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Robots agree: iPhone touchscreen is most precise

Moto.com did some robotic testing of the sensitivity and precision of the latest crop of smartphone touchscreens and the iPhone appears to win the day.

Moto.com did some robotic testing of the sensitivity and precision of the latest crop of smartphone touchscreens and the iPhone wins the day.

The test consisted of using a robot to slowly draw straight lines in a basic drawing app, making it easy to see the difference in touchscreen resolution from one phone to the next. The results are pretty telling. Perfectly straight lines indicate a high degree of sensor accuracy; less-precise sensors show the lines with wavy patterns, stair-steps, or both.

It concludes that the iPhone competitors use "last-generation silicon and touch panel components" but that Apple won't have as big of a lead for long.

In the long run, however, we don’t expect this high degree of touchscreen variation between handset manufacturers to continue in such dramatic form. Right now, capacitive touchscreens are a relatively new feature to appear in consumer electronics products. And as we’ve pointed out several times before, creating a seamless touchscreen experience is hard work that requires a high level of commitment to technology integration and interdisciplinary teamwork. Over time more brand-name manufacturers will acquire the expertise required to deliver excellent touchscreen products.

In my own testing I found the iPhone touchscreen to be vastly superior to the touchscreen on my Nexus One. My N1 frequently refused to accept touches in the lower area of the screen (causing me not to be able to answer calls, or retrieve voicemail). My Nexus One would often lose its calibration and select completely different areas of the screen than I was touching. When I inquired about the issue, Google offered that "there are some people who just may not have as good an experience with capacitive sensors." Sensing that this could be problem with my specific Nexus One I asked to have my unit swapped out, but HTC simply didn't reply to my emails.

Click over the labs.moto.com for a video of the robot in action and for the full results.