I find it extremely frustrating. Majority (about 90%) of all the smartphone users are right-handed. It seems to me that right-handed people would prefer to handle the phone with their right hand. I do. So, shouldn't the frequently used back button be placed on the right? I think in older Android versions they used to put the back button on the right. Can anyone give me the rationale behind this?

  • Look at Samsung Galaxy phones. They have the back button in the right corner. If this is better is not for me to say... :) – Shion Sep 10 '14 at 6:58
  • @Shion Yes, I have used them. Android devs care a lot about UI. So there must be some solid reason for the change. – TachaVinci Sep 10 '14 at 7:01

The reason is quite simply (contrary to your experience) that it's proven easier to reach the bottom left corner if you hold the device with your right hand rather than the bottom right corner.

enter image description here

  • Well, my belief comes from experience. And I find it convenient if the back button is on the right, as shown in the picture you've attached. – TachaVinci Sep 10 '14 at 6:57
  • @TachaVinci I updated the wording right before your comment. – AndroidHustle Sep 10 '14 at 6:58
  • you say it has been "proven". Any specific sources? – TachaVinci Sep 10 '14 at 6:59
  • Here's a study on the subject. Figure 7 shows how button layout should be mapped for right handed use. – AndroidHustle Sep 10 '14 at 7:26
  • 1
    "They unanimously felt that the circular motion of thumb was more natural than the straight-line movements on the screen. ". I'm not sure if that argument can be extended to the bottom border of the screen, especially on larger 5" screens. Anyway Thank you :) – TachaVinci Sep 10 '14 at 15:28

Supposedly every good UI has a metaphor behind it.


Now which direction is forward and backward? Obviously (to me) the right side is forward and the left side is backward.

It seems that the metaphor of holding a book and turning pages is lost on you when holding a smart phone so the UI does not make sense.

But then there is also Windows which most people are familiar with:

error message

You go forward on the left and back on the right. (at least conceptually, kind of)

install wizard

This one is confusing. Next is right, Back is left, but then Cancel is on the very right.

To figure out the Correct Way one would need to do/find some usability tests.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.