Does the iPhone Need a Hardware Keyboard?

iSlider - iPhone Slide Out Keyboard Concept

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back at Macworld 2007, he prefaced the introduction by saying what was wrong with current not-so-smartphones -- the hardware keyboard. They don't go away when you don't need them. They don't change if you switch from text entry to bitmap editing, for example, And if you come up with a great idea later, you can't go back an add an extra button.

Now it's 2009 and Apple has released the iPhone 3GS, yet many people, including notable technologists, have called the lack of a physical keyboard a deal-breaker.

Is it? Let's take a look after the break.

Dieter, in his review for the Palm Pre, had this to say:

I've been using QWERTY keyboards on phones for over seven years now and I had no problem adjusting to the Palm Pre. If you're looking for a comparison, I'll say that it's not as good as your standard BlackBerry keyboard, but for 90% of people it's going to be much better than the iPhone's on-screen software keyboard. I know the keyboard is a big X factor for a lot of people, so the best I can say is that you not only need to try it for yourself, but you need to give it at least a couple of days of use before you turn in your verdict.

Personally, I'm on record as saying I vastly prefer the iPhone's virtual keyboard to either the Treo, Windows Mobile, BlackBerrys and G1s I've owned or test-driven. My dislike for hardware keyboards and the pain-in-the fingers and arms they'd given me pretty much made me avoid them entirely until the iPhone came along. Zero. Stress. Typing.

Also, as we've said before, for those who need to switch frequently from English to Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, or even other Roman input method, hardware keyboards just can't compare. (And let's not forget those who need to out-type netbooks during car races...)

Daring Fireball, in response to Tim Bray saying he'd never use an iPhone sans hardware keyboard, summed up the argument:

(1) that all phone-size keyboards — hardware or software — are poor compared to real honest-to-god full-size put-your-eight-finger-across-the-home-row-keys keyboards; but (2) given a week or two of use and some trust in the auto-correct system, most people can thumb-type just as well, if not better, on an iPhone as they could on a BlackBerry or a slider-style keyboard like the G1’s.

DF also believes Apple will never make an iPhone with a hardware keyboard, and that Apple will not suffer in the market for this (for our part, we've suggested the aforementioned Palm Pre could be considered the iPhone with a keyboard, given Jon Rubinstein's history).

Given the over 40 million iPhone and iPod touch software keyboard devices already sold, and the 1 million iPhone 3GS's sold opening weekend alone, it's hard to argue that point. While there certainly is a niche that will never forgo the lack of a hardware keyboard, Apple seems to have proven there's a far bigger market of those that will embrace, or at least tolerate and adapt to it.

What's your take? Is the lack of a hardware keyboard holding the iPhone back? Is it just old-school hardware keyboarders that miss the action? Is it a deal-breaker for you? Or do you think Steve Jobs was right, a next generation smartphone needed a next generation keyboard?

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 143 comments. Add yours.

Dmys says:

Yes it was a deal breaker, and guess what? I didn't want physical keyboard so now I have an iPhone.

Druce says:

I have to admit I am a convert. I loved the Treo keyboard and moved to the iPhone very reluctantly. The iPhone keyboard is not perfect, but it is far better than I had anticipated.

psay101 says:

It would be nice to have a second screen slide out for a keyboard. This would allow more screen Space to view the document or email you are typing. Other than that don't really need a physical keyboard.

ardoreal says:

After some getting use to, I won't go back to a hardware keyboard. The lack of a slider lets me ruggedize the iPhone with a case like the Otterbox. It keeps things solid and strong, and I can type quite fast now.

taylor says:

haha hey i was wanting to no if this is for the 3gs or the 4gs?! and.....where do u get these?! i want one super bad!!(:

HCE says:

Doesn't matter to me. I suck at typing on both :-)

  • HCE
TheMooch says:

I can do without an integrated hardware keyboard, but it really REALLY needs Bluetooth Keyboard (and maybe mouse) support!

Jellotime91 says:

The only reason I'd want a keyboard would be for more real estate and to have buttons for gaming. It would be great as a slide out especially as an optional case, like the mockup I made in the iPhone accessory forums.

IamNabil says:

Honestly, I would really like to see a hardware keyboard, but it doesn't need to be built into the phone. Lets just open up the bluetooth profiles a bit, and I will be happy.

psay101 says:

Well if they want the iPhone to actually start replacing laptops I would think some type of add on Bluetooth keyboard device would do it.

PPlSeriously says:

ppl seriously stop complaining about a hardware keyboard. if u really need one then go get a palm pre or invent some peripheral
virtual keyboard works just fine if u dont smash ur whole finger into the screen

iPhone OS X says:

Yeah i think the ability with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse will be the solution.
Imagine the thickness of an iPhone with a hardware keyboard.

Tramain says:

If the keyboard looks like that yes.

evollime23 says:

Don't need a hardware keyboard just as long as apple comes up with landscape mode in every application and home screens

gquaglia says:

No hardware keyboard is needed. A bluetooth keyboard could fit the bill for those who want it.

guinness0514 says:

I like the concept above...as a peripheral that clips on. So if you need it, just clip on and make it where it can slide behind the phone when not needed.

David M. Cotter says:

I was very skeptical about the virtual keyboard. But what won me over was realizing i could thumb type AT FULL SPEED by just ignoring my typing errors. The auto-correct gets it right like 99.5% of the time. I was frankly astonished I could just blitz away hitting any part of the screen that is near the key i mean to hit, and it always hits, like always! Really, i'm quite impressed with it. Now I don't feel I need a hard keyboard any more, you really can type at full speed with the v-keyboard.

