Back in the good’ol Android days, when the operating system was still trying to get its feet on the ground, we were spoiled with choice in regards to form factors. Manufacturers were trying all the known designs with Android: candybar QWERTY, slider QWERTY, dual-screen clamshell, as well as the now popular touchscreen slab.
However, the more we got progressed, the less bold designs and form factors became, and the bigger the screens had to be, which pushed all devices towards the very boring — albeit arguably most practical — touchscreen candybar or slab form. With each new announcement, each new flagship, we seemed to see less design innovation and more of a reiteration on what has proven to work.
We’re now at a time where any device with a non-slab form factor is reserved to select markets or operators — clamshells for Japan, a few sparse QWERTYs for the USA. For the rest of the world, it’s all touch, touch, touch. And it has gotten to a point where people who prefer other form factors don’t even have a choice anymore, unless they want to be stuck with outdated specifications and software.
I have owned, used and abused an HTC Desire Z for over 19 months, and despite my love for the hardware QWERTY — I use medical jargon, abbreviations, English, French and transliterated Arabic, a mix that no software keyboard could possibly handle well — I eventually had to admit that I needed a new, faster, better smartphone. Given that I wanted the best device, and something that would still be relevant in a year’s time, I caved in and purchased a Samsung Galaxy S3. It wasn’t an easy decision, and had there been a modern and relevant equivalent to the Desire Z available to me, I wouldn’t have even considered the S3.
This is where I stand, but what about you? Were you forced into the touchscreen slab form factor by the lack of other decent choices? Or do you think that it’s the best compromise between size, volume, and all the different functions that a smartphone could provide?