The battle for mobile phone supremacy is forever evolving, and we're always seeing different features come in and out of fashion as tech companies look to gain the upper hand on their rivals.
And it seems the physical button issue is one of the latest frontiers we'll be talking about for the immediate future, with new reports suggesting the Mango update to Windows Phone will do away with the need for physical buttons altogether.
Earlier this year the same rumour was doing the rounds about Apple's iOS 5, but it turned out the full multitouch support that would allow Apple to ditch the Start button on the iPhone or iPad was simply a toy for developers to play with.
And just last week the MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 was announced, revealing a distinct lack of any physical buttons to break up its attractive lines. Intriguingly, though, Nokia boss Stephen Elop also showed off a similar-looking Windows Phone prototype last week that also had a button-free front, something none of the current Windows Phone 7 devices offer.
So is a button-free design the result of Nokia's “special relationship” with Microsoft, or a general feature of Mango available to other WinPho hardware partners too? According to the perennially chatty Eldar Murtazin, it's the latter.
“WP7 Mango Update – according to design guideline there is no need to put hardware buttons on front. Samsung, Lg, HTC will have such phones,” the Mobile-Review editor tweeted yesterday.
Microsoft reckons the Mango update comes with over 500 changes and new features, but the support for all-touch would be one of the more significant, giving Windows Phone handset makers added design flexibility and invariably leading to end products that are easy on the eye. And of course it would also give Microsoft bragging rights that it got there before Android and iOS.