Let's talk about your mobile devices (phone, tablet, PMP)

Hi all,

For my senior project, I am researching people’s interactions, relationships with their mobile devices and designing a new brand of mobile device UI / ID. I’m not using the word ‘phone’ because nowadays the ability to make a phone call is simply a feature of the miniature computers we all carry around.

I want to start a conversation about our relationships with our mobile devices. What do you love about your devices? What do you hate about your devices? What do you think is OK about your devices?


I’m going to start the conversation by talking about my own.

I own a Nokia E61i, that I got for free from my first internship at Nokia in 2008. No, I’m not keeping it for sentimental purposes. I have a high standard for mobile devices, and I’ve been waiting for a phone that suits my needs. This doesn’t mean that the E61i suits my needs. On the contrary, I really dislike it. Not only is it big and clunky physically, the UI is slow and terrible (Symbian, duh).

The only good thing about it is its hardware (which isn’t even all that good). Virtually unbreakable (typical Nokia), but cumbersome to use.

To balance this, I have an iPod Touch (4th gen) that I use for everything except phone calls and texts (with Google Voice apps being allowed on the AppStore, I’m not even sure that I need a phone anymore). However, I have some beef with iOS. Mainly the uncustomizable-ness of it. I want a widget on the home screen. I want to see weather, my to do list, and other notifications without having to go into 3+ separate applications. It takes me about 4 taps to turn on/off Wifi when I do it really often to conserve battery power.
Multitasking is also delightfully ‘fake’ (except for a select few like Pandora). Application organization is abysmal. I hate the chromed back that’s super scratchable. I think the volume and lock buttons got super gimped. They’re now on this 45 degree surface that requires an awkward grip and direction to apply pressure to actuate. They attained a clean front profile at the expense of ergonomics. The camera is also super gimped (I was pissed when I tested it out the first time) compared to the iPhone4. I also hate the pop-up notifications.

It gets my love for its ID (except the back and the buttons). It looks super thin, clean… The UI’s visual design is also stunning. The methods of interaction are also nice and really fun to just sit there and swipe back and forth, watching the lists bounce back at the end, and refreshing my Twitter by tugging the list downwards.

I carry both of these devices with me everywhere I go (as well as my wallet), so my pockets are always bulky.

I’m waiting on Windows Phone 7. I’ll still keep my iPod touch around for the games. I’m wary of Microsoft forcing me to adopt Live services (HATE Hotmail). Unfortunately it wont come out until my project is near an end. I’m obsessed with waiting for the perfect phone that I know won’t come.


So what about you? What sort of relationship do you have with your devices? Is it as paranoid as mine?

the best thing about my mobile is the data card th at allows me to download songs and the GPS facility that gives me the location of where I am anytime of the day.

website design and development

I`m using this:

I know it has nothing against iPhones and other super gadgets but its small and thats important for me. I hate carrying bulky stuff in my pockets.

I don´t really like to do anything other than talking with my “mobile device”. I often text too, but rather because I have to not because I like it (typing sucks when you have 3 or more letters under 1 button). Oh and I use it as an alarm clock at morning.

As for music…that`s what my big stereo headphones are for, plugged in my PC at work.

So I had people record their mobile usage throughout 24 hours, and it was interesting to see the difference in use between dumbphone and smartphone users. But the one common thing that they all use their mobile devices for are : checking time and setting alarms (in addition to phone-ly things…).

Size seems to be an issue, but things are getting smaller and smaller!

Thanks for your contribution! Anyone else?

I’m using a Nokia E71 Bussiness Series Phone. For me, it’s a perfect simple smartphone at all. All applications that I need is already there.

I had to switch back to a dumbphone for a couple of weeks because of my iPhone becoming bricked.

A couple of things I noticed. (old dumbphone. SE t610)

  • I cut my texting with about 90%. It was just annoying using it (T9), and it took a lot more time to send.
  • I tried to install mail on it, but it was just such a mess. Never got it working. (this was the most annoying part of the switch)
  • When moving around the city, I wished i had a map/search function for adresses I was heading to.
  • I loved the size and the fact that I didn’t have to take extra care for it not to break/get stolen.
  • It had much better volume in the ear speaker. For once i could hear what people said in contrary to my 2g iphone.

I’ve used a bunch of phones over the past 5 years. 3 different Blackberry’s, HTC Diamond, iPhone 1, iPhone 4.

I think I have stopped thinking about it like a phone at all. It is more like my personal concierge.

It’s almost at the point where I find myself picking up my mp3 player and then at some point while fiddling with it I sort of stop and think “…and I can’t make calls with it”.

My phone (iphone 3g) is entertainment (music and games), organiser, Internet (mail, web, various information through apps), camera (mostly for documenting/visual notes etc as the 3G’s camera isn’t good enough for anything else imo), alarm, and of course traditional communication (calls and texts).

I went from a SonyEricsson W880i (superthin) to the iphone and thought the iphone would be a pain to drag around, but it hasn’t really been a problem.

Hello Tarngerine,

so you have to design a new device including UI or as you mention also a new brand? (that would be a much much bigger scope!!!)

