Are physical keyboards a thing of the past?

Are physical keyboards a thing of the past?
So, we are about to see a new BlackBerry-branded smartphone introduced very, very soon and, from both leaks and official teases, we know that it will feature a hardware keyboard. The handset is expected to run on Android 7 Nougat, not the proprietary BB10 software, but it's still been shown to have a hardware keyboard.

Yes, not only are keyboards making a return, but TCL — the company that now designs BlackBerry-branded handsets — has even hinted that this new keyboard is a “game changer”. How exactly? We are about to see very soon.

In any case, whether you vote in this poll before or after the unveiling of the BlackBerry “Mercury”, we are curious to know — how do you feel about hardware keyboards? Now that we are so used to touch-typing and that smartphone screens are usually big enough to allow for an accurate and comfortable use of two thumbs, do mechanical keyboards feel a bit slow and impractical?

Physical keyboard on a smartphone, yay or nay?

Yeah, i love the tactile feel under my fingertips!
41.02%
I guess I could use one, if it packs extra useful features (like a trackpad feature)
24.11%
Nope. Virtual keyboards is where it's at for smartphones!
34.87%

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78 Comments

1. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Physical keyboards aren't a think of the past for me... Though the market for it is niche now, it still appeals to the old-schools and those with nostagia... Just like clamshell phones.

2. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Edit: Physical keyboards aren't a ** thing** of the past for me... My auto correct failed me this time...smh

6. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Autocorrect is just as guilty as user error.

14. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

For one, I agree with you there. ^^

35. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Autocorrect is virtually unnecessary with a pkb. Sure, a bad design like the Priv will contribute but for the most part you know exactly where the keys are. The issue with the Priv was the flat keys which gave no indication of where the breaks were. For me, the best pkb I ever used was on the Palm Treo series. The alternate symbols were more logically placed than even the Bold series. I mean, seriously? How many times do you really use the $ symbol to warrant a dedicated key? BlackBerry's shortcuts are still superior but I'm wondering how much better Palm's iteration would be if they had not been bought out by HP and subsequently shuttered.

37. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Crispin, you can see that Mxy's post #6 was in reply to my post #2, right? So Mxy was referring to my sentece about my auto correct failing me; Mxy wasn't talking about pkb handsets needing the auto correct feature.

44. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Yes, I know. My reply was pointed at the "user error" part of his statement. Autocorrect is a byproduct of typing on glass. Humans rely on muscle memory and tactile feeling for rote activities, hence the increase in typing errors due to virtual keyboards.

45. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Alright, I get your point now. Cheers.

56. Mxyzptlk unregistered

A PKB would be suitable for the typist. I do remember some of the old Palm devices back in the day. Shame HP bought them out and they became no more.

60. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

HP is complete garbage. I can not understand how they are still on the market in 2017. I guess it is sadly because of the of their strong ties with entreprise administration (a bit like Microsoft for software part).

4. meanestgenius

Posts: 22072; Member since: May 28, 2014

Totally agree. If clamshells can still be a thing, why not physical keyboards? But you know, haters gotta hate, and will definitely do so in this article.

15. Nopers unregistered

Makes the phone much taller with worse screen real estate, phones and all apps now are designed for 16:9 so you choose either a much taller and far less comfortable handling experience or a wonky display ratio that doesn't really work with up to date apps.

24. meanestgenius

Posts: 22072; Member since: May 28, 2014

It does make the phone taller, but I fail to see how the screen real estate is worse when the physical keyboard doesn't take up any space on the screen. If anything, a virtual keyboard makes the screen real estate worse, as it takes up space on the screen itself. I also find that most people that want/need a pkb device don't use it so much for apps. Apps may look a little different, but most work well in a pkb device.

27. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

I second that ^^

30. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2367; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

The apps in the Google Play store are going to most likely autoscale to the screen whether it's 16:9 or 4:3. The only requirement that Blackberry had to adopt was they coudn't have a 1:1 or 1:2 aspect ratio that they used to offer on their devices. The vast majority of applications are going to look fine on a 4:3 smartphone, the only time you're going to have an issue is with games. And I can tell you right now, nobody is buying this device to play games with it.

32. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"And I can tell you right now, nobody is buying this device to play games with it." Good point, Dr. Phil. It's logical to say the vast majority of those who are getting pkb handsets aren't gettig it for gaming, but to work from their handsets... and the fact that the pkb handset's market share is at the enterprise segment, validates and backs-up your point with raw evidence!

62. MsJazzMaven

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 20, 2014

Not if it's a sideways slider. Screen ratio and all other display parameters remain unchanged. Same with a clamshell/folio, which would resemble a small laptop. My LG MACH was the former. A slider has the benefit of being a touchscreen bar phone for everyday tasks, but the keyboard slides out when necessary for speciallized business functions, like editing and composing documents, photo processing qnd advaced graphics work. The virtual keyboard disappears automatically when not needed so not to clutter up the screen. Also a must for accelerated scrolling through fonts and folders. The arrow keys work just like on your computer. I miss it, because now I have to carry a separate Bluetooth mini keyboard to do the same thing with my LG Stylo 2.

16. jplightning

Posts: 312; Member since: Nov 04, 2016

Peep how one of the haters is already here. Ahahahahahaha! You called it, Meanest!

20. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I still find myself wanting a physical keyboard as virtual keyboards are still a bit vague when typing up longer conversations especially ones that can be time sensitive, for example hustling for work in the entertainment industry.

26. meanestgenius

Posts: 22072; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. Physical keyboards are much better suited for getting work done and being productive, when compared to virtual keyboards.

23. Tizo101

Posts: 541; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

Actually, I'm just about over the touchscreen thing... I would like a vintage blackberry phone since I work now. Who needs the whole screen anymore? I understand you can play games and watch videos better but I don't do any of that on my phone, at least not anymore - it just got old for me.

50. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Palm did a good job with the Pre and Pixi while Motorola had a winner with the Droid Pro and Droid 4. The earlier Droid models had lackluster keys.

51. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Moto pretty much perfected the landscape keyboard on the Droid 3, but that model was missing LTE. By the time the Droid 4 arrived, people had lost interest in keyboards.

63. MsJazzMaven

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 20, 2014

My LG Mach had 4G LTE. So did the LG Enact, Motorola Droid 4 and Photon Q. All were sideways sliders with decent keyboards and midrange specs.

8. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Well I detest how clunky PKB phones are. I don't care for them and I prefer the sleek, thin design of today's phones.

43. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

I think it goes back to habit. When you do something over and over it actually creates a strong connection between neurons in your brain. It's why Windows 8 was such a huge disaster. People are so used to doing something a certain way that it becomes second nature. Even after using Windows 8 for a while I still found myself using my old habit from time to time. It's harder to adapt the older you are as plasticity of the brain slows down. Of course there are older people who still have high bdnf which is responsible for forming new neurons and they can adapt easily. A lot of factors come into play, genes, exercise, diet. Then there are those who just prefer it. That's still enough people to sell to. Market share is looked at as a global market but even 1% of such a large market is quite a lot of people.

3. meanestgenius

Posts: 22072; Member since: May 28, 2014

Not at all. As trojan_horse has just said, there's still a niche market for it, especially in enterprise. As long as there is a demand for it, the demand should be filled. There's nothing wrong with people still wanting something different from the norm that's running rampant in the smartphone space.

64. MsJazzMaven

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 20, 2014

Agreed. BTW, if you're bllind or physically challenged, it's hard to touch type on a flat piece of glass.

68. meanestgenius

Posts: 22072; Member since: May 28, 2014

Absolutely true. 100% agree with you.

5. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I don't think so entirely. I mean, people wanted the typo, but that ended up going under due to a company on a patent litigation spree.

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