DomArch says:

I found I was typing pretty fast on the iphone once I developed a little more faith in the autocorrect. Then I was working with my wife's 3G S with the clicking sound left on and I found my speed increased noticeably. Now I have the sound turned on on my old 3G and feel like I'm typing as fast as I would on a tactile keyboard. I'm in the same camp as Gruber on this one. I think it works fine for most of the people who buy the phone and generally you get used to what you are working on. I love the hidden shortcuts that the virtual keyboard allows by holding the key (true quotes, accent marks, etc), and the autocorrect works incredibly well. It has certainly learned my error tendencies, although it still corrects im into IM and not I'm which would be preferable...

flyingember says:

I agree with TheMooch. I'll take a bluetooth keyboard or, like old palms, a docked keyboard.

Derek says:

I've never had a phone with a keyboard... So I guess I don't really know what I'm missing. I've not found the on screen keyboard to be much of a problem at all though.
That said... I'll give my one pro and one con to the adding of a keyboard to a user such as myself.
Pro: More screen space when typing would be nice. I have found it a bit frustrating at times trying to navigate through an email or web browser while the keyboard is up.
Con: I don't want a bulkier iPhone. A keyboard that won't be flimsy and easily breakable will necessarily have to add significant girth to the sleek iPhone style.

Mystic says:

No need for a physical keyboard. Gruber is spot on about that. Love typing on the iPhone; so much less physical stress and effort.

JB says:

No hardware keyboard! EVER!!

iMuggle says:

Blackberries by far have the best keyboards. That's part of the reason I went from my iPhone 3G to a Bold. After a few mos, I missed my iPhone and decided to give it another change. Traded my Bold for another iphone 3G, and just bought the 3G S.
I think I could type a little bit quicker on my Bold, but the iphone still has a lot of features I missed too much just to punch out 3 more wpm's on the blackberry.

SteveM says:

To suggest the iPhone 'needs' a physical keyboard in light of the sales figures seems a bit crazy, don't you think?
The on-screen keyboard is fine. Like every smartphone keyboard, it has pros and cons.
What I'm waiting for is the first bluetooth keyboard for the iPhone. At that point, I'll probably stop lugging my laptop to anywhere but the office...

cycling56#CB says:

I like my iphone keyboard better than I did my Blackberry or Nokia E71

BBYM#IM says:

Love it as it is. Like it better with out a physically keyboard.

Adam says:

I THOUGHT the lack of a physical keyboard was a deal breaker... until I got some real "hands on" time with an iPhone. I will admit, the first few sentences I typed on the iPhone were pretty rough. But after about 20 minutes of playing with it, I was able to type almost as quickly as I used to on my HTC Mogul. And now, after having my 3GS for a few weeks, I have come to really like the touchscreen keyboard. Have I used some better hardware keyboards? Yes. But at this point, I wouldn't trade the iPhone's size or versatility for a slider keyboard. I would hate to go back to such a clunky design.

a1by says:

Honestly, is it a surprise on TiPB that people are saying I love the iPhone keyboard? All kidding aside, the iPhone is a remarkable device in terms of virtual keyboards, but to say that virtual negates any need for a physical keyboard or that it only takes a week to get used to is more iPhone fanboyism.
I still get a chuckle seeing people who have had iPhones for months even years type with a single index finger. Is that a scientific poll not at all, but it points to the fact that there are people who would probably type faster on a physical keyboard.
Its time to stop the debate and recognize different strokes for different folks.

Beretta says:

I like the Blackberry physical keyboard just for the fact I can type without looking at it. With that being said, I prefer all the stuff my iPhone can do compared to the 8830 work gave me.
I turned the autocorrect completely off on my iPhone because I can't stand that feature on any product. I can type just as well without it.

iphonemilk says:
  1. People should NOT be texting while driving no matter what, if any of you do it? you're wrong. You know who you are.
    • That is the ONLY reason why i can think someone would need a hardware keyboard.

I got the iPhone to GET AWAY from a physical keyboard.

  1. I don't want one specifically because that's more of a risk of something breaking.
chrstphr.ross says:

I've had my iPhone for a few months now and nothing compares to it, especially now that landscape mode makes room for my big hands (insert evil laugh here). Not to mention, I use my backspace key like >75% less than I used to because the auto-correct is that amazing.
I've tried going back to a hardware keyboard (my girlfriend has a black jack 2) and I can't type on it worth anything unless I re-train myself.
PS - Palm needs to back off of the frontal assault on iPhone. Although, "hey I'm an iPhone, hey I'm a Pre" commercials would be pretty awesome to see.

KM says:

No keyboard was/is a deal breaker for me. I won't buy an iphone partly because of not having a 'real' keyboard. Of course, the other part is because it's on AT&T...

James McWhorter says:

It took a little getting used to but after about one week I got used to the iPhone's keyboard and would not go back.

Michael Denney says:

I could probably bring my girlfriend over from her BlackBerry if it had a hard keyboard but that's fine - she can stick with her BlackBerry I love the iPhone keyboard.

Wayne says:

Moving parts break. Just one of the reasons why I have an iPhone. Just ask any Palm Pre user how it slides and shakes around.

Scott says:

I think the biggest issue for Apple is that there is a whole generation of teenagers that have grown up texting a hundred times a day on a physical keyboard.
How many of them will be willing to convert to virtual, and how many will not even consider it? That's Apple's biggest problem.

