I’ve been using touch-screen phones for about four years now, since I got a Sony Ericsson W950i. That was a hybrid: touch screen (with stylus), and keypag (numbers, not QWERTY). After I switched to an HTC Desire, I didn’t miss the physical keyboard at all — in fact, I greatly prefer the larger screen. I do miss the stylus, but that’s a topic for another day.
Connor Turnbull gave his opinion on the issue earlier this week, in his article, Why Are We Still Using Hardware Keyboards?. Readers made great points in the comments: hardware keyboards either take up screen space or make the phone thicker; software keyboards don’t have potential hardware issues; hardware keyboards can be faster to type on.
Personally, I don’t feel that I type as fast with a software keyboard as I could with a hardware keyboard, but I do feel the typing is more natural. Gingerbread’s keyboard has great auto-correction, so I barely have to worry about typos, and Swype is fun to use (and impressive to anyone who watches over my shoulder as I text). There’s not enough value in a built-in hardware keyboard to be worth the trade-off.
Gabriel, who commented on Connor’s post, suggests that phones could be built to allow a Bluetooth keyboard to be attached, thus letting you have a slim phone with a big screen that can optionally transform to a thicker phone with a big screen and a hardware keyboard. I love this idea!
But that’s just a fantasy for now. I’d like to know what you’re using today, and whether you’re happy with it. Vote in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments.