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What's the best power and volume button placement on a phone?

Has this ever happened to you: you upgrade phones only to spend the next few days pitifully jabbing your finger at a spot the old power button used to be? The proposition sounds like the beginning of a terrible late-night infomercial, but it's something I've been thinking about over the past few days: where do I prefer my phone's power and volume buttons?

The last four phones I've tested, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ1, and Google Pixel 2 XL, all have different placements for their power and volume buttons, and I can't decide which one I prefer the most (or least, I guess).

The Galaxy Note 8 separates the power and volume buttons, putting the former on the right and the latter on the left. To me, this is the obvious solution, as the delineation is unambiguous — regardless of orientation, or whether the phone is in my pocket, I can change the volume without looking at the phone.

The Xperia XZ1 puts the volume rocker above the power key, which is centered on the right side of the phone. This is my second favorite placement, as I tend to hold the phone near the bottom, so it's easy to turn on and off the phone (and in Sony's case, hit the fingerprint sensor at the same time) without drastically shifting my hand.

It also helps when the handset itself isn't gigantic.

The LG V30 puts the power button on the back, embedded in the fingerprint sensor. This makes sense when combined with the company's on-screen gestures — when flat on a table, you can just double tap anywhere on the screen to turn it on, and double-tap the notification area to turn it off at any time.

The volume buttons lie on the left side of the chassis, which can be a bit disorienting, but it's not really a big deal.

The Pixel 2 XL's combination — power button on top of the volume on the right side — is my least favorite of all of them. (Actually, that's not true — power button on the left side of the phone, as per the Alcatel Idol 3 and 4 series, is an abomination and should not even be considered here.)

As phones get bigger, it makes sense to keep the power key as close to where the thumb naturally rests while holding the device, but the Pixel 2 XL forces you to shift upwards to hit it. I don't care how good that orange button looks (and my goodness does it look great!), it's still a poor choice, in my opinion.

I'm probably leaving out a couple combinations that have appeared in the Android world over the years, and I'm also not taking into account devices like the Moto Z2 Force where the front-facing fingerprint sensor doubles as a power button.

What's your take on all this? Let me know in the comments and see if we can come to some sort of consensus (hah!).