Derek says:

When I first got my iPhone I was typing with one finger and it took quite a bit of time to type anything of significance. After a couple weeks of practice I'm able to type much faster than on my previous phone using both thumbs while I hold it horizontally. (of course my old phone didn't have a true keyboard either)
all that to say... I understand why some people want physical keyboard, but for my purposes I'd prefer the iPhone stay thin, light, and elegant. Something much harder to do with a built in physical keyboard. Sounds like some third party company needs to create a keyboard/case foe the iPhone.

Drake says:

I don't think it would HURT at all. Just make it to where I can detach or slide it in and I'm fine. I've always wanted someway to do keyboard shortcuts on my iPhone. But a physical keyboard could be worrysome at times. But we'll just have to see.

Moe says:

The problem with many people is that they fail to "trust" the iPhone keyboard. Trust is a necessary (and very important) aspect of any relationship. If you trust your iPhone, it will learn your words and it will autocorrect your spelling and will lead to a closer love relationship with your iPhone. Trust me, I know. I had issues in the beginning, but I learn to trust it and it has been so good to me. We still have some other small issues to work out, but at the end, we were made for each other.

PeterM11 says:

No. I like the virtual keyboard waaayyy better than any Physical one I've used.

Orangensaft says:

Honestly, in terms of sheer typing speed the iPhone keyboard is fantastic. Like others have said if you just trust the iPhone autocorrect you should be golden. The only thing is that oftentimes the keys do not register as fast as you are able to physically type them due to the infamous keyboard lag. All that said, I don't have much experience with blackberry keyboards and have been using the iPhone since its 2007 introduction.

cardfan says:

Coming from a series of Treos/centro since 2001 or so, i can type pretty fast on them.
After using iphones the past two years, i'd say i'm about 3x faster tying on an iphone vs a centro or Pre. Use two thumbs and trust in auto correct. Still prefer portrait..don't use landscape much.

Caballera says:

I like having the ability to go landscape or upright with the iPhone keyboard. I also like typing on the software keyboard on the iPhone and found it didn't require a learning curve to use.

josh says:

no. period. be what you are, iPhone. a great phone with a super-responsive virtual keyboard. plus, the sliding effect of a hardware keyboard would cheapen the iPhone. or at least add bulk to its beautiful design.

fred says:

Lets not forget, if iPhone sales validate a lack of keyboard, RIM's much superior sales figures argue in completely the opposite direction.
Apple has done everyone everyone has said they would never do to make the iPhone successful, starting with native apps (remember when the browser was the development platform), MMS (who needs that when we have e-mail), video recording, subsidized phone, phone less that $100 etc etc. Apple is much less religious than the fanboys that justify their decisions.
In short, as they reach the limit of the touch screen only market, they will add a keyboard to get the extra sales.

Al says:

It only took me a couple of days with my iPhone at 3G launch last year to be a convert. I can type so much faster and more accurately with the virtual keyboard + auto correction. Plus, one button and I can change the language in which I am typing and the keyboard changes depending on the situation that you are in. Physical keyboard also by default have one of two problems. Non-sliders have smaller screens and keyboards that are there whether you need them or not. Sliders are less sturdy than one-piece designs. The virtual keyboard is the only current form factor that eliminates both of these problems as well. Apple's global-centric mindset will never allow them to make a phone with a physical keyboard, it only allows for one character set.

chris4851 says:

To be 100% honest, I would prefer a keyboard. There is nothing better than a physical keyboard. You cant "no look" type on a screen like you can on a Blackberry. I still own an iPhone and love it but I would prefer an iPhone with a keyboard.

Harvey says:

I am a convert for the virtual keyboard, at least for light duty and phone stuff. Believe, it would be very useful to have the option of a full attachable keyboard for heavy duty office work, correspondence, etc.

chris4851 says:

Actually why doesn't Apple just change the physical keyboard design completely. They could make each physical key a small LCD in which they can change the language at will. This way they will satisfy everyone everywhere in the world!!

icebike says:

@PPLSeriously:

ppl seriously stop complaining about a hardware keyboard. if u really need one then go get a palm pre or invent some peripheral
virtual keyboard works just fine if u dont smash ur whole finger into the screen

Why, yes, I think I see what you mean.

ermax18 says:

The biggest hangup I had on the iPhone was the keyboard. As more coworkers started to get iPhone I made a point to grab them and practice typing and after doing that a few times I started to realize it wasn't that bad. Now I can type just as fast as I could with my WinMo phone. Maybe even faster due to auto correct. My only complaint would be the lost screen space when the keyboard is up. But I also enjoy the slim form factor. I would have to say form factor wins this battle. If they could add a slide out keyboard without adding to the thickness and leave the screen keyboard if you want to keep the hardware keyboard tucked away, then I would go for it.

avt says:

I type faster on my iPhone than I do on my Bold. I can care less if it has a hardware keyboard or not, I'm happy the way it is.

ermax18 says:

I will say my wife is still having problems typing on hers because of her nails. So a real keyboard could be handy for the females.

WatersWest says:

I reluctantly switched from a physical keyboard, but now that I did, I'll never go back. Less strain on my thumbs. Plus, as Dieter pointed out a long time ago, when you play a game or watch a movie on the iPhone, having no keyboard, it doesn't feel like you're doing it on a phone, but rather on a gaming or media device made for that purpose.
All that being said, it would be neat to have a FULL sized keyboard that the phone could plug into, much the way Pocket PC's had plug-in keyboards several years ago.

icebike says:

@iPhoneMilk:

People should NOT be texting while driving no matter what, if any of you do it? you’re wrong. You know who you are.

