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Apple prototyping iPhone with physical keyboard?!

According to a rough translation from, Apple may be prototyping an iPhone with a physical slide-out keyboard.

The site's source claimed that Apple has built three prototype models for its anticipated "iPhone 5," and one of them has a "sliding cover" that conceals a keyboard.

The translation also mentioned the rumored iPhone Nano which has picked up a lot of traction recently, as well as a prototype similar to the iPhone 4 but with upgraded internals.

While we've seen a few different rumors floating around about purported iPhone models coming down the pipe, this one seems a little too far-fetched for our liking. When we asked if anyone still wanted an iPhone with a physical keyboard, the majority of responses we saw were in favor of a software-based keyboard. On top of that, Steve Jobs has professed his love for the software keyboard because of its ability to adapt to any use-case needed.

Any of our readers think there's weight to these new rumors? Let us know in the comments below!


Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

  • I have missed a physical keyboard forever. I have become accustomed to the touch keyboard but I still hate typing on it. Texting to me is still a pain and I'd wish for a physical keyboard so I knew what I was pressing. The slim iPhone could easily fit a slide out keyboard and I'm sure apples new iPhone will be even slimmer so adding a keyboard wouldn't be that hard. My buddies crappy t mobile phone has swype which is amazing and when you click a key the phone vibrates, it just feels better getting a physical response. Unlike iPhones click click click sound.
  • If they release a keyboard only iPhone, they will lose tons of customers, including me. If it was an alternate version, that would be a good move.
  • yeah i definately agree. call it the iphone 4 pro
  • How would they release a keyboard only phone? That would mean the touchscreen doesn't work anymore?! No you could just have a choice. You don't lose anything.
  • Totally agree.
  • Think what Chris is referring to is that he doesn't want to carry a phone that has a keyboard....even if u can choose not to use it. I would certainly agree give me an option of not having a hardware keyboard and instead a slimmer phone. I am certain apply would not allow a keyboard on the iPhone ever but if they did n it was the only option I would be very unhappy as a client.
  • They will probably have 2 versions of the iphone 5. Let the ios fragmentation continue.
  • My iPhone4 already has a physical keyboard. It's by boxwave :)
  • just get an app for your iphone that makes your keyboard buzz when you press the screen. problem done. i have it on mine, but its a JB app, idk if its available otherwise.
  • "According to a rough translation from, Apple may be prototyping an iPhone with a physical slide-out keyboard."
    No. They may not be. :roll:
  • I have always wanted an iPhone with a hardware keyboard, even though Steve said it won't happen, and I agree with the above comment that if they only release iPhone 5 with a keyboard they will lose custom.
    On an interesting side option it would be ok if there was a version with the hardware slide, but on it a secondary screen. That way they could still display the software keyboard (customised depending on what you're soon on the phone at the time) but retain the whole display to it and not lose over 50% of the viewing area to the keyboard.
    Just a thought.
  • Its a simple idea. If you don't have the keyboard slid out, the onscreen keyboard pops up. If you need to type and you slide it out the on screen keyboard goes away. It's not rocket science. The extra room on the screen would be great.
  • I would love the iphone to be like the pocket pc. It has a touch screen and slide out keyboard. Then I would convert otherwise I am going to go to the Droid 2.
  • Oh hell no... I'd be gone faster than the iPhone 5's dual core A6 V12 chip!
  • i think this year is all about alternatives. they're rumored to creating an alternative ipad, an iphone nano, and now this. wow. release everything in white, and people will be pleased this summer
  • Like the prototype though. But who knows??? Just rumors!!!
  • Has nobody seen the slim slide out physical keyboard by boxwave?
  • If they release a keyboard only iPhone, they will lose tons yet millions of customers, including me and everyone I know who owns an iphone. NO alternate version. The phone world changed because of Apple's approach to doing things and that included not using a keyboard on this WORLD changing phone.
  • As an alternative, not a bad idea since more choice usually good.
