Keyboard Phones In 2020: The QWERTY Compromise

Keyboard Phones In 2020: The QWERTY Compromise



Phones with physical keyboards over the past two decades they’ve gone from new necessity to laughable leftover and now all the way back around at nostalgic novelty hard as it may be to believe in the year 2020 you can still buy phones with physical keyboards and in this roundup.  I’m taking a look at all four that I’ve been able to find [Music] folks we’re barely 30 seconds in and I guarantee you someone is already down in the comments saying keyboards have no place on a phone today well I’ve spent the last three years arguing otherwise thanks to devices like this one yep it’s a blackberry. it’s called the key to and yes it was until very recently a fully fledged modern Android smartphone.

One that I carried as my daily driver for nearly a year that’s a long time for a phone reviewer sadly I had to give it up because this funky aspect ratio was playing havoc with apps I needed and also the spacebar started failing pretty common failure on this model returning to the key. to shoot this video I’m just so conflicted I mean this was the keyboard phone to get when it debuted in the summer of 2018 and it’s still the best mobile keyboard for me the best keyboard on any phone today taking notes and sending emails on this thing was always more satisfying and often more accurate than a touchscreen. I miss it a lot but you should not buy it apart from being two years old running two versions of Android behind and packing a camera that was never great the key to is a device without a future while blackberry continues to exist as a software and services company its hardware licensee blackberry Mobile announced back in February that it would close up shop come summer and while they promise to support existing models through 2022.

That’s just not a good enough reason to buy one today with no potential Savior or spin-off insight I’m afraid the time has come again to close the door on the brand that introduced me to smartphones back in 2004 with this BlackBerry’s 7520 now I’m not going to cover it in this video but let me know if you’d like to see a throwback on this in the comments and either way please subscribe while you’re there speaking of blackberries.  This isn’t one but it sure wants to be from the same company that brought you one of the world’s smallest smartphones here’s one of the biggest complete with a keyboard that’s been ripped right off the blackberry Passport. Now the universe Titan may look the part but turns out the danger and xeroxing and other company’s concept is that if you’re not careful you bring over its failures as well that’s what happened here with no number row at all and a space bar that splits the lower row ergonomic complaints all of us reviewers made about the passport.

Back in 2014 that’s exacerbated by the so called tool belt which has four big physical keys for what should be system functions about the home button in the middle of it it’s just a touch pad there’s no travel at all so you get this annoying disconnect hopping between physical and virtual buttons physical and virtual feedback – and and bizarrely the shift and alt buttons are way up here instead of where they are on every other keyboard there are just a lot of these strange design decisions that make this a real chore to use and because it’s a physical keyboard they can’t all be fixed in software speaking of like literally every other phone in this video the Titan runs an outdated version of Android now the company does promise Android 10 but what’s more staggering is the current security patch October 2019 likes now I want to recognize that unit Hertz did something as well I mean this is the only keyboard phone I’ve ever used with a rugged design that includes ip67 dust and water resistance plus it’s the only phone in the video with wireless charging and certainly the only one with a 6000 milliamp hour battery man that’s huge and if you want to overlook one more blatant piece of plagiarism you can use the Titans keyboard like a capacitive trackpad just like you could do on the blackberry because intellectual-property what’s that now unit hurt says hardware prowess alone makes me hope.

They build a second version of this thing but for 340 bucks the least you should expect is a security patch that isn’t seven months out of date and a keyboard that doesn’t make you rewrite your muscle-memory to use it now we’re gonna end on another 90s callback but first let’s cover the one that I think most of you should buy if you really need a keyboard at first glance the FX tech pro one looks like a fairly typical Android smartphone until you apply a little bit of pressure yeah you might remember this one it was one of the darlings of Mobile World Congress 2019 that big beautiful display with edges curved enough to catch the eye but not so curved that it’s annoying to use a thoughtful design that keeps it balanced in the hand and propped up on a desktop smooth mostly fast software and again a physical keyboard that lets it do things.  The other phones just can’t the keys themselves are pleasantly clicky and well isolated from each other and the branding and fonts used on the key caps are also pleasant nothing about this thing feels cheap also when it’s closed the pro one retains that tall display that most Android apps expect so you don’t get as many layout or compatibility problems as you would with a key – or a Titan and you have much more display area for portrait use a virtual keyboard takes over just like any Android phone that’s android 9 for now by the way with Android 10 promised and if you want another OS.

You can put it on there due to the unlocked bootloader for a first smartphone the small team at FX Tech made it darn good one trouble is even when it debuted the pro ones asking price was a lot for a phone from an as-yet unproven company with a commensurately low probability of long-term support and running silicon from a few years ago and in the year since we’ve seen incredible value spring up in the form of the Google pixel 3a and iPhone se each which is about half the price of this thing with newer software and better cameras all that together makes it tough to justify the $6.99 asking price to finish us off a question what if you don’t really want a phone so much as you want a pocket laptop this is the Cosmo communicator and if you were around for the dawn of the personal digital assistant in the late 90s you might recognize it as a modern version of the sion PDA which was resurrected a couple years ago in the form of the planet gemini but that device was hindered by the lack of a keyboard backlight and the absence of an external display well the Cosmo communicator fixes both those problems and I gotta say in really clever ways despite the addition of a lighting layer the keys are still surprisingly bouncy and tactile as for the outer display well it’s tiny it makes the galaxy fold external screen look like a tennis court but Planet had to overcome so much to even make it work these guys had to build a whole real-time OS from scratch and give it its own dedicated processor it’s like they built a basic SmartWatch and wired it into the phone casing it may not be the prettiest thing in the world but it gives you the shortcut.

You need until you break it trying to update it no nevermind I fixed it yep just small volume niche products like this you’re gonna have wonkiness my review device is a very early one so maybe they’ve solved some of these problems but others are foundational Android does not like being forced into landscape so you get these UI overlap issues on the notification shade and even Google’s own apps aren’t always usable on a screen like this no and unlike on the FX tech pro one forcing portrait on the Cosmo you can if you need to but you know toss in the lack of an oleophobic coating on the display and a bunch of other just weird little bugs and really at over 800 bucks this is only suited to people who want to fully embrace the past with the 90s era Scion apps that go with the 90s era Scion keyboard or load another OS on here and go to hacker town if what you’re looking for is something about 20 years more current the company is cooking up another phone the Astro slide which mates the same keyboard to a more modern slider mechanism running Android 10 now hopefully with that one they’ll be able to focus on the hardware and leave this software tinkering in the past folks if you’re using a mobile keyboard whether it’s a phone from the past or a phone.

I forgot to mention or an accessory you love let me know in the comments I really want to hear about it this video was produced using review devices from each manufacturer mentioned but no company paid a fee for its inclusion in this video and none was given an early preview or copy approval rights what that means is they’re seeing it for the first time right alongside you a links to all these devices in the description if you do want to buy any of them please subscribe if you’d like to see more videos. like this on YouTube and stay tuned for a new series focusing on some of the most fun mobile phones ever to grace the planet that’s coming very soon until next time thanks for watching stay safe at home for now and in spirit at least stay mobile my friends.


For more information about Telus/Cambridge Electronics Incorporated, contact the company here:

Telus/Cambridge Electronics Incorporated
Dan LHeureux
[email protected]
105-8701 94 st
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
T8L 4P7


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