Phones with QWERTY keyboards aren’t getting much love with the major manufacturers these days, but you can still find some high end phones with a physical keyboard. In this September 2016 update, we’re recommending the Blackberry Priv as the best QWERTY keyboard smartphone on the market right now. If you can’t stand using the touch keyboard phones that’s dominating the market, give the Priv a shot.
BlackBerry, a company that was once renowned for their business-oriented smartphones with physical keyboards, has to fight for significance in a world dominated by virtual keyboard typing experience. Just like Clark Kent dressed in casual clothes, the BlackBerry Priv looks deceptively ordinary, perhaps with the exception of the curved display. But it takes just a quick slide to reveal Priv’s 4-row QWERTY keyboard hiding underneath the display.
The keyboard also features an integrated trackpad and several programmable keys for launching apps and changing the position on the screen. You can swipe up across the keyboard to access a full-sized virtual keyboard with special characters and symbols. Clever stuff, indeed.
Also hiding under the 5.4” display with 540 ppi is the powerful Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage space, and Adreno 418. With such high-end specifications, the Priv is a productivity beast with ample power to fuel any multitasking (or gaming—we won’t judge) frenzy.
While the Android operating system looks close to the pure Android experience that you get on Nexus devices, BlackBarry has made a lot of changes under the hood. Privacy and security have been given a special attention, for example, with the BlackBerry DETEK app, which can tell you how secure you are and what improvements you can make.
- 4-row QWERTY keyboard
- Beautiful curved display
- Sharp, vivid camera
- Good performance
- Increased privacy
- The smartphone is slightly top-heavy
Best QWERTY Phones
The age of the Q is over. There’s no point denying it, arguing it or sugarcoating it. Flagship physical QWERTY phones are long gone, and they’re not coming back. Sad? Damn straight, as we all remember how we used to be able to send like five texts a minute on a full-size keypad-boasting handheld.
Since phone manufacturers simply aren’t seeing too much demand for Android smartphone with keyboard, they just aren’t releasing too many new variants of these. But if you really need that keyboard, a good work around is to get the latest and greatest smartphone you can find, and get a mini bluetooth keyboard that you can carry around with you and sync with your phone. If that doesn’t work for you, then check out these smartphones with keyboard currently on the market.
Yes, they were bulky, clunky, even ugly, but they got the job done in a way no touchscreen-toting iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S will ever get close to. Whatever “highly intuitive” apps like Swiftkey or Swype evolve into.
It’s also odd though how each and every mobile player (save for BlackBerry, maybe) turned their backs on productivity-centric gadgets all of a sudden, especially when Samsung, LG and Sony are so vocal about the diversity of their product lineups. Cater to the needs of everyone, my arse. Where’s my Galaxy S5Q, my LG G2 Slider and my Xperia Z2 Chat?
Heck, right now, I’d probably settle for a Galaxy S3Q or LG Optimus G Slider. Any semblance of a decent, upper mid-range Android QWERTY phone would be nice. Instead, the seven best physical keyboard devices of March 2014 are these old geezers:
7. LG Mach
Still stuck on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the 15 month-old Mach basically makes the cut here because there are no half-decent alternatives. I mean, I wouldn’t touch this thing with a ten-foot pole nowadays.
Not only is it four software generations behind the times, it’s mostly unavailable stateside and restricted for use on Sprint and Boost Mobile. The latter sells it online for $180 with prepaid plans, whereas if you want Now Network’s version, you’ll need to reach out to some fairly obscure Amazon sellers and cough up $360 (!!!).
Yeah, right, like anyone would be so nuts as to drop that kind of money on a chunky little fellow tipping the scales at 168 grams and packing a 4-inch 800 x 480 pix res touchscreen, dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, as well as meager 1,700 mAh battery.
Despite its retro (read fugly) design, and overall underwhelming hardware, the Verizon-exclusive Stratosphere 2 is clearly not the worst QWERTY option around. Up for grabs via Amazon and Best Buy free of charge in a contract-tied flavor, the slider is on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, weighing 14 grams less than the Mach.
