How Badly do You Want a Physical Keyboard for Your iPhone?


Want a physical keyboard for your iPhone this badly?

[via Engadget Mobile. Thanks DazeEnd for the encouragement...!]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 80 comments. Add yours.

icebike says:

Lets see, trade in half my screen for a keyboard that only works in Portrait mode, for keep full screen, and learn to deal....
Decisions decisions...

The Reptile says:

How badly? It's not even a blip on my radar. I very happy about the way things are.

Tenor146 says:

BAHAHA. I actually find it impossible to type on a regular physical keyboard. I literally cannot do it.
Go iPhone!

avt says:

I would not carry that thing around with me.

Brice Hope says:

Until someone makes a Bluetooth keyboard, I'll pass. says:

nope dont need it. its not like the iphone is a windows mobile on screen keyboard

Nickel says:

@ Tenor, are you lacking fingers? Do you have the same problem using the remote for your tv? Using the keyless entry to your car? You are trying to PUSH the buttons, correct? says:

just imagine if there was a virus that replaced the iphone keyborad with the windows mobile one

Rob says:

Physical keyboards are cumbersome. I also have fat fingers and have trouble with most mobile keyboards. I have no problems with the Iphone

imgettingaferrari says:

are you serious? why? lol.
A physical keyboard just defeats the purpose of a touch screen.

Jellotime91 says:

I find typing on phone keyboards really difficult and slow, ESPECIALLY on the Palm Pre's keyboard.. It's so damn tiny and slippery.

Nerdalot says:

Do not further endorken yourself.

Jeremy says:

I gotta say I love the versatility of the current iPhone keyboard. It got even better with 3.0 and landscape mode. I agree with Brice, when they make it possible to connect to a bluetooth keyboard, then I'll want that, but even then only for meetings or if I'm in a note taking situation.

Zach says:

Let's see, how do I put this.... NO!

Drake says:

I wouldn't care. If apple put one on I'd be skeptical. As long as you can remove it, hide it, or just use the on screen keyboard, I wouldn't care.

flyingember says:

I want to choose between one that connects to the bottom like old palms had and a Bluetooth one

Harold says:

Never, if they go to a phsyical keyboard I would change my phone cuz like that's the whole point of having a touch keyboard is so u can have larger screen so hell no.

sergio says:

the solution is simple, with such a screen you could easily get the keys bigger using most of the screen itself instead than half of it!

kaelendra says:

Uh that's no improvement from the virtual one.... Same thing just w/physical buttons. Not a keyboard addon on less it's adding something like bigger keys and able to type as well as you cab on a netbook

Varche says:

Not at all. I'm happy with the iPhones keypad. I don't even understand why people have problems typing on it and i have huge stubby fingers!

Luis says:

Not at all... LOVE the way it is now...

Unchewable says:

i like it the way it is but could see adding a plus minus symbol so you can make on screen keyboard a little bigger

Sean Peters says:

While I'm perfectly fine with the touchscreen keyboard for casual typing (such as for posting here), for doing any kind of serious work, some kind of physical keyboard is absolutely required. The iPhone has plenty of power to do word processing tasks, but typing anything more than a sentence or two on the touchscreen keyboard is a non-starter. A Bluetooth keyboard would be just the ticket - bring it when you need it, leave it behind otherwise.

Adam says:

Epic fail right there.

AZbear says:

Not at all. That's one of the reasons I gave up Blackberrys.

Rod says:

I, and many many of my acquaintances, am not purchasing it precisely because it doesn't have a keyboard. We all like to type one-handed. We don't like landscape keyboards on some of the very good phones also for this reason. Vertical, one-handed, with a keyboard that is simple to use. Thanks.

Matt says:

I think it is on my list, let's see....... Oh here it is, right after bottle opener.

BBYM#IM says:

I wish it gave the option to use t9 with numbers on portrait Mode that would do it for me.

