Published on April 11th, 2013 | by Sachit Shivam12
Android has lost choice in hardware: physical keyboards
Does anyone remember the Motorola Milestone?
This phone brought Android and Motorola to the fore of the smartphone race with its wild popularity on account of it being the anti-iPhone in several ways.
It had a larger screen, a 5MP camera, ran stock Android Eclair 2.1 at launch and had a hardware keyboard.
Sure, the camera wasn’t really good and neither was the keyboard but they were both there.
What about the Motorola Milestone 2?
With this phone, Motorola bumped up the specs and improved the keyboard drastically. Also a raging success on the market.
The DROID 3, launched on Verizon in the US and known internationally as the Milestone 3? (It never did launch internationally, only in a few countries like China)
This phone never saw an India launch. Its keyboard was considered one of the best ever.
The HTC Desire Z?
Brilliant phone with a brilliant keyboard.
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro? I own one of these myself and I must say that the keyboard is absolutely phenomenal.
At the time that these phones launched, they weren’t given flagship status or ever really given a marketing push by their respective manufacturers.
I ask, why?
To this date, I prefer landscape hardware keyboards over virtual, on-screen keyboards. And bear with me here, this is not just about me whining about my preference.
Hardware keyboards provide a tactility and response that virtual ones can’t (yet) match. Most new smartphone users migrate from featurephones with alphanumeric keyboards.
I have asked scores of new smartphone users how they feel about their new phones. Almost invariably, the answer I receive is: “It’s difficult to type on.”
I find that with a hardware keyboard it’s very easy to type quickly and with few mistakes.
Both Sony and HTC have announced in 2012 that they have no further plans of making phones with QWERTY keyboards.
And I don’t believe in the argument that people sometimes make, that there’s no market for hardware keyboards.
Let’s think about some of the phones that came out after these ones.
What comes to mind?
A black slab with some controls littered around it.
The main concern that I’m expressing with this article is:
Android has always been about choice.
Choice in hardware. Choice in software. Customizability.
Then why are the manufacturers themselves eliminating choices?
What do you think? Am I rambling about an age that has long passed or would you also like to see hardware keyboards make a comeback?