Which is the best mobile phone UI?

34 Comments

With 3G Services around the corner, most modern mobile phones are packed with features – cameras, music players, web browsers and video playback, to name a few. Motorola and Nokia call them mobile Internet terminals. While all this sounds nice in theory, in reality the new features complicate the user experience. Which mobile phone, do you think has the best UI and gives consumers the best experience?

Couple of points: We are not talking about the OS, but about the user interface, and user experience. Also, we cannot blame some carrier’s lack of taste (Verizon, for example) on a mobile phone maker, so please keep that in mind as well, when making your choice.

34 Comments

Jennifer

Blackberry’s rule!!!!

Had one for two years, got a Palm Treo and returned it after 2 hours.

Prejay

I haven’t had that much experience in all this, but as far as smartphones go, i like sendo’s customising of s60 in the form of the sendo x. I’d like to see what they do for motorola now.

vuori

I have only used Nokia and Motorola recently (Ericsson before they became SonyEricsson, back when their UIs had a half second keypress latency). My impression of the last 9 years worth of Nokia is that they did a lot of work back in the 90s on usability (text entry, menu navigation with shortcuts etc) and have been riding on that ever since. There hasn’t really been much improvement in my opinion since then (though I haven’t used the newer smartphones such as the N70), just more features being piled on the old system with minimum changes and it was getting a bit creaky and crowded.

I picked up a Motorola V3x a while ago. I don’t think the UI is actually horrible, but it isn’t really good either. Their major problem seems to be that the people developing different components of the OS didn’t talk to each other much. So you have to set up GPRS APN and stuff like that a million times, the Ok/Done button changes side and name randomly, the text entry system has no global settings and is generally a bit fishy etc. If actual innovation isn’t forthcoming, I think they’d have a passable system (on the level of Nokia) if they got around to actually having someone test it.

That said, I still prefer my Palm (-: (not that their UI has seen any major changes since the original Pilot)

Ritesh

Talking abotu cell phones in India, Nokia is a rage and is in some sorts a de facto standard. People just cant use other phones as they are so used to the usability of Nokia, But when it comes to UI i think Sony Ericsson takes the cake. Their UI is slick , neat and well packaged.

Bill Gram-Reefer

as bad as reception with a treo over cingular is (there is a reason for those commercials), I still stick by my treo 650 (after a 600 and the one from handspring)

I tried switching to hello moto but was frustrated

swagat

currently SE is the best.its become very polished (started from k700 days _^above comment) again its true that nokia was great in fact the best for older type phones but quite not upto the mark now…samsung has improved a lot, infact it should
come a close 3rd ..or mayb a tie with nokia …
lg.. well average and MOtorola sucks big time…their UI is total rubbish,rubbish and more rubbish! absolutely worthless and irritating
—–from personal experience

Bargearse

The Sony Ericsson UI, since the K700, is by far the best. It’s attractive, everything is neatly laid out, it’s fast and has a ton of shortcuts for power users.

The Motorola UI is an absolute train wreck. It was the reason I flogged off my RAZR (and I had it before it was “cool” and every man and his dog got one).

Nokia’s old school interface was great in it’s day (6210 FTW), but it didn’t scale up well for newer phones. The 6280 UI is very inconsistent IMO.

Series 60; see Motorola. Plus it’s dog slow.

I haven’t used LG or Samsung.

Darth Driver

I have used several mobile phones.

In my opinion, the Windows Mobile 5 interface of my XDA Executive phone is the best.

Everything else is kind of lame, comparing to it.

Qasim Virjee

Bringing it back to the issue of Blackberry/RIM – their phones aren’t as de luxe as the new breed of spiffy 3G [convergence devices]/phones out there and Om, you’re right in excluding them from your poll because of this however, asides from the email handling that they offer, a major benifit of the Blackberry is its intuitive hardware interface/design…

I turned off all email forwarding on my 7100 for the past 3 weeks whilst on business overseas this month and realised that the scroll wheel is really, in my opinion, the most delightful way to move around through an OS, given how small mobile phone screens are!

Anyone know other phones that offer all the gadgets plus use a side-scroll like the BB? I’ll head to shops to buy it after the weekend…

morituri

My favourite so far is still the Treo series. The user interface and operating system (Palm OS) might be 10 years old, but it still works great.

JR

My vote is for Sony Ericsson. My vote comes as a consumer, and mobile applications developer. SE is intuitive and easy to configure. Want to configure your APN settings? Good luck with Nokia. SE is conistent in this respect throughout all models. With Nokia and others each model is unique and different from other models within the same family. From a development perspective you build an application and it will work throughout all SE handsets… with Nokia you often need seperate builds for each series and or model.

MM

I hope my phone will never look like NextDevice’s vision – it encapsulates everything that is wrong with tech/marketing people creating “user interfaces” – if it moves and zooms impressively it must be innovative and therefore the best!

Back on topic – Nokia and SonyEricsson both have solid, proven, well-tested UIs. And the poll seems to agree.

Anonymous

Om,
Lets talk about this topic again in a few weeks/months when Apple releases the iPhone ;-) Why do I think you will be standing in the line along with other loonys like me to get one?

E

Nokia has always had the best GUIs. Motorola et al have always had difficult UIs.

I wish Motorola would re-do their UI with the same amount of thought that went into the exterior of their phones.

The past couple of years they have brought out some beautiful phones, stealing a lot of Nokia’s thunder (when it comes to design).

The problem is, they phones are a pain to use. Nokia’s phones got kind of ugly, but the UI still rocks.

Ray

I’ve been using an LG 9800 since January. I’m amazed that LG has the lowest score. I’ve had several people approach me when sending e-mail on my phone. I wish the inside screen were a little bigger, but, overall I’m quite pleased with the product. Enjoy having a 1 gig flash memory card for video, pictures, and music. Here’s a link to this this phone for those of you that are interested:

http://www.engadget.com/2005/11/04/lg-vx9800-glowingly-reviewed/

Jim

My general impression is that the user experience is lagging way behind the amount of features they’ve crammed into the phone. The basic user experience is still buttons, menus and even more menus. I’ve written a few posts about how the user experience can be taken to the next level with mobile devices that respond intelligently to what the user is doing. Hopefully we will see this kind of innovation in the time to come.

Om Malik

Matt,

Blackberry’s market share is much smaller than the five companies mentioned who according to gartner have about 80% of the total. in many ways it is wrong to quantify blackberry as a phone, since its primary focus is email and messaging. still, being a blackberry user myself, it pained me to not include them in the list.

Patrick Hunt

I dig the UI of my Palm Treo. There are things I would change, but it is highly efficient (very few keystrokes required for most functions), intuitive, and customizable.

I recently helped my wife shop for a new phone with Verizon. Turns out many of their phones from different maufacturers now have the same Verizon UI. I found this an interesting use of leverage to own the customer experience. I also found the UI relatively easy to use, if somewhat garish.

Andri

I have used phones from all of the above except LG. Hands down, Samsung has the overall best UI IMHO (I currently have a Samsung D500E). Strangly, this factor is almost never taken into account in most reviews I have come across.

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