But we can text while riding right ?
Riding in the car, bus, or train is the only time I miss a physical keyboard.
With the iPhone, you can't use touch to feel when you are on the key, and THEN press it. Any touch is sufficient to trigger the letter.
In a jostling environment you simply can't type on the iPhone at all.
My friend with his Blackberry can let his fingers land on the keys, then decide to push that key if his finger is in the right spot and the shaking did not cause a key miss.
With iPhone, the slightest touch pushes the key before you have time to decide.
My solution: I've discovered that the iPhone keyboard triggers on Finger-Up, not Finger-Down.
So in jostling environments, I mash a finger/thumb near the letter, slide it around till the proper letter is shown and then lift finger off.
That's about the only time lack of a physical keyboard really bugs me.
The Apple Patent for haptic feedback that Rene mentioned in this Posting: http://www.theiphoneblog.com/2009/07/02/iphone-patent-watch-haptics-biom... might help.

Scott M says:

Honestly, if the keyboard is holding you back from getting an iPhone, you just don't get it. The iPhone rocks in so many other ways where other phones just don't compare. Use an iPhone for a week and see if you want to go back. No freaking way!

Tom S says:

The iPhone does NOT need a hardware keyboard. end of story its a terrible idea hardware keyboards on phones is a thing of the past

Mag says:

I used the Xperia X1 prior to the iPhone 3GS. Even though the Xperia's keyboard at it's time was praised as one of the best mobile phone keyboard, I have to admit after a week of using the iPhone I prefer the iPhone's virtual keyboard. Typing, for me, is equally fast, however the fact the phone is a lot sturdier, thinner and the simple fact I don't have to slide the keyboard in and out all the time was the "deal breaker" for me. I can understand people's need for physical keyboards, but most of them just never gave a good virtual keyboard a chance.

jonathan says:

It is not a dealbreaker, but they need to make the horizontal keyboard available in EVERY app. It's perfect.

The Reptile says:

I can't begin to describe the advantages that the iPhone's keyboard has over the physical ones. I had 3 Treo's before I purchased my iPhone. I touch type on a computer keyboard and was frustrated with each and every Treo keyboard. Alternate characters were extremely time consuming to type in and mistakes were not so easily corrected. Finally, the pain after typing a long keyboard made using the device afterward difficult.
I expected an adjustment when I purchased my iPhone. It took me literally minutes to get the hang of it and I was actually faster on it than I was on the Treo 700p that I retired earlier that day. I could go back to a physical keyboard but it would not be ideal to me. I also think that those who gripe about the lack of a physical keyboard are simply close minded and coming up with an excuse rather than accepting the iPhone and its strengths. Finally, I still make mistakes typing on the iPhone but because of the touch screen can edit quickly and move on and am grateful that it's that simple to fix versus what I had to deal with before.

Rudy says:

I would love to have a slide out keyboard on the iPhone. It's makes typing easier, especially when I'm on the go. I suck at the virtual keyboard. my fingers are not big yet I find my self doing surgery with one finger because my thumbs are to big for landscape. Iwould gain the advantage of dealing the keyboard and knowing by feel when I have pressed in.I find I have to stop a
and type. Great phone and there is nothing wrong with having extra features like a landscape keyboard unlike the palm pre

Iphonefanatic says:

Are you kidding me the new landscape feature is enough there is no need for a hardware keyboard!!!!

Jürg Hölzle says:

My phones before the iPhone were a Palm Treo 650, Nokia E65 and a HTC device with a side-sliding keyboard. I loved the Treo keyboard because its easy one-hand usabilty.
The first few days with my iPhone 3G a year ago were frustration. But after some days of use it becomes more and more comfortable. Now with the new 3GS and OS3 with the landscape mode I no more wish to have a physical keyboard.
There is only one exception: Sitting in a moving car.

Joe McG says:

I would rather see the extra bulk go towards a big a$$ battery...

Chris says:

I love the iPhone, but I would prefer a model with a physical keyboard. The tactile response of real keys makes typing much much easier for me. I would gladly trade a little extra bulk for faster typing.
Of course, the happy medium would be a bluetooth keyboard I could keep in my bag for when I needed it. Anyone at Apple listening? :)

frog says:

People who complain about it not having a hardware keyboard, just use it as an excuse. Put one on, and they'll complain about something else.
They are not potential iPhone customers, so Apple should just ignore them.

King Rich says:

I agree with Steve-O, sophicated software can replace hardware in this case. I'm very comfortable with the keyboard, and it's getting better every year.

Ken says:

A combination case and slide-out landscape keyboard with numbers would make a killer Bluetooth peripheral for the iPhone.
It could use small watch battery and have no electrical connection to the iPhone at all. It's almost a deal breaker for me and I'm hoping that this comes out as a peripheral. That would cinch it for me and I'd sign up.

Derek says:

If Mophie can make a relatively small case that functions as a battery, I have little doubt that some 3rd party can create a case with a built in keyboard. If there is a huge demand for such a thing, a supply will eventually arise.
I'm just not convinced the demand is all that great.

Ken says:

I'd pay $150 for such a peripheral and would buy an iPhone immediately.

Srh says:

Have to say the keyboard thing put me off after using a nokia 5800 for a few weeks then had to upgrade to the iPhone 3gs as the palm pre is still so time off in the uk. Wow it is just super easy to use and i would never go back. Have to say I am not a apple fan but you guys have one top product.

