Jan 27 AT 9:27 AM Alex Wagner 42 Comments

HTC M8 will reportedly don a set of on-screen navigation buttons

htc-one-max-review (1)

Spec details of the HTC M8 have been trickling out of the rumor mill for several months now, and today we’ve got one more feature to add to the list. According to a tweet sent by serial leaker @evleaks, the follow-up to the HTC One will ditch the original model’s capacitive navigation buttons in favor of a set of on-screen keys. If true, the M8 would be the first HTC-made Android phone to feature on-screen navigation buttons.

While Google obviously prefers on-screen navigation buttons in Android, other manufacturers are split. For example, Samsung devices are known for having a physical Home button that’s flanked on either side by capacitive Back and Menu buttons, Sony seems to prefer on-screen keys, HTC typically uses capacitive buttons and LG has been flipping between styles as of late. It’d be pretty interesting to see HTC go on-screen with the M8 after it’s been all about capacitive buttons for so long, but the move could also help the Taiwanese firm to make its One successor a bit smaller than it would be with a set of capacitive keys.

Which type of navigation buttons do you think are best?

Source: @evleaks

Editorial Director of News and Content for PhoneDog Media. Arsenal, beer, video games. Can be followed on Twitter at @alw.

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  • Keith Hendrickson

    Samsung has it right that is why more people buy Samsung than any other brand. With on screen takes up valuable screen space and it is just annoying. With Samsung style, you got a home button for quick home access, also works great for easy access to multitasking. Back button is the best on a Samsung because most people hold their phones with the right hand so it is easier to it the back button with your thumb especially with phones getting bigger. This might be the year HTC goes under, they already lost money 2 straight reports now, Problem is all they have is design, they lack the quality and features of Samsung.

    • ddroid45

      Buddy you can say on screen buttons take up screen estate yes but at the same time a the phone is made bigger to support them hardware buttons, for what you gain in hardware you gain in size, just saying

      • Robaire

        Absolutely incorrect. If you have ever looked inside the phone you will see that the module for capacitive buttons is very slim. You must also have not noticed phones like the Galaxy Note 3 with extremely small bezels and chins and are very thin and have capacitive buttons. You have no idea what you are talking about. Additionally, you obviously haven’t compared the “chins” and bezels on phones that have on screen buttons with well engineered phones like the Galaxy Note 3 & S4.

        • Geah

          Maybe you should read and comprehend his comment before making yours…

    • Vance

      They lack the quality and features? Dude, get real. I regularly use both and, while I admit the Note 3 is one of the most brilliant devices ever launched, I still prefer my HTC One to any device Samsung has ever produced. I would wager you’re no faster at multi tasking or accessing your home screen with your goofy Samsung configuration than I am with my HTC One. I’m personally disappointed by this move….assuming it’s true.

      • jake

        I thought the One had poor multitasking, as did most HTC phones. Or did they get that issue fixed?

    • Rob D

      Keith -

      They have it right for some, not for others. I have a galaxy note 10.1 (original) that does not have physical buttons, and it’s a great experience. I recent bought, and then returned, the galaxy note 10.1 (2014) because of the physical buttons. On a large tablet, especially one that uses a stylus, there was no practical orientation that I could hold the tablet where I wasn’t accidently tapping the home button with my thumb.

      THAT was annoying, not onscreen buttons.

      BTW, with KitKat, the app developer has the option of hiding both the onscreen buttons and the notification shade. It’s really quite nice.

      • Robaire

        I agree with you when it is a tablet, but definitely don’t want on screen buttons on a phone. Now that I think about it, there could be disappearing capacitive buttons for a tablet that were orientation sensitive as far as being visible and activated.I can see that if you used a stylus frequently that it would not be useful, but I think for the majority of people that are doing mostly entertainment and email things, that wouldn’t necessarily apply. Please excuse any errors as this was voice dictated on the fly.

    • Robaire

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am a power user and I detest on screen buttons, but at the same time it is people’s right to desire those ugly, inefficient, mismatched, screen wasting extra row of buttons on screen if their little styletard selves want them. What I don’t understand is, why the manufacturer’s can’t give us the option of both the sweet disappearing capacitive buttons from Samsung and the b*** ugly on screen buttons. I’ve had several phones and roms where there is an option to turn the lights off on the capacitive buttons. & I am sure it is with in manufacturing capabilities to be able to turn off or on onscreen buttons. I just can’t figure out why no one is smart enough to do both. please excuse any errors, since this was voice dictated on the fly.

    • Ianto

      Samsung sucks. The only reason they sell is because of marketing and nothing more.

    • Carlito2cool

      I respectfully disagree with you. First off, where did you get your proof that most people use their phones with their right hand. Me and my wife are right handed, yet we use our phones with our left hand. I understand we’re just two people but it does show some kind of pattern that using a phone with your left hand is preferrable; specifically speaking of right handed users. Second, on screen buttons are pretty much set in stone for the future in my opinion. Capacitive buttons are archaic and are susceptible to wear and tear. Yes, on screen buttons share some risks too like if the screen goes out so does the buttons; however, it doesn’t happen often that the screen would get messed up simply because of the internal hardware. I had a Nexus S for years and the screen was still in great condition and functioned properly. 4.4 Kit Kat pretty much resolved the real estate issue. Sure the on screen buttons are present at the home screen, but you even with a Nexus 4/5 there’s plenty of space to use for your apps. I don’t think the buttons get in the way. A great addition to 4.4. Is that when you use apps it fully immerses you; again the buttons aren’t in the way. Finally, I believe HTC has much better quality than Samsung. I’ve owner several Samsung devices and each felt cheap and the extra features just seem too gimmicky or even useless. They’re more of a novelty. I now have an HTC One and have not looked back. Sure it has its flaws like lower MP camera but overall the quality is extremely exceptional. I’m sure HTC will be able to recover just fine. People said Blackberry is going to fade away, yet its still around.

