the picture from The Verge below, it's located on the backside of the device, beside the camera and LED flash.

Likewise, Motorola is open to testing the waters as they have now used all the aforementioned power button placements in their various mobile devices. The original DROID, DROID 2 and ATRIX 2 had the power button on the right side of the top edge and the DROID 3 had its power button in the middle of the top edge as did the DROID X, DROID X2 and ATRIX. On the DROID RAZR, DROID RAZR MAXX and ATRIX HD, the power button is found on the upper portion of the right edge. And on the infamous XOOM tablet, the power button was located on the rear, next to the speaker, LED flash and camera. Power buttons will be found along the edge on the back of the XYBOARD line of tablets, too.

With its thin, beveled edge, you could also count the iPad as having its power button and volume rocker on the backside. (For what it's worth, I have hated the buttons on the current iPad and iPad 2.)

Acer's reasoning behind locating the power button on the back of its Liquid Gallant phones is that it makes them easily accessible by the index finger, especially when removing the phone from a pocket, and to prevent accidental knocks to the button.

When I first saw the power button on the Liquid Gallant, my immediate reaction was along the lines of, "Kill it with fire!" Through using the Motorola XOOM, I quickly learned that the button placement on the back wasn't ideal. I would have to fumble around (blindly, unless I physically turned the tablet around) for a few seconds before finding the button. It also prevented me from quickly bumping the power button without picking the tablet up, which I tend to do quite often with both tablets and smartphones.

In the same respect, I used the XOOM quite differently than I would a smartphone. Sure, I would have to pick my phone up instead of simply hitting the power button while leaving it on my desk or a tablet. But I always tend to hold my phone a certain way, whereas I hold tablets in different orientations for different uses. For a phone, the placement of the power button seems to be within comfortable reach of an index finger. And after a few weeks of extended use, muscle memory could help in location the button blindly (whereas I was always holding the XOOM differently).

I wouldn't say I find Acer's choice in button placement all that intriguing. But it got me to wondering about the future phones I'm currently weighing: Galaxy Note II, Lumia 920 and the upcoming iPhone. I loved the button placement on the original Galaxy Note and, thankfully, Samsung left it alone for the successor. In a meeting with Nokia at CES, I was asked what I didn't like about the Lumia 800 and 900. The one thing that immediately came to mind was button placement, and that's what I told them. Unfortunately, the Lumia 920 has almost identical button placement to the Lumia 900.

And then there's the upcoming iPhone. Having the dedicated home button, the power button being placed on the top of the device has never bothered me. But now that the device is expected to be housing a significantly larger display, it could undergo some design changes (despite the ever-increasing number of "leaked parts" I refuse to believe are real). The one thing I'm hoping for most if there is a redesign is a button on the right edge. But I wouldn't get my hopes too high for such a change.

Power button placement isn't a make-or-break feature for me. And I don't imagine it is for anyone else either. (Hey, I could be wrong. There are some people who take this stuff seriously.) But perfectly placed power button can seriously improve the overall polish and feel of a smartphone. (It's all subliminal. Over time, constantly having to adjust your grip to power on your mobile device can become quite annoying.) And this time around, considering button placement is part of the overall design, it will play a role in my final decision come launch time for all these devices.

In case you hadn't already deduced what configuration I prefer, I like the power button to be in the upper portion of the right edge of a phone. Where do you prefer the power button to be? Does it annoy you if you constantly have difficulty pressing the power button? What about having to adjust your grip to hit said button? And what do you make of a power button on the back of a device?

Image via The Verge


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"Where do you like your power button to be?"


