Notification lights belong only on the front of our phones

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: November 16, 2012

We can never have too many notifications, right? After all, we’re supposed to be always connected to our phones, so why wouldn’t we want to make sure that we know, at all times, that our phone has a pending notification waiting to be viewed? Over the years we’ve seen the notification light come and go. Some manufacturers swear by it, while others have just simply refused to put it in their phones. The fact that it hasn’t caught on as a “global standard feature,” by this point, I just have to ask the obvious question: is it a deal breaker for you?

The reason I’m asking is because of the DROID DNA by HTC. You know the one. It’s that big phone that both HTC and Verizon recently announced. Also, it’s the big phone that isn’t a phablet. Okay, good, you remember. Well, it turns out the device has a little surprise on the backside of it, for those who love their notification lights. To the left of the camera area, if you’re looking at the back of the device not upside down, there’s a small circular area that, up until recently, no one had any idea what its purpose was. Turns out that HTC included another notification light! Yep, you get two lights to notify you of a missed call, or text, or whatever else you may have missed.

But now you won’t miss the missed notification light if you have your phone turned on its face!

I’m not sure if this is really overkill, but we may be getting pretty close. I mean, just picture a phone with two notification lights up front, one above the display and one below it, and then a third notification light around on the back. So many notifications! Though, I’m not sure why you’d need two on the front, so that may be a bit extreme. Still, I imagine if you’re turning your phone onto its face, you are probably trying to get away from the notification light on the front, right?

Actually, come to think of it, devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III have a feature that lets you turn the phone over onto its face to ignore a call. And, once you ignore a call, it comes up as a notification that you missed a call! So if the Galaxy S III had this same notification light on the back, you’d purposely ignore a call only to be flashed in the eyes by a light telling you that you just missed a call!

Hopefully that “turn over to ignore” feature isn’t a secret bonus for the DROID DNA, or that’d just be silly.

The last time I had any active awareness of a notification light was the HTC Trophy. Yes, it had one. Did it work all the time? No. Actually, the only real reason I remember it is because of how strange it was. You see, it wouldn’t blink if I had a text message. Or a voicemail. Or anything else other than a missed phone call. But the moment I missed a phone call, it’d blink just like you’d expect it to. For a while I just assumed it was because the phone was prioritizing missed calls over everything else because of the Live Tiles. But, that can’t be it, because the Phone Live Tile also shows your missed calls, just like text messages.

It was strange to say the least, but I guess it did its job, more or less. The notification light is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? “Hey, you’ve got a missed thing on your phone!” it screams at you with each blink. Older devices let you change the color of your notification light, so that you could match a color to an application: missed a Facebook notification? Blink blue. Text message? Blink red. Missed call? Hey, pink, why not? Now, the changing color notification light is way more helpful than just a single color light, so if we’re going to keep using notification lights, I think we should focus on the color-per-app situation more than anything else.

Is a notification light on the back, as well as the front, a bit too much? In my opinion, it is. As I said above, I turn my phone over when I don’t want to be bothered by it, but with the DROID DNA, presumably out of the box, you’ll be greeted with another blinking light once you turn it over.

So let me hear from you, Dear Reader. Is this feature a feature that you can’t live without? Should other manufacturers follow suit? Or should we keep the notification lights on the front of the device, where they belong? Let me know what you think!

image via Android Central