With today’s smartphones, size definitely matters

When it comes to designing ergonomically friendly smartphones for today’s business professionals, the size of the unit, screen and keyboard is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Pekka Isosomppi, spokesperson at Nokia’s global headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, creating the Nokia 9500

Communicator involved adopting the walking-individual point of view, building a device that people on the move can use to type, take and receive calls, and use short message service, or SMS.

Weighing 230 g and measuring 148 mm x 57 mm x 24 mm, the newest version of the Communicator brand, available in Canada in the first quarter of 2005, will feature a full keyboard with eight shortcut keys, five-way scroll key on the cover and nine-way scroll key on the interior.

“”All applications in the device are deeply integrated into one another,”” says Isosomppi, adding that the way keys are positioned facilitates navigation from program to program. “”They’re all in terlinked. I can switch between applications easily and intuitively.””

Don’t throw away the laptop

Rather than being a replacement for laptops, Isosomppi says the new smartphone will be the type of device business people use on short trips, instead of their laptops.

“”It (the Nokia 9500) has a landscape format, which is great for entering text,”” says Eddie Chan, research analyst, mobile/personal computing and technology at IDC Canada in Toronto. “”It’s similar to using a notebook. But trying to squeeze all those keys in is always a challenge.””

Designing the Treo product line required PalmOne to focus on making the handheld easy to use from a navigation perspective, says Michelle White, product manager at PalmOne’s global base in Milpitas, Calif. The Treo 600 weighs 168 g for the GSM/GPRS model and 175 g for the CDMA model. Its size is 110 mm x 60 mm x

20 mm, and features include a touch-screen with stylus, backlit keyboard with phone dial layout and external volume buttons.

“”We’ve improved the way the navigation button interacts with the software,”” says White. “”It has a simple user interface, big colour display and QWERTY keyboard. When we designed the phone, we ensured that people would carry it as their primary phone.””

A prevalent problem in the industry, she says, is that in trying to be all things to all people, smartphone manufacturers tend to create cumbersome devices that people are reluctant to use as their primary phones. PalmOne’s approach, she maintains, avoids this pitfall.

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