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10 serious problems with touchscreens that you should know before 29th June

So the Apple iPhone is coming on 29th June, eh? Exciting. But just in case the whole anticipation thing is becoming a bit too much for you to bear, here’s a small list of things to ponder while you’re waiting.

10 serious problems with touchscreens that you should know before 29th June

1. Sunshine is not your friend.

TouchscreensunDon’t bother trying to dial from that sunny beach. It’ll be a wash out. Of course you can always turn the screen brightness up full and watch your battery life plummet.


2. Grease is your enemy.


 Get yourself a good cleaning cloth immediately because you’ll need it. How do the the words ‘smear & smudge’ sound? I recommend Calotherm (


3. Fat fingers fumble.


 Get used to mis-hitting keys if you’ve got stubby fingers. It’s fair to say that touchscreens don’t like chubby people.



4. Pockets get picky.


 From now on your pocket holds one device only. Forget about throwing your keys, coins and assorted knick-knacks in with your new touchscreen gizmo, because that’s a recipe for disaster. Scratch, crack or worse.


 5. Resolution, what resolution?

Touchscreensunresolution Prepare yourself for lots of repeated key presses. Stylii or fingertips will both need lots of work to select the thing you want first time. Patience is a virtue eh?


 6. Forget about one hand SMS texting.

Touchscreensuntexting Your new screen needs two handed love for any form of complex text input, stylus or no. Live with it.


 7. Screen protectors have a price.


 Remember that glare washout and grease smear? Add on a screen protector sheet and watch the problems triple in intensity. Safety costs, people.


8. Trapped dirt hurts.

Touchscreensundirt Bad luck if you get dirt or dust trapped underneath the screen surround. You’ll recognise the symptoms of ‘touchscreen trauma’ when it starts selecting items for you by itself.


9. It’s complex baby.

Touchscreensuncomplex Touchscreens are very complex items. Unlike keypads there’s a lot of things that can go wrong. Deteriorating response, unruly calibration, lock outs. Be prepared for some interesting and annoying problems.


10. The eyes have it.

Touchscreeneyes Touchscreens give no tactile feedback, so you’ll have to look at the screen constantly to operate your device. No fast SMS texting on the move, no quick call from a single press of the green button, no dial by touch operations at all. Enjoy.

Bonus point:

TouchscreenspeedSpeedy it ain’t. All that eye candy comes with a speed penalty, folks. Clicking through a keypad sequence is always going to be at least twice as fast as via a touchscreen interface. Learn to slow down and smell the icons, why doncha?


  • I’ve read so many articles about how the iPhone is gonna flop and how not having a keyboard is bad and how smudgy the screen will get but I have not read one article that points out that the iPhone is what anyone who has owned an iPod always wanted…an iPod that can make phone calls and thats what the iPhone is. The same people who laughed at the click wheel on the 1st gen ipod are making the same comments about the keyboard. Wait until the naysayers use one and just like the ipod they will want one.

  • That is a *very* fair point Akastevo! :-)

  • It’s really best to keep comments to your damn self. Unless you’ve used one, you can stick to your zune and try making calls out of it.

  • The Iphone is a PDA NOT a cellphone. A cell phone u use with ONE hand.

    8 hours battery talk time? Not likely not with that screen. The transitions alone when cover surfing is gonna kill the battery.

    Battery is the ONE technology that is still stuck in the 70s and I doubt that apple has this ace up their sleeve.

  • Bill. Nobody know the tech specs of the Iphone neither do you so you cannot talk it up.

  • Wow. Hey, blogger, can you comment on flying cars? I know you have never seen one in person, or driven one, or uhhh, have any idea what the reality of them will be, but I am dying to hear what you have to say, since you are clearly oozing with extraordinary intuition.

    I put your tawdry comments on the iPhone in my iCal, and once I have used it for oh, a day or so, I will return to deconstruct your confusing diatribe.

    Oh, and please, when there is an iPhone owner in your presence, please tell the him that the item is a miserable device, and that they should consider using your Windows Mobile Smartphone. Go ahead, hand it to them and show them what’s really going on.

  • 1/ no phone screen would really work in these conditions, you’ve got a screen, you’re screwed…
    2/ What do you think a regular PDA would be like if you’re as greasy as a pig? Self cleaning??
    3/ Get on a diet!!
    4/ Hmmm damn, that’s a good one… NOT!! Get a protective case, you know, like the one you have on your PDA
    5/ “lots of work to select the thing you want” – I am dumbfounded…
    6/ Oh and you know this for a fact because you already tried it
    7/ Three words : DURABLE OPTICAL GLASS. Because innovation doesn’t stop in the phone industry
    8/ How many holes do see on an iPhone?? Stay out of the sand!!
    9/ “It’s complex baby”… see #5
    10/ Hear that beep?? It’s your feedback but if you’re deaf and blind, though luck indeed!

    You are an idiot… and just in case you don’t publish my answer on this Blog, I invite you on mine >

  • Whoo! Looks like you got the Apple fanboys a little riled up.

  • :-) You think…?

  • Interesting!

    “# The touchscreen was said to, in general, require somewhat hard presses to register input, and needs some getting used to.
    # In addition to its dock, the iPhone comes packaged with a polishing cloth (the thing’s supposedly a fingerprint magnet, no surprise)…”

  • Don’t forget Apple can do no wrong.
    Taking a shot at Apple is like taking a shot at the Queen.

  • The iPhone will never sell. Hahahahahaha. The iPhone is great – so is the touch screen.