Ron says:

No hardware keyboard, please. Too 20th century for Apple. A virtual keyboard would be nice (mini-projector projects keyboard on desk, sensor remotely senses key pressed...Apple engineers please figure out thx).

iam25boy says:

I could like to say that iPhone keyboard is nice and powerful. It even support other languages as well without hacking the device. Try that on other mobile OS. None of those do it.. I am really impressed how good iPhone can recognize Chinese handwriting.

BenGillam says:

@derek or better yet a Bluetooth keyboard but then you'd have to have some kind of stand too lol.
Personally I really like keyboard appart from when it lags but then winmo does that as well even with hardware keyboard.

cfroisland says:

Can we be honest and say that all slide out and fold out keyboards suck? How are tiny physical keys that rely on a physical weak point like a hinge or slider a good idea on a "high end" phone? Anyone ever been satisfied with the way a slider/folder phone looks when it is close?
I'm with the others that a better idea would be full-size keyboard integration.

tony.aka.age says:

I don't really mind this much but I type faster with the v-keyboard in portrait mode.. I really hate the landscape keyboard because it's hard to type with my hands spread apart. I use to have an LG Rumor with the keyboard and man was it hard to text. So I guess it could be good for everyone since you don't "have" to use it.

DubbDee says:

I tend to prefer typing in portrait mode as well and I have rather large hands. Maybe because that's what I'm used to at this point after using it for so long on my '07 iPhone. I tried landscape for a while last night in IM+ and it was a bit awkward. Never used a hardware keyboard so not sure what I'm missing there but I really like the v-board, easy to use and the less I worry about mistakes, the quicker I can type.

ciocpa says:

I echo many on here... Part of my decision to get the iPhone was the virtual keyboard. The hardware keyboard makes a phone too thick IMHO.

The Devil's Advocate says:

The portrait keyboard is better for index finger typers who don't need to type out a whole lot. The landscape keyboard is better for thumb typers.
To me this argument is moot now, because I think Apple's vision has always been threefold when it came to the touch screen:
1) Use Mac OS so you use something you already have, and make it easier to share technologies between desktop and laptop
2) make the hardware as simple as possible with as few moving parts. This increases quality.
3) Free us from the hardware keyboard. A touch screen is like a mouse it has near limitless flexibility. Create new input options geared around this new interface.
We didn't really get #3 until the non-latin character functionality came to fruition this past June. Naysayers dismissed it because it wasn't more of the old stuff. Now that we see what it can do, more people are opening their eyes. Maybe americans and europeans like keyboards, but considering there are 1.2 billion chinese who have some cash to burn, you bet they perked up when Apple demoed the ability to draw chinese characters right on the phone.

Sofistikated says:

I've had all the iphone models from 2G to 3GS and I can say I'll type faster on an Iphone than any other phone out there. It has grown on me. People keep saying that the Iphone needs a hardware keyboard but that's all bull. A week after I had gotten my first Iphone I was typing like a champ.

ak7834 says:

no way, dont see the need of a "hardware" keyboard, reasons are:
- it takes physical space, and is ugly
- with the tiny keys, it is not worth it, one cannot touch type as fast as with a "real" keyboard
- in terms of typing speed, I believe it may be close race between the two systems, so again, not worth it
- I personnally do not type so much text on the iphone. If I want to type a real long email I will go to my laptop, otherwise I will just use the iphone to send quick email reply, so again a hardware keyboard would not make such a difference.
- the iphone keyboard, with the letters that pop out for feedback is the best keyboard I have ever seen when it comes to touch screen keyboards. I mean I have been playing before on windows mobile phones, and I have been trying all the existing keyboards, and none come close to the iphone one, even the so-called iphone clones...So congrats to Apple on user interface design, they really again show their capabilities at designing good UI....
I really dont understand the users who are in such a need of a hardware keyboards, I really dont see the point. Maybe it is just old habit, people feel re-assured to use a hardware keyboard, of maybe it is just that we are all different with different needs...

iDavey says:

e-ink keyboard. Nuff said. You could change characters at ease.
So thats not an argument.

Ves says:

I would say no, that is what separates the iPhone from the rest. I came from history of phones with a keyboard and having a proper on-board keyboard separates it from the rest.

Blake 2 says:

I would never ever go to a physical keyboard. If you learn to trust the auto-correct you'll be fine. It seems as though Dieter gave physical keyboards a chance but not a virtual keyboard. Using his same justification for a physical keyboard, just give the virtual time and it will grow on you. I type faster on the iPhone than I ever thought I would when I first got my hands on the original.

Tom says:

With the extra space the keyboard would take they could put Ina battery the would last a week even with background apps running for god sake in landscape the large keyboard is much more managable than the tiny keys on a pre or blackberry. I just wish the phone was a bit wider so when inputting text there was move space and Also that there was a drag and scroll to get through long text entries and long websites more quickly

E Pow says:

I actually thought I wouldn't like the on screen keyboard, but now I prefer it. I dont like physical keyboards. I love the fact that when I need a keyboard I can just pull it up. When I want to view a big web page, or email I can without having a keyboard to take up screen space. I really thought I'd hate it, but now I dont ever want a physical keyboard. Lastly a physical keyboard would take up the space and add bulk to the device.

krishna says:

I am happy sans keyboard. I was initially apprehensive but now I am used to it. But each to their convenience - especially women with long finger nails or men with pudgy fingers.

Freiteez says:

many people say "i want a physical keyboard" then they try out the iphones and the auto-correction and then they dont mind it being a physical keyboard.
I got 4 other people who were "keyboard only" to get the iPhone :)
now they love it and realize that a keyboard is like how steve jobs said it was "its there when you need it, its not if you dont need it."

evollime23 says:

No!!! Just bring landscape mode to all apps as well as home screens

Bill says:

As an iphone user for 2+ years, i can safely say I miss by BlackBerry keyboard every day. Like evey blackberry to iphone convert my mobile email usage has dropped ALOT because of the keyboard and the weak email client.
If email is the key factor in getting a smartphone, look away from the iphone. if its not your top thing, then you'll love the iphone.

