With last year’s G2, LG managed to turn a few heads. Sure, the phone had its issues, but looking just at its design, there was a lot to be pleased with: we saw that incredibly narrow side bezel, and LG experimented with moving the handset’s power and volume buttons to the middle of its back. We’ve seen that rear-mounted button business return for the G Flex and the G2 Mini, and we’ll no doubt be running into it again in the future. The smartphone industry being what it is, we’re also almost certain to see other OEMs “copy” (or pay homage to; whatever you want to call it) LG’s design for handsets of their own. Archos introduced its 64 Xenon phablet back around MWC, and this week we see the phone getting a lot of attention for some rear-mounted controls of its own. Should they really count as such though, and how might their utility compare to what LG brought to the table?
As you can see above, the 64 Xenon’s volume and power buttons are located within the curve that transitions from the phone’s edges to its rear panel. With that orientation, they seem like a bit of a hybrid between LG’s system and traditional edge-mounted buttons; you certainly have to reach around back to get at them, but at the same time they’re a lot closer to where unfamiliar users are going to expect them to be.
We’re just concerned that something like this lacks a lot of the utility envisioned when dreaming-up LG’s design – there, at least, you could make the argument that the buttons were more naturally positioned for how we actually hold our phones. Is the same true here?
Well, we can imagine that those volume controls could be slightly easier to get at than edge-positioned buttons, but this design comes off as much more handed than LG’s – it looks great for righties, but will more sinister users benefit the same from easier access to the power button? It’s also worth mentioning that this is a 6.4-inch device, so it’s a bit larger than even the G Flex; will that have a negative impact on how much rear-mounted buttons really help? We’re a bit split on the issue, but let us know your own thoughts in the comments.