We can install additional third-party keyboards to get a delete button. But I wonder why we don't have it out of box?

Is there any research that shows the delete key is less used compared to other keys?

I ask because I use the delete button myself a lot.

  • ohhhhh... there is one on BlackBerry. Only it sucks for browsing and apps. Great for business related stuff. It is very hard to do the things on my Android Samsung that I used to do on BB. Like an iPhone, the Android is good for playing. – Kevin C Sep 5 '18 at 16:13
  • Similar question at SuperUser.SE, the Galaxy Note has it, so do some others - you need to ask why a specific keyboard doesn't have extra keys rather than say "no mobile device has a delete key". – Rob Sep 5 '18 at 16:36

If I'm understanding the question correctly, we're looking at why there is no Delete key (those above the arrow keys on a traditional physical keyboard) while there is still a Backspace key, I can provide a few reasons based on my own experience and observations:

  • Most errors made typing a message are noticed quite soon thereafter, and are corrected by using the backspace key. For instance, a user types one or two incorrect letters, and hits backspace to remove them
  • If not corrected with the backspace key, autocorrect functions are designed to pick up most of the remaining work. People tend to either allow the correction when needed or use it as a tool itself
  • In the event one does have to go back and delete a word or portion of text, they are usually selecting it by using the touch interface and modifying/deleting (using the backspace key) the section, or maybe continuing to type from that point

I can personally say that in most mobile typing use cases (email, SMS, etc.) the backspace key is sufficient for "undoing" my action. The similarity of the Delete key likely means it isn't as important, as deleting the character in front of the cursor is a more precise/specific action that won't be needed as often.

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Here the argument is "Delete" button is not useful in mobile. Because we already have x button. I have many use cases where you would need "Delete" button instead of x button.

1) Let us say, I have typed in few sentences in my any app. Let's say I want to delete last 2 sentences, out of total 5 sentences. Instead of going to end of the whole content, I would go to the place from which I want to delete those sentences. i.e. I would prefer to go to the end of 3rd statement and press "Delete" and delete the last 2 statements.

2) Let's say I have a big URL which I have copied and pasted in the browser's URL-bar. Now I want only that part of URL which does not need the content after say some "/", in this case I would go to that slash and press "Delete" button and remove the remaining part of the URL. I won't prefer to use 'x' icon to delete from the last content of big URL, because in that case I would need to check, whether the last "/" which I wanted to keep as is, has reached or not.

e.g. current URL is Why don't mobile keyboards have a delete button?

Now I only need the URL upto Questions. I know this is not big URL, but think of it as big url. What would you prefer, if you want URL upto https://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/

What I would prefer, is I don't want content after questions/, so I would go to questions/ and delete all stuff after that using "Delete" button.

---> These are only 2 use cases, there are many, if you think of.

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Why cant we have delete on mobile keyboard ?

  • what do you really want to delete, unlike with the PC keyboard isn't always open on the screen. Example: how do you delete photos when the keyboard cannot be opened while browsing photos?

The keyboard opens only when the user is in any texting/messaging app while there is a need for an input.

Delete on keyboard will not make sense because it isn't usable.

We have gestures for making deleting easy on a mobile phone anyways.

And can you please explain your case of using delete from the keyboard on mobile?

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  • By your argument, why to have backspace? When your at the start of a text or at the middle and you don't want to select the entire word. – Saeed Neamati Jun 13 '17 at 19:30
  • Because you use backspace to delete text already, and don't need a dedicated DEL key just to delete in the other direction. My guess as to why they didn't include both is to save space, but you have to at least have backspace available. Also, it's not just phones, my laptop doesn't have a dedicated DEL key and you have to use Shift + Backspace to have the same functionnality. – Drown Jun 13 '17 at 22:42
  • -1 Delete can be used to backspace text backwards. It has other functionalities on a mobile phone, as well... – Voldemort's Wrath Aug 16 '19 at 12:41

Answer. Because of human fear of change.

The mobile phone keyboard would be better and more user friendly if it had the forward delete button. Can you imagine the conventional computer keyboard without a forward delete button. One example of the disadvantage of the phone keyboard not having a forward delete key is: When trying to place the cursor at the point where you want to delete a letter and you inadvertently end up first placing the cursor before that letter, it usually becomes difficult to move the cursor one letter forward, so you could back space erase. If you had a forward delete key you would not have to deal with that difficulty; which I believe is very common, especially for people with large fingers.

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  1. Deletion of single character can be achieved by backspace button if you move cursor ahead. As anyways, cursor will always be ahead as we generally don't move cursor within lines (on mobile) as we do on laptop with arrow keys.

  2. Not having delete button saves space

  3. If you want to delete entire word/sentence, then after selecting word/sentence you anyways get floating menu saying Cut|Copy etc.

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I would like DEL on mobile for same reason I like it on desktop or laptop. When editing on screen... Touching with fingers can easily land the cursor right before or after the letter you are attempting to touch. Would be MOST CONVENIENT to be able to go either direction from the cursor. I mean, I don't believe ANY smartphone would be dumb for having DEL key! If they are SO SMART we should not be having to ask for it on any device, 20+ years in...

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  • 1
    This isn't really answering the OP's question. – Mayo Sep 18 '19 at 20:33

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