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Published on April 20th, 2007 | by Babar Bhatti


Usability of Smart Phones and PDAs

Smart phones or PDAs cost between $300-500 (Rs 18,000-30,000). If you are going to spend that much money on a blackberry or Treo, it had better be a phone which works really well and is easy to use. What determines whether one phone will be more usable than the other? Keypad and battery life are two main top priorities. Also screen resolution of 240×240 pixels is recommended.

There are usability experts who are devoted to answering such questions. And as you will read, many of the smart phones in the market do not pass their tests. Computer World recently published this story here. There are other reviews as well such as the one by CNET and WIRED. The summary of the usability article from Computer World is presented below.

Here are the 5 criteria used in this story to rank a phone’s usability:

1. Ease of Navigation: It includes factors such as how simple it is to access and select various functions and finding your way to those functions.
2. Overall usability/information architecture. This relates to issues such as how clear and well-explained the icons are and the simplicity of the file structure.
3. Ergonomics. How does the device feel in your hands? What are the physical dimensions? Are the buttons and switches well-placed?
4. Look and feel. How pleasing is the interface, specifically its graphical design, colors and other design elements?
5. Functionality. This relates to how many applications are included with the device and how sophisticated and customizable those applications are.

Usability Score Results (out of 4.0):
* Nokia E62: 3.5
* Palm Treo 700wx: 3.5
* Motorola Q: 3.0
* RIM’s BlackBerry 8800: 3.0

However the WIRED review of Oct 2006 placed Motorola Q at the top because of its style, speed and QWERTY keypad. Palm Treo took the second spot. Nokia was not reviewed.

Note that Nokia uses the Symbian operating system, all other phones used Windows Mobile. Example of some issues found by usability experts: nonstandard elements to the interface, inconsistent behavior, wrong placement of buttons, slow performance, clunky. Read complete story at Computer World.

About the Author

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One Response to Usability of Smart Phones and PDAs

  1. Anonymous says:

    Any chance you can put an iPhone up for comparison when it’s released? I’d like to see if it’s the smart phone Apple’s saying it is.

    My blog has a preview of the phone. I’d still like to see it tested out, though.

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