Smartphone users to move away from touchscreens?

Touchscreen phone

Touchscreen interfaces on smartphones are less popular than they seem, according to new research.

More than half of users questioned in research conducted by Canalys would go back to buttons or a stylus on their next phone, rather than sticking with their current touchscreen user interface (UI).

When it came down to brand, more HTC and Apple smartphone users were happy to stay as they were, but Sony Ericsson only had 29 per cent wanting to keep the same UI.

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, said that any interface's popularity depends on what the user is doing with the handset.

"If you are doing much more than calling and SMS, using lots of applications, you would want a touchscreen," he told IT PRO. "However, if your primary need is for SMS and calling, then you are likely to need something simpler and more positive."

"What has sparked the increase of touchscreens is new apps, but a lot of people still just want a phone and have the realisation that they just want to jab buttons and have done with it. [Touchscreens] look good but for daily life many people just want to click and go," he added.

Bamforth concluded that there was a need for "variety and diversity" when it came to handsets, to cater to everyone's needs.

Mike Welch, vice president of Canalys, said in a statement: "The user awareness and interest is clearly there, and the opportunity to drive a mass change in user interaction... is tantalisingly close. But only if users continue to embrace these new UIs once they have tried them."

He added: "This is the new arena in which mobile vendors must differentiate themselves, and the user experience battle will spread to other product categories, such as netbooks."

The research was carried out among users in the UK, France and Germany.

Click here for our feature on virtual vs physical keyboards.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.