Keypads Handsets Vs. Touch Screen Mobile Phones

Keypad Touchscreen

In today’s modern world, touchscreens are rapidly replacing keypads. However, it appears that the consumer market isn’t accepting these touchscreen phones whole heartedly. Some people also believe that the recent touchscreen mania is just a temporary phase triggered by the popularity of the iPhone. So are touchscreens really taking over keypads? We decided to put up a small survey and ask a few people to pick their choice: Touchscreens or Keypads?

The keypad, which majority of the mobile phones today don actually, originated in the 60s. Back then, this keypad replaced the rotary dial. Remember the circular dial which had to be rotated to dial a number. Slowly and steadily these keypads were replaced by the typewriter inspired QWERTY keyboards (here, keypads). Anyway, this design was adopted by the computer keyboards from where it was passed down to the mobile phones.

The Keypad phones (both normal and QWERTY) are easy to use. The keypads come with their share of troubles, due to prolonged use the keys get stiff or at times they need to be pressed twice to perform a single task. Apart from this, keypads are also prone to damage due to liquid spills. As for the QWERTY keypads, they incorporate such tiny keys that people have to struggle to reach a particular key without touching the neighboring keys. This makes using these keypads increasingly difficult.

As for the touchscreens, they made their debut in the 90s, with the launch of Palm’s stylus-based PDA. This PDA was closely followed by Psion’s EPOC-powered palmtops. However, today the most popular touchscreen device is the Apple iPhone. The only feature of the touchscreens that won the heart of many is the large and high definition display.

Although the touchscreen phones are gaining popularity, they pose their own separate set of problems. The frequent problem encountered with the touchscreen is the slow response of the resistive touchscreen. At times, the icons deny responding to the finger taps. A few of the resistive touchscreens respond to heat and hence users cannot operate them with their nails. Majority of the times wrong options and icons get selected. In addition to this, the touchscreens are extremely delicate and need to be handled with great care.

Trying to eliminate the differences between touchscreens and keypads, BlackBerry patented a new design that will allow users to slide down the keypad to reveal a larger display. The concept portrayed by the company is quite interesting allowing us to reap the benefits of both large display of a touchscreen and comfort of the keypad, at the same time. Well, we are still unsure if the company will put this concept into production (but we hope they do).

We asked a few people to comment on the pros and cons of the touchscreens. The replies we got were mixed:

“The idea of owning a touchscreen without any physical keys doesn’t appeal to me. No matter how advanced a touchscreen gets, it eventually loses its sensitivity. Moreover, it is highly venerable to liquid damage as compared to the usual keypad phones.”, said Mahir Saigara, BMM student.

While Shiva, a sound recordist for MTV said, “I just love the way various applications can be accessed with a single touch. The fingertip controls make accessing applications fast and easy. Typing messages is also easy on a virtual QWERTY touchpad as compared to a keypad.”

Amruta Kamat, a Software Engineer for Financial Technology said, “Touchscreens are much easier to use as compared to normal keypad phones. They respond to a single touch. There are no buttons which you need to press hard to make your phone respond.”

“The user interface of the touchscreen phones is much easier to use. Moreover, the large display screen makes navigating through the phone as well as web pages faster and easier. The various business applications offered are also quite useful.”, said Rowmali Albugnergur, Engineer, Interact CRM.

“I do not prefer touchscreens as I find them quite annoying. The icons are so small that you cannot open an application without accidentally opening another one. The icons sometime just don’t respond at all. The touchscreens are also highly prone to liquid damage.”, says Shashi Yadav, Account for Highland Park.

“The high resolution display of the touchscreen is what appeals to me the most. Moreover, browsing web pages is a breeze on a touchscreen phone as compared to a keypad phone. Many a times, the keys of the keypad become hard and difficult to use.”, says Sagar Kadam, Manager of Content and Alliance for I-Free India Pvt. Ltd.

Jyoti Schgal, ARNS Media said, “I just love the look of the Apple iPhone. It is so easy to access the various applications. These phones also pass a perfect style statement. The user interface of the touchscreens is comparatively user friendly.”

“Keypads give a feedback for example a sound indicating the key is pressed, this goes amiss in touchscreens. Moreover, touchscreens can’t be used by visually impaired”, Gaurav Daptardhar, Manager, Mobile Store.

“Mobile phones with touchscreen are indeed a great innovation, a little tedious to work with in the beginning but can be smoothly used once you get the hang of it. However, keypads are more reliable incase of vulnerability.”, says Nikhil Rajan, Tech Support.

Prashant Sabale, executive officer for NDTV Imagine says, “I prefer to use a keypad phone, as touchscreens are difficult to use while traveling. Most of the times the icons either don’t respond or some wrong application gets selected. The touchscreen is highly susceptible to water damage and hence cannot be used during the rains (especially in Mumbai).”

“Using a touchscreen is the upcoming trend in the society. The looks of these phones pass the perfect style statement and hence I prefer them over the old and boring keypad phones. QWERTY keypads are trendy but they are difficult to use because of the miniscule keys.”, says Vaibhavi Pawar, Administrative head, Association of Motion Pictures & TV Programme Producer of India (AMPTPP).

Hina Shaik, freelancer said, “I prefer to use a simple keypad phone because touchscreen phones are quite expensive and delicate to use. They are highly vulnerable to liquid damage. Moreover, their repair charges are also quite high.”

Well, judging from the replies received, we conclude that both touchscreen and keypad have their own set of pros and cons. However, there are a few phones which combine the functionalities of the touchscreen as well as the keypad. The LG Versa with its detachable keypad is one such phone that remains neutral in this battle. The other phones which take a mid-way neutral stand include the Nokia N97 and the HTC TYTN II. No doubt that these phones are a luxury and sure to cost you a fortune. So now, we put the ball in your court, what would you prefer: Touchscreens or Keypads?

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