  • It's always interesting to read a post like this with benefit of hindsight, yet I wouldn't laugh at it. All Apple's revolutionary products look illogical, and doomed to fail on paper before launch, but they make sense once you have one in your hands, and start playing with it.

    Why would anyone buy a computer with limited memory and horsepower, and then use most of that running a GUI? MSDOS made far more sense. How on earth would MP3 players ever sell in significant numbers, when you could buy a portable CD player for 1/10th of the price? Yet somehow the Mac and the iPod didn't do too badly, and the iPhone looks none too shabby now. What was hard to understand before you actually had one in your hands, was just how well it works as a Web browser, something that was a pain on all previous 'phones, and not yet matched by any of its rivals, and that is before you consider the App store, and its potential. Apple are the first company to treat their 'phone as a serious platform, and in this too everyone else is playing catch up.

    And of course as the post implies, it is a gorgeous shiny bauble too.

  • Excellent points James. :)

  • Well here we are 2 years later…. How funny that the author turned out to be right about most of these issues in regards to TOUCHSCREEN phones! (Some of you insisting Red is specifically defaming the iphone sound so ridiculous and paranoid ) Having owned touchscreen phones from LG and Samsung and experienced some of these issues 1st hand, I really wish I would have read this article in 2007! Good job, Red .

  • I would say the touch screens although a nice tech toy are not going to be replacing other input devices right away. I have a iPod touch and it does not impress me as easier to use then buttons. Sorry Apple, technology is great but only if it benefits. The touch screen is more about impressing then anything. Its popular because its different. I am not saying that its not usable. I am only commenting that it is not better. Any person that sends a lot of text will not be impressed with the iPhone or other touch phones compared to a Qwerty keyboard.

  • Agree, I ran into most points mentioned in this article by now. Especially the fact that I always need two hands and low backlight is really starting to annoy me.

    I have to admire the durability tho. After owning my HTC Touch HD for 2 days I dropped it from my bed on wooden floor (about 1m), and it caused a diagonal crack over the whole screen.

    Six months later, I still use it and I havent got any problems or weird reactions.

    Anyway my next phone will definitely have buttons again :)

    PS I love all the angry reactions when this article was posted, probably they had all ordered the i-phone already :p

  • This article must be written in 80's as most of the touch screen phone are more advanced & feature packed than normal cellphones. Moreover companies like Samsung, i-mate, LG, HTC & Palm etc getting smarter everyday to make these devices more immune to early manufacturing defects. They guarantee to offer better performance with less care.
    Things that seemed impractical a few years back can now be released as a consumer device.
    You bet on any function & touchscreen devices take a far lead(Navigation,typing, browsing etc).These devices can do anything what a normal gadget(other than touchscreen) but unique feature like motion sensing are more enjoyable on TS only. Well every good things comes with attached drawbacks. But in this case these can be easily ignored. I have recently bought samsung M8800 & I am enjoying more than any other device.

  • Hehehe, it's amusing how many of these things turned out not to be/are no longer a problem (at least not on the iPhone IIIgs.) Yay, advancing technology!

    • Heh, I don't know y'know. As far as I can tell, only 8 and 9 have gone away. The others seem to remain as relevant now as the day they were baked. :)

    • Gah! I typed a comment but then when I logged in the comment was gone… this is just a test to see whether it was logging in that cleared the comment, or just that the comment was held for moderation.

    • Ah, okay, so my comment was lost. Well, here it goes again. :/

      #2 is not a problem with the oleophobic coating on the 3Gs.
      #3 is rarely an issue due to the software adjusting the landing area of each key based on context: something which physical keypads can't do.
      #4 is a problem, though it wouldn't be if I'd bought a good holster case instead of the crappy Marware one I got.
      #5 I'm not sure what this is about, it seems to be mainly a repeat of #3.
      #6 I have no problem holding my iPhone in portrait mode with one hand and typing with my thumb like I used to do on old phones.
      #7 This is a bit of a problem. But since there's no problem with grease, I only use something over the screen if it's raining (the crappy Marware holster case) or if I'm in the bath/shower/pool (my non-crappy Aquapac case… though I most often use my iPod in that rather than my iPhone. I definitely notice that the iPod's touch wheel is less sensitive.)
      I can't comment on #10 because I haven't measured it, but then I doubt the poster has either. 'x is always going to be at least twice as fast as y' needs at least some evidence behind it.

    • I forgot to mention in version 2 of my comment that I've never noticed any problems with glare, although I might just be too much of a geek to go out in the sun enough.

  • Um…you're not by any chance a refugee from Engadget are you ? :)

    • No, I don't think I've read Engadget much (to tell the truth, I don't pay too much attention to which websites the articles I read are on, so it's possible that I've read a lot of Engadget stuff without noticing.) I did watch their iPad announcement feed (alongside some others), which was amusing because their rule seemed to be 'if you don't have anything bad to say, don't say anything at all'. :) What makes you think I could be a refugee from Engadget?

  • I don't understand the hype of the iPhone. It is never going to work as fast as shown on the tv commercials but beyond that, whats the big deal?

    • I haven't seen any of the TV commercials (I'm not quite sure what the big deal is about TV these days), so I don't know about that, but it's a darned useful little pocket computer. (I won't bother with a more detailed answer, since you didn't bother with a more detailed question.)

  • All this is history.

  • After 3 years, some of this problems at the touchscreen phones still exist.
    Hope they evolve thru time. ;)

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