/ 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?


I’m absolutely fed up with finding a good android qwerty phone in the UK, why do we have to suffer?

newbie says:
26 November 2014

Have the same problem, and had the largest brick in my office, my old Nokia E90. everyone laughed, everyone joked, till i dropped it down the stairs picked it up put it back together again and took a phone call on it, oh and the battery life too….

Anyways after much searching the only suitable replacement was the Nokia E7, second hand, (and with an inferior keyboard) but it at least brough me vaguley up to date.

After this one dies in a few years time who knows….

Niiadu says:
30 November 2014

Everyone, I have the solution to all of your problems. Unlocking your phone allows you to make and take calls from your country even with an American phone bought online. There are many phone unlocking websites and unlocking your phone costs about
£15-£20 but it’s worth it, better than being forced to stick to the sloppy touchscreen keyboard typing.
I recently unlocked my Samsung Galaxy S relay 4G, an American slide-out physical qwerty keyboard smartphone with the best keyboard I have ever seen on a phone. It has a 5 row keyboard and even buttons that opens your email, message and even voice search.
Just get any American smartphone your heart desires and unlock it and it’ll be just as good as any other European smartphone.

I agree wholeheartedly, why cant we get mobiles with querty keypads. Unfortunately I change phone – my husband says as often as I change shoes – so I have tried touchscreens too but there is nothing like a proper keypad. I dont have tallons but I do think it depends on the length of you nails to a degree. I actually love Blackberry phones and my last purchase was a Blackberry Q5 which is a nice phone but Blackberry software is not the best, I have trouble syncing with my desktop. Come on Blackberry get into the real world – you would sell more phones…

I so agree with this.
I’m resorting to getting a second hand BlackBerry bold to replace my worn out one, for texting and phone calls and keep my Samsung for other stuff. I don’t like B B’s soft ware but for “typing” suits me perfectly. I’ve actually got more pain in my wrists and hands since using this Samsung.. Just can’t get on with it for texting and writing although I love the bigger screen and sharpness of it. Pros and cons, pros and cons……

Paul Dove says:
3 March 2015

For a few years now I’ve has a HUAWEI U8350 (branded as the Orange Barcelona) but recently I sent for an Mpie MP108. It hasn’t arrived (I think is was stolen by a postal worker) so when I get a refund I’m going to try to but one of these again. Anyone have any experience of the Mpie?

Paul Dove says:
21 April 2015

The Mpie MP108 got lost in the post, so I bought an IPRO Q10 instead. Even though it’s a phone from Hong Kong the guy selling these on eBay is in Florida.

I’m very pleased with it and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a qwerty phone with a 3.5 inch touch screen.

Lesley says:
2 May 2015

I am struggling with this too. I have a fairly basic blackberry now, and would like to upgrade my phone. I find the small touch screen key pad on my husbands samsung and his i phone previously impossible to use, and want a phone with a key pad. However, increasingly apps are coming into use in my work place, and I have been unable to access these via my blackberry. It would be good to have something that operates off android or an apple system, but there doesn’t seem to ba anything out there except a blackberry. Nightmare

kris says:
29 May 2015

Give me a keyboard any time. I’ve had a touch screen for 3 weeks and it’s cracked. Android is great for gaming etc but my Blackberry is far more user friendly for calling, texts email and producing documents. I wish there was a choice of keypad phones with the qwerty boards.

Chris Glover says:
24 June 2015

I too have a slide out QWERTY keyboard phone. The Motorola Dext MB200, which I purchased in 2009. The keyboard is the best I have ever come across. The only problem with this phone it is old, with a relatively small screen and the Andriod version is 1.5. An upgrade to 2.1 was release in the US but not in Europe; why?
Like other people on this post, I too can’t get on with on-screen keyboards. I did see that someone had made a Andriod 2.2 and 2.3 version for this phone, but I have not been able to find the working files. If anyone has the details of this, please reply; I would be grateful.

Totally agree – I prefer a physical keyboard but most phone shops (Ireland) do not seem to have anything decent . Are Blackberry phone still available ?

janet says:
22 December 2015

I can’t understand why I can’t find a smartphone with a keypad – what is the problem? I can’t use a touchscreen as since a stroke in my early 30s I don’t have the finger control to do anything on a touchscreen. There has to be a huge many people in the UK with handcaps or elderly who can’t manage touchscreen smartphones and I find it very patronising to be told by commentors here that people like me should just use a non-smart phone or use a netbook instead. Why aren’t we included in the life tech that you use – we shouldn’t be excluded. I don’t see why it’s so damn difficult to offer people a choice of phones with and without keys. They would sell more phones. At the moment I have no mobile phone and that’s not right.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

blackberry key2 le?
wish they would release a 2019 q10.

arthur edwards says:
30 August 2019

Hi guys, someone trying to get away from Blackberry, suggestions for a second hand phone that khas a qwerty keyboard, removeable battery and ideally a trackrad, thanks

How about another Blackberry?
All other high end phones have gone to touch screens, with the nicest ones including those from Apple, Google, Samsung and others.

arthur edwards says:
2 September 2019

thanks but I already have 4 blackberrys, including the q10 which is useless, currently use a 9900 but really fed up with blackberry ” unable to connect refer to your service provider” this include my bank and coal merchant!!!

Its hopeless, the mpie mp108 was the best keyboard phone. impossible to find.

Looks like there is a range of Blackberry models available in the USA.

F(x)tec, a recent UK startup also offers keyboard phones with a range of OSes, but their products do seem to be currently out of stock in the UK. Prices seem to be very much at the boutique or iPhone level, but that’s not really a surprise if you consider the economies of scale.

I suspect that those of us who have not embraced voice input now find that decent quality phones have excellent touchscreens, so there is little demand for phones with keyboards. In some ways that is a shame. I really liked the old 2G and 3G Blackberries for calls and texts, but their smaller screen did limit their utility for web browsing and other apps.

What is the matter with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse? I use mine with my Samsung S10 quite easily. You could also check out Samsung DeX, which gives an integrated Galaxy / PC interface.

I guess most folk would not want to have to carry around separate bluetooth accessories, just so they can easily text and blog from their smartphones. Also, where or when you have a PC, then you can just use that for most smartphone functions anyway – even without a smart phone. Recent Chromebooks can also work with a lot of Android apps and are much less complex – and hence easier to use for basic tasks – than other flavours of PC.