It’s long been rumored that the HTC M8, AKA the sequel to 2013’s HTC One, will be ditching hardware capacitive buttons in favor of on-screen ones. While we had no problem using our imagination to figure out what the simple configuration would look like, we may have gotten our first look at an actual design.
As you can see from the image above — where the M8’s supposed on-screen buttons are compared to the HTC One X and HTC One — the M8’s virtual buttons take after the design of the hardware buttons almost to a T. The only exception is the back button, which has a curved arrow pointing to the left rather than the “less than” symbol HTC has used in previous iterations of their smartphones.
While on-screen buttons may seem rather uncomplicated at the user level, it does impose fairly uncertain complications for HTC’s overall software package. On-screen buttons would do away with the need for an ugly, context-sensitive menu bar in apps which don’t implement overflow menus for settings, though that row will now be permanently and prominently displayed throughout the entire experience (except in cases where the device is in full-screen mode, such as during video playback or games).
At the end of the day, it’s still eating up screen real estate, and there are bound to be some folks who aren’t happy about that. For what it’s worth, those with phones such as the LG G2 and the Moto X haven’t had many complains with the on-screen buttons.
It’s particularly telling for the latter phone, which employs 720p resolution at a screen size of just 4.7 inches. Here’s a leaked spec sheet for the phone:
- 5-inch full HD 1080p display with Gorilla Glass 3
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
- 2GB LPDDR3
- 6MP or 8MP “UltraPixel” camera with possible dual-lens
- 2.1MP front facing camera
- 2,900mAh battery
- No capacitive buttons (software)
- Android KitKat with HTC Sense 6.0
- SD card slot
It sounds like the buttons wouldn’t take up a large amount of space on that display, but that’s yet to be determined.
We’d need to see and use the phone for ourselves to give final judgment, but it shouldn’t take long for that to happen. HTC is expected to reveal the HTC M8 later this month, presumably at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. We’ll definitely be sure to revisit this matter once that announcement is made.