My World Of QWERTY Smartphones

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Hardware QWERTY phones
Pure touchscreen devices may have the largest share of the smartphone market, but devices with a hardware QWERTY keyboard have a strong, viable share too.


For some of us, it just gotta be QWERTY.

Because my job requires that I review phones, I have no problem using a pure touchscreen device when I have to. But my preference – a hardware QWERTY!

You see, I have large hands and big fingers. Nothing like an excellent hardware QWERTY agrees with those more.


My very first smartphone had a hardware QWERTY keyboard. The mobiles that have spent the greatest amount of time with me were all hardware QWERTY devices. Examples include the Nokia E61, Nokia 9500 and Nokia E90.

I loved the Nokia N8 for its fantastic camera and multimedia prowess, but I kept picking up the E7 again and again. That superb keyboard just wouldn’t stop haunting me. Even now, I still carry it around every now and then.

Commie, Anyone?

Nokia_9500_Communicator
I particularly love the Communicator form factor. No; its not the same as side sliders. If its not a commie, it is not a commie.

Back in the day, when you owned a communicator, you had the most powerful devices on the block. Commies were the top dog.

I once ran my entire webhosting operation on the Nokia 9500 Communicator. That was a 4.5-inch display beast with a 330 MHz processor, a 640×480 VGA camera, and Opera HTML browser.

However, Nokia has done away with that form factor, and no-one else is doing anything like that.


My QWERTY Smartphones Till Date

  1. Nokia 9210 communicator
  2. Nokia 9500 communicator
  3. Nokia E61
  4. Nokia E61i
  5. Palm Treo 700P
  6. Sony Ericsson P990i
  7. Sony Ericsson P1i
  8. HTC Titan/Sprint Mogul pocket PC
  9. Samsung i780 pocket PC
  10. Nokia E90 communicator
  11. T-mobile G1
  12. Nokia E75
  13. Sony Ericsson Xperia X1
  14. Samsung B7320
  15. LG GW550
  16. Nokia N900
  17. HTC Touch Pro2
  18. BlackBerry 9630 Tour
  19. Nokia E5
  20. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro
  21. Palm Pre
  22. Blackberry 9800 Torch
  23. Nokia E7
  24. Samsung Galaxy Pro B7510
  25. Blackberry 9300 Curve 3G
  26. LG C660 Optimus Pro
  27. BlackBerry Curve 9360
  28. Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro

Trade-Offs

I also love great multimedia on my mobiles. Unfortunately, devices with hardware QWERTY usually don’t come with the best camera and musical experiences. However, as long as the multimedia experience is not poor, I can live with the trade-off.

A guy Can Dream

If I had one mobile wish that any of the gods of mobile can grant right now, here it is: iOS or Windows Phone user interface, plus mass storage functionality, with a 4.5-inch display in a communicator form factor.

I would bite. Hard.


There you are – my world of QWERTY smartphones. Give me QWERTY or…

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43 comments

  1. You have the Xperia Pro? WOW!! Eagerly waiting for your review.

    yes, a QWERTY phone is very important to me. With my N8, I managed with a Nokia 5320XM sidekick, which I replaced with a Blackberry Bold9700.

    I dont wanna have to use a touchscreen only phone. Physical keyboards are vital.

  2. I agree nothing beats a physical hardware qwerty but have come †? realise there is nothing we cant adjust †? as humans. Overtime if left with no option, you will adjust †? the touchscreen.

  3. I tend to believe that, with continual improvements in keyboard software, we will be able to, finally, do away with QWERTY phones (and their antediluvian fans’ objections to ‘TouchWay’)

    Android class of keyboard apps are showing great promise in this direction..


  4. Physical QWERTY keyboards may have some advantages over software QWERTYs but physical QWERTY devices are simply for some other people, not me. Maybe because I never owed a physical QWERTY device as my primary device, I never really got going on a physical QWERTY device.

    Before I discovered a software QWERTY keyboard that can do swipe, I seldom used the Android or LG keyboards in the QWERTY mode. I always prefer the LG keypad mode that gave me experience that’s close to what I’m used to on my feature phone, with the associated input prediction.

    Now, swipe input software QWERTY keyboards are kings as long as I’m concerned for now and apart from the feature Tecno device I’m also using, I have no business with any physical smartphone QWERTY device for the reason of the physical keyboard. I’m saying this because I might acquire a BB device someday for the unlimited data bundle offered on BB devices.