I think the research you’re doing is fine, try to figure out how people are using their devices. You should also consider doing some research to figure out the trends on the phones/MID market.

Personally I think the difference between a Feature Phone and a Smart Phone tend to be very fuzzy and might disappear. I think we will eventually get to the point of virtualization and there will be many apps that you could run on the cloud, so there will be no need to install the app, that is essentially what defines the line between both categories.

Something else you should consider is the business reality with iOS and Android dominating the market. This trend will continue most likely because they already concentrate most of the App developers. Try to understand also what will happen with Apple TV and Google TV and how devices will interact, allowing new user experiences that were not possible before.

Example: How could your android phone interact with Google TV, your Chrome/Android Pad/netbook, your computer, TV+gaming console, etc. Why not use all the sensors of the “smart” phone to act as a gaming controller?

Another interesting trend is Augmented Reality and location awareness. Think how this could affect the device behavior and the user interaction/experience.

Some people also think there could be a backlash for smart phones. Think on the scenario of having a small 5-7 inch pad. maybe you do all your browsing, email, etc etc on the pad and complement with a small Feature phone for the calls (your phone battery will last much longer).

I hope that helps :wink:


One more tip.

Part of the success of iPhone was letting the users decide what the device IS and DO by running specific apps that turn the device into many different things. The trick was to design a service platform (not a smart phone) where users and developers could meet their offer/demand.

The device tends to disappear. It is all about the UX and UI now. So… don’t think about the device, think UX and you will come up with something good and different.

I kept cellphone technology to a minimum in my life up for a long time. For YEARS I carried around a variant of the the iconic Nokia candybar model, the 3510. I could navigate through that phone without even looking at it, and none of the options were more than a couple clicks deep. What I remember hating about that phone was everyone who used Fur Elise as their ringtone. :slight_smile:

I moved on to a Samsung flip phone (SCH-A950) with MP3 capabilities, but the UI was never as good and despite their attempt to creatively integrate Mp3 capabilities into their phone I felt like they just never really got there. I never used it for mp3s, but kept it because the audio quality was excellent and it was indestructible.

I had a bit of a ‘culture shock’ when I got my smartphone (a Droid). My attitude has shifted a lot in how I use the device (I definitely don’t identify it as a phone anymore). One odd side effect is that it’s really cut down on my computer usage, the major exceptions being design work and entering large amounts of text data. The customization is much more extreme than any other device I’ve owned, and when I find myself asking a question I find myself going to this device for an answer. I think the fact that it reliably provides information for me when I need it (in some cases, better than a desktop/laptop) has generated a lot of trust and reliance on this device that I haven’t really experienced with other electronics.

That being said, sometimes the slick little touchscreen drives me nuts. It requires that I look at the phone, and although haptic feedback helps it’s just lacking the solid connection that I had with my other phones. I won’t get into the laundry list of ways the Droid falls short physically; the one thing I do prefer about their implementation is their small set of dedicated hardware buttons to Apple’s monolithic-do everything button. The refinement of Apple’s UI certainly better as well, but I’m interested to see how the shorter generations of the Android-based phones begins to compete (or flounder) there as well.

I have had my gen 1 iPhone for a little over three years now. It has been my primary phone for most of that time and my only phone (work included) for the last 6 months. As many others have said, it’s less of a phone for me as an information device. My primary use of it is for internet, e-mail, and texting. I occasionally use it to listen to music or podcasts (maybe once every 2 or 3 weeks). I often use it to navigate, I just returned from a trip to SF and I am not sure how I might have found my way around without it. I did notice that on my trip I really had to try to conserve batteries or I’d drain them before the day was over. I also turn to my phone to track down answers for things. I also have almost every picture that I’ve ever taken with my phone still on the phone and use it as additional memory and chronology. Often times if I think of something I want to share with a friend or at work, or something comes up I can just flip through my photos to find it. One thing I find very aggravating about my phone is syncing with iTunes on my MBP (maybe if I did not have so many pictures it would be faster). I might also use it for music and podcasts more often if syncing wasn’t so annoying.


I use since January 2010 a HTC HD2. It has the status of a daily companion. Makes private and professional life melt together in an pleasant way.

The essence of the HD2 (and all other smart phones) is the wide range of applications one can use. Calender (projects are neatly organised), internet access (to read latest news on design or whatever), email!, music, movies, navigation (helped me find locations in remote areas or cities)… i have inside 7 design magazines in PDF format!

As mentioned earlier, the UI combined with the hardware (case), results in a successful device or a not so successful one.

For example the HTC HD2 runs natively on win mobile but lacks a lot of userfriendly sides you may find in Android. It has therefore a special shell called Sense, which HTC made quite good. It sets itself above the UI of winmobile…

The UI (user interface) is very importand! Some people on the internet have started to make the Android OS run on the HTC HD2. This turns the device in to an even more powerful one. I have used for a while Android and I am impressed, currently wait for a much stable version for my device.

In conlusion it is the wide application the device has in combination with good design of hardware (case) and software (UI).