iPhone Keyboard vs. Pen, Laptop, Newton, Palm Graffiti, Treo

Six writing things

Phil Gyford decided to take an old fashioned pen and paper, a MacBook laptop computer, an Apple Newton MessagePad 2100 with handwriting recognition, a Palm Vx with Graffiti input, a Palm 650 with a physical keyboard, and an Apple iPhone 3G with virtual multitouch keyboard and see how long it took him to enter a well-memorized 221 word passage.

The MacBook keyboard won, of course, with the iPhone second and the Treo and pen and paper a close third and fourth. Newton and Graffiti handwriting recognition didn't fair nearly so well.

It's not scientific and not presented as such, it's just one individual's test to see how well he did with his devices.

For me, my handwriting is near-illegible, I type fairly well on a MacBook (but am not a touch-typist), I never liked Graffiti, and avoided typing on my old Treo 600 and 680 like the plague. The iPhone can't compete with my MacBook for text entry, but then I can't easily carry my MacBook in a pocket the way I can my iPhone. Trade offs.

If you have a collection of different devices around as well, and are willing to invest the time, let us know what your results are like.

[Gyford via Gizmodo]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone Keyboard vs. Pen, Laptop, Newton, Palm Graffiti, Treo


I got similar results, although I already know i suck at iPhone onscreen:
Mac: 3 minutes
iPhone: 6 minutes
Treo: 5 minutes
Pen and— oh look a squirrel

All true EXCEPT for those of us with hand tremors and cannot, therefore thumb type on the iPhone. Come on, wouldn't you at least like to have the option of a physical BT keyboard and mouse? Yes I'll never be a surgeon but I'm a pretty good Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor.

"You think there’d be a big difference between Treo and BlackBerry keyboards?"
Some, but not much. I think Chad put it best: "Anyone who says they can't type on the iPhone isn't really trying."
I think most of the criticism of the iPhone's keyboard has been pure b.s. from day one.

I know for sure I can type a lot faster and more accurate on my old blackberry pearl then I can on my current 3gs....it isn't even a contest for the most part.

I type on my 3GS at about the same rate I type on a keyboard. Fast!
I can't use The psysical keypads worth a darn.

I have used a nokia physical qwerty keyboard,which was quite good,a nokia touch screen keyboard,which sucks & an android(htc hero) keyboard,which is really good.I recently bought an iPod touch & I have to say that out of all,in my experience,it is the best keyboard I have uses so far. I can also type the fastest on it. I need to mention thought that mobile phone keyboards can do what desktop & notebook keyboards cannot. That is,they work with prediction text. I am a foriegner living in Germany. I can speak the language,but I cannot write in German that well. I have found that when I set my keyboard to German,it assists me in writing in that language as prediction text helps me spell the words correctly. I now find myself being able to function more efficiently within the language & the country I am living in. Thus,this is an amazing application. I have tested this with all my divices & it works well. But here again I have to say that I am quicker on the iPod. I hope this was of interest.

My own experience: the physical keyboard was fastest, followed closely by pen & paper and the Treo keyboard. The iPhone keyboard definitely lagged (unless I didn't care about spelling anything correctly). I used to really, really like Graffiti, but it's been years since I had a Palm device that used it.

Hardware keyboards are much better in my opinion.
You have to get used to the keyboard you're using.
One person can't just do a test and expect to get proper results.

Pity you cant use a real (bluetookh?) keyboard with the iPhone when mobility isn't essential. Would be great for bashign out emails on a plane, at home etc.

The only place the iPhone keyboard and pad let's me down is when I'm try to text or ring someone while driving. Physical keypads always have a little burr on the five button as a reference point.

Keepitreal - I'd love to hear your argument. Don't you find it interesting that Blackberry was left out of this keyboard comparison in the first place? Weird, I know.

My arguement is simple: I type faster, more accurately and with less physical strain on the iPhone than I ever did on my Blackberry.
He didn't test a Blackberry because he didn't own one. As a comparison of different types of input, this was reasonable.

All fair, but there used to be a world of difference between someone who could 'write' in Graffiti or someone that was hesitant.

I used graffiti for years and use handwriting recognition on a tablet pc. the advantage is I can hold the tablet in one hand and write with the other also, My body positioning is less critical than when I am typing. I can type fairly well if the keyboard is well positioned. Also writing on a tablet is less intrusive in the doctor patient interaction. I wish the I pad had a writing and stylus option for art.

I regularly use a table pc. When using handwritting with recognition, indeed much time is spent on checking and correcting.
However, I save my notes as handwritting, more as a way of saving and organizing notes. That makes it just as fast as pen & paper.
The advantage over keyboard in my opinion is that in many meetings, people do not like the looks of me behind a screen and keyboard. Within 3 minutes people don't notice I am makig notes on a tablet in stead of a notepad.
Tables pc are developing as well. Look at HP's Multi Touch tablet pc. Not sure what to choose yet and how much I want to change habit