Phones Should the back button be on the left or the right side?

On which side should the back button be placed?

  • Left (I use a <5.5" screen device)

    Votes: 13 32.5%
  • Left (I use a ≥5.5" screen device)

    Votes: 7 17.5%
  • Right (I use a <5.5" screen device)

    Votes: 8 20.0%
  • Right (I use a ≥5.5" screen device)

    Votes: 12 30.0%

  • Total voters
    40

Oohara

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 28, 2012
2,736
1,525
Which do you prefer?

Great if you also make a short post explaining the reasoning behind your preference, and mentioning which handset you use (use the most - as many here own several smartphones).

Please note that this poll is regarding phones only. I have omitted tablets as one handed use doesn't really play into the back button placement for them.

I also decided to split each answer into phablet/smaller phone categories to clarify how much the preference for back button placement has to do with screen/device size categories.

Please also mention if you're left handed! I left that out in order to not have too many options.
 
Last edited:

The Game 161

macrumors Core
Dec 15, 2010
21,809
11,392
UK
certainly right hand side. When I use my note one handed it's perfect on the right. There is no real possible way I feel using it one handed and having it on the left. Makes little sense to me.
 

Oohara

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 28, 2012
2,736
1,525
certainly right hand side. When I use my note one handed it's perfect on the right. There is no real possible way I feel using it one handed and having it on the left. Makes little sense to me.
Same here. I use a Note 2 and stretching over to the left every single time I go back would be a completely unnecessary chore IMO. But fine for pressing the app switcher button as I do that much less.

For the smaller phones I've tested, I still think having it on the right is much more comfortable.
 

mattopotamus

macrumors G5
Jun 12, 2012
13,634
4,039
logic says the left since that would be the direction you are trying to go. Also, I am a lefty :p

It is the same reason you swipe from the left edge on the iphone.
 

Oohara

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 28, 2012
2,736
1,525
logic says the left since that would be the direction you are trying to go. Also, I am a lefty :p

It is the same reason you swipe from the left edge on the iphone.
Well if I was a lefty I'd prefer it on the left side too :p

The 'left = back' logic is a totally different thing when it come to swiping the screen IMO. I mean, in that situation it is necessary for left to mean 'back'. For tapping to issue the command though, I think the ergonomics can and should be given priority.

In an ideal world though of course we would be given the choice to set this up as we'd like, without having to root.
 

mattopotamus

macrumors G5
Jun 12, 2012
13,634
4,039
Well if I was a lefty I'd prefer it on the left side too :p

The 'left = back' logic is a totally different thing when it come to swiping the screen IMO. I mean, in that situation it is necessary for left to mean 'back'. For tapping to issue the command though, I think the ergonomics can and should be given priority.

In an ideal world though of course we would be given the choice to set this up as we'd like, without having to root.
This. The poll is going to be lefties wanting left and righties wanting right.
 

Oohara

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 28, 2012
2,736
1,525
This. The poll is going to be lefties wanting left and righties wanting right.
Yep, I added a mention about that in the OP. Didn't want to add lefties options for each alternative because the poll would have got so cluttered. Sorry to discriminate but you're only the 10% after all :cool:
 

jamezr

macrumors G5
Aug 7, 2011
13,363
11,540
US
User choice would be perfect
Ding....Ding.....Ding..... we have a winner!

I agree....if it is a on screen software button. Then the ability to change it to whichever side you want is the perfect solution.
 

Sensamic

macrumors 68030
Mar 26, 2010
2,622
298
Even on my Nexus 7 2013 I've changed the nav bar to rearrange the back button to the right and the multitasking button to the left.

Makes so so much sense this way.

Why?

Pretty simple: the back button is probably the most used one and it needs to be as near of your finger as possible.

Having it on the left is so annoying and uncomfortable. It's not as easy to reach as on the right.

Google should rethink this. Don't know why the did it like that on first place

I hope someday they'll change it. If not, Gravity Box is the solution.

One of the reasons I didn't go for the M8 was because the back button is on the left and I didn't want to root the device right away to lose warranty.

On the LG G2 and G3 you can rearrange the nav bar to your liking. LG has done a GREAT job here and therefore I'll always consider their devices just because of this alone.

On the Nexus 5 I could also change it with Gravity Box, and there you didn't lose warranty after rooting.

I chose the SGS5 also because of this.
 
Last edited:

Oohara

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Jun 28, 2012
2,736
1,525
Even on my Nexus 7 2013 I've changed the nav bar to rearrange the back button to the right and the multitasking button to the left.

Makes so so much sense this way.

Why?

Pretty simple: the back button is probably the most used one and it needs to be as near of your finger as possible.

Having it on the left is so annoying and uncomfortable. It's not as easy to reach as on the right.

