iPhone not lefty friendly

2012-08-12 22:30

Berlin - When the iPhone 4 hit shops in 2010, some customers could not use the new Apple device to either call or surf the internet. The reason was that holding the device in the left hand could in some cases cover the phone's antenna, thereby cutting off reception.

Apparently, the designers, technicians and testers at Apple did not think about the needs of left-handers or just ignored them. And that is nothing new, according to Agnes Maria Forsthofer, a member of an association for left-handed people in Germany. "There are essentially no devices fitted for left-handers."

Even standard devices like a mouse or keyboard have some pitfalls for left-handed users. The number pad for example is difficult to use with your left hand. "There are only a few keyboards where the number pad is on the left side," said Barbara Sattler, who heads an information centre for left-handers in Germany.

But such solutions are only practical in places where the left-hander works alone. Sharing a computer that has such special devices with right-handers is difficult.

Sattler suggests left-handers should rather get a separate number pad with a USB connection, like those available for laptops.

The mouse can cause issues for left-handers. Most of the time they are located on the right side of the keyboard. A wireless mouse solves most of the problems and the system settings in Windows allows for the keys to be changed.

There is no standard for the extreme left-hander, said Stefan Gutwinski, neuroscientist of the university psychiatric ward of the Charite at St Hedwig Hospital in Berlin.

"Extreme handedness is rather seldom - right-handers do some things with their left hand and left-handers do some things with their right hand," he said. And they differ from case to case. Some, for example, have no problem typing a text message on their phone with their right hand - others absolutely need their left hand.


But there are some devices with which nearly every left-hander has problems, including for example an ergonomic mouse. Their asymmetric shape supposedly gives them a better fit in the user's hand - but only in the right hand. "But the symmetric shape has prevailed," said Sattler.

There are other examples of the technology world being unfriendly to left-handers, for example in the case of camcorders. "They are completely equipped to be controlled with the right hand," said Sattler. Even photography cameras often have the controls on the right side.

Sattler said there are no real solutions in such cases. "The demand for special left-handed products is not high enough," she said. Separate production for left-handers is not profitable for manufacturers. The only choice often for lefties is to get used to it.

Neuroscientist Gutwinski said it's often not that difficult. "Left-handers often have a pronounced tendency for ambidexterity because they are already used to doing things with their right hands from childhood."

Nevertheless, it has been shown that the older the user, the more difficulty left-handers have in getting accustomed to new devices which have to be operated with the right hand.

In the case of smartphones it would seem initially that it doesn't matter which hand is used on a touchscreen. But since many devices have the on-off or volume buttons on the right side, operating the device with just your left hand is not easy.

Sattler urges left-handers to take the device in their hand before buying it and really give it a good test.

  • adam.r.levin - 2012-08-12 21:52

    As a left-hander, I have had to get used to using devices with my right hand. It was difficukt at first but I am so used to it now that using left-handed devices feels odd.

      bernard.ingram - 2012-08-12 22:17

      Awesome adam!

      clinton.bowden1 - 2012-08-13 07:16

      What a load of crap. I too am a left hander and to be honest using devices primarily designed for right hand people has never been a matter of getting used. Its just the way it is. FFS do you righties still struggle to learn to drive because you have to change gears with your left hand ? I think not. That is what my world is like. I don't even swap the buttons on my mouse to accomodate my left handedness. Both these comments I find patronizing. Gives the impression we lefties are special cases. In closing being left handed does have some advantages like playing a game of squash. My forehand is your backhand and due to so many righties in the world I have a particulary strong backhand. In getting on the court some one once commented "A lefty, I haven't played against many of you" to which I replied "Neither have I"

      Spiral - 2012-08-14 10:58

      You sound angry Clinton.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-12 22:51

    BS , I just tested holding iPhone with left hand made no different to reception, even tried both hands. Fairytales are not for news 24

      KingPro - 2012-08-13 00:50

      Ummm, that's because you've clearly got a newer model of the phone... They're not all the same you know. Google iPhone 4 \death grip\ and you'll soon be eating a tasty slice of humble pie. It's a fact not a fairytale.

  • clinton.bowden1 - 2012-08-12 23:38

    As a lefty I have grown up all my life using items designed for right handed people. To be honest I don't know what the big deal is. Even on the mouse I don't switch the buttons around. The only time I get frustrated is working with new laptops where the VGA output and network cables stick out on the left side. That's the area where I use my mouse. But as for accommodating lefties I feel rather offended tbh. I am human after all. It is one of our traits to adapt. But if you really want to take it that way it must be so difficult for righties to drive with the gear lever on the left

      KingPro - 2012-08-13 00:55

      As a lefty I think my mind would explode if I had to change gears with my right hand... My right hand is so slow that it would take the short bus to school if this were America. (In other words it's \special\).

      Spiral - 2012-08-14 11:00

      Flip bru, whos saying you arent human?! you sound like you have an issue with being left handed... its really not the end of the world.

  • rlong1952 - 2012-08-12 23:52

    Another anti-Apple article sponsored by Samsung. The biggest load of horse manure ever published. I am left-handed, have had an iPhone 4 for more than a year and have NEVER had any of the problems mention. Really News24 do research before you publish such horse manure.

  • eugenedlow - 2012-08-13 00:41

    as a lefty you learn very quickly that you need to addapt or be the odd one out. there are a few things that makes me a little angry like hammers and screw-drivers but apart from not being a handyman i'd say that the transition from switching to right with most things comes natural. after all when we start screaming about things that are made for right-handed folk i guess i might as well ask for parking bays for LEFTIES :)

      clinton.bowden1 - 2012-08-13 07:17

      From a lefty, HUH ?

  • KingPro - 2012-08-13 01:04

    Being left handed is cool man, it's like a badge of membership to a club for people who can quickly adapt... It makes me feel cool to be honest, why would I want to blend in when I can stand out. When's the International Left Hand Day this year, oh wait it's TODAY!!! Happy International Lefthanders Day!!! :D

      Johan De Beer - 2012-08-13 06:03

      Then don't complain about the iphone.

      Spiral - 2012-08-14 11:01

      share you're feelings with Clinton above, he sounds a bit pissed at being left handed :-)

  • christopher.armenia - 2012-08-13 01:32

    News24, Breaking news that happened two years ago. Try writing an article that somebody cares about instead of baiting people with the word "iPhone"

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-08-13 06:04

    Neither are scissors and a million other little things

  • dean.heylen - 2012-08-13 08:03

    As an ambidextrous person i find this issue a non-issue. When i use my computer(s), my mouse is my left hand. With regards to numpads on the right, i have just adjusted to use those with my right hand since they are on the right side. Dunno why but when i first used a mouse it just felt more natural in my left hand. I dont switch the buttons though... so my hand is more like diagonally over the mouse rather than straight over the mouse...I do still write RIGHT-handed though, and play sports right-handed, but when i eat my knife is in my left hand, and fork in my right hand. With my SGS2 smartphone (not Apple) the phone is always in my RIGHT hand, and i touch with my left fingers. Just feels more natural for me. So being ambidextrous helps coz i can still do most things with either hand, i just have certain things i prefer to do with my left though...

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