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Dru_Moncatar Top right
John Anthony on the top
Robert D. Starks On the top cause i carried an iphone for so long. But starting to like it on the side now that I have a Galaxy S3.
Archana Umesh Chaudhary at the right side
Michael Popata Depends on the phone...Samsung could be top because you have home button to wake it. HTC should side as there is no home button as such. More importantly, power and micro USB connector should be at the bottom for all phones!
Samuel Claudio Inside my phone
Steve Smyth " Samsung seems to prefer slapping the power button on the upper portion of the right edge, intelligently placing it where the user's right thumb or left index finger would comfortably lay." No. No. If you put the power button where your thumb is it follows then that the volume control will be where your index finger is. I can't tell you how many times I've unintentionally opened the power down/silent/airplane mode dialog on my GNex while trying to adjust the volume. Yes on top is harder to reach but that's what you need, you need to make it harder to do something that you didn't want to do. As much as I love my GNex I would love it better if the screen wasn't so ginourmous, sometimes. I think a 4 inch screen is the sweet spot for comfortable usability. The larger screen is great for movies but please, unless you have the hands of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, don't tell me these screens offer great one handed operation.
David Hilgendorf Definitely don't need it on the same side as volume rocker. For easier screen shots and jumping into recovery and all I like how the nexus layout is, power on right side at top and volume on the left. Top for power button and volume on right upper is nice also.
Naj Khan One of the side like samsung has it so samsung can sue apple
Jacky On Top for small phones like the iPhone. Right side for large phones like everything else.
Johnberty Vargas Right side just as the GS3 its more confortable for larger screen phones
Hicy Gd wired question of all time!!
Chris Downs On the top right
Dan Bittner At the top doesn't matter which side. I hate when its on the side
Kong Yang Samsung's got it right.
Benjamin Gehlke Somewhere on the top
Lashawn Mcmanus On the side like my gun, =)
Sanchez Edgardo Samsung galaxy knows......
JerryandAudrey Smith I prefer the upper right side.
John Soliz I like it on top.
Ethan Maness Top right.
Jimmy Pop Top right. I have a DROID RAZR.
Jesse Ling Right above my convenience key
Shyam Singh right side
T Louis Michael Bottom right corner - Samsung Mythic style.
Luis Robles Figueroa At the side like Samsung phones has it.
Gaurav Bhardwaj Same as my note..
Brandon Avila Exactly where the s2 has it
Huey Liggins Top is best. It's annoying on my g note when I'm trying to increase my volume and grasp both sides. But I'm used to it. Either way works for me
Mohit Kumar Inside my brain.
Vladimir Conrado On the side
Robby Olko Right side. Galaxy nexus has it perfect. Best. Idea ever.
Christian Marquez Right side it's easy to click.
Tomas Hernandez On the right just like on my G-Nexus....
Egil Pettersen in the center of the screen
Robert Ortega Custom home button
Jonathan Ng anywhere , i dont mind
Tony Abiama At the higher right side
Dalen Romelien The right side up top btw android all day!!!!!!!!!
Shawn Poling Top right side
Justin Fitzgerald Right side
Tyler Shoulders On the right side above the volume rocker
Syedul Islam depends on the dimensions of the phone. up to 4 inches then it should be up top, more than 4 inches then on the right because its easier to reach with one hand
Marti Ruiz right side
Fonzy Paniagua Samsung knows where
Lanh Nguyen Side on larger phones. Top on phones with smaller than 4 inch screen.
Jacob Ryan Fortner I like it on the right side as it is on my Galaxy Nexus, but I'm more used to it being on top.
Randy B Hoopes Exactly where it is on my iPhone
Christopher Manic Johnson The right side is a natural placement for right handers, and the top seems to be a natural placement for left handers--depending on the side the top button is. I personally like the side, don't have to move my fingers much
Zach Cline Iphone sucks
Ferjad Naeem Right Side
Rogelio Victoria At the top. Guess I'm used to my iPhone.
Rodger Samiie' Myers small devices it would be on the top...bigger devices to the right...thry should consider triple touching the home button though..thats how i set up on my iphone and the lock button is my camera shutter
Christopher Wesley Right side.
Cesario Brito Jr. Right side of course.
Joernie Berrios Right Side!!....just like on my GNEX running AOKP
Akash Verma Right side
Dre Pope On the phone........
Steven Hair On a big screen, side is better.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis If you're going 2 put a speaker on the rear of a phone make. Sure the volume gets loud enough 2 hear it..smh
Alex Bussani I think the side works better for larger devices. Top better for smaller ones.
Steven Quacoo- Dorby Android phones sucks
David Innovative Bernard top left of the phone
Steven Quacoo- Dorby Right just where it is if I didn't like it I would have never bought an iPhone. I have no complaints
Mark Strong Power on or power off button?
Bradley E Watson Cant say i like the placement of the ports though i prefer them 2 be on the bottom not the top ive broken so many of these cheap tiny made usb/charge cables. And as for the power button i like it where it is on my Droid Razr Maxx right side towards the top.
Adrian Sutanto Anywhere coz it doesnt matter. I dont turn off my phone that much
Mody Classic IN YOUR ASS
Adrian Anguiano Is this seriously a question? Haha
Marc OKelly Right hand side, especially with larger phones easier to press
Tim Smith I love where the Lumia 900 has it. But not a major issue for me. I'm more concerned where the charging port is for accessories.
Steve Fernandes right hand side
Saz Addictedd Top .. as I have on my HTC One X
Richard Allen Yarrell Right Hand side always..
????????? ????? side... can't reach the top with one hand.
Terry Smitherman Thats a personal question.. :)
Tony Pollard Right side... natural for my thumb
Abram Wenevermet Dennis What really matters is where they put the speakers.. my last phone HTC EVO3d had the speaker on the rear.. had 2 be an idiot that designed the phone
Isuru Asiri On the top!!
Tito H Dominguez On the back! LMFAO!!!
Abram Wenevermet Dennis I don't care..




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