Cameron says:

Using both a blackberry and an iPhone every day i ALWAYS prefer the BlackBerry when writing emails. There's just no comparison.
But that is not what the iPhone is all about. Its great at alot of other things. It is just not a business level email device if you are a heavy emailer.

Susan says:

It was almost a deal breaker for me, and it is still the feature that I hate most. My boss' husband bought i-phones for her and her two sons last Christmas, and they all went back as soon as they tried the keyboard.

aaron says:

ok, don't give me it, then at least give me bluetooth keyboard access. i'll take a strap on

Brandon G. says:

The iPhone keyboard is great in my opinion. I've had all 3 iPhones. And a few berries inbetween each release of an iPhone. Blackberry curve, 8800, and the bold but I've had no problem with the iPhones touch screen. I prefer it over any phones keyboard or touch screen, nothing compares to it IMO. No stress typing, very responsive and the predictive text and auto correction is the best out to date. But the best part is, the keyboard is only there when you need it, vertical and landscape.

Goldentree says:

How anyone can thumb type on the iPhone keyboard is beyond me. You people must have tiny thumbs. Or mine are just freakishly large. Either way, it's index finger typing for me all the way, and as such I don't think I could benefit from a slide-out keyboard aside from the additional viewable screen space it would allow. And gaming buttons. But overall, I think the phone would be bulkier with the same features it has now, plus the keyboard, so I'd rather not have it.

Mike says:

My first QWERTY keyboard (on a phone) was my LG enV. I did enjoy typing on the enV; however, I honestly have to say I enjoy typing on the iPhone that much more. I never thought I'd say this, but I can type faster on the iPhone keyboard rather than a physical keyboard. There's several reasons why:
1. Ability to switch from portrait (I usually use when I have 1 hand available, or for quick texts) to landscape (two hands).
2. It flows smoother --I just love typing on it.
3. Auto-correct/punctuation.
4. 3.5 in. screen, relatively small size: this wouldn't be possible if there was a physical keyboard. If there was a physical keyboard, Apple would have to take away screen size or add to the size/weight.
5. Modification: the iPhone, as noted in article, is not fixed. As some noticed with the iPhone OS 3.0 update, Apple slightly changed the layout of the landscape keyboard, making it better. These types of things aren't possible with a physical one.
People at my job are always talking saying this and that about the iPhone keyboard (non-iPhone users), but never gave it a chance. It took me about a week to get used to it. If I would have made a judgment after a few tumbles, my life wouldn't be quite as good as it is today.

SpiceRak2 says:

I like both options but I wouldn't want both options on the iPhone. I respect this as a design choice that carries many advantages.
For all those that "poo poo" folks that still prefer a physical keyboard, perhaps you are not "open minded" enough to see their pain points. I can use the iPhone keyboard well enough, but I had no idea how tough it could be until my father tried to use my iPhone. (With time, would he get better? Most assuredly. But, I can say, without reservation, that he would never fully embrace the virtual method.) For some, it just is a deal breaker. Apple is aware of this. The changes they have already made to the v-keyboard is evidence, I think.
I will say this...many of us enter our posts while on the iPhone and for some, the auto-correction doesn't seem to be working well enough. :-)

Tansen says:

The Physical keyboard is something I'd rather not have to be honest. I love the on screen keyboards and always have, they work great for me and I'm pretty quick at it. The G1 turned me away because of its keyboard, although the HTC Magic (G1 minus the keyboard) seems like a better buy. You lose much of the thickness and maintain functionality (unless you must have a physical keyboard). As long as the screen is big enough to sport large fingers quickly and easily, onscreen shohuld be fine. I'm just waiting for a Bluetooth keyboard option though...

Henry L says:

Nooooooo. Don't even think to putting the physical keyboard on iPhone.
It will definitely ruin the design. Also, at least for me I don't find any inconvinience with iPhone virtual keyboard. I think it is even better than other physical keyboards.
Autocorrection works so well and the iPhone keyboard exactly sense what my finger actually wants to tap.
This comment is typed on iPhone vitual keyboard as well.
Cool Apple!!

Matt F says:

NO! It does not need a keyboard! I can type 10 times faster on the iPhone than on any other phone or smartphone for that matter! If people are really so concerned about having a keyboard, develop this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixw3A3QgJPI

Levertis says:

The iPhone is the best phone in the world if u don't have one u r a lame.

Chris R says:

I'm a die-hard iPhone user, but I sometimes have to support Blackberry users. I feel so sorry for them after I have to type with their little tic-tac keyboard - it feels like I'm typing on a child's toy (and I was a die-hard BB user before I got the iPhone). Virtual keyboard is the way to go.

excaliburca says:

I've made this complaint before, and it's really the only major issue with the iPhone hardware wise, that the software keyboard is no substitute to a hardware keyboard. Having used a Treo 650, and on occasion my wife's Bell Canada Blackberry 8830 World Edition, and the iPhone there really is a different. I make less mistakes typing with a touchy-feely keyboard rather than an on-screen one. It also (psychologically I know) limits how I use the iPhone too. Email is the biggest example: I have no issue reading my e-mail on my phone, but I also never answer messages because of the touch-screen keyboard.
If Apple or a 3rd party provider came up with a attachable keyboard you could plug into the bottom of the phone, I would be so over it like butter on bread.

lordzod01 says:

Why put a hard keyboard on an iphone? It wouldn't make typing any faster than the virtual one with it being the same size. A external plug-in, full size, flexi keyboard; that could be rolled up and carried around would be a better desighn for those who require a larger keyboard for speed.
The virtual keyboard allows for upgrades and cuts down on enevitable hardware failures. Technology is progressing, eventualy the iphone might takeover notebooks. For this to happen new software is required, not a step back in hardware. A phone sized hard keybord would not improve typing on the iphone, only an external keyboard can answer the call for more efficient typing.

