Physical keys and virtual keys, which do you prefer? [Editorial]

One of the many (pleasant) choices we will have to make when purchasing our device will be "better a smartphone with physical keys or virtual keys?"

The Android market imposes few limitations on manufacturers, which translates into a great variety of features that are offered to us: from the size of the display, to the choice of materials, to the design, finding the device that best suits your needs is quite simple .

Every smartphone manufacturer has clearly outlined its strategies by retaining a slice of customers thanks to some common features implemented in its top of the range: Samsung for example focuses on the classic, equipping its smartphones with removable battery and physical keys (soft touch), from On the other hand, LG has had a more innovative approach, focusing on full touchscreens (virtual keys) with buttons that are even back and often with a non-removable battery, choices that seemed risky a few years ago, today many appreciate.

But let's focus on the difference between physical keys and virtual keys (Google's workhorse).

are the classic physical and touch keys even more comfortable?

Until recently the answer was clear to many: the convenience of the home button below the display is a good solution to awaken the screen and the virtual keys do not allow it, forcing the user to continually use the power button which is often placed on the side of the display.

LG has however changed the cards on the table by pulling out of the cylinder a solution that is not good but excellent! "the double tap to wake"Ie the possibility of waking up the display by double-tapping on any point on the display itself.

So let's analyze what the advantages and defects of both solutions are today:

Physical / soft-touch keys

PRO AGAINST
  • do not take up space on the display
  • greater tactile feedback (however absent if the keys are soft touch)
  • minimal key customization also using custom rom.
  • in economic devices their backlighting may be missing.
  • very close to the lower edge of the body, a position that many can find uncomfortable to reach.

Virtual keys

PRO AGAINST
  • customizable both in the number and in the functions with custom roms.
  • always illuminated and clearly visible regardless of the manufacturer's hardware choices.
  • allow to get the full touch effect of the device improving its aesthetics.
  • reduce the size of the display
  • the implementation of the virtual keys does not always translate into a smaller size of the lower edge of the body.
  • sometimes they remain visible even when not necessary and the possibility of hiding them when needed is not yet implemented in the Roma stock.

A virtual key is objectively more functional than a physical key, Google has understood it well, and in fact has adopted some improvements to make sure that this solution is better integrated in Android going to partially solve one of the initial limits complained by users, namely the reduction of the display due to the virtual keys:

in the latest version of Android in fact, the virtual button bar has been made transparent, unfortunately this happens only in the home, but it is clear that it is only a matter of time for Google to integrate it with the rest of the UI.

And which do you prefer? what would you add between the strengths and weaknesses of the 2 solutions?

Let us know in the comments and have your say by responding to the survey:

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