Mobile Phones: Style vs Usability | August 26, 2005
A while ago I mentioned my desire for a new mobile phone. Now I have to admit that there isn’t actually anything wrong with my current phone. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s the best phone I’ve ever had.
The K700i is small, lightweight, looks great and has pretty much all the features I’ve ever wanted in a phone. The bevelled sides make the phone pleasant to hold while at the same time reducing its perceived size. All in all, a very impressive design.
However there is one thing has always bugged me, and that was the poor quality of the camera. Now I understand it’s a phone I’m talking about here, not the latest digital ixus. As such I shouldn’t expect professional quality images. However the K700 really doesn’t take good pics at all, not even good enough for posting to flickr. So despite loving my phone, I’ve been looking forward to the next generation of 2 Megapixel camera phones.
I had originally wanted to get a Sony Ericsson K750. I quite liked the look of the phone, although I wasn’t sure about the black finish. However the main problem with the K750 was the keypad. If you look at the keys, the two main function keys are tiny and set back into the body, making them difficult to use.
Also the number 2 on the keypad has a reasonably large chunk taken out of the top, also making it difficult to use. Now while I understand that you have to pack a lot of features into these smart phones, it shouldn’t come at the expense of their primary function, making phone calls.
I much preferred the keyboard on the W800.
The main control buttons are much easier to use, and while the actual number buttons are smaller than the K700, they don’t have any stupid chunks chopped out of them.
The W800 has the same features as the K750 with the addition of a dedicated music player only option, and a much bigger memory stick. The only problem was the colour, bright orange. Now call me a design snob if you will, but orange really isn’t my colour of choice for a mobile phone. Also the W800 looks that bit more chunky, boxy and plasticy than the K750 and doesn’t fit as nicely in the hand as my beloved k700.
So I was left with a bit of a dilemma. Get a phone I liked the look of, but had a badly designed interface, go for a more usable option who’s design I didn’t like, or stick which my current phone that looks good, is easy to use, but lacks a key feature I want.
This opens up and interesting question. Which is most important, design, usability of features?
Would you choose design and usability over features? Or if features were important, would design win out over usability, or the other way around?
I’ve made my choice, but I wonder what you’d choose.
Posted at August 26, 2005 2:46 PM