Let’s be clear: most Android phones are pretty good these days! In fact, they’re so good that I’ve been having a hard time thinking of a downright bad mid-range or flagship Android phone lately.
With fast processors and large batteries, plus usually very sophisticated software, most smartphones will serve you well for everyday tasks. There’s a bit of a nuance with cameras where flagship phones give you more, but that gap also closes pretty quickly and some budget phones like the Pixel A series do a great job.
The most striking detail and my personal hobbyhorse is the mute switch†
I’ll admit it right away: you can do without it! Unlock your phone, swipe and tap a few buttons and it’s done. Muting your phone without a button isn’t a hard task, but it feels like a chore, it’s repetitive, and it’s something so many users have to turn on and off several times a day!
Android phones are now grown and it’s time to think about… convenience!
Still, most Android phone manufacturers absolutely choose to ignore this problem and pretend it doesn’t even exist.
Unlocking your phone, manually swiping down the notification shade, finding the switch, finding the right setting with a few taps and then unlocking your phone is just as useful as doing your laundry by hand… if the washing machine was invented already ! Just use it!
The usefulness of the mute or silent switch is pretty obvious, but I have to say that for some primary reason I also find it extremely satisfying to physically move that switch on phones. It’s both about the utility, but also the fun of moving components around (or maybe it’s just me and it’s all about the utility!).
Not all Android phones are the same
…but most do!
OnePlus phones have had the mute switch since the beginning
This is when the more knowledgeable among you have probably already opened the comment section and furiously typed in the name “OnePlus”.
And yes, most OnePlus phones, except for the cheapest, have an onboard mute switch. And I’m not here to argue, I’m here to praise! OnePlus calls it the “alert slider” and it works brilliantly! You have three modes: a completely silent mode, a mode that only vibrates and a mode with full sound.
But what’s stopping companies like Samsung, Google, Motorola, Xiaomi, and countless others from implementing some form of a mute switch or alert slider on their devices? It costs them a few cents more over the phone, but it’s such a convenience that everyone can appreciate!
Even serial killer Apple keeps the mute switch!
Yes, it killed the headphone jack, but it persists with the mute switch
The history of the mute switch in modern smartphones, of course, starts with the original Apple iPhone that had it.
Of course, since Apple could put a mute switch in 3.5″ phones, modern phones with 6″ or larger screens should be able to find a place for something so small!
Why don’t Android phone makers do this?!
Is it about squeezing out more profit or something else?
Listen, it’s not that Android phone manufacturers can’t make switches and buttons! The recently released BlackShark 5 Pro has two huge switches that magnetically actuate two incredibly cool air trigger-style buttons. Many phones in the past had a physical Google Assistant button. These are all signs that it is of course possible to make something as simple as a mute switch.
I think when it comes to this one feature, traditional phone makers are a bit used to doing things a certain way and since this isn’t something you get explicit complaints about, they go with the flow and skip it altogether. . But I bet most people out there would love, or certainly wouldn’t mind, a mute/silent switch.
So this is for you, Android phone makers! The next Galaxy or Pixel may have this one little switch, it won’t hurt your margins and users will really appreciate it.