Saturday, September 25, 2021
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Poll of the week: How important is the vibration motor in your smartphone?


Our latest poll of the week is by no means an idea that was dug up somewhere from our summer brainstorming archives! In the NextPit editorial team, the topic of vibration motors in smartphones surface frequently, especially when we receive a new handset for review purposes. I unashamedly admit that usually, I’m the one who brings this topic up. Yet one more reason to ask the community, “How important is the quality of the vibration motor in your smartphone?”

I’ve already asked about the relevance of selected features several times in our “Poll of the Week” series. I find it extremely exciting in my own research to find out just how important IP certification is or whether the megapixel count in smartphone cameras matters to you. Today, we would like to talk about the quality of the vibration motor, which I think is tied in intrinsically to the value of a smartphone.

This is because if I were to fork out $1,000 or more for a smartphone and it sounds like a broken VW Polo whenever I receive a new notification while the handset is on the table, I would feel shortchanged. Expensive cars and even digital cameras have sound designers for mechanical parts, so why not phones aswell? 

It’s not just me, as I first learned about this from the NextPit community when I reviewed the Oppo Find X2 Neo. Reader Tim praised me at the time for including this feature in my review. Funnily enough, I’ve been discussing vibration motors in smartphones with Tim’s namesake in NextPit, my ex-colleague Tim Metzger from Allround-PC, ever since we started working together.

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The reason is simple: vibration motors provides us with constant, subtle feedback throughout the day, whether we’re hitting the right keys or whether our crush has finally texted us a reply to our last message. They are too much of an important part of the user experience to have a rickety cheap motor powering this feature.

How do smartphones actually vibrate?

A quick digression on what actually makes smartphones vibrate over the years. Underneath the hood of many of our smartphones lies a small motor that basically has an intentional flaw built right in. That’s because its axis of rotation doesn’t run quite perfectly through its center of gravity, resulting in it being imbalanced. When disassembled, the motor would bounce around on the table, but when it is installed in a secure location in a smartphone, then the motor makes it vibrate.

A decisive factor to consider when it comes to the quality of the vibration is motor itself, precise control, and of course, the quality of its workmanship. If a smartphone is made of glass and all components have been built with a degree of precision that runs into millimetres, the vibration is then transferred precisely to the pocket or the palm of your hand. If cheap plastic components are used, the smartphone will rattle loudly in front of you. German magazine TechnikNews depicted in an entertaining comparison of how different vibration motors in various phones perform upon ringing and what types of vibration motors are out there.

Fun fact: Back in the day, cell phone manufacturers sold batteries that could also be used to retrofit vibration motors in said handsets. Isn’t that an interesting piece of trivia that could be used in any social function?

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Right here, right now: How important are vibration motors to you?

Let us get straight to business. Just how important is the quality of the vibration motor in a smartphone give when you receive a call, type, or send a message? Let me know in this poll:

In the newsroom, my preoccupation with vibration motors is always met with laughter. Camila, for instance, replied that it’s the first thing she turns off when she receives a new smartphone. So here’s a follow-up question, as I guess everyone has a different opinion about this matter:

That’s all for the questions that I wanted to ask this week. I’ve rarely been so curious about the outcome of one of our polls, and am genuinely excited to take a look at its results after this weekend is over. After all, how often do you get the opportunity to find out if you’re a weirdo based on empirical data? See you on Monday, when we’ll meet once again to evaluate the results!



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