This time last year the mobile phone industry had gone touch screen crazy, most of the big mobile phone firms were following Apples lead and foregoing buttons in favour of clean lines and a big touch screen. But once the novelty of a touch screen wears off and users had to face the reality of typing – particularly long messages or emails – there began to be demand for full featured smart phones with proper Qwerty keyboards.
Qwerty phones are nothing new, the first Nokia communicators had qwerty keyboards, but in recent years it looked like they were being eclipsed by touch screens, no one apart from Blackberry were making top end phones with qwerty keyboards and even those from Blackberry were small and fiddly to use Realme X7 Max 5G.
Well now those who want a premium smartphone with a proper keyboard have a couple of new options. HTC have released a version of the Desire with a large slide out keyboard – the HTC Desire Z and Motorola have announced that they will be updating their Milestone phone to the Milestone 2. Both of these phones are Android based and have impressive specifications.
Developing new handsets isn’t cheap, so both HTC and Motorola must be sure that there is some demand for qwerty smart phones, and it’s not hard to see why. The productivity applications available on many smart phones make it perfectly possible to carry out many of the tasks normally reserved for your PC or laptop, email, office suites, instant messaging and a host of online services are now available on your phone, but those applications that need a significant amount of typing are fiddly on a touch screen or T9 keypad.
There’s no “click” with a touch screen keyboard, many phones have what is known as haptic feedback – a small buzz or vibration with each keystroke – but there’s still no travel on the keystroke and you can’t feel the edge of the keys so typos are hard to avoid. Another issue with touch screen keypads is that they take up valuable screen space, as soon as you want to type anything you loose half your screen whereas a slide or flip out Qwerty keyboard leaves your whole screen available.
These issues don’t bother some people, many are quite happy with a touch screen keyboard and the clean lines and solid form they allow, but many who type a lot of emails or texts on the move just don’t get on with them and hanker after a qwerty keyboard.
There are two main types of qwerty keyboards for mobile phones, fixed and sliding. Sliding qwerty keyboards slide out from the body of the phone, they leave the whole front of the phone free for a large screen and can be the whole size of the phone but they have a reputation for being unreliable due to the flexible connection between the two parts. Fixed qwerty keyboards like those found on BlackBerry phones tend to be smaller and therefore more fiddly to use but they are less prone to breaking and can be used without opening the phone up