Usability test: Does iPhone match the hype?

Users try out the iPhone, HTC Touch and the Nokia N95

Usability/Information Architecture (IA)

Apple iPhone 5

5 out of 5

HTC Touch 3

3 out of 5

Nokia N95 2

2 out of 5

Usability/IA is similar to global navigation, but it more specifically refers to how easy and fun the interface is. This category also includes such issues as how clearly icons are labeled and how easy it is to find applications and specific files. Once again, the iPhone received perfect marks.

"iPhone's [touch-screen] feature makes it fun to use," Ballew said. "Plus, the screen layout is simple and intuitive, and most of the labels are clear. And the file structure is transparent -- you don't see a list of files unless you go into iPod functionality, and even then, a lot of people are familiar with iPod functionality."

The HTC Touch, by contrast, was confusing to some users.

"It has a bunch of icons that are small, hard to see and not intuitive," Thornton said. "And it was hard for people to see the keyboard and to type. Also, the screen isn't brilliant. We had one [tester] who had had her eyes dilated a few hours earlier -- we kept her in the test because she represented a person with imperfect vision. She had trouble with the HTC Touch but not with the iPhone."

Some testers even had trouble making a phone call with the HTC Touch, Ballew said. "That's pretty basic functionality, but we had people who couldn't complete a call at all."

While the Touch had some rocky aspects in this category, the Nokia N95 was almost uniformly difficult to use for beginners.

"Some of the button functionality and labels weren't intuitive," Ballew said. "And some external stuff like the power button being hard to find and use, and the camera not functioning as expected, really hurt it."

Ergonomics

Apple iPhone 4.5

5 out of 5

HTC Touch 3.5

5 out of 5

Nokia N95 3

3 out of 5

Ergonomics refers to such issues as size, weight and shape, as well as the placement of switches and buttons and the quality of the display. Once again, iPhone led the way in this category but not as decisively as in the previous two categories.

"The iPhone is nice and thin, although it's a bit large," Ballew said.

A minor issue is that there's no tactile feedback from the iPhone screen, he added. "People are used to keyboard click, and it wasn't there," Ballew said.

Overall, the HTC Touch scored well in this category, but with some caveats. "There are a limited number of buttons, which is a good thing," Ballew said. "The screen is pretty small, though, and the display isn't that good."

The Nokia N95 has a solid, often satisfying feel, the testers said.

"It's fat, but it's pretty light, and it does have a full-fledged camera," Ballew said. "The display is nice -- better than the HTC, although not as good as the iPhone."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Haskin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?