I woke up to news of the Clicks BlackBerry-style iPhone keyboard sponsored by Michael Fisher (MrMobile) and CrackBerry Kevin. As someone who came from an era of hardware keyboards on phones, this brings back memories.
I have fond memories of typing away on my Palm Treo 700P, Nokia E-series phones, and on different BlackBerry Bold models, the Classic, and even the Passport (a copy of which I still have till date). And I still own a functional Android smartphone with a hardware keyboard, the Unihertz Titan Slim.
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Clicks’ Small Keys
But I find the keys on the Titan Slim too small, and the keys on the Clicks iPhone keyboard look rather small, too. Again and again, in use, I wish the Titan Slim didn’t bother with the keyboard. The keys are just too small, making typing on them difficult. But that isn’t even the big problem with the Clicks iPhone keyboard.
Didn’t We Move On From Hardware Keyboards?
And it needs to be said: most mobile phone users have moved on from hardware keyboards. I said that much in our Unihertz Titan Slim review in 2022. Not a lot of people have any problems with typing with their phone’s onscreen keyboard. Perhaps that is why the Clicks iPhone keyboard is being marketed as an accessory for creators. Most regular phone users won’t bother. But I also wonder whether even many creature will bother.
I am typing this article on the virtual keyboard on my smartphone and it does an excellent job of it. Why would I want to add a keyboard accessory that adds significant bulk (length and thickness) to my phone? And that is the big problem.
Clicks’ Big Problem
If the Clicks keyboard was created for a small iPhone model like the iPhone 13 Mini, it would make sense to me. That extra length would not be much of a problem for a small phone like that. But for bigger models like the Pro and Pro Max, it adds considerable length to the devices. In use, you’d have to reach long to access the upper half of your iPhone’s screen. That’s an extra usability issue right there.
But perhaps the designers are on to something. Clicks is the product of the work of a number of professionals who have worked on both hardware and virtual keyboards at BlackBerry and Apple. Surely, they must have taken all these factors into consideration in arriving at this final product.
Hardware keyboards have intrinsic value. For one, they allow you type without taking up any part of the phone’s display the way virtual keyboards do. They also allow you the convenience of using keyboard shortcuts, and Clicks incorporates that, giving users access to scores of iPhone keyboard shortcuts. Lastly, hardware keyboards provide a reassuring feel – sensation – as you type. If you have never used one, you will have no point of reference to this and wonder what it is I mean.
Great Proposition For The Visually Impaired
Visually impaired individuals will definitely find a hardware keyboard on a phone useful, so that is another clear use-case for the Clicks iPhone keyboard. At the end of the day, the revolution it will bring might not be for creators but for the visually impaired.
Price And Release Dates
The Clicks BlackBerry-style iPhone keyboard is available for iPhone 14 Pro and will also be available for iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. It costs $139 in the United States. It will ship from February 10, if you are interested in picking one up for a try.
Who knows? My concerns about size and usability might turn out to be unnecessary and this back to the future initiative might just become a sensation. Time will tell. In the meantime, let me know what you think of it.