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Goodbye BlackBerry qwerty keyboard phone

At the New York Times, Ian Austin writes about Blackberry’s qwerty phone:

…struggling Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry made a sharp detour from its history on Tuesday when it announced it was discontinuing the last phone to have the traditional version of the company’s iconic physical keyboard and trackpad.

BlackBerry qwerty keyboard phones were essential business tools back when most other so-called smartphones were toys.

A tiny, chiclet-style qwerty keyboard meant you could handle mail while on the move, write memos and short notes.

Tiny keyboard, hard work

While a few journalists typed news reports using the tiny keys, it definitely happened. It was hard work. Still, the ergonomics bordered on criminal.

As everyone knows, BlackBerry fell from favour as Apple’s iPhone and Android climbed to success. It’s amazing the business has lasted this long, Nokia did not.

When, last year, BlackBerry returned to the qwerty keyboard design with the BlackBerry Classic phone, it was so retro I described it as a Steampunk phone.

BlackBerry claimed typing on a tiny keyboard was more productive than using a screen keyboard. My testing found that wasn’t true. While it was satisfying to feel keys move, it did nothing for my writing speed. In fact, the tiny screen made me less productive.

That said, modern screen keyboards are far better than they were when the first Blackberry models appeared. And they are bigger. At the time the ergonomics of both were poor.

Today, bigger screens, better detection and innovative software means glass keyboards are the best option. And if you really need a keyboard, you can buy an add-on.