Why the iPad button isn’t raised

As you might have noticed the round button on your iPhone and iPad is lowered instead of raised which is much more than just a nice looking design feature. It’s a very important design feature.

We recently bought a Samsung Galaxy Tablet for work to use for browser testing when we create responsive website. It basically looks like an iPad but has Android on it. What I did notice at first was that the middle button below the screen is raised where as the same button on my iPad is lowered. You might think that’s just a matter of aesthetics, but you’d be wrong.

Raised button on the Samsung Galaxy Tablet
Raised button on the Samsung Galaxy Tablet

When I was to use it today I noticed that my co-worker had turned it off and I asked why? and he told me that it kept turning it self on in his bag, making sounds. Weird right?

What I noticed was because the button is raised, any object in your bag (in this case his iPhone) can press against it and turn the screen on over and over, and because the screen on this tabled can be swiped with literally anything like a coin, pen, candy bar or an iPhone the screen became unlocked as well.

On the iPad on the other hand, the button is lowered and thus preventing objects in your bag or pocket from pressing on it by misstake. Of course it’s still possible but not as likely as with a raised button. This makes me think of Dieter Rams 5th Principle of “Good Design”

Good Design Is Unobtrusive : Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

It’s small details like this that speaks to me as a designer. Not until I was presented with a raised button I realized how important it was that the button should be lowered instead. This is great design!

Thoughts and comments

  1. Quite obvious, it’s no rocket science. Sony Mobile has it in the product development process to have a push and feel session so that things like this do not happen (the Samsung thing).

    I hope that the part of Siemens that develops the Gigaset will do the same thing somewhere in the future. They seem not to design for efficient usage, instead they seem to design for looks. Try putting down your Siemens Gigaset with the display down and you will see what I mean. Yuc!

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