One of the "wow" factors of the iPhone was its touch-screen, which offers graphical buttons to replace almost all the hard buttons that typically sit atop a cellphone and inevitably confuse users. Touch-screen buttons can be bigger, better labeled, and generally easier to see and navigate. They also make it easier to bounce around menus and the Web, as you just point with your finger instead of using buttons or wheels to move some mechanical pointing device.
Now touch-screens appear to be the rage with similar phones said to be coming, initially overseas, from LG and Samsung. But I wonder if it will just be a fad, like so many efforts to replace the keyboard on PCs or even on hand-held PCs like the Palm. When it came to doing E-mail, even Palm went to keyboards with the Treo line of smartphones. And BlackBerry fans love keyboarding with their thumbs.
Earlier phones with touch-screen keypads work OK, but for limited purposes, such as punching numbers for a phone call. Even then, they can be cumbersome compared with a button keypad. There just isn't the feedback of hitting a button, feeling it depress, and knowing you've made your mark.
Samsung hopes to add some of that tactile feel with technology called VibeTonz. I suspect it will help, but not enough to duplicate hard keys. I'll probably wait for the generation of touch-screen phones that adds a keyboardfor when, of course, I can have it all.