The Galaxy Note 10 is already causing quite the commotion and that’s just from rumors alone. It already started with some disappointment about not having a 64 megapixel camera which was only worsened by what some fans perceive as a terrible camera design change. Those may have nothing on these two new tidbits, however, that could be the phablet’s most divisive change yet. According to sources, the Galaxy Note will have neither a headphone jack nor physical buttons, presenting an almost seamless body. Almost but not quite seamless.
There are definitely pros and cons to the removal of these features, which is why the debate will probably never be settled even after the Galaxy Note 10 comes out. The 3.5 mm headphone jack has slowly been on the way out and Samsung is admittedly one of the few to hold on to it. There are also some attempts to remove buttons that present points of structural weakness on the phone’s frame and also points of ingress for minute particles and liquids.
On the other hand, Samsung has always been able to certify its flagships phones with the highest IP68 rating even with those elements. Samsung could argue that their absence leaves more room inside the phone for more battery or more components but, in light of previous rumors, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement on that front anyway. In other words, those arguments may be seen as moot and academic in this case.
Removing the physical buttons also present a usability and accessibility problem. Those buttons provide critical haptic cues that let users immediately push them without looking. Touch and sensors-based alternatives to these buttons require some amount of software which, in turn, requires some part of the phone, perhaps a separate controller, to be running even when the phone freezes or isn’t powered on.
Then again, the Galaxy Note line has always been characterized as adopting new technologies before they become mainstream in the Galaxy S series. It just so happens that these changes are turning out to be quite unpopular. Perhaps more curious is the idea that Samsung may be aiming for a seamless design, which would imply that the S Pen may soon be booted out as older speculation suggested.