Select menus simply sweep navigation issues under the rug. They don’t help solve questions such as how to handle long lists or nested sub-navigation. I suspect they’re confusing to users too. In my mind there’s only one form element that should ever be used for navigation and that’s search.
And elaborates on giving up control of the design:
Then there’s the issue of design. While iOS’ select menus keep the user somewhat connected to the page behind, Android’s overlay device makes navigation a separate layer. Window Phone 7 takes navigation out of the site and into native Metro UI, completely disconnecting the page from its navigation. When you use select menus, you put navigation design in the hands of the operating system designers.
Put all this together and using select menus for small screen navigation isn’t just a bad option, it’s a lazy one. Let’s design something better.
Let’s design something better. I’ll drink to that.