Joe V says:

As an "old timer" who still "bleeds 6 colors", the iPhone was the first Apple product I waited 2 years to buy (I bought the 3GS the 2nd day it was available). The reasons I waited? I had been using Palm Pilots then Treo's since day 1 - they are so integral to my business that I had to wait until I could get equivalent apps - AND I was worried about the keyboard. Of course I now cannot imagine living without my iPhone - but also can say I am continually hobbled by the keyboard. On the Treo I could type one handed with my thumb when replying to an urgent text and regularly typed multiple page notes during all day seminars. No way on the iphone. At the very least - I hope the patents we read about for some sort of technology that will allow us to "feel" the onscreen keys comes to fruition. In the mean time - why doesn't someone come out with a bluetooth keyboard that does not require a jail break???

Patty Azzarello says:

The iPhone has cut off an entire market segment -- Women with fingernails.
It is impossible to use the on screen keyboard if you have long fingernails. Finger tips don't reach. Game over.
As market segments go, women with finger nails care about style, and spend money every month to maintain them. Seems like a good market segment to me...

lordzod01 says:

cut your nails..............LOL,

lukie says:

pains you in your fingers and arms? wow. . . hit the gym. Honest to god no one's arms should hurt from typing emails on your phone.

Matt says:

I can't think that Apple would go to a hardware keyboard but I definitely think the lack of a bigger separate keyboard is a downer. I think they're going to go to a 2 piece iPhone, with the second piece sliding out underneath and it will be a touchscreen keyboard that doubles as extra screen space.
Or was that a dream I had?

Ryan says:

Most of the time, i find my iPhone's virtual keyboard perfectly adequate. Don't love it, don't hate it. But there are times when I would prefer to have a physical keyboard, like the folding Targus I previously used with my Palm. And I'd be willing to shell out some bucks to get one. It seems silly to have an endless debate over virtual vs physical keyboards. If you like what Apple provided, end of story -- you have what you need. But it seems there are enough of us willing to pay for a physical keyboard that Apple might sensibly allow a 3rd party to provide one without violating its design ethos.

desjones4ever says:

I will tell you what it needs more than anything we ask for. Competition. Then we would get the things we need in this device. Right now Apple has the cellphone game on lock.

Danielle says:

It was at first a problem, however the other things out weighed the bad. I had a T-Mobile MDA sooo it was an amazing upgrade!
Now I type faster then anyone I know! Maybe it's the use of an iPhone and never going on a pc because it takes to long to turn on and log on!

Donny says:

The reason I got the iphone was because it doesn't have a slide out keyboard. I type so much faster on the iphone touch screen! Keep up the good work Apple. Sounds like most people responding here likes the iphone design the way it is already.

Visi says:

Henry L said:
Jul 8th @ 04:01 am
Nooooooo. Don’t even think to putting the physical keyboard on iPhone. It will definitely ruin the design. Also, at least for me I don’t find any inconvinience with iPhone virtual keyboard. I think it is even better than other physical keyboards. Autocorrection works so well and the iPhone keyboard exactly sense what my finger actually wants to tap. This comment is typed on iPhone vitual keyboard as well. Cool Apple!!
Iphone VITUAL keyboard?! Ehehehe. Yes cool apple :P

terry says:

It was a dealbreaker for me. I now own a Pre.

Yves says:

Life evolves - things evolve - why not have an accessory like a keyboard for people who want one? Come on people - no harm done if it is available! And Apple: think of the $ you could generate? Everybody win!!!!

Philly Z! says:

I wish they made limited edition iPhones with keyboards like the pic with the article, seriously the above pic is sweet and what a nice keyboard apple would make

Cyril says:

After 2 years with the iPhone keyboard, I think I need both a software one and a hardware one!
For a few situations e.g. language switching the software keyboard with good auto-correct is better, but for one-handed use, long emails I prefer a physical one. Also you get more visible screen estate with a physical keyboard.
A physical keyboard with good auto-correct would be ideal. The iphone keyboard is only good because of the auto-correct -it lacks haptic feedback.
Other companies don't have as good auto-correct, but that can be added in software.
So I'm going for the Palm Pre - you can easily hack it and add the onscreen keyboard if you want, and you can hack the auto-correct so it is as good/better as the iPhone's and more suited to your particular use. The iphone's autocorrect implementation is faster than the Pre, but the Pre is still in its infancy and should improve vastly with updates and hacks.

ThatSnazzyIphone says:

I had a blackberry...The keyboard was WAY too small.I had to type with my nails (litteraly) It wasn't very practical or fast,i would have been quicker with a standard phone keyboard,with nice sized keys.
Then i got an iphone...wich made typing miles faster...you do make mistakes but at least you dont hit 2 buttons at the same time.Blackberry's wanna-be propper keyboard is Epic Fail

Nola says:

After reading about the battery problems the Pre is having I started reconsidering the iPhone. However, when I was reading about the iPhone I remembered the keyboard thing. My husband has an iPhone that I hate when it involves typing. No-typing aps are great but seriously for business I need to type. He hates to type on it also. I whip off emails so fast now on my 4 year old Treo that folks think that I am at a computer. I think what I am going to do is sit tight for awhile and wait until the Pre works out some of their power issues and then jump on that bandwagon. Conclusion: the physical keyboard is my dealbreaker.

