why do remotes have silicone buttons?

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Eventually when the buttons wear out the silicone covers make it impossible to press them. I would much rather have buttons like ones on an old blackberry phone.

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I’ve had the same cable tv remote for like 10 years and the buttons still all work fine. Seem pretty durable.

The silicon doesn’t wear out. Grease, oil, and other liquids have probably made its way over time inside your remote. They coat the contact attached to the silicon buttons making it not have good conductivity with the contacts on the PCBA.

You can open your remote (some are harder than others) and remove the silicon button assembly. If you feel/see an oily substance on the back of the silicon then this is likely your issue. You can wash the silicon using dish detergent to clear off the oily residue. Let it completely dry, and then reassemble the remote. The buttons should start working well again.