    For those of us who actually know multiple languages, software keyboard is the only way to go. English and French I would prefer using a physical keyboard but for languages like Chinese (need handwriting recognition) and Korean (need change in software keyboard). I got use to typing in all those languages with the software keyboards so don't see how this would change.
    Why can't there be a rumor about a bigger iPhone? =_=
  • I think it would be good for Apple to expand their market to attract more people to the iPhone. Like an iPhone nano for people for want an iPhone but don't really have the money to spend or an iPhone with a keyboard for people that prefer a keyboard rather than an virtual one. I like the virtual one, it's a lot more accurate than Android's virtual keyboard and the screen is really responsive.
  • Despite choice being good, I think a physical keyboard would be a step backwards.
  • Of course they are prototyping it. I'm sure they are prototyping all sorts of crazy things. Doesn't mean they are ever going to produce it.
  • Now that the Verizon iPhone can't be in the rumor blogs, we're going to get endless garbage like this :(
  • Exactly!
  • How about instead of a keyboard it had controllers for games
  • This is quite interesting. I wonder have they made any portrait slideout prototype.
  • Apple giving choice is this possible I fell like. This is becoming more like android Ha ha ha good bye android and blackbery and windows phone and HP Appple makes every tipe of phone now no need for anything else ha ha ha
  • What do people not understand about this? It's not saying that if Apple releases an iPhone with a keyboard that the touch keyboard will disappear. It's simply that if you have the keyboard slid closed, the touch keyboard will be up, if you slide out the keyboard, the phone goes into Landescape mode, and takes the touch keyboard off screen. It's that simple. Apple wouldn't lose any customers if they added a keyboard to it, and if people did leave their iPhones just because Apple gave you an alternative to a touch keyboard, well, that sucks for you.
  • What do not understand about Apple being innovative, and not ever churning out dated garbage?
  • I have no need for a physical keyboard, but I would like to have a nice t9 to make it easier to text when i'm busy doing other things. I had t9 on my droid, and loved it, but it would be different, because you could add words to the dictionary to make it learn what you type.
  • I have no desire for this, Id rather just have swipe put on my phone
  • I was under the impression that Apple routinely tests out a number of form factors. If true, then this news is no surprise. The question is will they ever actually release an iPhone with a physical keyboard and if they do does it get a new name like bPhone.
  • Don't you mean BSphone?
  • absolutely 0% probability. not after steve jobs spent the whole first part of the original iphone press conference discrediting physical keyboards
  • Who are these nutters that come up with this nonsense? I really hope that these media companies/content aggregators aren't paying for this BS...
  • An iPhone keyboard would be awesome! I hope these rumors turn out to be true but I doubt it.
  • If they made one I wouldn't buy it. I love the on screen kb. I hope they make two of them for the people who do want them.
  • I don't believe this for a second. Apple places a high importance on internationalization and having a soft keyboard that can adapt to virtually any language is essential to this effort.
    While devices like the BlackBerry are stuck in the stone age in terms of international language capability, the iPhone is leading the way in opening up to more languages, in a way that even Android has yet to catch up with. My iPhone allows me to type in the common European languages, as well as in other scripts such as Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Thai, etc, all built in and without installing additional software. Few other smartphones offer this kind of input versatility, let alone the ability to display the entire interface in these languages. That is why I don't foresee a hard keyboard on these devices. Notice also that while you can buy BlackBerrys in some of those specific countries to get language capability for that specific language, every iPhone supports all of those languages natively out of the box, no matter where you buy it from. This is a major reason why I will be using iOS devices for a long time to come.
  • Can't image this would ever see the light. Every company uses several prototypes, doesn't mean they will use them. If there is such a device, it is just for engineering.
  • experiment but don't release it
  • I don't believe in god. But if I did, now would be the time!
