Smart phones with a physical keyboard
March 12, 2014 11:53 AM   Subscribe

What are my options for using a smart phone with a physical keyboard (whether built-in or as an attachment)? I am on Verizon and want to stay. I would prefer to stick with Android but would consider an iPhone. I used to love the Blackberry back in the day, but I don't think I can go back. I do not want a Windows phone. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Technology (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you moving from an Android phone with touchscreen? Have you grown tired of this? What's your reason for moving, is my question...
posted by 0bvious at 12:02 PM on March 12, 2014

Right now the only physical keyboard smartphones that Verizon sells new are Blackberries. You might be able to find an older Droid 3 or similar device, maybe reconditioned? To be honest, though, I have used very few non-Blackberry devices with physical keyboards where the keyboard wasn't awful. The original Droid's keyboard was completely useless.
posted by selfnoise at 12:03 PM on March 12, 2014

Here is a list of Android 4.x devices with physical keyboards on Verizon. You may have to look into the used market to actually get one.
posted by cnc at 12:06 PM on March 12, 2014

Since you said an external keyboard would be okay, you can do a search for "Bluetooth keyboard for android smart phone" and come up with a number of options that you can use with your current phone (assuming you have Bluetooth now).
posted by DMelanogaster at 12:10 PM on March 12, 2014

I’m using an old Samsung Epic I got used and am happy with it. I also use a Bluetooth keyboard with my tablet; there are a ton of external keyboard options in all shapes and sizes (I use a full-sized one; they also make little ones built into tablet cases and such). Google “Android bluetooth keyboard” to see some options.
posted by metasarah at 12:14 PM on March 12, 2014

Despite years of use, I've never cottoned to touchscreens. I still miss my old Blackberry's keyboard, but I just don't think a Blackberry is right for me at this point.

In terms of external keyboards, I don't want to carry around a separate one in my pocket. Are there any solid models that actually snap together with a phone and stay attached?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:19 PM on March 12, 2014

I used to think that that I needed a physical keyboard, and struck with Droids for a while. On my last Droid, I also happened to install SwiftKey, and in not too much time, I wasn't even using the built in keyboard anymore.

I don't use the fancy swiping features, jsut the predictive text. It's pretty amazing, and makes me very annoyed that I can't have the same functionality on my iPad.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:19 PM on March 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

You can get a phone case with a Bluetooth keyboard built in, so it will act (more or less) as one thing to carry. Here's an example but there are many more.
posted by mikepop at 12:28 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Phonescoop list of Verizon smartphones with physical keyboards. You might be able to search for other similar phones that were never provided by Verizon but would still work. I've been using a Kyocera Rise for a year or two now and am not super impressed with how well it works; it gets kinda flaky and response time is weird when I open and close the keyboard slider. Unsure how this works on other phones.

One issue I notice when I use the touchscreen keyboard on my phone is that the keys are just too hard to hit reliably as they're so tiny. I think if I switch to a smartphone without a physical keyboard (boo), I'll have to get a larger phone.
posted by asperity at 12:33 PM on March 12, 2014

My fiancée is in your camp right now. She absolutely refuses to get an iPhone or Android touchscreen phone. We just moved the family to T-Mobile, so I bought an unlocked, used Blackberry that works on their network.
I assume that searching eBay for these things is now going to be an annual part of my life until she relinquishes and becomes assimilated.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:38 PM on March 12, 2014

Android sliders seem to be declining in market share, but your options might be a bit wider if you're willing to get a used last-gen phone. I have a similar preference to you (but I'm on Sprint), and I ended up getting a quite inexpensive Epic 4G to fulfill my needs.
posted by jackbishop at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2014

Put me in sparklemotion's camp. I used to think I absolutely had to have a physical keyboard too.

But then I found Swype a few phones ago.
posted by PlutoniumX at 1:27 PM on March 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this question - I was wondering the same thing myself.

selfnoise: The original Droid's keyboard was completely useless.

I still have my original Droid, and my wife got a Droid 3 after getting annoyed with the on-screen touchpad on her old Eris. I still use my Droid's "full" keyboard because I like to write out full sentences in emails and texts, instead of shorthand or shortcuts. I've gotten used to using my thumb tips to type on the tiny keys. My wife, on the other hand, used her keyboard for a while but is now quite fond of the voice recognition in her Droid 3 for text messages and rarely uses her keyboard.

We're looking at new phones, and coming to terms with the general lack of new phones with full keyboards.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on March 12, 2014

Well it seems like they killed the droid 5, and the only currently sold verizon android phone with a keyboard is the LG Enact. as far as i can tell.

Even more disconcerting for you, if you go to their site they only list blackberries.

Verizon instituting the "no new phone models without LTE" rule probably helped do them in, but that also says something in and of itself that no device manufacturer thought it was a worthwhile enough market to develop a phone with advanced features for anymore.

Honestly that LG comes with a newer version of android than any other keyboard phone that supports verizon i could find. Being on verizon bones you over, because you can't just buy an unlocked phone and roll with it. But yea, that's your best choice if you really want one.
posted by emptythought at 2:45 PM on March 12, 2014

How much do you care about apps? The new Blackberry OS (10) is pretty good, but it doesn't have the app ecosystem of Android or Apple. You can also install Android apps on it, but it's a bit of a kludge. The Q10 has a keyboard, BB10, and is on Verizon.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2014

Since you'd consider an iPhone, then you may find a solution in an iPhone with a QWERTY slider case like this one. I just picked that example at random, I don't know if it's any good, but there's several options to choose from. Accessory manufacturers love the iPhone, and so you'll see multiple brands of even obscure pieces of hardware like keyboard slider cases.

If you're lucky, you can find these types of cases for the flagship Samsung Galaxy S phones too, but you're not going to be able to shop around to find the one with the best reviews; the diversity of the market just isn't there.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:29 PM on March 12, 2014

Really happy with Galaxy Note 2, here (only $100 (but out of stock) online, check the local store I guess) (or the Note 3 if you're looking to splurge) The extra screen real estate really goes a long way towards stamping out typos and the haptic feedback (vibration) is fully adjustable and pretty strong...srsly, I do not miss having a keyboard at all. Also it has the S-pen so you can just write on it and the handwriting recognition is pretty phenomenal right out of the box.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:55 PM on March 12, 2014

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