    One obvious area that physical QWERTYs have no chance of competing in is the flexibity offered by software keyboards. Option of foreign languages, you can swipe, have QWERTY combined with keypad input, change layout to your whim, even do prediction on QWERTY mode etc, all without worrying about the keypad/keyboard fatigue or the flex problem that is the hallmark of flip and slide devices.

  5. I am the greatest lover of pure touch screen phone. Nothing any one says or like can convince me otherwise. Pure touch screen devices are lighter, sexier, than than their QWERTY counter part. Finally, it’s always faster to type on touch screen only than QWERTY.

    the advantages of pure touch screens can not be over-emphasised. It’s just better! And is clear even fro sales of phones. People far prefer this than any other group of phones!

    1. Afewgoodmen,

      I am the greatest lover of pure touch screen phone. Nothing any one says or like can convince me otherwise

      Thankfully, no-one here is trying to convince you of anything.

      Finally, it’s always faster to type on touch screen only than QWERTY.

      Always? That is complete falsehood. You can only speak for yourself. Many people type faster on hardware QWERTY than they do on a touchscreen.

      It’s just better!

      Again, fallacy. Better for you and others who prefer pure touchscreen; certainly not for many others.

      People far prefer this than any other group of phones!

      Errrr… you meant to say that more people prefer this (touchscreen-only) to any other group of phones; didn’t you? There’s a difference.

  6. Oh My, I miss my Nokia E61i so much. And its so annoying that Nokia does not have a true update to the phone.

    Be4 you starts telling me E7whatever, do remember that the E61i has a 2.8′ screen with well spaced keys.

    I love my qwerty well spaced and that’s why I have some love for Curve 9360 and Bold 9900.

    With the way things are going in our mobile world, it is turning to a World of Save Blackberry Save Qwerty Smartphones.


  7. Mr. Mobility/ Afewgoodmen, it is NOT a matter of preference. It is a matter of what is BETTER on all measurable parameters.

    you can prefer a manual typewrier, in the era when there were electric ones. It is your prerogative, but that does not make it less_retrogressive

    Fact: there are many GOOD reasons y touchscreens were developed. Apart from the lame point of tactile feedback, pray, let someone tell me in what SPECIFIC way QWERTY is superior. To touchscreen inout.

    Let us have a REAL debate instead of relying on subterfuge / hiding behind arcane technicalities.

    1. EyeBeeKay,

      Harry has answered you, and very well too.

      Lame or not, that tactile feedback and the shape of those keys on a hardware keyboard helps some people type faster and with less effort.

      There is no debate. My response to you is this – I have used several pure touchscreen devices and several QWERTY devices. Till date, I type faster on hardware QWERTY, and with less errors too.

      Plus, I do not lose any screen space when typing with a hardware QWERTY, unlike the pure touchscreen where once you choose to type, half of the display (and in some cases more) is gone.

      Anyone wants to debate this can go on. In my experience (lame or not), nothing beats a hardware QWERTY keyboard till date.

  8. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Fact: there are many GOOD reasons y touchscreens were developed. Apart from the lame point of tactile feedback, pray, let someone tell me in what SPECIFIC way QWERTY is superior. To touchscreen inout.

    Let us have a REAL debate instead of relying on subterfuge / hiding behind arcane technicalities.

    Well for one, some of the people who are really good at this thing can type on their physical QWERTY devices without looking at it. So unfortunate you have already branded the gains of tactile feedback as lame. I also consider this gain lame, coincidentally also being made possible by the tactile feedback of physical QWERTY. It is a gain all the same for those who need to and know how to type without looking at the keyboard.


  9. Mr. Mobility, the blindtyping is closely affiliated with tactile feedback.
    I said, AOART from the haptic feedbac….

    So to say, ‘Harry has answered you, and very well too.’…is, well, you supply the adjective.!

    Good thing you tacitly admit you are on shaky ground here.

    If you want to change your mind and debate this one, be my HOST sir!

  10. I forgot to address this..

    Plus, I do not lose any screen space when typing with a hardware QWERTY, unlike the pure touchscreen where once you choose to type, half of the display (and in some cases more) is gone.

    You just scored a goal into you’rown net!

    One of the advantages of a virtual keyboard is That you can move it about. If an area is covered, you simply mover the keyboard. Elsewhere.

    Can we do that work physical QWERTY.?

    split screen virtual keyboards have also made that a MOOT point!

    1. EyeBeeKay,

      This is pathetically lame stuff coming from you. You do know the difference between “losing” some screen space and “moving” a virtual keyboard around; don’t you?

