Capacitive vs Onscreen buttons
I am kind of sick and tired of seeing Android phones being released where Samsung and HTC completely ignore Google's design guidelines that it released over a year ago. There seems to be a lot of people who favor capacitive buttons over onscreen buttons for whatever reason...Feel free to comment as to why I'm wrong and capacitive buttons are better, but I am going to make the case for onscreen buttons.
Makes devices smaller
Let's just start with the facts and then I'll work on indoctrinating you guys. Bezel is 100% wasted space. I don't think you could find me many people who would want to argue that the bezels of current devices are getting too small and we should start adding extra space around the display. Hardware buttons take up space in the bezel. As long as hardware buttons exist, there will still be a reason to have at least a little bezel (more bezel than you would otherwise have with onscreen buttons).
Think of it this way: let's say that the government of Iran (the bezel) has kidnapped the president of the United States and is holding him hostage in their country. Our president is the back, home, and multitasking buttons, and he is being held hostage in this terrible, terrible land called the bezel. We can't nuke the bezel to hell and back without getting our president back to the United States (the display). Let's bring our president home so we can finally minimize the evil bezel.
Oh, and if the bezel is some evil government, then carrier logos are totally the autocratic despots like Bashar al-assad or something. I digress...
Better looking devices
When you keep putting these buttons and logos at the bottom of these devices, it's basically putting a face tattoo on the girl of your dreams. Put the logos on the back of the phone (and be more like a tramp stamp?) and hide the buttons into a larger display. There's nothing more beautiful than a Galaxy Nexus or a Nexus 4 when the screen is turned off.
as opposed to:
Don't get me wrong, the Droid DNA looks good...but it's like a supermodel with braces. Just fix that one little thing and you'd be perfect
Not constrained by unchanging single-function buttons
Is this 2005? Do we still actually need hardware buttons for back, home and multitasking? Dedicated, single-function buttons are archaic and a waste of space, otherwise we'd all still be using Blackberries and laugh at touchscreens. And the fact that they are capacitive just begs the question "WHY??" We already have a place for capacitive buttons, it's the large rectangle called the capacitive touchscreen display.
I have a great idea for Samsung and HTC: you guys should put at the top of all your phones a dedicated status bar! That is a totally awesome idea, just a small strip of glowing lights that act as a status bar, that way I wouldn't need it on my phone's display! It's basically the best idea since the S-Pebble, the MP3 player that syncs with your phone...
And what happens if Google decides to change, add, or remove a button for the navigation keys? On Nexus devices it's nothing but a software update...on your One X it's a "lol, buy a new phone!" Manufacturers should be doing everything possible to future-proof these phones, adopting onscreen buttons is the next logical step.
More screen real estate when you need it
Capacitive button apologists say that onscreen buttons take up screen real estate...they are right, but so does the status bar, so does Google's holo design. So what? If you want that extra space back, just buy a device with a bigger screen! Mad that your 4.65" Gnex is robbed of 0.1" due to onscreen buttons? Buy a 4.7" device to get that space back! This is Android, just buy a bigger display if you want more viewing area.
Not only that, but they actually can increase screen space when watching movies or doing something else that would take away onscreen buttons. Say if the SGS III had ditched the keys, they could have expanded the screen size to 5" without changing a single thing. You would still have ~4.8" of screen space, but 0.2" of that would be dedicated to the soft keys. You could take advantage of the full 5" when watching movies and doing other tasks.
The big difference between capacitive button proponents and onscreen button enthusiasts is that the capacitives think that onscreen buttons take up screen real estate, while the onscreens believe that the buttons are there when you need them, and not there when you don't.
Good luck using Google Now!
The implementation of Google Now is beautiful, it's intuitive, and it is COMPLETELY RUINED ON THE GALAXY NOTE II. I don't want some weird combinations of button clicks and dumb menus to access something that should be easily accessible. Isn't that the point of Google Now? It's been scientifically proven that a swipe gesture is 100% more fun than a button. And what happens when Google releases something new with the next version of Android, what are your stupid hardware buttons going to do then?
In conclusion, I don't understand how anyone could possibly be for hardware buttons. I didn't even mention the possibilities of onscreen buttons...in roms like AOKP, you can customize the navbar to your liking, or get rid of it all together if you feel the need to have more screen space (like when playing games or want a true full-screen browsing mode). Google chose onscreen buttons for a reason, so OEMs need to comply, because when it comes to software and design, Google knows better. It's not like there's any functionality lost with onscreen buttons, Samsung and HTC are just trying to differentiate in a totally needless way. That will ultimately come back to bite them when a year old phone like the Galaxy Nexus can do things that your brand new Galaxy Note II cannot.