/ Shopping, Technology

QWERT-Y is it so hard to get a phone with a keyboard?

Phone keyboard

I’m an anomaly. That’s my opinion after trying to buy an Android phone with a solid keyboard. Going by the dearth of suitable phones, my desire to have a key to press when I type is anachronistic. But am I really alone?

I’ve been using touchscreen phones with a slide out QWERTY keyboard since the days of Windows Mobile and have grown used to being able to type up documents on the move.

When that phone died a couple of years ago I managed to find an Android phone with a keyboard, albeit only after much hunting. But when this too gave up the ghost, my search this time hit a dead end.

But perhaps I was stuck in my ways and I was lucky enough to have a friend to lend me a decent touchscreen phone. Two weeks of typos convinced me that while touchscreen was OK for those of you who like to text or update Facebook on the move, I found it useless for anything more than a couple of sentences.

Android phones with a keyboard

So what to do about keyboards? Our mobile phone reviews highlight the problem – only Blackberry phones have them, and those keyboards are small. I could switch to Blackberry, but Google Play has taken enough of my cash in apps to persuade me to stay with Android.

Going online was the answer. America is the land of QWERTY opportunity, unlike poor Europe, with phones like the Motorola Droid 4. And while I couldn’t buy a new phone from America, due to the contracts they come with, I did find a good and recent second-hand phone on eBay.

Buying mobile phones from abroad

Now, if you’re buying something from non-EU country expect customs to charge customs duty and import VAT. As the buyer, it’s my responsibility to ensure that the seller fills out a Customs Declaration and pays any fees at their post office. If not, I’ll have to pay the import VAT and a Royal Mail handling fee.

So was it worth it? Getting QWERTY back was akin to getting a cast off a broken leg. With delight akin to Dr Strangelove walking again, getting a keyboard in my hands meant my typing paralysis was over.

Am I alone? Is it right that we in Europe are denied the QWERTY wealth across the Atlantic? Have you turned to eBay for rare gifts from abroad and did it work out?

Comments
Member

Why not use a laptop, Jonathan? Improve your productivity. 🙂

Member

Not as convenient. With my phone I can carry it in my jacket pocket and it is instantly on.

Member

I use an iPhone and I much prefer a virtual on-screen keyboard. It’s much faster than a physical keyboard, because it requires only a light touch rather than physically pressing each key, and iOS automatically corrects errors. Whenever I’ve used friends’ Android phones, I agree that their virtual keyboards are somewhat lacking and prone to errors. You should try an iPhone, although it can take a few days before you get up to speed and start preferring it.

Member

It really depends on the Android phone and the keyboard. I use SwiftKey – a keyboard app, which I feel is superior to the iPhone’s keyboard. The good thing about it is that it predicts not just the word you’re typing, but the next word and even the sentence, learning from what you’ve said before. You can also swipe over the letters to write words, making it even quicker.

That’s what I love about Android – you can change anything you like, and if an app comes out that is better than the stock one, then you can swap it. You’re stuck with iPhone’s keyboard and miss out on some quite cool features.

However, I do think that the touchscreen responsiveness may be a tad quicker on iPhone’s, which might make the keyboard feel more responsive. That would be a question for our Tech researchers/lab though as to the truth of that. Still whatever the difference, it would be milliseconds.

Member

I have an iPad as well and still have touch type problems. Plus iOS lacks haptic feedback, Android has spoiled me and it feels odd to touch a key and not get a response.

Member

I have always had Blackberry and a old iPhone. I used my Blackberry for txting/calling etc as i LOVED the QWERTY keypad. I used the old iPhone for music, i just hated txting on it.

Last month I swapped both the old Blackberry & old iPhone 3g to a friend of mine and he gave me his new-ish HTC.

God I hate it. I’m not sure if i have fat fingers or what. But can’t stand it and as soon as the new Blackberry’s come down in price I will be getting one of them. QWERTY 100%.

Member
Steve says:
7 October 2013

I use Swype on Android myself. Put your finger down on the first letter of the word, move your finger over all the other letters in the word, then raise it off the touchscreen on the last letter. It’s incredibly fast – going head to head against a friend with a blackberry, I finished the text message in half the time they took.

Another benefit is that it reduces the finger taps to a minimum – important for us RSI sufferers!

Member

Sorry to hear you have RSI. I use swype as well and when it works it’s good, but it can be a pain if it suggests the wrong word. Likewise if I want to navigate some text using hardware arrow keys is much simpler.