Could buttons on our Windows Phones be a thing of the past?

Nokia brings up an interesting question. Do smartphones need physical buttons?

We've seen physical buttons on our Windows Phones slowly disappear from the days when they were powered by Windows Mobile. Capacitive buttons replaced physical buttons and physical keyboards are now on-screen. But should it go further?

What remains is a power, volume and camera button. You could make a case where on-screen volume controls could replace the physical volume button and we already have a screen tap feature to capture photos. The power button may be the one physical button we can't live without but BlackBerry's Z10 shows how even that is not needed (they turn on the display by swiping the screen up, no power button).

I think our physical buttons have been scaled back about as far as you can go without hurting the functionality of our Windows Phones. A physical volume keep is convenient to adjust the volume while on the phone. You could create a swipe gesture to adjust the volume but to do so, you'll have to move the phone away from the ear.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Lumia 920 without buttons?

Okay... that might be a little weak but how about the camera button? Could you live without a physical shutter button? It would be awkward for me to not have the ability to have one. Many people half-press the shutter button to lock focus and then compose the image. While you can do just about the same by tapping a select area of the screen to focus on, there's something about doing so with a physical shutter button that's satisfying.

Then again, the Alcatel One Windows Phone has ditched the camera button and Microsoft's new OS update doesn't require it either. Notice the trend, folks?

So what about it? Would a future Windows Phone with only a power button appeal to you? Is three enough or would you like to see more? Maybe bring back the slide out keyboard?

Let us know what you think in the comments and then head over to Conversations Nokia to take their poll.

Source: Conversations Nokia

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.