Aaron says:

Why do all the folks drinking the Apple Koolaid not put their money where their mouth is and time a) experienced Blackberry/Trio users type an email, and b) experienced iPhone users type the same? Instead of buying the anecdotal "It's just as fast" comments, I've asked my most die-hard iPhone-worshiping friends to type something on their iPhone while I did on my Blackberry. Results: In every case I'm at least 4x faster on the Blackberry. If, like me, you spend 30 minutes a day or so typing emails/etc., that means it would be 2 hours per day to do the same on an iPhone. If you make $60/hour, that means the iPhone costs $90/day in lost productivity, which means you'd pay about $32,000/year in lost income/productivity to have, admittedly, the more cool-looking iPhone. Obvious solution: Bluetooth keyboard support, so I can get a flip case for the iPhone with a keyboard. Then I'd convert in a second, as would many Blackberry users, and it has zero impact on the existing iPhone users. And I think iPhone would have a much bigger market share since they'd get the pragmatic, logical thinkers who aren't motivated by hype, but rather look at the cold hard fact that a cell phone these days is a tool.

Chris S says:

These old fossils who need a clunky hardware keyboards are living in the past. They probably ride their horse and carriage to work and wonder why the local store doesn't sell coal for their heaters.

Jhon says:

I think a hardware keyboard could be extremely useful especially if we want to type very fast a long email, i don't like the idea to use just 2 fingers for tipyng i used an iphone 3G for 7 months, it is good to write quick messages, but since we can read long emails and want to answer it is not practical because the keyboard is in almost all the screen specially if it is in landscape position. a bluetooth keyboard would be nice but not as part of the iphone by it self. so we could use it when it is needed.

Timothy Rayner says:

Those who say they don't need a keyboard are probably right. They typically want only to use the iphone for sending short e-mails and texts. Those who want a hardware keyboard mostly want a dockable or bluetooth full size foldable keyboard (like the excellent stowaway model I used to use with my pocket PC). I think it unlikely that anyone actually requires a built in keyboard. Those who want a full size keyboard are those who want the convenience of a laptop with the portability of an iphone. To know that if they go to a business meeting and want to take notes that they've always got a device that they can touchtype on. I can type fast on my iphone software keyboard but NOT 50 wpm fast. When you consider some people can type at a speed in excess of 150wpm on a standard full sized keyboard there's absolutely no way an iphone can compete on those terms.
Apple are starting to sell the iphone not just to ibeer and lightsaber apps users but to serious business users. If they REALLY want serious business to take the iPhone seriously they need to provide cross-app support for bluetooth keyboards. A native word processing program and a good selection of fonts wouldn't go amiss either (although I acknowledge that third party is already starting to provide that)

kadri says:

the only way iw ould buy an iphone is if the resolution goes higher like 480x800 and it gets a hardware keyboard...this is why we windows mobile peoples bought the xperia, TP2, TD2, and other wvga winmo devices...a wvga screen is really sexy, i love to show off my xperia to my iphone buddies, and they do get jealous lol

Joey Howle says:

I think the iphone does need a hardware keyboard.Touchscreen is difficult.Keyboards are awesome.
and it looks awesome:):):):):):):)

Matthew says:

Iphone fanboyism sould be in the dictionary. The iphone having a hardwear keyboard would be better.Mostly because physical keyboards are easyer and faster, but if you dont like it use the on screen keyboard, wait their a is 2 phones like that, The Driod or the G1, WOW apple your beind, I still laugh at iphone texters they look retarted when they text, congrats on a keyboard that takes up 3/4th of your screen

Paula says:

I don't think the iPhone needs a permanently attached physical keyboard, it would be too small and cramped. But I would find the iPhone a lot more usable with bluehtooth HID profile so I could use an external bluetooth keyboard as I have a medical condition which makes hand control difficult.

Aswal says:

Yes, it would have held me back before I got used to the keyboard in my iPod touch, but now it's bit an issue, and u use both the physical and virtual keyboards on my droid with very good speed. So no, a virtual keyboard is not a problem once you get used to it. Kthxbai.
Written from my iPod.

iSMOOVE says:

man i like the phone i don't feel the need for you to have it jail break free but does it have a release date????

Kira says:

Does this new iphone have the touchscreen keyboard for texting as well as the sliding one?

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Mobistealth says:

I am an iphone owner and I agree that the landscape keyboard is a much better typing experience on it. With that mode enabled for all apps, I'll be happy with my virtual keyboard. I really haven't missed the physical keyboard that I had previously on a SideKick II.

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Matt Perkins says:

Ok first seeing as Im a heavy texter and IMer on my phone, I can say anyone who says the touch screen is better than a keyboard doesn't text or IM much. There is no way in hell it is easier to use the touch screen over a hardware keyboard if your sending and receiving 100s or 1000s of messages a day.
Apple fan boys need to get their heads out of Jobs's ass and get some real life friends. Because if your saying it's easier to use the touch screen over a hardware keyboard then you aren't talking to many people.

iphone spy says:

it will be great to have a iphone hardware keyboard but its my personal view that iphone looks good without it and apple has developed iphone after a long research and they know the requirements that why they have not included hardware keyboard