I will be straight with you upfront: finding the best QWERTY phones today is an uphill task. Why? When was the last time you heard of the release of any smartphones with a QWERTY keyboard? Chances are that you haven’t heard of one in a while. It isn’t that there has been none; there has. But the companies behind those phones are not big brand names that get the massive spotlight in the media, so the news largely go unsung.
If you have been a long-term fan of hardware keyboard phones, you will likely remember the last generation of BlackBerry QWERTY phones. They included BlackBerry KeyOne, BlackBerry Key2, Key2 LE, and BlackBerry Priv. All of these are powered by Android OS, after BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 phones were retired.
Before them came models like BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic, both of which were powered by BB10 OS. Neither of these two phones will work today, as BlackBerry Limited has shut down all services that make them run. The phones made by the Canadian manufacturer used to be listed among the best QWERTY phones to buy. Sadly, that era has come to an end, and we all have to move on.
Of course, you can still find the Key2, Key2 LE and others like them to buy. Since they run Android OS, they still function well. But those models are ageing (the Key2 LE was released in 2018) and you’d probably prefer something more up-to-date. If you are shopping for the best QWERTY phones available today, I have a few options for you to consider.
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Astro Slide 5G
If you are a smartphone enthusiast and a lover of the Nokia Communicator form factor, you must have heard of the Astro Slide 5G, a recent release with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that was released in January 2022. This is what it looks like:
Seeing that it just hit the market in January 2022, it sports up-to-date specs and features. These include a MediaTek Dimensity 800 5G chipset, 48-megapixel camera, 4000mAh battery. There is only 10W charging, and we really wish Planet Computers made that at least 18W.
It runs Android 11, though it is a dual-boot device and so can also boot to Linux TBA. The display is 6.39 inches (16.23 centimetres) in size and is an AMOLED panel. And true to its name, it supports 5G networks. The Astro Slide 5G is the most powerful, most capable QWERTY phone in the market today.
Unihertz Titan and Titan Pocket
if you want the famous Blackberry form factor, Unihertz has two models for you to pick from – the Titan and the Titan Pocket. The latter is the smaller of the two, but it is also the more recent release and started selling in 2022. Its specs include: a 3.1-inch, 716 x 720 pixels resolution display, powered by a MediaTek Helio P70 chipset. There is 6 GB of RAM to go with that, and 128 GB of built-in storage. AT the front of the phone is an 8 MP selfie camera, and at the back is a 16 MP camera. Battery capacity is 4000 mAh.
If you want something bigger and more powerful with the same form factor, the Titan sports a 4.6-inch, 1432×1436 pixels display, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of built-in storage, a fingerprint scanner, and a massive 6000 mAh battery. Unihertz Titan is also a rugged smartphone and built like a tank. There is IP67-rated water-resistant, dustproof and shockproof for surviving rough terrains. The image below is of the Titan. In my opinion, these two are some of the best QWERTY phones in the market today. Order Unihertz Titan. Order Unihertz Titan Pocket. Disclosure: MobilityArena earns a commission if you order via these links.
F(x)tec PRO¹ X
Once again, lovers of the Nokia Communicator form factor will love this device made by XDA and awkwardly named F(x)tec Pro1-X. I am not sure why the guys at XDA chose to go with that tongue-biting name, but here we are. If you look beyond the name, though, this is a techie’s delight. It is the world’s first smartphone to run Lineage OS out of the box, and it has specs to make you drool.
It was released in 2020 and comes with the following specs: a 5.99-inch, 2160 x 1080 pixels resolution display, a Snapdragon 835 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of internal storage, an 8 MP selfie camera, a 12 MP dual rear camera, and a 3200mAh battery. Unfortunately, the F(x)tec Pro1-X is not a 5G device, which leaves it behind the Astor Slide.
There you have it: the 3 best QWERTY phones in the market today. None of these brands are mainstream, so you won’t find the listed smartphones in the average mobile phone store. If you want one, you have to buy it directly from the manufacturers’ websites. If you are not comfortable with any of these brands or you are unable to buy directly from them, you will have to settle for the last released BlackBerry QWERTY smartphone, the Key2 LE from 2018.
What is QWERTY keyboard on cell phones?
A QWERTY keyboard is a hardware keyboard with the keys arranged similar to how laptop and old typewriter keys were arranged.
What phones have keyboards?
Astro Slide 5G, Unihertz Titan, Unihertz Titan Pocket, and XDA’s F(x)tec Pro1-X are all modern smartphones with a hardware QWERTY keyboard.
Which is the best BlackBerry QWERTY phone?
Having owned several BlackBerry phones over the years, and having reviewed even more, my conclusion is that the best BlackBerry QWERTY phone ever is the Passport.
Do old blackberries still work?
At all. They have stopped working since the January 2022 end of life date.
What phones are similar to BlackBerry?
The only modern smartphones that are similar to BlackBerry are Unihertz Titan and Unihertz Titan Pocket. They have the BlackBerry form factor with a QWERTY keyboard.
Which are the best QWERTY phones today?
In summary, the best QWERTY phones you can buy today are Astro Slide 5G, Unihertz Titan, Unihertz Titan Pocket, and XDA’s F(x)tec Pro1-X. You will be hard-pressed to find a smartphone with a hardware QWERTY keyboard that beats these four models.
5G QWERTY Phones
There are not many 5G phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard, as most phones nowadays use touchscreens. As a matter of fact, the only 5G phone with a QWERTY keyboard that I am aware of is the Astro Slide 5G, already mentioned above. You will have to make do with it for now if you really must have a 5G phone with a QWERTY keyboard.
The history of QWERTY Phones
QWERTY refers to the first six letters on the upper row of the keyboard of a typewriter. That’s how we came about the word. The typewriter evolved into the computer, carrying over the same layout of keys in the keyboard, and this was eventually also adopted in mobile phones.
As such, a QWERTY phone is one with a hardware keyboard that has the same layout as a typewriter and computer. The first mobile phone ever with a QWERTY keyboard was the Nokia 9000 Communicator. Released in 1996, it was also the first mobile phone with Internet access.
It was the first in a long line of similar devices with a laptop form factor called the Communicator. Other phone companies went on to make QWERTY phones in different forms and shapes. Besides the laptop style form, QWERTY phones also come in the BlackBerry-style bar form, the vertical slider form of the BlackBerry KeyOne, as well as the horizontal slider form of the Astro Slide already mentioned earlier in this article.
Other cell phone companies that made QWERTY phones in the past
Apart from Nokia and BlackBerry, both of whom make popular phones with QWERTY keyboard, other companies that produced and sold similar devices included: Palm, HP, HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Sharp, among others.
Before the advent of the modern touchscreen phone, and for a few years after, QWERTY phones were the holy grail of cell phones. As a matter of fact, the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 (pictured above), had a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.