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Messing with Android phones' power button is a divisive business

Who knew shutting down a phone could be this controversial?

Published onJuly 10, 2024

xcover6 pro side key
Adam Birney / Android Authority

The power button used to be the key to switch on or off your smartphone. However, device makers have taken more liberties with how this pusher controls our devices in recent years. Samsung and Google now use their side keys to trigger personal voice assistants. This practice is annoying for us at Android Authority, especially when the method to shut down the device is obfuscated. and it seems that many of our readers feel the exact same way.

Following this topical feature by my colleague Rita El Khoury, we asked you what you thought of brands changing the functionality of the power button on smartphones. Almost 30,000 people — or the population of a small city — voted on this one, and the issue is far more divisive than you probably would have thought.

Less power (button) to you

While nearly one in every two readers “hate” the idea of manufacturers changing the power button’s functionality, 31% claim that they don’t mind, provided they can change it back in settings. The latter has the more sensible take, as the power button will likely never be single-use again.

Surprisingly, 15% of respondents claim that the issue doesn’t bother them, while 8% just accepted the power button experiments even if they disagree.

Switch off a phone? Who would do such a thing?

honor 90 emerald green power volume buttons
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The comments beneath our feature provide more intriguing chatter, especially surrounding the reasons for shutting down a phone. “Why you powering off your phones all the time that you need a dedicated button for it?” asks one reader. “Amazing how many people would want a button that has a function dedicated to doing something people probably do the least often on their phone,” writes another.

Others largely welcome the idea of a multipurpose button, even if adding more pushers could accomplish something similar. “I never thought much about it, but considering there are only three buttons, it’s great that the software guys can figure out how to make a button into a James Bond gadget. I’m surprised a phone brand hasn’t added an additional set of, say, three other buttons somewhere on a phone case. It could make them a lot more versatile,” one commenter suggests.

Balancing convenience, familiarity, and immediacy is perhaps the real challenge here. However, many users agree that the power button should first do what its name suggests but offer a choice for those with alternative preferences.

“All of your complaints would be completely irrelevant if they used their brains and realized that toggles are pro-consumer, and doing pro-consumer things these days brings profit (so many companies are throwing away profit opportunities by being so out of touch). If this stuff could be disabled, like we used to be able to take for granted with Android in the early 2010s, then everyone would be happy,” posits one reader.

Either way, shutting down a smartphone shouldn’t be so difficult or complicated. Ideally, we wouldn’t need to relearn how to accomplish a task that was once pretty simple. Remember, not everyone is a power user.

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