5 old smartphone features that I don’t miss


Phone makers from Apple to ZTE have talked about all kinds of hardware ideas over the years. Some devices and their features have been jaw-dropping in terms of design and functionality, while others have left a lot of people scratching their heads. At the same time, technology has advanced, removing the need for certain aspects of the design of phones that were once life-saving. Together, changes in design trends and the obsolescence of old (and sometimes quite bad) technologies have led smartphones to abandon many once popular hardware features over time.

Here are a handful of things that were common on cell phones that are no longer needed or in vogue – things that I don’t miss at all.

QWERTY keyboards

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Yeah, I’m going. My first wave of business and personal smartphones all came with physical QWERTY keyboards. From the Palm Treo 650 to the Nokia E71, Nokia E63, BlackBerry Bold 8800, BlackBerry Bold 9900 and many more, I have spent my professional training years digging into texts, messages and emails on devices with real buttons.

See also: The best Android keyboards for all types of typists

There is no doubt that QWERTY keyboards had some advantages for them. For starters, the tactile sensation of the buttons simply cannot be reproduced when typing on glass, regardless of the quality of the haptics. It was often possible to type on the sly without looking at the keyboard. Plus, the built-in keyboard shortcuts allowed power users to perform all kinds of tricks with the push of a button or two. All the good stuff.

The thing that I don’t miss the most about physical keyboards? Pain.

Along with strengths came disadvantages. Most importantly, filter real estate. This is something Steve Jobs was absolutely right about when he introduced Apple’s first iPhone: devices that include keyboards skimp on potential screen space. Given how consumers have turned to gigantic phones over the years, it’s safe to say that people place great importance on screen size. Mainly, the thing that I don’t miss the most about physical keyboards? Pain. Yes, I am talking about physical pain. My thumbs developed terrible tendonitis from typing all these messages during the day. The advent of knocking on glass has finally allowed that pain to subside and my thumbs are grateful for it.

All of this to say that I don’t miss physical keyboards at all – and neither should you. It’s an older feature and smartphones are better off without it.

Proprietary charging ports

Focus on exclusive charging ports

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s easy for kids these days: USB-C is almost everywhere. You may still come across micro-USBs or lights here and there, but for the most part, almost every charging port you’ll interact with on a mobile device these days relies on USB-C. It was not so.

Related: Understanding the different types of USB cables

Before USB-C, there was micro-USB, and on some devices even mini-USB. But even these standards have not been adopted by all device manufacturers and often cell phones and their accessories come with fully proprietary charging cables, pins and ports. Nokia often favored thin, round charging pins, while Motorola opted for those weird snap-on cables that looked like miniature snakes. Apple used its huge 30-pin connector for the first generations of iPhones. It was chaos there. Thank goodness RadioShack was still around then, so you could buy adapters for all of those charging ports.

Proprietary ports were a nightmare for consumers and I’m thankful that they were (for the most part) out of the game.

Display of notches

Apple iPhone Xs Max vs Google Pixel 3 XL - notch

There’s nothing quite like enjoying the notch on a smartphone screen. It was a terrible trend in phone screens which luckily was short lived. For the majority.

Essential – the now deceased smartphone company funded by Andy Rubin – was the first to introduce a phone with a notch. The Essential PH-1 included a boat-shaped cutout near the top of the screen to allow room for the user-facing camera while pushing the screen out to the corners to maximize the space of the screen. screen. Some praised the idea while others lamented it.

More reading: Best notchless phones for enemies of notches

Essential may have been the first, but Apple was the company that embraced the notch with the most enthusiasm. Most iPhones since the iPhone X have sported a massive notch at the top to support the selfie camera and Face ID module. Even the sporting notches of this year’s iPhone 13 family. The most blatant phone to hit the market, however, was the Google Pixel 3 XL.

The most blatant phone to hit the market was the Google Pixel 3 XL.

Fortunately, the majority of Android smartphones have gone from this old design feature. Some inexpensive phones with teardrop notches are still hitting the market, but most Android devices today rely on punched-out designs or good old-fashioned bezels to accommodate the front camera.

Guess I’m not the only one happy that smartphone notches are a thing of the past.

Removable batteries

Close up of removable battery

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

In the early days of cell phones, removable batteries were the norm. Almost all devices come with a battery covered with a small hatch that can be removed at any time. People relied on this old smartphone functionality. There have been countless times I’ve had to remove the battery from a frozen device to reset it or force a restart. Specifically, you can often buy spare batteries, and sometimes even dedicated docking stations or chargers for those batteries, so you always have a spare charged and ready to go. While iPhones never offered replaceable batteries, smartphones from Samsung, Nokia, and the majority of Android device makers did at some point. Heck, Research In Motion has used the removable batteries in its BlackBerry devices as an anti-iPhone selling point for years.

See also: Common battery myths that you probably believe

I must say, however, that I have been traveling the world for over two decades and have never seen a single person take a spare battery out of a bag and use it to replace the dead battery on their phone. Never.

In the meantime, cell phones and their batteries have matured and changed. This is especially true over the past 10 years or so. The devices are much more powerful and can last for years with proper care and updates. Built-in batteries can degrade over time, which can be a limiting factor for some people who don’t have access to repair shops that can install replacement batteries.

However, consumers are now favoring high-end designs and devices made of metal and glass over plastic and polycarbonate. Plus, people want waterproof or splash-proof phones. These features require button-type hardware that just isn’t compatible with the idea of ​​removable batteries. Changes in purchasing trends lead to changes in hardware design.

These days, portable batteries and fast charging make it easier to charge on the go and do it much faster. It costs next to nothing to keep in your bag a 10,000 mAh battery equipped with a USB port that can not only charge your phone, but also your other mobile accessories (headphones, smartwatch). And the fast charging features of modern devices allow you to charge your device very quickly if you need to.

Related: The best phone charging accessories

At this point, there is no reason to bemoan the prevalence of the built-in battery.

External antennas

Close up of antenna

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Thank goodness external telephone antennas are a thing of the past. This old functionality was a necessity on the smartphones of yesteryear, required by the physics of early cellular networks to capture signals.

Related: The best 5G phones you can buy

Antennas came in all shapes and sizes. Some were tall and thin, while others were short and fat. Some even included extension cords that stretched upward to provide more wave-catching power. Most of the time they were pain in the leg. If you’ve ever carried your antenna-equipped cell phone in your pocket, there’s a good chance you are familiar with the specific thigh pain I’m talking about.

Fortunately, cell phone designs have matured, along with the networks they operate on, which has made it possible to move to internal antennas instead of the previously required external antennas.

My thighs have never been happier.

What retired smartphone feature do you miss the most?

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