/ Technology

Do you prefer physical buttons over a touchscreen?


As the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are sent to the great Apple Store in the sky, physical buttons are now a thing of the past for the tech giant. But is touchscreen really better?

It’s almost impossible to imagine using a smartphone with an old-fashioned numeric keypad, and for good reason. With all the different apps and screens that our phones process nowadays, a static layout simply wouldn’t work – there’s too much going on.

Touchscreens are more intuitive and, for the most part, quicker. As the technology gets cheaper and our day-to-day lives grow more and more technologically advanced, they’re also working their way onto more devices. Fridges, watches and in-car entertainment systems now all proudly sport touchscreens when physical buttons have happily resided for decades.

Buttons for the better?

Is it always for the best, though? You probably wouldn’t want a touchscreen keyboard, nor would you want a touchscreen TV remote. Sometimes tactile feedback and muscle memory make using a product far easier than the versatility of a touchscreen ever could – I’d argue that the iPod also falls under that category.

Thirteen years on, I still happily use my fourth generation iPod Classic as my day-to-day MP3 player. I have an iPhone with a larger storage capacity, but I find it’s simply not as quick or intuitive to browse as the iPod is. For me, the Click Wheel, with its audio cues and physical buttons, is a better input method for an MP3 player than a touchscreen – even one made by the same company.

Do you prefer physical buttons or touchscreens on your gadgets?

A bit of both (46%, 262 Votes)

Buttons (45%, 257 Votes)

Touchscreen (10%, 56 Votes)

Total Voters: 575

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Is the end nigh?

The iPods Shuffle and Nano may never have been the best MP3 Apple had to offer, but with their long-awaited deaths, we’re witnessing the end of an era.

People may not always agree with it, but when Apple makes a bold design move it isn’t usually long until other companies follow suit. The Sony Walkman already has a touchscreen variant, in addition to its hard-buttoned predecessors – could they soon be on their way out, too?

If you feel the same then you needn’t lose hope just yet. If you own an older iPod model then they’ll still work for the foreseeable future, and if you don’t then you can always head to eBay to pick one up. There are hundreds of them available if you aren’t too picky about which model or colour you want, some are even brand new.

Do you think buttons will always have a place in the tech world, or are they a relic of the past because touchscreens are better?


For many years my burglar alarm control cable was out of the way in a hall cupboard. I very quickly learned to reach into the cupboard and press the necessary buttons to arm and disarm it without looking at the keypad.

Anyone who can touch-type never needs to look at the keyboard – they just look at the screen.

I wonder how many can touch-type on a tablet.

With phones, touch screens allow the screen to be used for a variety of purposes and text input is a minor activity, aided by predictive text. A proper keyboard would be better if all a phone was used for was entering text but that would require tiny keys and a smaller screen.

I don’t mind either way, but what I think would be a real benefit to mankind, would be for somebody to invent the silent light switch, and silent socket switch, so that when people used them, nobody else would need to know. I have suffered a great deal from people’s misuse of these switches. Now, that would really improve the quality of all of our lives.

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