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The Beginning of the End for Physical Keyboards


Android Expert
Nov 18, 2010
Vancouver, Canada
I saw this article this week regarding HTC discontinuing phones with physical keyboards: HTC exec claims that users prefer thinness over battery life, says company will discontinue devices with hardware keyboards | MobileSyrup.com

I personally prefer using a physical keyboard over a touch screen. My first smartphone was a Nokia N97 and I currently use an HTC Desire Z. Even my tablet has a physical keyboard (Asus Eee Pad Transformer).

Over the past few years, it seems most major smartphone manufacturers have a model with a physical keyboard every year. Looks like HTC will no longer come out with one. I was hoping they would have a One Z model with a keyboard mechanism similar to the Desire Z. I just happened to be notified today that I was eligible for a hardware upgrade. Although I have no intention of upgrading my phone, I would consider switching to a new landscape slider keyboard phone.

I think I can get used to using the touch screen keyboard on a phone. I have tried it for a week on my phone and it felt OK, but my choice would be to use the physical keyboard. I want that tactile feeling. I learned to type using my tactile feel of my computer keyboard. So far touch screen technology on phones today does not offer a way for me to feel which key I am pressing or about to press. If the physical keyboard is going away, I hope that newer touch screen technology becomes available to allow me to feel which keys I am about to press before I press it.
I hate typing on a physical keyboard!

Swype here!
I have been hooked ever since trying it a year ago and it has only gotten so much better!
I guess I just don't like the peck peck style of typing anymore.
Swype is so fluid.

I am really surprised at not seeing capacitive touch screen keyboards (usb peripherals) for desktops using Swype. I guess no one would buy something so expensive to make or there is no market for it with tablets and all...
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As the OS and technology progresses the onscreen keyboards get better and better...I had the OG droid and droid 2 global then after that I ditched the physical keyboard and would have no intention on switching back as I found myself using the onscreen keyboard with more ease.
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HTC exec is dead wrong about thinness vs. battery life. But that is for another thread I suppose. My wife and mother-in-law swear by physical keyboards. They want something that actually moves when you push it. I personally can't stand them. But I do believe there will be a market for them as more people move from multimedia phones to smartphones.
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I am a fan of the keyboard, I just really like it. I'm sure I could muddle through without one, but I would never really be happy about it.
If HTC does stop making them then I certainly hope Moto doesn't follow suit. I tend to get Moto phones and it would be a sad, sorry day if I had to go keyboard-less.
It may not be a huge market but there is a market for a keyboard phone, hopefully at least one manufacturer realizes that and provides a good quality physical keyboard forever.
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My first smartphone was an HTC WinMo with a resistive screen and a stylus. It was an awful typing experience. I was so excited when the OG Droid came out since it had a keyboard and got it immediately. Despite having a keyboard, I rarely used it since it was so horrible. I tried Swype and hated it. When Swiftkey first came out in beta, I gave it a shot and it's the only keyboard I've used ever since (the Beta 3 is AMAZING).
I say that unless I'm pounding out a long email, then onscreen keyboards are the way to go.
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I have been saying for a couple years that people might as well go ahead and get used to just touch screen because keyboards are going away. Most people never listened to me or would just argue that they weren't going anywhere because people wanted them.

I hate keyboards anyways. The only phone I have had in the last 5 years with a keyboard since the day the original iPhone launched was the original Droid. I opened the keyboard maybe twice the whole year I had it.
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I don't think they were :(

Now I don't want to go back to phones that were over 2cm thick, but give me a choice between 2mm thinner or 1.5*battery life and it's a no-brainer, and that's realistically what we're talking about right now.

Right, I think most phones are thin enough. The RAZR was too thin when you consider the battery difference between it and the MAXX.
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Right, I think most phones are thin enough. The RAZR was too thin when you consider the battery difference between it and the MAXX.

I thought the Razr was too thin also. Really I don't want anything thinner than the GSII which is borderline too thin. I think mine is perfect with my extended battery and I love the battery life on it
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I don't care what people say, no software keyboard will ever match the speed of a physical qwerty. I hit 60+ wpm(ACCURATELY!) on my Evo Shift, try that on swype.

120 WPM on a real keyboard.

I'm going to miss my keyboard phones.

I still type fast and accurately with the touch screen only. No issues whatsoever. Swype sucks and so do physical keyboards on phones lol. :vroam:
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I'm not against newer technology making older technology obsolete. However, the newer technology has to be better. If you offer me a better input method than a physical keyboard, I will say good-bye to my physical keyboard. So far, I don't think a touch screen keyboard is better yet. I just feel the reason for the push to remove physical keyboards is that the manufacturer is trying to cut costs rather than giving a better experience for everyone.

I have tried using Swype for a week. My issue with Swype is that if you do not use common words, Swype is a pain as it guesses the wrong word and is not even close. I use uncommon words, abbreviations and such that may be specific in context to certain subjects. Swype just sucks at those and causes bigger inconvenience having to peck the correct word again.

So far, all of the touch screen input methods is a step down from a physical keyboard. I lose a significant part of the screen because the keyboard covers it up. Sometimes, it covers up the entire screen. The touch screen keyboard forces me to actually change the way I type. I have to actually look at the keyboard instead of where I am typing, so I miss any mistake I make until later or I miss it completely.

I've chosen my current phone knowing that there would be other compromises I would have to make. I'm willing to make the trade off of having a slower processor or smaller screen or having other features scaled back for a physical keyboard.

I'll likely have a dilema when it comes time to purchase a new phone. I currently have the HTC Desire Z and I really like it for many reasons over and above a physical keyboard. I would be willing to purchase another HTC device in the future. When it comes time to upgrade, I may end up going with another manufacturer if they come out with a phone with a physical keyboard. We'll see. I expect to keep my phone for another year as it does everything I want it to do so far and I do not find it lacking in any major aspect at the moment.
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I never understood...

How some people.. Ohhhed and awwed.. Over thin phones..

Then they would bitch about battery life???????

I think the thinness is what sells the phones. Then after they used it for a while and it dies, it's too late because they bought it already. It's easy to test out features and functions on a phone at the store. It's impossible to test out battery life there because they have it plugged in constantly.
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