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On Cell Phone Design

Regarding the cell phone on/off switch on Joel's first design.  It seems the Motorola engineers missed the obvious alternative: get rid of the on/off switch!  What purpose does it serve?  The only time I ever turned my cell phone off is on an airplane -- if I think of it and/or hear the announcement.  I'm not convinced that turning it off improved the safety of my flight one bit.

"Do we really need this feature"? is a question which should be asked whenever one is faced with a tough design decision.
Mike Wyman Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006

My Palm Pilot has an off switch - but it doesn't actually switch it off.  (not just my Palm Pilot - all of them)

So why didn't mobile phone designers think of this?  Someone had better go build such a phone now.

I switch off my mobile phone a lot; and switching it back on is very irritating, for the reasons Joel mentioned, and more.

(Unlike the OP I switch if off a lot to 1. save battery life 2. stop RF interference 3. stop the vibrate mode waking me at night and direct calls directly to voicemail.  4. to reboot it because it seems to be unable to connect to the nearby tower.  All of these needs except (4) could be met by a sleep switch.)

I still don't know how to solve the problem of educating my relative who became convinced that when they switched their phone off, they could still receive _incoming_ calls.  Eeek!
David Corking Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Mike, you're likely to be right, but it doesn't matter. Federal air regulations say you have to switch your cell phone off. It's stupid, but that alone warrants an on/off switch...
Peter Monsson Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I have the same phone and unless I'm missing something, the most obvious thing to me is to have the green button turn it on and the red button turn it off (would require no change to the existing button layout and is what I keep thinking intuitively is the way it should work). I've had the phone for around a month and am still confused about what to do when it comes time to turn it on (hold the red button for a while, silly!).

Pushing the green button to start a call also confuses me. How about a Call or Talk button (with a word on it!) like all my other phones seem to have? (actually, I remember it taking a while to get used to that, too... since it's a departure from the old "after you enter the full phone number the phone is smart enough to dial it automatically"

Re: the On/Off button, I don't see any reason why there's more than one button, that in case I don't know that it's on? The way I see it, if it's on and I push an on/off button, it's going to turn off... and if it's off, pushing the button will turn it on. Maybe not as obvious as the green=on and red=off, though?
Jack Killpatrick Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The red button tihng does seem weird, yet I believe it has become a convention in the mobile phone world. I've owned phones from different companies (Nokia, Sendo, LG, Motorolla) and they all were turned on by holding the red button. So if someone decides to change this feature, it might prevent some confusion among new users, yet it will confuse experienced users, which is much worse, IMO.

I do agree that it was a bad design decision, yet my point still stands.
Stefan Zarya Send private email
Sunday, January 29, 2006
My first two mobile phones, both Motorolas, had the 'OK' (call) button on the right and the 'C' button (clear, hang up, cancel) on the left - like carefully designed Mac OS dialogue boxes. Yay! I was dismayed to discover when I next wanted to upgrade that everyone else had call on the left and hang up on the right - like design-phobic Windows dialogue boxes. Boo! Looks like Motorola has now gone the way of the herd.

Incidentally, both the Motorolas had (and my current Sony Ericsson has) a separate power button, recessed in the top of the phone so you can't press it accidentally.

Jack, I'm sure you know this but just in case, 'the old "after you enter the full phone number the phone is smart enough to dial it automatically"' had nothing to do with smartness - the reverse in fact. The act of dialling on an old phone set up your connection at the exchange in real time and once you completed the circuit all the way to the callee you were connected. The downside of this of course was that if you made a mistake while dialling, you just had to hang up and start again. My cordless phone at home is nicely forgiving in that you can either press the green button, hear the dial tone, and dial (the old way), or key in the number then press the green button and the handset will pick up and dial it cellphone style.
Tom H Send private email
Monday, January 30, 2006

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