Miami mike says:

OMG!! Get that thing out of my face!!! My eyes are bleeding!!! A physical keyboard doesn't even exist to my beautiful hands anymore.
Leave the iPhone just the way it is apple!!!

jadesimian says:

I know some people love physical keyboards, but quite frankly, that is hideous.

Je says:

Stupid idea. I can't believe there is even an argument for pressing down a physical button vs tapping lightly on a glass screen, 99% if people that practice on both will always do better on the iPhone vs say Blackberry. I just hope Apple doesn't flip out some day and put some awful keyboard that takes up space and slows you down.

ndrasheta says:

I would die before using a physical keyboard on my iPhone! Up,up, and away!!

doodwithaniphone says:

Most everybody at my job are BB users. Quite a lot of them have had keyboards malfunction requiring them to replace their phones.
Physical keyboard + more moving parts = less reliability

GinoDotCom says:

This reminds me when Steve Ballmer was interviewed on CNBC and was quoted as saying how iPhone was going to be a $500 failure because it doesn't have a keyboard for serious emailers lol. Ehh, this was only in 2007 folks.. then we wonder why Microsoft lacks innovation.
The way the iPhone's keyboard works is truly an innovation and obviously one of the best features of the device. The lack of a keyboard is also what seperated the iPhone from all other PDAs upon it's release In 07.

Ghop says:

@ Rod
I type with one digit (thumb) all the time in the vertical position on my iPhone.
As a matter of fact, I am typing this response that way. 

Ghop says:

@ Rod
P.S. One handed too! 

FFbutler says:

iPhone with a physical keyboard would b dumb as fuck, go get a nokia or some shit

Glenn#IM says:

Something like the palm folding keyboard bluetooth would be great for long notes and word docs

joeblow84 says:

No, not THAT badly. But I'd pay $50 if there was a driver/whatever so that I could use my Mac Bluetooth wireless keyboard with my iPhone.

Fender Doc says:

I think a Bluetooth or some kind of keyboard that a student or someone attending a lecture could use for quick note taking.
The iPhone can easily handle simple word processing. It is ideal for this function. Just take notes via an external keyboard and sync Notes with iTunes or wirelessly by e-mailing yourself the note.

Oliver says:

Every time I try to type on a physical keyboard phone I fail. I did a speed test with one of the fastest texters I know (they have a blackberry) and I won by half a sentence. I had auto caps, auto correct, auto everything off on my iPhone 3GS and I don't consider myself to be a fast mobile typer. This was even in portrait to give the small key blackberry a chance. I love the keyboard on the screen. Amazing.

Oliver says:

I would like a bluetooth keyboard so I could get rid of my computer though. I nice large bluetooth mac keyboard paired with my phone would be absolutely awesome.

Jon says:

I'll be completely honest, I've used the iphone's on-screen keyboard, and that's actually 20% of the reason I didn't bother with it (besides the network it's on). It did not work for me, and I actually had more spelling errors than I've had on either of my winmo touch screens.
@ Gino, the iPhone is not and will never have been the first touch-screen phone. I have a winmo device that was all touch-screen that is approximately 2-3 years older than the iPhone. The iPhone is just the first to put exceptional amounts of hype behind it and make it work reasonably well
Don't get me wrong, I love touch screen devices, my current one is touch screen, my next device will be touch screen... I can just pretty much guarantee unless a couple pretty significant (to me) things changed, the iPhone is not on my radar at all.
There's a ton of innovation in the iPhone, and I totally love that about it. It is an amazing device. I just can't stand a couple things about it (namely the network it is on in Canada, a severe lack of the major messaging client I use on a very regular basis, and already knowing that battery life is about the same as or worse than my current device) that hold me back from ever considering one.

fastlane says:

I'd rather blow my brains out.

Billy says:

Not on the iPhone but I would like a BT keyboard for text and spreadsheets.

Andrew says:

I honestly wouldn't upgrade if they added a physical keyboard.

earless puppy says:

I have zero interest in a physical keyboard, if I really wanted one, I would buy a wireless bluetooth keyboard

Dryland says:

Only bluetooth keyboard for me. This is just stupid.