      Regardless of where you move that keyboard to, or whether it is split screen or not, you still lose some screen space when you use an onscreen keyboard. Pick up your phone and try that out, then give us some feedback.

  11. It’s time to come back into the discussion. I don’t see what the fuss is about hardware QWERTY at all. IMHO, the tactile keyboard stuff is mundane overrated. yes, you can type with difficulty in the dark or when looking away from a keyboard; so what? More people buy pure touchscreen than a hardware QWERTY keyboarded phone worldwide, why? Nokia N8 sold much more than the E7, why? The iPhone is the highest selling phone in the world, why? All these parameters have one “Key” factor in common!

    To put this more into perspective; the fastest typer on a smartphone in the world was from a person using Skype on a Galaxy S; why?

    The majority of persons worldwide can’t be wrong. Touchscreen phones are the norm now and have come to stay for do many salient reasons.. Hardware key phones are now the new novelty now. A niche product. Eye.Bee.Kay made everything quite clear by the comparison between electronic and manual typewriter. I’d even go further by adding a computer keyboard! Few offices even use electronic typewriters these days. Everyone has migrated to using computers + printer as their primary WordProcessor! The advantage is infinitely better than using an electronic, talking less of a manual typewriter!!

    To end this tirade, I do well, much much better using a pure touch screen than a hardware smartphone! I’m faster, more productive, and more!

    When I got my iPad I also bought a QWERTY keypad case for it. Well, it was a waste because, the onscreen keyboard was just as good as the Bluetooth keyboard!

    Well, if lighter, sexier, more intuitive, faster, or more productive pure touchscreen isn’t enough to make you forgo a hardware QWERTY, then nothing will. Or maybe sheer nostalgia may make you to still keep going back to QWERTY.

    1. Afewgoodmen,

      To end this tirade, I do well, much much better using a pure touch screen than a hardware smartphone! I’m faster, more productive, and more!

      All you have done here is publish your personal experience. Nothing other than that. There are others who find it faster to type using a hardware QWERTY. What does your claim prove? Nothing, other than that you, Afewgoodmen, type faster on a touchscreen.

      Here’s mine (borrowing your words):
      I do well, much much better using a a hardware keyboard than an on-screen keyboard! I’m faster, more productive, and more!

      As for the statistics of touch devices made/sold versus hardware QWERTY, various factors influence that. For one, the majority of people who do not type heavily on their mobiles automatically default to pure touchscreen devices.

      As such, claiming that the greater market share held by pure touchscreen devices is proof that more people prefer to type using a touchscreen is nothing other than a figment of your imagination. It is fallacy. It is lame.

      Come on, guys. You aren’t trying here.


  12. Your words, Mr Mobility; “Pure touchscreen devices may have the largest share of the smartphone market, but devices with a hardware QWERTY keyboard have a strong, viable share too.”

    Worldwide, Manufacturers choose to promote pure touchscreen phones more because the markets lie there. More people prefer them. Typing is faster with a touchscreen only device than a QWERT! I know you’ll agree with me on that. Split screen on-screen keyboards solves a lot. Even if screen is smaller as you mentioned in your argument, that still doesn’t mitigate the pleasure and intuitiveness of a touchscreen? Methinks not.

    And I didn’t say more people type on touchscreen more than QWERTY. Don’t get me wrong. Touchscreen is just faster, I you know that.. And hardware QWERTY devices also has the added disadvantage of being bulkier and heavier! Perhaps some reasons why more people buy touchscreen-only devices!

    And “For some of us, it just gotta be QWERTY.”

    Isn’t that pure nostalgia? As it was in the days of old? I used to dream of owning a Comminicator too far back in those days. I only got to play with the E90. And used it albeit temporarily for a week. It’s a great device really. But the bulk didn’t cut it well for me! Typing with both your thumbs on it is quite similar to using a split screen with your thumb on an iPad or any touchscreen-only device. And mind you, the level of the split screen is also adjustable. Pure nice UX, if you ask me!

    Well, somehow I still think everything just boil down to preference. But Hardware keyboard is overrated the whole time!

    1. Typing is faster with a touchscreen only device than a QWERT! I know you’ll agree with me on that.

      That’s hasty generalisation. It is a fallacy. How can I ever possibly agree with you on a fallacy? I dey craze?

      The truth is that typing on a touchscreen is faster for some, slower for some, and a burden for others. That is incontrovertible truth.

  13. Mr Mobility, (
    This is pathetically lame stuff coming from you. You do know the difference between“losing”some screen space and“moving”a virtual keyboard around; don’t you?
    Regardless of where you move that keyboard to, or whether it is split screen or not, you still lose some screen space when you use an onscreen keyboard
    )

    When you have an immovable structure in your sitting room (say a fixture on which you place your tv), as compared to a movable one, which is more useful?