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

112 Comments
  • I like the Samsung solution the best
  • I used to till i had one that the volume down was directly across from the power. Half the time i go to press volume down i accidentally I press the power button when gripping the phone
  • I have the note 8 and I honestly rarely use the power button except for an occasional reboot but that not everyday. With the finger print sensor in the most perfect spot when yoou pick up the phone with your right hand that is the only way I wake the phone. It sleeps in 30 seconds so I don't turn the screen off. I think as long asbthe power and volume buttons are separate then it would be ok. Now that damn Bixby button is the worst.
  • "Now that damn Bixby button is the worst." Looking for sales specials: Note 8 with Bixby button: $800 Note 8 without Bixby button: $830 The Bixby carbuncle sure seems a major drawback.
  • My favorite are the volume buttons on the left and the power button on the right as Samsung and Apple place them. On a side note, I'd love to see a lot more phones feature a dedicated camera shutter button like on Sony phones. Also, I'm left handed, so I'm not to plussed when all the buttons are shoved on the freaking right side.
  • As I sit here typing about how I hate Samsung's set up and love setups like on the U11 or Pixel, I just read your comment and held my S8 with my left hand and all of a sudden it feels perfect. It's easy to forget not everybody is a righty. ..
  • I'm a righty but only use phones with my left hand so I'm just weird I guess. I'm with you on the setups I love.
  • No, I'm with you, a right hander who uses the left hand to hold the phone. That way I can use my right hand to write with if I need to make notes. This makes the volume controls on the left easy to use as well.
  • I completely agree, but as a southpaw that holds his phone in his right hand. I also use a right-handed mouse. Probably because that's where they were mostly found in the olden' days.
  • I'm a southpaw and use a righthanded mouse too, but I drag it to the left side.
  • As a lefty who uses their phone left handed when I can I love it if that's possible on my current phone.
  • I’m right-handed but it seems natural to use a phone with my left hand. Even during calls I place the phone on my left side. After reading these comments I tried to switch but it doesn’t feel right. Come to think of it, I have never paid attention to which hand other people use. 👀
  • I don't care as much about whether the power button or volume rocker is on top, but I 100% prefer both to be on the right side. Probably THE #1 most annoying thing about my Galaxy s8 (yes more than the FPS location) is that when I prop my phone up on its side, I have to choose between not being able to change the volume or turn the screen off without picking it up. Additionally, the volume rocker being so high up on the left makes it a PITA to reach when needed. Button placement is Samsung's biggest design flaw in my opinion.
  • Yess having the buttons on the same side is preferred for me. With the XZ1 Compact, I find myself still tapping the volume button when I mean to tap power because I'm used to it being that high lol
  • I had the same problem when I changed from Moto G4 Plus (power above, volume below) to Moto G5 Plus (volume above, power below)
  • And the same here with two other Moto phones in the same order - G4 Play (power up, volume down) to the E4 (volume up power down). Mitigated somewhat by mostly using the fingerprint sensor instead of the power button.
  • I liked LG's previous methods, with everything on the back; everything felt intuitive to me.
  • Almost forgot about this. Definitely liked everything on the back with nice clean sides. Good times...
  • This was the best implementation: from G2 to G4
  • Completely agreed. Losing that was the only down side of going from the G4 to the Nexus 6P.
  • While I didn't really MIND the G3 placement, I think I prefer the G6, with the volume on the side. That feels more natural for me.
  • I actually do miss that as well. Moving the volume buttons to the side but leaving a combination power button/FPS on the back by itself just isn't that great. And because it's also a button, the FPS doesn't feel as solid as on other phones. Just got the V30 and it's one of the small blemishes on an otherwise great phone.
  • Yes! I commented below.
  • I also liked the buttons on the back. Took me about a half hour to get used to it. I wish LG would have stayed with that idea.
  • Yeah, I agree. My G4 button placement was fantastic. I miss the volume being on the back.
    I also miss the leather back to the phone because it felt real nice.
    What I DON'T miss is the overheating and boot loops.
    I am tempted by the G6 (they've dropped in price to a reasonable amount for a nice device) but I think I'm holding out for the V30 because Band 71 LTE will be sweet to play with once it's deployed.
  • My favorite is the one that LG used to have in their flagships, it was so comfortable to mi when the volume keys were on the back on the phone and the power button was just in the center of the volume keys, sad they get rid of that combination since the LG G5.
    That combination was something that differentiated them from the rest and it was unique.
  • Volume left, power right. It's probably not the best, but it is what I'm used to. It's incredibly rare I actually press the power button though... Probably less than once a week.
  • I am always hitting the power button on my Nexus 6P when trying for the volume buttons. There needs to be more space between them or move the power button some here else. I for get which phone it was that had the power button on top, that worked great for me.
  • I know the HTC M7 had the power button on top.
  • Daniel be damned! I prefer power on top-right and volume on right. But, I'm left handed. I'm sure it's a much different experience for you righties.
  • I'm right-handed and I agree with you.
  • I'm a righty and totally agree with you.
    Power top right, volume below it.
    On my Mate 9 I regularly switch the phone off while trying to change volume. It's upside down button placement is the only thing I don't like on the phone.