Google should rethink this. Don't know why the did it like that on first place

I hope someday they'll change it. If not, Gravity Box is the solution.

One of the reasons I didn't go for the M8 was because the back button is on the left and I didn't want to root the device right away to lose warranty.

On the LG G2 and G3 you can rearrange the nav bar to your liking. LG has done a GREAT job here and therefore I'll always consider their devices just because of this alone.

On the Nexus 5 I could also change it with Gravity Box, and there you didn't lose warranty after rooting.

I choose the SGS5 also because of this.
I totally agree with you. And massive kudos to LG for their nav bar options. That should be a no brainer inclusion for all OEMs.

For me as well the back button placement is important enough to be a deal breaker. At least for phablet size, constantly reaching over to the left is a massive nuisance.

Ding....Ding.....Ding..... we have a winner!

I agree....if it is a on screen software button. Then the ability to change it to whichever side you want is the perfect solution.
I'm thinking it would be pretty easy for them to implement this for hardware buttons too. If they only wanted to... Even if the symbols would then get inverted, I'm sure they could give us choice to alter the functionality itself.
 

MRU

Suspended
Aug 23, 2005
25,318
8,813
Other
Why can't they simply allow the user to choose themselves. Just make the capitative buttons or on screen buttons user customisable. Issue solved to everyones satisfaction.


Personally I prefer mine on the left (I'm left handed ) but have adjusted to using right on Samsung devices.
 

tbayrgs

macrumors 604
Jul 5, 2009
6,733
3,746
I'm right-handed but still prefer the back button on the left.

I guess I've always associated 'going back' with turning back a page on a book or am used to years of having the back button on a web browser on the left side (and left of the forward button). Also, being someone who would use both iOS and Android, the swipe to go back gesture on iOS starts at the left side of the screen, so I guess my brain is just wired to instinctively go to the left for back. Consequently, I've felt most comfortable using devices with the back button on the left.

Of course, being able to customize it would be ideal. I know recent LG devices allowed one to customize the onscreen buttons--were there options to have the back button on the right?
 

ozaz

macrumors 65816
Feb 27, 2011
1,276
285
I actually prefer reaching over to the far side of the phone rather than the near side. But I have large hands so this may be why I find it more comfortable.
 

Lloydbm41

Suspended
Oct 17, 2013
4,019
1,455
Central California
All Samsung users will say to put it on the right, because that is how Samsung has done it since the S2 with capacitive buttons.

Stock Android places the back button on the left, as does Windows Phone. I personally prefer this way and I am right handed.

But with on screen buttons it should be your choice. No reason that can't be done.
 

mrex

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
3,321
1,394
europe
i get used to new layouts easily... but i think i like it to be on the right (im right handed) like i have it now in my opo...
 

adder7712

macrumors 68000
Mar 9, 2009
1,923
0
Canada
I own a Galaxy Tab S and a Xperia Z3. The back buttons on those two devices are on alternating positions. I actually prefer it on the left, for consistency purposes as I keep hitting the task manager button on my Tab to go back.
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
6,753
4,926
Give me gestures any day of the week over static back buttons.
I completely agree with that. The back button is no blessing compared to gesture based navigation.

That said, the back button is better placed on the right.
 

gotluck

macrumors 603
Dec 8, 2011
5,646
1,045
East Central Florida
I really only want gesture back in chrome like safari on ios has, love it. I'm not sure I want it system wide since many apps use the swipe from left gesture, I think it'd be jarring
 

Zwhaler

macrumors demi-god
Jun 10, 2006
6,795
1,096
Right! I used a Note 2, am currently using an iPhone 4, and will have the Note 4 in a couple of days.

----------

Give me gestures any day of the week over static back buttons.
I suppose the benefit is that let's say you jump from an email to a web link... if you swipe left like in iOS then the app would think you're trying to go back to the previously viewed page. But the function of the back button is to take you back a step, which in this case would be back to email. So I'm not sure how you would use gestures to imitate the cross-app back button functionality of the back button.
 

mib1800

Suspended
Sep 16, 2012
2,859
1,249
Right! I used a Note 2, am currently using an iPhone 4, and will have the Note 4 in a couple of days.

----------



I suppose the benefit is that let's say you jump from an email to a web link... if you swipe left like in iOS then the app would think you're trying to go back to the previously viewed page. But the function of the back button is to take you back a step, which in this case would be back to email. So I'm not sure how you would use gestures to imitate the cross-app back button functionality of the back button.
Great point. I think many ios users can't really understand back button on android. The back button is a global bread crumbs navigation which re-traces the screens or windows you opened (which can spread across many apps). It is much more functional powerful than the ios app based back button which is just to move around the pages within the app only.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.