The Hate for Hardware Buttons

I don't understand why hardware buttons seem to be such a bad thing. All the latest smartphones seem to make it a priority to take them away. Personally, I think they can be quite useful. I miss the days of the Palm and Windows Mobile where you had hardware buttons that took you directly to core apps such as your phone, calendar, email and notes. They were non-obtrusive and they served a purpose. Is there no room for these shortcut buttons on our devices anymore? Don't get me wrong. I don't want to see the tactile keyboard make a comeback. But I would be lying if I said I would't mind a few buttons on the right side of my iPhone similar to the volume buttons we have now that could give me direct acess to Siri, text messaging or my calendar. 

What do you think? Is there a such thing is being too minimal is design? Is true productivity being sacrificed at the expense of aesthetic appeal?