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Smartphone power buttons are supposed to work as power buttons

Every major phone manufacturer is guilty of a serious crime, and I’ll stop talking about it: they stole the power button from us. Apple, Google, Samsung: guilty, guilty, guilty.

A long press on the power button brought up an option to turn off your phone, but then these companies decided to get cute and make this a shortcut to summon their digital assistant. This is bad and wrong, and I politely demand that these companies give back what they took from us.

See, I get the logic. As phone screens got bigger, physical buttons like Apple’s home button were dropped and existing buttons had to make up for the slack. In the iPhone X, Apple moved the Siri function to the power button. Since then, you have to press to turn off your iPhone a combination of buttons. If you make the fatal mistake of long-pressing the power button in the hopes of turning off your phone, Siri will start listening to you swear that the power button no longer works as it should. And woe to you if you don’t hold down the correct button combination long enough – you’ll take a screenshot you didn’t want and have to delete later.

Apple, Google, Samsung: guilty, guilty, guilty

It’s just as bad on Samsung and Google phones. Long-pressing the power button on the Pixel 7 Pro just brought up the Google Assistant and a prompt to ask it how to say sorry in Spanish. No, Google. It is you who should apologize. And the Galaxy S22 phones I used this year all offered to set up Bixby when I made the mistake of long-pressing the power button. Both Google and Samsung let you put it back to the power menu – and Samsung has the decency to put a shortcut to the side key options on the shutdown screen – but enough is enough. Long pressing the power button turns the phone off by default.

What really adds salt to the wound is the button combination to turn off your phone is not even the same on every phone. On an iPhone, you can press and hold the power button and either volume key to access the shutdown options. On a Pixel phone, it’s a short press of the volume up key and the power button. If you mess up and hit the volume down key, you’ll take a screenshot, which will make you feel stupid when you find it in your photo gallery later. Samsung lets you hold down the volume down key and the power button.

The key combination to turn off your phone is not even the same on every phone

I realize that most people only need to remember one of these combinations because they don’t switch phones every week like I do. I get it. And most people probably don’t even turn off their phones… ever. That’s fine too. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for one power button that does the job it is named for. Sure, you could rename it as the “sleep/wake button” or a “side key,” but we all know what it’s really for. If we can’t have that, let’s at least agree on a standard combination of buttons to press so I can accidentally stop taking screenshots of my home screen.

I strongly suspect that my plea is in vain, and it’s probably up to us as individuals to save ourselves from power button chaos.

Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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