    YES, I want a real keyboard!!!
  • Yuk, next thing we will have to use a stylus!
  • Noooooo.
    Do not want.
  • Please, don't!
  • Gross Plz Don't
  • Wouldn't that be kinda like adding a floppy drive to the next MacBook Air?
  • 5 inch floppy at that
  • God no! Please don't make us have major moving parts on an iPhone! A button or 3 is all we need!
  • Lmao!!!!
  • Gotta say, the only thing I miss about my blackberry is the physical keyboard:)
  • I'm sorry - a physical keyboard in my opinion would be the kiss of death for the iPhone. There are many features that make the iPhone stand out from its competitors - adding a physical keyboard would push the iPhone into being more compared to the mass of generic phones out there and that's not what the iPhone needs.
    I also can't imagine Apple would cheapen or dumb-down the iPhone to create an "iPhone Nano" as it's being called - but that's a discussion for another thread.
  • I'd LOVE an iPhone with a physical keyboard! I'm a business user and, even though the software keyboard on the iPhone is very good, typing long notes or emails on the go can be rather cumbersome. It wouldn't necessarily mean that there's no software keyboard either; most "pro" phones, e.g. Motorola Milestone or HTC Touch Pro, have both and it works very well. Just use the software keyboard for quick stuff like tweets or SMS and slide out the HD keyboard if you want to do something more involving.
  • Apple has made 3 prototypes? Hmm this reminds me about the Simpsons episode: "Who shot Mr. Burns?". The writers has made several alternate endings, just to cover up the real ending when it finally got aired.
    Is it possible that this is the same scenario deviced by Apple?
  • No physical keyboard made the iPhone unique at one point. Now, I can't imagine it with a keyboard. I absolutely love the touch keyboard. It's awesome being able to switch orientation and languages on the fly.
    There is no need for a physical keyboard!
  • I think that hardware keyboards are ok but they add too much weight. Software keyboards are so much easier to type on.
  • I understand someone not wanting a hardware keyboard because they like their thin phones.. but to actually say a software keyboard is MUCH EASIER to type on is ridiculous.
  • I used to use Palm Treos and my wife has a work issued Blackberry. No, it isn't silly at all to say typing on the iPhone is easier.
  • Its is nice device for networking.
  • I'd buy an iphone with a physical keyboard in a heartbeat -- it's the main reason I've stuck with blackberry.
  • Hey Apple,
    A slide out keyboard is the ONLY reason I haven't switched to the iPhone. I tried, but simply can't get used to a small onscreen keyboard. On the iPad, I love it, because the keys are bigger...but on the phone it's just too small. Give us a slide out keyboard!
  • iPad's magnetic case cover makes this far-fetched prototype seem more realistic, don't know it would be implemented, but I can see that.
  • This needs to happen, and if it does, i will be one of the first people in line to buy it! :)
  • That's weird
  • that really gay for me
  • Darvun you are GAY thats awesome!!!
  • I never knew an apple has made a phone with a keyboard
  • wooooooooooooo
  • i wanna buy ,java software supoter phone
  • its so funny because that picture is super photoshoped
  • I would love an Iphone with a keyboard.I have big hands & touch screen is not helpful at all ........
  • I would love an Iphone with a keyboard.I have big hands & touch screenjust dont go well
  • thats amazing ! i would buy one for everyone in my family . APPLE - MAKE THIS .
  • I would buy, only found this article bc I searched to see if they would actually ever come out with one, but swipe seems to keepa portion of the ppl wanting this happy, but for ppl like me I llove my sidekick 4g awsome comfortable keyboard, but would deff buy a iphone if they ever came out with a keyboard model, can't be that hard to make why not do it for ppl like me, plus I have sweaty hands so sometimes touchscreens can be hard.....
  • It's be awesome if they made an iPhone with a physical keyboard!! I hate typing with the touchscreen!
  • I'd get one. Though I'd like it to look like a blackberry hahahahah
  • how much is this?
  • how much is this?
  • As a bbery stronghold, this would convince me to make the switch
  • i like that
  • As a former BB user and now, Android user, the only thing keeping me from switching to an iPhone is the lack of a physical keyboard. I've had 3 touchscreen devices with virtual keyboards (Droid Incredible, Thunderbolt and iPod Touch) and I hate a virtual keyboard all around. Give me an iPhone 5 w/ physical keyboard and I'll be on board. Until then, no iPhone for me.