Touch Screen Digitizers – Why Don’t Reviewers Review Them?

As a person who used a Blackberry for many years and who absolutely loathed touch screens until recently, I have to say that I find it odd how often phone reviews don’t mention the digitizer at all. “What is a digitizer anyway?”, is a question many people might be thinking, given how little they are talked about!

A digitizer is an array of nearly invisible wires that cover the screen of touch screen devices, which translate human touches into x,y location data for the device to use. Without a digitizer, a touch screen is just a screen. So… It’s kinda important! 

Typing on my previous touch screen devices, such as the Blackrerry Z10, Motorola E, and HTC One, was pretty frustrating compared to typing on my Blackberry Bold 9900 (or even my ancient Blackberry Curve 8520), because button accuracy was awful a lot of the time. What made matters worse with the on screen keyboards was the auto correct, a feature designed to make up for the inaccuracies of touch devices, was quite often obnoxiously “auto-wrong”! It was so bad in the Z10 that I got to the point whre I had to turn the damned thing off… but then typing on it was so annoying that I went and got a Blackberry Q10 to replace the Z10. 

As much as I liked the Q10, it unfortunately suffered from a hardware defect known as “double typing”. Many folks will say that I am wrong and that the issue was fixed in a software update, but all those folks also decline to take me up on my offer for them to come and use my fully updated Q10 to see it for themselves; The Internet is full of trolls and “stupid”… I couldn’t be arsed send it in for “repair” and get a refurbished device back for my damned near new and barely used one, so it sits on a shelf gathering dust, being the utter disappointment that it has always been. The Q10: not a replacement for the Bold 9900. The 9900 was a device I used every day for almost 3 years without it ever having a single issue.

Anyhow, it wasn’t until I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S6 this year that I found a touch screen that is nice to type on. And I discovered this totally by accident.

I chose the S6, after much research, based on its physical size (good screen to chassis ratio meant less wasted space for my tiny man-hands to traverse), and its hardware specs for the dollar. At 5.1″, the screen is on the small side for Android phones these days, but to me it’s actually too big. Even with the great use of space, this device is too big for my hands to use comfortably as a communication device. But, if I was going to spend the money on an upgrade, I wanted it to be money well spent, so I got the best device in the not ridiculously huge range I could. Lucky for me, it also has a good digitizer too!

Some reviews do indeed talk about the specs of digitizers on devices, but very few put any time into discussing the typing and text editing experience. That’s a shame for folks who like using their phones to write blog posts, post on forums, and take part in other text adventures that require the use of punctuation and sensible grammar. If I did phone reviews, it’s definitely something I would test and write about!

With that in mind, I guess I can say this about the writing experience on the Samsung Galaxy S6: It doesn’t drive me fucking bonkers, so it can’t be too bad. I should note that I am using the Google Keyboard (with the snooping features off…) rather than Samsung keyboard, as I find the Google one has better sized buttons and better word prediction (even with learning off). As a test, I wrote this post using the WordPress app on it. I have had the app installed on previous devices and never used it, because I figured it wasn’t worth the frustration. However, typing and editing on this new phone is not much different than it was with the venerable Bold 9900, so I can probably use it to post more often.

I guess there are two “take aways” from this rambling post: 

  1. Reviews need to spend some time focusing on the typing and text editing experience.
  2. I was lucky to discover that the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a worthy replacement for the Blackberry Bold 9900, in use and chassis quality. I did my research, but ultimately I was just lucky not to hate typing on it.

I don’t have other phones to test out, so maybe all newish devices are this nice to type on, but chances are that’s not the case. If only we could read about it somewhere! 🙂

Here is a fun comparison of the size of various keyboards I mentions. Desktop keyboard thrown in for good measure. :)

Here is a fun comparison of the size of various keyboards I mentioned. Desktop keyboard thrown in for good measure. 🙂

Ps. I edited and added the media using the desktop PC, which I was sitting at while writing the rest of the article on the phone as a test. PC’s are awesome! 🙂