The smartphone market adopted big displays pretty naturally. There might still be some holdouts out there, the folks who prefer a smaller phone (especially if they use a tablet on a regular basis), but for the most part it looks like most smartphone users want a big display. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially recently as companies get creative with ways to minimize bezels and keep standard features like a front-facing camera.
Some companies have had better luck than others. But at least things are interesting in smartphone design again (for the most part).
But it’s still a far cry from what phones used to be, especially from the companies who were embracing things like hardware keyboards. I can still remember all the cool slider designs — remember the Microsoft KIN series? Or how about the T-Mobile SideKick? Even BlackBerry got into some interesting designs with the Style and Pearl!
I was actually watching a show earlier this week and saw the BlackBerry Style on the screen, with its big, physical keyboard and the flip phone design. It took me a moment to recognize what I was looking at, but once I did I had an immediate nostalgic reaction. Using that phone was pretty great, even for a BlackBerry that launched in 2010, mostly because of the keyboard.
Texting and messaging are more popular than ever before these days, with a lot of people opting out of talking on the phone at all if they can help it. Which is why it might make sense for a physical keyboard to make a resurgence. And yet that feels like a long shot at the same time.
I can’t help but wonder if it’s impossible, though. We definitely don’t have to ditch the full screen devices we’re leaning towards these days — and in fact that feels like it could be perfect for a phone with a full physical keyboard, too. Just slide the display up and bingo, a keyboard ready to go.
These types of designs were wildly popular back in the day, especially when they finally migrated down to the mid-range lineups and “messaging phones” became a thing. But they were weeded out and forgotten about, but does that mean they could never make a comeback?
I can’t even say I’d go out of my way to pick one up, mostly because I can’t help but think a company that did bring them back would charge more for the privilege to have a physical keyboard. But if that weren’t the case? I think I might actually consider it! But I don’t think I see Apple or Samsung or even HTC jumping on that idea anytime soon.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention BlackBerry again here, considering they have the KEY2 (and KEY2 LE) to buy right now, which features Android on board and a full physical keyboard. Granted, that isn't a high-end smartphone, but it's certainly a mid-ranger with decent enough specs. But that shrinks the display, so it's not exactly what we're talking about here. Still, honorable mention at least.
But, what about you? If offered a high-end, or even a mid-range, smartphone with a full physical keyboard, would you want one? If so, what else would the phone have to offer to make it worthwhile? Let me know!