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Hardware QWERTY On Mobile Is Alive, And Not Going Away Soon

I am often amused when pure touchscreen aficionados assert that hardware QWERTY devices are history. They speak from what they observe in their limited circle of friends and acquaintances. Of course, such a limited viewpoint does not portray the full picture – the true picture – of things.

Hardware QWERTY On Mobile: The Statistics

At the time of writing this, there are over 170 modern mobile phone models with hardware QWERTY keyboards in the market. This includes feature phones, as well as smartphones from all platforms except iOS – Bada, Android, Symbian, MeeGo, WebOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.

These manufacturers know that there exists a market for hardware QWERTY devices, and wisely ensure that this market is not neglected in their line-ups. All these manufacturers are releasing hardware QWERTY devices for all classes – low-end, mid-tier, and high-end. They are releasing candy-bar QWERTY devices and slider QWERTY devices alike, too.

Around this time last year, I wrote an article on how it looked like QWERTY bars had been left in the hands of RIM/BlackBerry. Apparently, other manufacturers have wizened up to reality and are now pushing QWERTY bars with more vigour.

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Unihertz Titan QWERTY keyboard phone - Hardware QWERTY On Mobile Is Alive, And Not Going Away Soon
Hardware QWERTY On Mobile Is Not Going Away Soon

Hardware QWERTY on Mobile: Pros And Cons

There are arguments for and against hardware QWERTY keyboards. We can argue the pros and cons all we like, but here is the most powerful factor – people will use what they want (or like), regardless of the pros and the cons.

Here is an excerpt from an article on Android Authority on the Best QWERTY Android Phones in 2011:

We happen to believe that QWERTY smartphones are craved for by mobile enthusiasts. An Admob report in 2010 showed that 54% of Android traffic was driven by devices that feature a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s hard to deny that a huge amount of people still want a powerful smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard.

This is interesting, as the Admob report echoes my observations on the subject – QWERTY devices are not going anywhere. Yes; it is hard to deny that a huge amount of people still want physical QWERTY keyboards. Yet, somehow, some still flat-out deny it.

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Hardware QWERTY on Mobile: Choice. Preference. Taste

SWYPE is awesome; yes. Onscreen QWERTY keyboards have improved tremendously; yes. But there are those who want hardware QWERTY and nothing is going to change that. This phenomenon is called choice. Preference. Taste. The last time I checked, it was a good thing.

Those who think that speed is all there is to the argument are wrong. If that were true, nobody would buy trucks or SUVs or city cars. Everyone would buy sports cars and roadsters instead. Some men like their women lean and trim. Others prefer them with some extra flesh. The same goes for the women-folk.

In the end, a lot boils down to taste. That’s the way the world works. That’s the way humans are. Personally, by default I will take a hardware QWERTY device over a touchscreen-only device. Not that I think the latter is inferior. In the same way, there are those who won’t touch a hardware QWERTY smartphone either.

If Apple were to release an iPhone with a hardware QWERTY, chances are that I would purchase one. Yes; I am hardware QWERTY like that. In their line-up of the best QWERTY Android smartphones of 2011, the Android Authority guys added, and I firmly agree:

QWERTY smartphones aren’t dead as some claim. It’s a booming ecosystem, in fact.

Those who claim that the hardware QWERTY on mobile is dead are seriously mistaken or comfortable in their denial. It is actually alive and well. The figures speak clearly. Wake up, guys; the hardware QWERTY is alive and well. Comments welcome!

2022 Update: 11 years after this article was first published, most smartphones in the world are now full touchscreen devices, but QWERTY on mobile devices is not a dead concept yet. There is a small niche of hardware keyboard lovers being serviced by a few mobile brands. See The 4 Best QWERTY Phones You Can Buy Today.

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