    We are talking of the same space o.

    Back to our phone. Same phone size. Movable keyboard. Immovable one. Choose.

    If ever there was convoluted logic from you, this is one!

    1. Sigh. i don’t believe I have to go through this again. is it that you don’t get it or you just want to drag this?

      You have a 3.5-inch touchscreen device. The keyboard pops up on screen and takes 50-60% of the area of the display. Move the keyboard anywhere, and it is still on that display, taking up the same 50-60% of the space.

      On a hardware QWERTY device with same screen size, your full display area is never tampered with when typing.

      How difficult can that be for anyone to grasp?

  14. Mr Mobility,
    Definition for repetitive motion syndrome:
    Injury or illness resulting from repeated body motion that puts stress or strain on some part of the body.

    QWerty physikeyboard is more likely to give you that, than touchscreen kbd.

    Ask Afewgoodmen for professional opinion..
    It is your hands ooo


  15. I dont buy afewgoodmen and eyebeekay’s idea that typing is faster on a sure touchscreen phone than a qwerty. Qwerty is much faster and without mistakes for me. But even then thats the personal choice . Qwerty has its strength as well as its disadvantages. Same with touchscreen too. If i had to choose between the two its full touch!

  16. Mr. Mobility,

    On a hardware QWERTY device with same screen size, your full display area is never tampered with when typing.

    This is NOT the point!

    The point is: i can see more of what i type by dragging the keyboard about (and even minimizing the keyboard.entirely)

    Your hardscreen dimensions are fixed. Immutable.
    My touchscreen can dynamically utilise almost the whole screen for display. Which is better for utility.?

    It may shock you i am typing all these on my Nokia 5800, using a combination of Swype and QuickOffice.

    To the broader subject, touch is infinitely more usable than qwerty. At least on mos fronts..

    1. EyeBeeKay,

      That is not the point?

      The point is: i can see more of what i type by dragging the keyboard about (and even minimizing the keyboard.entirely)

      That I have my full display untampered with on a hardware QWERTY device is not the point? That while I just go ahead with my typing, you are busy moving your keyboard around to see better in order to type is somehow a better experience?

      Now, this is getting more and more hilarious.

  17. i agree with yomi on that. individuals have different preferences. its a fallacy off hasty generalisation to conclude touch is faster than qwerty. am typing this from a touch and tyoung wat much slower than i would have done on a qwerty.


  18. To further drive my nails into this coffin, let us not lose sight of the fact that, except when typing on a wordprocessor app, most textinput_boxes do not allow you to see much text anyway. Say 2 lines

    But- let us forget that.
    Focus on the bigger pix.
    Advantage vs diad. Which wins?

  19. This will be my last comment on this…

    I said it once here. It is worth reiterating..

    Touch screen input as a concept is superior to hardkey.

    It is how well it is implemented by software that makes the difference in UX.

    That ux can only get progressively better.

    In my specific usage scenario, i only have to drag the keyboard to a new upper position once.
    Now, that is not such a big sacrifice to make for numerous other touch_benefits, is it?

  20. @olusheenor

    I dont buy afewgoodmen and eyebeekay’s idea that typing is faster on a sure touchscreen phone than a qwerty. Qwerty is much faster and without mistakes for me…

    You have actually succeeded in proving how much QWERTY is without mistakes. Oh, sorry I know the QWERTY didn’t actually make the mistake, you are the one who did.


  21. @Harry Echemco
    I’m sure @olusheenor isn’t using a Qwerty keyboard, ‘p’ n ‘s’ are quite far away on the layout so he cldn’t have type a ‘s’ instead.
    Text prediction was the culprit.

  22. @harry
    i typed that from a non qwerty, non touch phone..and i typed that with T9 input..thats pretty easy to decipher.

    1. Olusheenor,

      Actually, I laughed so hard last night when I saw Harry’s attempt to pin that error in your comment on a QWERTY device. It was so obvious!

      Good to have some entertainment here any day. Cheers all!

  23. I can touch type pretty fast. I’ve always owned an ergonomic keyboard and consider them much better and intuitive than standard pc keyboards. Many people using my keyboard would disagree.

    So as a result, I can type pretty fast on a QWERTY phone. I can do the same on a touchscreen phone without predictive texting and with swype (though it does get words wrong on occasion).

