The old smartphones were pretty great. A lot of them had some interesting designs (I’m still a fan of HTC’s “Startrek” phone), and all of them stood out in one way or another. Way back when, there were a lot of options, but the market didn’t necessarily feel weighed down by them. Then again, that probably has more to do with the fact that not all of them looked the same (more or less), and the collective masses didn’t care so much about specs, either.
Today, smartphones are large touchscreens with either straight or curved frames, batteries that could still be better, and plenty of features baked inside the proprietary software to try and win over a few new customers. They also have something else in common, and that’s a software keyboard. Thanks to the large touchscreens that people have fallen in love with, software keyboards now rule the day, making it harder than ever before to try and find a worthy smartphone with a physical keyboard.
Of course, BlackBerry has you covered, and there are still people out there that want a physical keyboard badly enough that they’ll happily throw their money at BlackBerry smartphones to get that fix. It might be painful to admit, but I know a few. And, despite the fact that they’ll readily admit to me that they wish they could get the Android or iOS experience on their BlackBerry, they flat-out refuse to give up their keyboard.
I wish I could relate.
I started asking them, recently, why they wanted to hang onto the physical ‘board, rather than simply opt for one of the many software options out there because of the recent Typo keyboard accessory news. Thanks to the litany of court proceedings ahead of the Typo brand, they decided to go ahead and bend to BlackBerry’s will and stop selling their physical keyboard accessory for the iPhone. I knew people were buying that Typo keyboard and putting it on their iPhone, and I couldn’t help but wonder if these people I know would do the same thing.
“Oh, in a heartbeat,” one of them told me without hesitation. Unfortunately, he would add, he had no idea the device existed, or he would have picked one up the moment it went on sale. Ultimately, he confided that if he could get an iPhone with a physical keyboard he’d be all over it.
Several, several years ago I went back to BlackBerry for a bit and I absolutely loved the physical keyboard. But not because, even back then, I missed it or anything. I loved it because I can freely admit that it was a great keyboard, and I enjoyed typing on it. But, for me at least, the keyboard isn’t the entire experience. Sure, it’s most of it in most instances, especially for those that work from their phone or correspond heavily from it, but it’s not all of it. I couldn’t stick with BlackBerry back then because I knew I’d be missing out on apps, and I’m probably a bigger fan of apps than I am of physical keyboards.
The Typo seemed like a cool idea, and I think there’s room out there for someone to make an actually new and worthwhile physical keyboard accessory for Apple’s (or even Google’s) smartphones, and I’m sure eventually one will come out. But, I’m not sure that I’d ever pick one up. Yeah, it’d give me the best of both worlds, but I’m honestly okay with my software keyboards.
Not all of them are all that great, and sometimes you need to find a replacement, but the options are vast and the alternatives are pretty great if you don’t like the stock option. I’m happy with the software keyboard, even if I do miss the click, click, click those keyboards offered. (The software click just doesn’t match.)
Do you miss physical keyboards?