The 5 Best Smartphones With Physical Keyboards
The vast majority of smartphones today exclusively use touch input. That means having to use the on-screen touch keyboard, which can be inaccurate and slow.
However, there are still a handful of phones on the market with physical keyboards that have tactile feedback and better accuracy. In this list, we’ve selected several devices that have keyboards while still being full-fledged smartphones.
Very few companies still make smartphones with keyboards, but Blackberry is the most prominent of the bunch. Their newest phone with a keyboard, the Blackberry Key2, offers plenty of the functionality that the best smartphones in the market have. It has a slick design, with a textured, grippy back, and an aluminum frame.
It’s equipped with a Snapdragon 660, which is a mid-range processor that can handle tasks and some gaming fairly well. The default configuration has 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which you can expand via microSD. It also has dual rear cameras, dual SIM support, and a 4.5-inch full HD display.
The physical keyboard is the standard QWERTY layout and feels good to type on. Additionally, all the keys on the keyboard function as secondary buttons. You can assign app shortcuts to specific keys, activate certain commands, and quickly switch between apps.
The surface of the entire keyboard also acts as a touchpad. That means you can swipe up and down on the keyboard, and what see on the screen will scroll up or down as well. There is also a fingerprint sensor integrated into the spacebar.
The Key2 runs Android 8.1 and comes with a host of Blackberry’s proprietary security features. Another great aspect is the battery life. Since it doesn’t run on an especially powerful processor and the phone’s screen is smaller than usual, the 3,500mAh battery lasts for up to two days.
If you prefer phones with slide-out keyboards so you can watch media uninterrupted, the Blackberry Priv is a good pick. It has a larger 5.4-inch display and a sliding keyboard that comes out from the bottom of the device. You can also quickly switch between typing modes if there are times you’d prefer to use the touch keyboard instead.
It is equipped with an older Snapdragon 808 processor, Android 6.1, and 3GB of RAM. While it won’t be the fastest phone around, it should still handle day-to-day tasks well. You can also expand the storage capacity with a microSD card.
The Priv has an 18MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and Schneider-Kreuznach optics. It also has a sharp 1440×2560 display that is bright, vibrant, and great for watching videos.
The slide-out keyboard slides smoothly and snaps neatly into place. The physical keyboard is responsive and feels very tactile. The layout is easy to get used to, as keys are fairly well spaced out, even if it is not the widest device.
Before Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold, its previous folding device was the Galaxy Folder 2. Instead of having a QWERTY keyboard like the rest of the phones on this list, it has a T9 keyboard with letters and characters assigned to numbers.
The Folder 2 collapses down into a compact form factor, resembling older flip phones from the early 2000s. Its small size makes it easy to place into a pocket or purse.
This phone is primarily intended as an upgrade for those using dated feature phones. Despite the retro look, it has many of the characteristics of modern smartphones. The Galaxy Folder 2 runs Android 6.0, has a quad-core Snapdragon processor, and is compatible with LTE networks.
That means it can handle most basic tasks such as social media, web browsing, and messaging. It also has front-facing and rear-facing cameras. While it won’t be a media powerhouse with its small, 3.8-inch display and 400×800 resolution, the screen is bright and should work fine for viewing pictures.
The T9 keypad’s typing experience closely resembles that of older cellphones. It’s not as fast as typing on a QWERTY keyboard, but it works fine if that’s what you’re used to.
Positioned as a more affordable variant of the Key2, the Blackberry Key2 LE retains much of the flagship’s essential features while coming in at a lower price point.
The Key2 LE is equipped with a slightly slower Snapdragon 636 processor, and 4GB of RAM. This combination should be able to handle plenty of multitasking, switching between apps, and web browsing. It also has a smaller 3,000mAh battery, which is still rated for a full day of moderate use. However, the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 should make up for it, as you can charge your Key2 to 50 percent in just 36 minutes.
Otherwise, the LE compromises very little. It has the same well-designed QWERTY keyboard with programmable keys, a touchpad, and a fingerprint sensor. It also retains the 4.5-inch screen size with a 2K HD resolution. There is 64GB of internal storage, which is upgradable via microSD card.
Furthermore, it still retains most of the same look and feel, with the textured, grippy back and solid weight in the hand. However, there is no aluminum framing as it has been replaced by plastic. The speakers are fairly lackluster, so we suggest using a pair of earbuds instead.
If you prefer using a full-sized flagship smartphone but want a physical keyboard as an option, the Samsung Galaxy S8+ Keyboard Cover may be for you. While many Bluetooth keyboards work with mobile devices on the market, none of them provide a seamless experience. This cover works with a Samsung Galaxy S8+ and attaches onto the lower half of the phone.
The keys are decently sized and have a satisfying click when pressed, so it’s easy to get up to your normal typing speed. For most people, you will quickly find yourself typing much more accurately. As it does not rely on any touch input, it is compatible with regular screen protectors too.
The screen automatically resizes when you place the cover on the phone. While this does make the viewing area smaller, you can easily remove it when you want to play a game or view a full-sized video. It connects and disconnects instantly.
The only problem is that the keys are not backlit, so you’ll have to rely on your muscle memory to type accurately in low lighting.
The Best Smartphones with Keyboards
The options we’ve listed above all offer a much more tactile typing experience than an on-screen keyboard. However, they aren’t the most powerful devices around.
If you want to use your existing smartphone to do some heavy typing, you can connect a USB keyboard to your Android phone. On the other hand, you may still want a physical input but don’t necessarily need a smartphone. In that case, you may be interested in one of the best dumb phones available today.