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Back button position doesn't really matter ?

A few days ago a video of an SGS3 engineering sample was leaked. If you've seen it, you might have noticed that the back button and multi-tasking button have switched places versus the Google reference positioning. On the sample the button layout is Multi-Home-Back, while on for example a Galaxy Nexus you would get them in Back-Home-Multi order.

There was some discussion about this, and one commenter raised an interesting suggestion: Samsung might have switched them around to make the back button easier to reach, as it is likely the most used of those buttons.

At first I assumed this would mean that Samsung assumed people hold their phone primarily in their right hand, and positioning the back button on the right would require less effort. Testing this out on various phones, I think this requiring less effort is not necessarily true, though this may depend on how I'm used to holding the device.

In either case, this started me thinking about how I hold my phone. I am right-handed, but I always hold my phone in my left hand - both with one-handed as well as two-handed operation. It is also always stowed in my left pocket, and held to my left ear. After consulting with others, it seems some do the opposite, some do the same.

The following theory came forward: most people hold their phone in their "secondary" hand. What I mean by this, is that right-handed individuals would primarily hold their phone in their left hand, and left-handed individuals would primarily hold their phone in their right hand. It'd make sense for two handed operation to hold the phone in the "secondary" hand while commanding it with the "primary" hand - but it turns out I also use my "secondary" hand during single handed operation, as do many others.

As three people is not exactly the preferred sample size, I asked my followers on Twitter if they were left- or right-handed, and if they primarily used their phone in that hand as well. 77 people have responded until now, as follows:

left-handed, primarily left hand: 5
left-handed, primarily right hand: 10
left-handed, no preference: 3

right-handed, primarily left hand: 28
right-handed, primarily right hand: 20
right-handed, no preference: 8

ambidextrous, primarily left hand: 1
ambidextrous, primarily right hand: 1
ambidextrous, no preference: 1

Still not exactly a proper sample size, and my followers are not really representative and fairly likely to be using a high-end (and larger!) smartphone. Nobody should accuse any of this of being scientifically sound ;)

These numbers could be combined into the following:

Phone held primarily in left hand: 34, or 44%
Phone held primarily in right hand: 31, or 40%
No preference: 12, or 16%

Phone held in primary hand: 25, or 33%
Phone held in secondary hand: 38, or 49%
Other: 14, or 18%

While this does somewhat confirm my initial suspicion of people generally holding the phone in their "secondary" hand, it shows something much more interesting:

It doesn't really matter if you place the back button left or right, as it seems the difference between left-hand holders and right-hand holders is only 4%. Hardly a big enough difference to deviate from the standard, I would say.

This might actually be worthy of someday properly investigating :)

I can do science me!