  • Power on right, volume on left. Any other way is retarded
  • i don't know about ya'll, but for some reason i now feel like I need one of those blue hands!
  • All on one side, just so long as they are separated a bit. Both sides is ridiculously challenging when you prop your phone on it's side or if you use a phone holder(some, not all) in your car.
  • I really don't care about the power button.
    The volume buttons belong on the right.
    My LG G6 puts them on the left which has taken some getting used to.
  • I love LG's power button/fingerprint scanner combo on the back. I prefer volume on the left side.
  • I do also. I'm right-handed, so I hold the phone in my left hand. I use my left index finger to unlock the fingerprint scanner/power button on the back. I can easily adjust the volume with my left thumb whilst typing via gestures with Gboard using my right index finger.
  • LG V30. Once you get used to having the power button there it is hard to go back. But I'll try when my Pixel XL comes in VERY SOON! I also like that combining it with the fingerprint sensor that is one less button to accidentally press.
  • I personally like the power and volume on the back like on the lg G4 and the finger print sensor and the front like the galaxy s7
  • Best is keeping them separated. My favorite hardware feature about iPhones is the mute switch. I don't understand why Android OEMs don't take a page from OnePlus and copy that. It's so convenient to just be able to mute my phone from my pocket.
  • Easy to do with Samsung with a quick hold of the volume down.
  • Problem is, even though it is easy to trigger, what's comforting about a physical toggle is that when in a serious situation, being able to FEEL what setting it is would be awesome.
  • left or right side, but both on the same side
  • I honestly prefer having the power button and volume rocker on separate sides like the Samsung example. It drives me nuts when I go to turn the volume up while watching a movie only to have my screen go black and have to unlock my phone! This is a terrible design and many Android devices go this route. Thanks a lot Google for continuing the madness. Maybe they'll change it up with the Pixel 3...
  • I like the way OnePlus does it
    For the rest, where every they put it, I get used to it after a week or 2 of frustration
  • "Has this ever happened to you: you upgrade phones only to spend the next few days pitifully jabbing your finger at a spot the old power button used to be?" No. You? I never use the power button, so I really don't care where it is.
  • The LG G3 button placement was really convenient after I got used to it.
  • I like volume rocker on the left and power button on the right...
    I like G6 button placement also
  • "The Galaxy Note 8 separates the power and volume buttons, putting the former on the right and the latter on the left. To me, this is the obvious solution" "The volume buttons lie on the left side of the chassis, which can be a bit disorienting" Do you ever go back to read your own stuff?
  • When the power button is on the back, this can be disorienting.
  • Power on one side volume on the other and both fairly high up on the phone so they can easily be mounted like in a car without pressing a button but still be centered. Basically like the Nexus 5. I don't mind if the power is on top either like the older HTC phones. Having them both on the same side is probably the least desirable but I am guessing it's the cheapest and easiest which is why manufacturers do it the way they do.
  • I prefer the power button on the top, out of the way. The volume buttons depends on the type of case I am using. Usually I prefer the volume on the left, but if I am using a wallet case this makes them difficult to get to so they would be better on the right.
  • I like Sony's Xperias (and previously, Nokia's Lumias). I've gotten used to gripping my phone where my finger/thumb rests on or near to the power button. I also really love having a camera shutter button. :)
  • The best, IMHO, was the way the Lumia 950XL had them. All on the right from top to bottom in this order: volume up, power, volume down, the at the bottom camera button. The power button between the volume button was slightly lower than the volume buttons. Easy to feel and was perfect. Phone on the side had all buttons accessible.
  • I wish LG had left there volume buttons on the back.So much easier for small fat hands.
  • I like Honor 8. It has the fingerprint scanner on the back which effectively turns the phone on. But it also has a powerbutton on the right side so I can turn it on while it's lying down. Although I then have to use a pin/pattern. That said I prefer my volume buttons on the right side and no power button on the same side. Do't know how that will work out..
  • im happy with my lg v30, thanks though android authority.
  • I prefer to have both buttons on the right side (I'm right handed, and always hold the phone in my left hand). My index finger easily reaches the power buttons, and either the index or middle finger can easily manipulate the volume rocker, though to be honest I don't adjust sound in portrait orientation very much (I pretty much leave my phone on vibrate unless I'm watching something, and then the phone is horizontal and I MUCH prefer the volume button to be on top, where I can see it).
  • My favorite power button placement was on top.
    * Never confused with volume
    * Easy to press when grabbing the phone
    * No reason why it couldn't go back there now that we use the fingerprint scanner as power 95% of the time.
  • On the sides
  • i like Samsung, I can pick up my phone in either hand and my fingers can go to the proper places without checking it often, I'm a bit ambidextrous. how ever; so I without thinking I grab my phone and it's pretty much always in the same spot. Honestly after this I had to test it. in and out of each pocket, my desk, and off the charger. I also have larger hands, I would say. So in all grabbing's a finger was always on power to turn it on. Maybe it's because I'm used to it. but having the buttons separated I'm not hitting the wrong button and can easily check my notifications and pocket the phone again. If I had smaller fingers maybe having both on one side would be a benefit but given I can brush my middle finger with my thumb holding my S7 it's a plus for the separation