Dreadwayne says:

Leave the iPhone alone!!!! Yeah also Britney

Gregory Foster says:

Love my virtual keyboard just fine.

Taylor says:

Never. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of an iPhone touchscreen?

Joseph says:

No I would not buy a iPhone if it comes with a keyboard.. No apple..

Rudy says:

Not that bad . After a while I learned to use the soft keyboard. I was one who wanted a hard keyboard. But I would like landscape mode to be supported in every app including the actual UI it's odd to be in lanscape in an app then exit holding the iPhone in landscape. The first thing I think or say is crap I forget ui doesn't support landscape. For example I brows safari, exit to text a friend, it puts me in portrait just to ask the phone to back into landscape to SMS. Sometimes with a delay in rotation. But no if I wanted a hard keyboard blue tooth please with a better design that doesn't take screen display space

Adam says:

I would love a physical keyboard and would consider keeping the iPhone if they would release one with a physical keyboard. I'll be going back to the Pre once it is released on Verizon. I love the size of the iphone screen and would hate to take away from it, but I'm a huge fan of sliders and believe the Pre is the best implementation of it. I miss my Pre, but Sprint just doesn't cut it for me. My biggest thing about have the physical keyboard is having the ability to type without looking at the phone.

spanishcop says:

NOT A ALL.... and if I was going to want a keyboard, I would much rather have a full size keyboard with an adapter that would use the adapter at the bottom of the iphone used for syncing. A Qwerty keyboard is no use for me given that the iphone already has a keyboard that I'm use to already.

Kick Butt Applications says:

I was convinced that I would never find something better than my Blackberry keyboard (in a mobile device). I didn't want to like the iPhone. I was biased about my RIM product and convinced myself that the iPhone would be difficult to type on.
I was surprised how wrong I was. I learned (slowly at first) how to type just as quickly and accurately on the iPhone. Now that I've mastered that I can't imagine going back. So no need for a physical keyboard!
Kick Butt

Caribou says:

Utility of iPhone thumb-keyboard: ZERO.
Utility of Bluetooth Keyboard support on an iPhone: MASSIVE.
The iPhone is more-powerful (but a bit smaller) than the Mac I took to college ... add a (folding) bluetooth keyboard and you immediately have a portable option for note-taking, blogging, email, writing, etc.
I paid $129 for ThinkOutside's portable keyboard years ago, and it outlasted all 3 of the WinMo phones I used it with. I'd gladly pay the same for that functionality on the iPhone.

Rusty Shackleford says:

It would actually be genius for Apple to design a slide on keyboard for the iPhone along with the necessary software to shrink the GUI and any other necessary crap...

Mike Kerti says:

Hell no. The virtual keyboard works perfect, better then the keyboard I had on my blackberry. If apple were ever to make a real keyboard for the iPhone, which I highly doubt it, I would be disappointed.
Also, I tried the palm pres keyboard, and it was awful. Worse then any blackberry I've used.

GinoDotCom says:

I never said the iPhone was the first touch screen device with big hype.. At all.
Your dislike of the iPhones keyboard defintely leaves you in the minority Jon. Did you really give it a try? I honestly can't see anyone disliking this very same keyboard I'm typing 1000x words a minute on. I remember at first I was trying to aim at every letter while attempting to write a sentence...
..Within the same night I realized that all I have to do is aim 'around' the letter and just continue typing. By the time I'm done with the word & hit the space bar, the iPhone will correct it for me 97%.
I really can't see anyone prefering plastic keys over a vitual keyboard that only appears when you need it to :-)

excaliburca says:

If the iPhone is going to graduate to a true smartphone rather than just a consumer multi-media device, it's going to need a physical keyboard for serious e-mailing and word-processing. Anyone who thinks otherwise, try talking a business type who would sell his mother than give up his blackberry w/h hard keyboard.
I also speak from personal experience as well, having owned a smartphone with a physical keyboard. The iPhone keyboard is tolerable but I wouldn't want to use it for more than twitter or SMS... writing e-mails is a pain in the @ss.
A bluetooth solution could work... or an attachment of some sort. I'm sure a 3rd party provider could come up with something elegant.

