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Do you prefer the older-style three-button navigation or the newer swipe gestures?

Android 9 gestures
Android 9 gestures (Image credit: Android Central)

Swipe navigation gestures have been officially available on the best Android phones since Android 10, and while they are the method that many of us prefer to get around the OS, the older three-button way of doing things still has its fans.

We found a couple of different threads over on the AC forums discussing this topic, so we wanted to raise it to the general Android community.

Just out of curiosity, I was wondering what everyone was using? The buttons or the gesture navigation?

jhnnyblze2000

Gestures

mustang7757

Gestures here too, full screen is always the better option for me.

BigMosley

Buttons :p

felloffthetruck

Great thread idea - thank you for posting! I've tried gestures but I'm just not that great at using them. I prefer the button navigation, for sure!

Morty2264

Gestures. Always liked them more than buttons since they were introduced.

I Can Be Your Hero

Now we want to hear from you — When it comes to getting around on your phone, do you prefer the older-style three-button navigation or the newer swipe gestures?

Join the conversation in the forums!

Jeramy Johnson
Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.

32 Comments
  • I still use 3-button navigation. My launcher lets me make heavy use of swipe navigation to launch apps/functions, and with buttons things don't get wonky between OS and launcher.
  • Gestures. Took a while to get used to them, but I'm there now.
  • I'm all about the gesture navigation.
  • On my Pixel 3 I tried gesture and I could not do it. When I got my Pixel 5 I left it and now I can't believe I ever used the three button navigation.
  • Initially hated gesture navigation but decided to give it a try and persevere with learning what swipe did what and now I couldn't go back to button navigation, it feels so old fashioned now. Initially gestures feel awkward and clumsy but soon start to feel natural and fluid. Also get the benefit of slightly more usable screen space as a bonus.
  • Gestures. Reminds me of my old BlackBerry 10...but not as good as BB10.
  • Totally agree. I miss BB10.
  • I miss BB10 too
  • Buttons ....... I just wish Google would have left the 2 button setup in Android 11 like that had in Android 10. Was nice when my Pixel 3 went to Android 11 and I could keep 2 button. But my new devices that come with Android 11 you have no option for that, its all in on Gesture or 3 button
  • Buttons because at least on OneUI the Microsoft Launcher doesn't work properly with gestures, swipes through the App Switcher and then back to the home-screen and a black rectangle sticks of the last app you had open. You have to restart the phone. Gestures also break Microsoft Edge's own neat gesture system. Android gestures aren't any quicker, just different. I use gestures on ChromeOS (because you have to) and despite mimicking Android's here they feel natural.
  • Buttons. I hate gestures
  • Buttons on my 4a5g
  • Buttons. With gestures when I try to go to menus in apps by swiping at them from whichever direction they're at, the gestures take over and I end up out of the app. Buttons keep me from having to hit the menu icon that is usually way up in a corner out of reach on a taller phone.
  • Ive been using gestures since I bought my Note 20 last year. And I hate them! But without the buttons my home screen just looks so much cooler! 😂
  • I started using gestures as soon as 10 arrived. Never looked back.
  • I'm using gestures on a 3-button setup. OneUI has it.
  • Used gestures for about a year then switched back to buttons. They're simply faster than gestures (especially when looking to quickly go back to the last app). Double tap that recent app button and bam. Also if I need to go back multiple steps. TAP TAP TAP vs swipe and swipe and swipe. OxygenOS OnePlus 8 Pro
  • I tried gestures and never went back. Leaves a little bit to be desired but I prefer them to buttons. Reminiscent of BB10, although Blackberry did gestures better.
  • Used gestures for several months...they were OK once you got used to them. For some reason (can't remember exactly) I decided to go back to buttons and they are much better and more intuitive. I have no desire to even try gestures any longer and I feel that using buttons leads to fewer "bug" complaints. Actually, I had phones with capacitive buttons and I liked those the best as they took up no screen space.
  • Buttons. I tried gestures for 2 weeks when I got my 4a and I don't care for it. Maybe it's an age thing.
  • Gestures but is nice to have choices.
    I see many people using still the buttons, I think is a kind of habit for them.
  • Buttons, but have always revered their order so the back button on the left side. It could possibly be that I'm mostly left handed.
  • That's where it belongs in Android only Samsung decided to mess it up and put back on the right. LoL
  • Gestures. Since I use both iOS and Android, it keeps things nice, clean and simple.
  • Three button is far superior, it's must faster than those stupid gestures and the content that you really need that tiny bit of extra space for like videos and games already run full screen.
    You can also make any app that you want run full screen. Gestures are stupid and copied mostly because apple did it so it must be great logic.
  • I like Samsung gestures. They are perfect. Just swipe up from the bottom where the buttons used to be. Not a fan of the iPhone gesture ripoff.
  • Buttons. Got tired of swiping pretty fast.
  • I preferred the two button nav on my Pixel 3 before Android 11 introduced the new Screenshot and Select features that don't work on two button nav. It was a good compromise between gesture and button navigation.
  • Options are always good.
  • I use the gestures the 3 buttons are so ancient now
  • I tried OnePlus gestures way back when and I wouldn't go back. It took very little time maybe two days to be second nature. My daughter's phone has buttons and it annoys me every time I use hers. Very curious to know the usage stats based on different systems. For instance I tried using motorola's gestures (moto actions) system a few years ago. It never became intuitive. My daughter also tried them and she's back to button navigation. Yet, OnePlus gestures were almost instantly intuitive for me. Curious if others had a similar experience.
  • I tried gestures several times and always had the same issues. If you are using a phone case it's almost impossible to swipe in from the sides reliably. I feel like simple things like the task switcher become a pain compared to button navigation.