  • The placement of the buttons on the S8+ is pretty good, but when I turn my phone on or off I always end up pressing the Bixby button too. Mover the volume buttons beneath the power button on the right side and move the Bixby button where the volume up button is currently. The 3 main buttons are easily reachable with 1 hand, and Bixby is there if you ever need it.
  • I'm one of the rare people who wishes phones would have more physical buttons. One dedicated for camera shutter, one for silence / vibrate, and if Google is so in with their Google assistant why not have a physical button instead of gimmicky squeeze? Anyway, I'm happy with the placement of the volume and power button on the S7. They are high enough to avoid accidental presses when holding my phone.
  • I have an Honor 8 and the power & volume button placement is perfect. When I go and grab the phone my thumb naturally lies on the power button and I don't have to reach far to silence the phone by pressing the volume down button (my most common use for volume buttons)
  • My favorite, htc 10, rock solid buttons
  • Power button on left. Volume button on right with a volume lock button on top of it. After you get the volume to the desired level you use the lock button to keep it there. To unlock the volume to change it you then hold down the lock button a few seconds to release it. The lock button keeps the volume from accidently being moved for example when you reach into your pocket for the phone.
  • I will have to second (or 3rd or 4th) the comment about the older LG phones with the power and volume buttons on the back. I am still using my V10, and came from a G3 before that. I love the power and volume buttons on the back. The case designs are sleek with no cutouts on the sides. It just makes sense. I know I will have to conform to something else when I choose to upgrade, I will miss those volume buttons on the back though.
  • Put the goddamn power button on the top and the volume rockers on the right side. Anything else is an abomination.
  • Probably same side is best but I care more about separation, it can be hard to work out which button you are on when you can't see it or feel it well (gloves). The Xperia XZ1 has them close but the design means that you shouldn't mix them up.
  • Very true about the gloves.
  • I am really partial to how it was done in Lumia line of devices, all the button on one side, and that included a dedicated camera button.
    What LG did for a couple of devices was pretty smart too, putting all controls on the back, it'd make phones easy to use with both right and left hand.
  • That button should be swappable by software
  • I miss the top power button and IR blaster combo on the M7. My current phone has the volume and power buttons on the right, and I accidentally hit the lower power button a lot.
  • I agree with Milkybuet. The Lumia line had it perfect, Volume Up-Down space, Power, triple-space Camera All on the right side.
    I ESPECIALLY loved the dedicated Camera Button! I would kill to be able to convert the near-useless "Bixby" button on my S8 into a dedicated Camera Button (but I don't want to root my phone.)
  • ANYWHERE but on the back. I'm looking at you LG.
  • Everything on the back!
  • A lefty here who's been using LG phones for a while now. I prefer the buttons on the back of the phone. While playing with the Pixel's at Verizon, I struggled with all the buttons on the right side. I can get used to it, but my second option would be to have them on the left side.
  • The Nexus/pixel set up. I have actually sent phones back because I am so use to this setup it's kinda sad lol
  • My Note 8 power button lands perfectly under my thumb. I wouldn't want it anywhere else. The volume button is perfectly under my index finger but I am right handed so probably wouldn't work for anyone else if you are left-handed then again the fingerprint sensor lands perfectly under of my index finger when I place my finger on the phone maybe im not normal
    given the amount of complaints from people then again most of those people don't actually use the phone they complain about.
  • remember when iPhones had the power button on the TOP of the phone?
  • I would say that the fingerprint sensor placement on the back of my N6p is the best location for a button bar none. Other button locations it's not that hard to get used to them. But my own basic problem is undefined buttons because I never run my devices naked. I've yet to have used a case that helps with this. In fact, the one I use now just kind of smooshes all the buttons together with very little tactile differentiation or definition.
  • I'm right handed but use the phone in my off hand, and I don't know how the hell all you people are using your thumbs to press the side buttons. That said, the obvious best choice of all is the V30 fingerprint button on the back center. It requires no hand yoga for either sided hand preference (hand size may be an issue I guess)
  • For me, smaller phones allow me to do that.
  • It is very hard to care about something like this. Almost anyone will quickly adapt to any of these configurations.
  • There is a big difference between adapting and liking.
  • I prefer the old Samsung method; Power button on the right, and volume rocker on the left. I don't like the buttons all on one side, as it has caused numerous times where I've either lowered the volume when trying to power off the screen, or powering off the screen when I want to lower the volume.
  • Nexus 5 2013
  • There’s 2 that I love. Galaxy S7 - The power button and volume rocker placement is damn near perfect. They’re not directly opposing so you don’t press one while pressing the other and the clicky feedback is excellent. LG G4 - Back buttons. Enough said. My Note8 isn’t in this list because while none of the buttons directly oppose each other and they’re still extremely clicky (and wobble much less this time around), the Bixby button creates some tactile confusion for a bit. Precisely why I chose a case which puts an HTC 10-like texture straight on the button.