The juicer is a tad beefier, at 1,800 mAh, but sadly, the Super AMOLED panel is equally as mediocre. The dual-core 1.2 GHz SoC too. Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere 2 is obviously not an ideal choice for productivity fanatics.
Though its two months older than the second-gen Stratosphere, the S Relay 4G is superior to its Verizon counterpart primarily in the aesthetics department. Less pronounced curves equals more elegance, not to mention the Relay is slightly slimmer while retaining the 1,800 mAh ticker.
Hardware-wise, the T-Mo-restricted S Relay resembles the Stratosphere 2 greatly, but ups the processing power ante with a 1.5 GHz CPU. On-board software? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean starting April 2013. Price? $205 outright on Amazon.
One of the last remaining Mohicans of a lost era, the Droid 4 has aged rather gracefully, but it has aged nevertheless. Almost harder to score than the LG Mach, Moto’s once mighty slider is $220 with Verizon branding but no pacts via Amazon. Oh, and it’s pre-owned.
Worth the dough? Refurb products are always a gamble, two year-olds especially, yet the Droid still has a few things going for it. Like a decent 4-inch 960 x 540 pixels resolution touchscreen, 16 GB built-in storage, 8 MP rear-facing camera with image stabilization, 1 GB RAM, microSD support and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
Downsides? For one thing, the dual-core TI OMAP 4430 is ancient and laggy. Also, the 1,785 mAh battery is pretty tiny, plus non-removable. Finally, have you ever carried around a brick in your trouser pocket? You will if you buy the Droid 4, as it weighs a staggering 179 grams.
The youngest of the bunch, released but a few weeks ago on T-Mobile, the F3Q looks like a violent blast from the past design-wise, with a funky turquoise blue physical keyboard and an even swankier textured rear cover.
I personally think the blue-black color combo is a bit too much, but hey, kids may dig it, and in the long haul, it could help QWERTY phones become hip again. Available for $0 upfront and $312 full retail price, the device is hardly a powerhouse, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 running the hardware show, aided by 1 GB RAM.
The 4 GB on-board storage is cringe worthy, as is the 14 mm waist, yet software upgrades beyond 4.1 Jelly Bean could be on the horizon, and that should count for something. Also, it packs a gargantuan 2,460 mAh battery, capable of holding a single charge for up to 16 hours of talk time and 16 days (!!!) of standby time.
2. LG Enact
Yes, I realize the Enact and Optimus F3Q are in many ways virtually identical. From the design language to the CPU, RAM and battery life. Yet I like to think of Verizon’s Enact as F3Q’s classier brother. Sure, the Big Red fellow is chubby as hell (15.8 mm thickness, 170 grams weight), however it replaces the tacky blue keyboard with a black-and-silver one.
And the rear looks better too, in my humble opinion. Also on 4.1 Jelly Bean and likely to be upgraded before long, the Enact doubles down on storage, and costs a penny with contracts, as well as $400 without a service plan.
Not sure whether we should laugh or cry seeing a mid-2012 phone top a 2014 list. But that’s how behind the market is for QWERTY aficionados. And mind you, the Photon Q was hardly a high-ender when it first saw daylight, back in July 2012.
Up for grabs for free with 24-month Sprint agreements, the big guy weighs in at a massive 170 grams, however it offers the most generous screen real estate of all seven QWERTY world champion title candidates: 4.3 inches.
The resolution is decent, 960 x 540, there’s scratch-resistant glass on top of it, a dual-core 1.5 GHz chip beneath the hood, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB storage, 8 MP primary camera with LED flash, 4G LTE and microSD support. Compared with, say, the Galaxy S5, it’s a featherweight, but like I said, it’s all we got.
At least until the Motorola Droid 5 goes official, if it’s ever to go official. Any thoughts? Maybe some other contenders we unintentionally snubbed? Anyone else out there rooting for a QWERTY revival? Sound off below.