    My biggest bugbear with touchscreen keyboards is that I make significantly more errors that with its QWERTY equivalent, which I find annoying. Or maybe I’m not as patient. Likewise, in my opinion, not all phone QWERTY keypads are equal. For example, I found my Blackberry Curve 8310 far better than that on the Nokia E72.

    1. My biggest bugbear with touchscreen keyboards is that I make significantly more errors that with its QWERTY equivalent, which I find annoying.

      Gbam! I still mentioned this on Twitter earlier today.

      Pure touch people sing about how good it is but our administrator has to correct so many mis-spells and errors, courtesy of touchscreen typing, everyday.

      Sometimes, we leave those errors, so people can see them.

      On hardware QWERTY, what I type is what I get, and every single time, it means less errors.


  24. Mr. Mobility,
    I know I know. I Said no more comments on my part. Well a guy can change his monde, right?

    The following statement just stinks: so i needed to clear the air. Let us have some real FRESH AIR!

    Pure touch people sing about how good it is but our administrator has to correct so many mis-spells and errors, courtesy of touchscreen typing, everyday.

    The mistakes are not a result of Any weakness of the touchscreen system. It is a mistake of autocorrect (which we all know can be turned off).

    I once mentioned That swype should not blindly insert all unknown words into its dictionary. When you misstype a word, it used to insert the word. Later, when you swype, you sometimes get embarrassing and weird word substitutions. That was DUMB! The newer version on Symbian now makes the insertion of unknown words optional.

    If i were to erase my old dictionary today by reinstalling, i bet you, you will not see much errors in my postings anymore.

    The errors you May still see – occasionally- would be wrong substitutions (that would just be due to careless)ness)

    Using swype, i will always beat you in Any typing contest. Hands down. With CLOSE TO NO ERRORS.

    Arrange a matchup if you dare!

    1. Yes; I can imagine how much it stinks. A lame attempt to separate auto-correction from the so-called efficiency of touchscreen typing after spending several scores of comments in the recent past tying that efficiency to same auto-correction feature.

      This is not the sharp EyeBeeKay that I used to know. Something is wrong. Fuel subsidy? Boko Haram? Or just new year blues?

  25. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Using swype, i will always beat you in Any typing contest. Hands down . With CLOSE TO NO ERRORS .

    Arrange a matchup if you dare!

    Now, Eye.Bee.Kay such a match will not prove anything even if you win except that you are faster in typing on a smartphone than Mr. Mobility.

    The only thing that I think would suggest that pure touch QWERTY is superior to physical QWERTY is the new record set with a pure QWERTY device.

    On a personal not, as I have said here before, I never got going on physical QWERTY and was not comfortable using the soft QWERTY keyboard on my device neither in portrait nor landscape until the swipe input came along. In summary, software implementation will almost always win over hardware implementation.


  26. Mr. Mobility,

    This is not the sharp EyeBeeKay that I used to know. Something is wrong. Fuel subsidy? Boko Haram? Or just new year blues?

    Well, i must admit the subsidy imbroglio is enough to disorganise / re onfigure some mental circuitry. But not move, though!

    Harry has a point there, even if i won – i would, i would still lose! why? A man(of mountain_goat mentality)- convinced against his will is of the same opinion STILL

  27. for me Hardware qwerty wins anytime anyday. Its not all about how fast you can type. Its about the less annoying mistakes you make while typing to me. So Hardware qwerty! Though the demerits of qwerty phones in terms Of screen size, gaming and multimedia is a big let off!


  28. @olusheenor, I agree. But then not all touchscreen keyboards are created equal.

    For example, I used the touchscreen keyboard on an iPhone and typed as fast as I would on a hard phone QWERTY with minimum errors. To me the iPhone keyboad looked smaller but the accuracy level was quite high. I was impressed (but not enough to want to own one!)

    Similarly, tried the same on an HTC phone. HTC phones are nice but their touchscreen keyboard is highly annoying, even though the keypads look larger that that offered by the iPhone. In the end it was easier to download a keyboard app that was significantly better. The Samsung Galaxy’s experience was much better, but again, the level of errors made on a touchscreen can’t be ignored.

    At least with a QWERTY on the phone you don’t have to worry about predictive text. If touchscreen was all that, phones with QWERTY would be obsolete. As it is, there’s room in the market for both.

  29. You haven’t had a Keyboard phone unless you’ve used 2012 Samsung Galaxy S Relay or 2014 LG F3q…the only other ones are F(x) Tec Pro1, Unihertz Titan or Blackberry Passport [Width = 4″ Diagonal Landscape Width]

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