  • Power top right, or left side if it incorporates a fingerprint reader). Volume mid-to-upper left. Makes adjusting volume during phone calls easier and doesn't require as much repositioning.
  • How is it great that Samsung puts the volume buttons on the left side of the device, but it's somehow disorienting for LG to do the same thing?
  • The only thing I don't like about having the buttons on opposing sides, is having to avoid the button on one side while using the button on the other. To me (and that's just me), it's more natural having buttons on only one side and having the other side completely clean. And for me, the Sony/HTC layout places the power button where my thumb rests when holding it in the right hand, and where the middle finger sits when holding it in the left. I hold the phone with my hand a little higher when talking (it's just how I hold it without thinking about it) and in this position, my thumb is now on the volume rocker. It does get a little less natural when talking with the phone in the left hand though. The left index finger is in the exact area of the volume rocker, but because of the angle of the finger trying to press it from the back of the phone, you have to be a little more deliberate. I rarely adjust volume during phone calls because it's plenty loud and pretty consistent.
  • Lefty here - but my LG G4 w/power/volume on back feels the most natural
  • I thought G6 would be super annoying with power and fingerprint in back, but I have grown to like it alot, though front fingerprint reader would be easier to unlock on the table. Double tap actions make the button totally unnecessary and I really enjoy the feature, especially the way LG implemented it (better than Blackberry at least).
    I definitely would not like volume on the back.
  • I agree that with double tap to wake it really doesnt matter where they put those pesky buttons. Long as they are there somewhere.
  • The LG G2 had the best placement of any phone I've ever had.
  • Fingerprint reader on my 3T: double tap fingerprint to lock the phone. Best gesture in android ever. I just use the phisical lock button to open camera when i want to take a picture very fast. Also, volume keys are nic
  • I like the old HTC M7/M8 design: power on top and volume on the side. Just kidding lol. The Samsung configuration is my favorite, but if power/vol is on the same side, volume should be below power. Just not so low like the old Sony Z5s.
  • There is no best button placement, you get used to them. If you only have one device then it will not be any sort of problem. The two phones I carry day to day both have right sided buttons, volume top then power, but I have just got rid of one device where it was different and you navigated with home button gestures. Just adapt.
  • The most comfortable position are the two buttons on the right, the power button on the top of the side and a decent distance between them, I used to have a phone where the power button was on the right and the volume on the left and I was accidentally pressing the volume button all the f* day!
  • I agree with you but the volume and power buttons need to have different textures like Huawei phones are
  • My perfect button set up would probably be the power middle right, volume top left, and a two stage camera bottom right. Although I do really like LG's solution.
  • On the back like LG had done it. Every time I go slide my V20 in my pocket now with volume rocker on left side....i hit the rocker by accident and have to pull it back out to readjust volume. Very annoying!!
  • I like the back. LG got it right. When they released the G3, I thought they we're crazy but it grew on me and now, I think other companies are not evolving.
  • Call me crazy, but BlackBerry on BB10 phones NAILED buttons and their placement. Power/sleep button on top edge. RS had volume up/mute/volume down. I really miss the mute/pause button on my S8. On BB10 it was between the volume up/down buttons and it had a raised little nub so you knew where you had your thumb. You could mute and unmute a call without pulling the phone from your face. You could pause music or videos with that button. So if you're listening to music and the phone is in your pocket, you can just mash that button and pause. It was freaking great. The buttons on my S8 are a **** show. I'm constantly missing the volume buttons and pressing Bixby instead. That is all.
  • Only one haven't liked is power button in the middle of the volume up down buttons
  • Loved LG's buttons in back (from LG g4 , iPhone 5s, honor 5x ,
  • I like the power button on the top, out of the way when I don't need it. I don't like it on the back of the phone -- somehow, with where my hands rest, I often end up pressing it by mistake.
  • Obviously, the layout on the Pixels is how it's supposed to be.
  • Being a lefty, I must say placing any buttons on either side of a phone are going to get in the way of a right or left-handed person. My LG V10 had it 100% right. All buttons in the middle on the back. This set up is perfect regardless of your hand preference. I thought it would be a huge learning curve but was used to it almost immediately and hated using anyone else's phone afterward. I have the Galaxy S8+ now and although the fingerprint scanner isn't as huge an issue as I thought it would be, I am still hitting the volume buttons erroneously multiple times per day.
  • I tried the LG back placement and could never get used to it... it seems designed to discourage use of the volume buttons. Side button placement: there they are, just press them. Back button placement: lift the phone up, fish around on the back and smear the camera lens ...and then just press them.
  • I'm liking LG's back Power button placement and the volume buttons on the left. regardless of which hand I'm holding my phone in the power button is always accessible. When holding in my thumb just naturally sits near the volume buttons and when holding in the right hand my index finger is right near those volume buttons. It's like a win-win in either hand,