lexis1109 says:

ithink this is the worst post ever why would they even ask this question full touch is what made me get it on top of that the keypad is easy to us ebetter than any phone i've ever had hey u guys see what i did with the ithink lma thats gone to be my youtube channel

Jerome says:

If it ain't broke ....…..........
Don't fix it !!!!!!!!!'nn

Toha says:

I am using my n95 most of the time but i dont lack physic keys on my ipod/iphone.thats ugly

niture says:

that would be a waste of space...
if you need one, get crackberry...

Phil says:

I DO NOT want my iPhone to turn into a Crackberry! If you want a BB. Go buy one. Apple shouldn't even consider it EVER!

mark says:

have NO desire to have a keyboard-- when i first got my iphone, i would have said yes... no more.

Tom says:

I'd like a BT keyboard. Then I could leave the Dell at home when I trapse across the country. Hurry please. Even if I would need to bring an extension cord to plug the phone in because of it's lousy battery life on 3.1.

Adam says:

@Mike Kerti - The Pre's keyboard is a bit difficult at first, but IMHO still better than any blackberry keyboard I've ever had (post thumbwheel of course). It's all in the keys themselves. The little rubber keys made all the difference for me. But a physical keyboard provides something a virtual never can. Physical feedback. I can type an entire message without looking because I can feel where the keys are. If Apple came out with a keyboard slider iPhone I'd be in phone heaven. Blackberry who... Palm what... :)

Tis says:

Give me a bluetooth keyboard with a pico projector on it and I would gladly pay for that devise!

Matt says:

But, your photo is a total fail and that's why everyone is saying they'd rather blow their brains out etc. Last week I went looking for bluetooth keyboards just for this reason. A folding one, especially if it could be relatively small and thin but have real keys not membrane buttons, would be excellent. I have ordinary size fingers and am a fast typer but with iPhone it is impossible to type notes / emails etc efficiently despite its power. I/O is the bottleneck. I would not want to give up the full screen. Also I would not want a cable or socket connection. It must be able to connect to the iphone wirelessly even without a LAN in the room. I would bring it always, if possible would like to fold it an put it in my jacket pocket but if not foldable then in my bag (needs batteries I guess).
So answer is,
- YES want keyboard. Wireless, not cabled/socketed/embedded.
- Slide-out keyboard is NOT big enough.
- Do NOT want to give up screen real estate
- Absolute requirement for anyone who actually wants to use the iPhone for computing besides games.
- Everyone in my office got iPhones. They get push email. But can't effectively reply to it beyond like one word.
- All Apple has to do is start linking all its devices by an ad-hoc wireless mesh so they can see each other. Dump a bunch of nanos, iphone, keyboard etc into your pockets and go! They will show up on your mac's desktop when you get to work.

Ace says:

probably use it in the car while eating =)

TeyNur says:

Caribou said it perfectly. Advantages to a BlueTooth portable/fold-up keyboard are massive for those of us with heavy text workloads. I'M BEGGING! PLEASE! GIVE ME A PRODUCT TO BUY! LET ME THROW MONEY AT YOU! or would you like to buy a vowel? Honest, I could get rid of my desktop/laptop if I could just get a keyboard for my iPhone.

Ifonie says:

BRING ON THE LASER VIRTUAL KEYBOARD. Think bout it, itll save have the screen thts used for the onscreen keyboard.., and you can have a full sized qwerty keyboard anywhere without any physical bulk of a blackberry keyboard

Ifonie says:
heres exactly what you coulf wish for. Bluetooth laser keyboard for iphone!!!! If your willing to pay $149 to have the future of keyboards for your iphone today then i def recommend this to anyone

Gustavo Lucich says:

I would like to say, great webpage. Im unsure if it has been talked about, but when using Explorer I can never get the whole webpage to load without refreshing many times. Could just be my modem. Enjoy!