    • Iain Fitzgerald

      That’s why it has been the number one phone of 2013 to date holding Samsung of the top spot.

    • Daniel

      Look at the MotoX. No physical buttons means more room for the screen meaning it is the same except for the fact that when doing things like watching videos you can then use the extra space.

      You can’t honestly think people buy samsung because of buttons…
      I work for customer care at sprint and NEVER has a single person said the reason they got the S4 or S3 is the buttons.

  • namesib

    YUCK. I won’t be buying. Hardware buttons FTW! I completely agree with Keith Hendrickson.

  • renyo

    I’m looking forward to the additional screen estate with (what I hope is) a same sized phone…

    • Robaire

      What do you mean by additional screen a state? I hope you have noticed that phones with on screen buttons have battles at the bottom just as big or bigger than some phones with capacitive buttons. As I said before, the module for capacitive buttons is very small, so that, combined with all the phones that I have seen with on screen navigation buttons gaining nothing as far is decreasing the bottom bezel, should make one wonder if perhaps there is something to a larger bottom bezel than just having capacitive buttons.

  • jamal adam

    Finally, I’ve been waiting for this for far too long. Now the phone can be smaller and not have to waste space for capacitive buttons. This is a good move by HTC.

    • Robaire

      Just waiting for you to show me this saved space on which (?) phone. But I can clearly show you less screen space.

      • Greg

        Of course space is saved. How do you not understand this?

        • anon

          So what about the wasted space only made for the logo?

  • siphyn

    Yay, HTC finally sees the light. I’ll take on screen buttons any day over capacitive or physical buttons. Physical buttons wear out, they accidently get pressed at times causing the screen to come on when you don’t want it to (such as when you’re kneeling down and the phone is in your pocket), and accessing google now by swiping upward is way more intuitive than holding down the search button on say a Samsung phone.

    • Robaire

      I’m not sure what type of phone you had or what you were doing, but I’ve never had a problem with capacitive buttons being accidentally pressed.

      • todd

        They always got pressed when passing my phone for someone to see a video/ picture
        There is a well documented case of the capacitive buttons on the nexus s being borked.

        Onscreen is way better, I’m loving it on my N5

    • Robaire

      its funny that you are talking about intuitive but you think it is more intuitive to have to tap to activate a button and then tap to select as opposed to having a capacitive button always at the ready.

  • ddroid45

    Best build, best design, and if they do add onscreen buttons and micro-sd, HTC will be the perfect phone this year, they were close to perfect last year, they just have problems advertising their line, they really need to reach the eyes and ears of consumers better than they have in the past, I say hire representatives to go to carrier stores for and talk about why there phone is the phone to buy because most people are sheep, they go for seems better because of name brand or what pops up on t.v. or the radio more. I honestly feel LG latest phone was better than the s4

  • Robaire

    “Wave Launcher” or “Pie Control” onscreen buttons would make sense. But having a mismatched extra row of buttons taking up screen estate or having to tap to activate and then tap to select is neither aesthetically pleasing, intuitive, or efficient.

    • Ianto

      You are so daft

      • Robaire

        Waiting for explanation as to why

  • Derek

    UGH!! I hate on-screen buttons. My display real estate is for displaying info, not buttons.

    • Ianto

      You have never used on screenbuttons

      • Robaire

        I have and they’re an ugly inefficient pain

  • Devo!

    I love onscreen buttons, well not the stock ones of course. It would be nice if stock android, or bloated versions of android on devices allowed a user to resize the onscreen buttons like custom ROMs/mods.
    I’ll take my custom onscreen buttons over physical buttons.

  • Ianto

    LG allows you to change the on screen buttons

  • Fez

    On screen buttons suck so bad. On screen real estate is the most valuable thing there is.
    Nothing beats the dependability and good looks of those HTC capacitives. Multi-tasking and Google now are a tap away no matter which app I’m in

    • Greg

      You mean two taps, right?

      • Greg

        Or, rather, one long tap.

  • aranea

    I prefer on screen button. They are hidden when not needed so I have the whole screen and then there when I need them.

  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    I’d like to see 5 buttons with options to change them, like in AOKP. I’d like the 5 primary to be back, multitasking, menu, home, and power(to not wear out the button).

  • encarma

    Well when I had my atrix 4G I loved on screen buttons better than the hard buttons (which came with the device).. yep I actually loaded AOSP to get the customisable soft buttons, including a power screen off button, it was fantastic. My galaxy S3 hard buttons always get pressed accidentally but I’m used to it now, though still miss atrixbutons

  • Rasta Silver

    Hey come on guys why the bickering? there are choices ok HTC is planning to do something you like it buy the Phone for YOUR use yet if dislike buy another afterall which person go to a store and buy a Phone just because of buttons or lack there of

  • BoostClone

    As a Htc user for so long and having had samsungs as well, Im not crazy for samsungs build quality…especially for the price..the phones as far as power features are good not a fan of touchwiz at all but thats just me….my wife is samsung im htc for several reasons build quality is fantastic, software sense is good for me….my problem with htc is software updates they suck…this is one area samsung pulled ahead they update in a timely manner. as for this debate im interested in seeing how on screen turns out…it also seems they are going to offer a mini version..cant wait to see them but no mini for me…..

  • donger

    About time HTC.