Best physical QWERTY Android Smartphones

January 21, 2014
30 71 56

Although physical keyboard phones might not be mainstream anymore, sometimes it’s hard to beat the feel of real keys under your fingertips. Blackberry may still be the default choice for many, but Android has a few of its own gems too. Sadly there are few great QWERTY Android handsets released very often, but here’s a collection of the best handsets, old and new.

LG Enact (Verizon Wireless): $0-$349.99

LG Enact

This is one of the few QWERTY devices released in 2013. The LG Enact aims to strike a balance between mid-range hardware and latest Android features, without breaking the bank. The biggest selling points for the Enact are its large 2460mAh battery, offering over 11 hours of talk time, and it’s more modern GPU for a little extra performance. Here’s a full breakdown of the specs.

  • Android 4.1.2
  • 4.0 inch TFT display, 480×800 pixels, 233ppi
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus CPU
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • MicroSD with support for an additional 64GB
  • 5 megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording
  • 0.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11/a/b/g/n WiFi
  • LTE compatible
  • 2460mAh battery, 11.6 hours talk time
  • 4.37 x 2.06 x 0.62 inches (111 x 52 x 16 mm)

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more modern QWERTY handset that offers such a complete Android experience, although there are a few older devices which still punch above their weight.

Buy from: Amazon.com | Verizon Wireless

Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon Wireless): $0-$449.99

Motorola Droid 4

It wouldn’t be a best of QWERTY list without a Motorola device. The Droid 4 may be a little older than LG’s Enact, but it is still a very strong contender.

  • Android 2.3.5, upgradable to 4.0.4
  • 4.0 inch TFT display, 540×960 pixels, 275ppi
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core TI OAMP 4430 CPU
  • PowerVR SGX540 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • MicroSD support for a further 32GB
  • 8 megapixel camera with 1080p 30fps video recording
  • 1.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • LTE compatible
  • 1785mAh battery, 12.5 hours talk time
  • 5.00 x 2.65 x 0.50 inches (127 x 67 x 13 mm)
  • Water and dust resistance coating

Motorola’s Droid 4 is the go-to Android device if you’re in the market for a physical keyboard. However, the older Texas Instruments processor is starting to show its age and Ice Cream Sandwich means that you’ll miss out on some of the latest Android features.

Buy from: Amazon.com | Verizon Wireless

Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE (Sprint): $0-$399.99

Motorola Photon Q

Although the Droid 4 may be the most well-known QWERTY Motorola handset, the Photon Q is really an upgrade in most respects. The Photon Q comes with a larger 4.3-inch 540×960 display, and can be updated to Android 4.1 whilst the Droid 4 is only supported up to 4.0.4. The only real downside compared to the Droid 4 is that the Photon Q has slightly less inbuilt storage, but that’s not much of an issue thanks to the inclusion of a MicroSD slot. Apart from that, they’re very similar devices.

  • Android 4.1
  • 4.3 inch TFT display, 540 x 960 pixels, 256ppi
  • 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus CPU
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB built in storage
  • MicroSD card slot with support for 32GB
  • 8 megapixels rear camera with 1080p 30fps video recording
  • 1.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • LTE and HSDPA+ networking
  • 1785mAh battery, 7.5 hours talk time
  • 4.98 x 2.60 x 0.54 inches (126.4 x 66 x 13.7 mm)
  • Water and dust resistance

Although the Photo Q was released all the way back in August 2012 it’s still a decent little handset with sufficient hardware and software to offer a full Android experience.

Buy from: Amazon.com | Sprint

LG Mach (Sprint/Boost Mobile): $0-$399.99

LG-Mach

Let’s move away from some of the more expensive devices. Although the LG Mach is just over a year old it’s still a handset that offers some the best value for money. The LG Mach can be found for a lot cheaper than the Photon Q and LG Enact, but that does mean that the hardware is cut down in places.

  • Android 4.0
  • 4 inch LCD display, 480×800 pixels, 233ppi
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus CPU
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • MicroSD card slot with support for 32GB
  • 5 megapixel camera with 1080p video capture
  • 0.3 megapixel front facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
  • LTE compatable
  • 1700mAh battery, 9.5 hours talk time
  • 4.64 x 2.56 x 0.48 inches (118 x 65 x 12 mm)

Overall, the LG Mach is still a tough handset to beat in the budget category. Whilst its cameras won’t be winning any awards, the rest of the hardware is comparable to many of the best QWERTY Android handsets, whilst offering a significant financial saving.

Buy from: Amazon.com | Boost Mobile | Sprint

QWERTY isn’t dead yet: Motorola Droid 5 & LG Optimus F3Q

droid-5-weiboleak

If you can continue to play the waiting game, Motorola’s rumoured Droid 5 could just be worth holding out for. The device has been leaked a few times already, and the rumoured hardware puts the handset somewhere above the aging Motorola Photon Q, but with a few unique features such as wireless charging and NFC. The Droid 5 will also supposedly sport a larger screen than the Droid 4, from 4 inches with a 540 x 960 resolution to a 4.3 inch screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280. Sadly the Droid 5 is said to lose the dust and water resistance that made the Droid 4 so popular. Now for the expected specifications:

  • 4.3-inch 720p display
  • 5-row QWERTY keyboard
  • Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960 Dual Core CPU
  • Adreno 255 GPU
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • support for microSD
  • wireless charging
  • NFC

The Droid 5 looks like a good little QWERTY handset on paper, but we’re still unsure if/when the device will finally show up. Release seem a little more certain for LG’s Optimus F3Q, with a leaked date of January 22nd spotted on a T-Mobile calendar. EVleaks has also recently posted a leaked list of hardware specs, which suggests that it could be a very similar handset to the Enact:

  • Android 4.1.2
  • 4 inch 480×800 display
  • unspecified 1.2Ghz dual-core processor
  • 5 megapixel rear facing camera
  • LTE compatibility
  • 2460mAh batter

Do you still pine for the old days of physical keyboards, or should this older technology be put to rest?

Comments

  • Jayfeather787

    Well QWERTY keyboards will always (arguably) the best for typing. Some may say swiftkey etc, are better, but QWERTY is still the king in my opinion. Though it is a shame that the phone with the QWERTY keyboards do not have as good specs, it is a good thing that they are still being made. The Droid 5 actually looks like a pretty good phone, though I am not a big fan of the Adreno 255. I would prefer it had the Snapdragon s4 pro with adreno 320, but this is not bad.

    • Jesus

      T9 + text prediction >> Qwerty.

      • Jayfeather787

        Arguable. Maybe gesture typing is better than all of those. Maybe QWERTY is better. Maybe t9 or whatever is better it depends on what you like.

        • Jesus

          Your point is arguable, since you’ve said, “Well QWERTY keyboards will always (arguably) the best for typing”

          But yes, it depends on the user

    • MadCowOnAStick

      yeah, I want a “2460mAh batter” too :P

      • Jayfeather787

        The typo was made with a QWERTY physical keyboard.
        Just kidding :)

  • Roseman Eisen

    Honestly I would love to see someone make a modern one that holds up with today. Like a s5 with a keyboard. Especially a note 4 with one I can only imagine how heavy that is. But I love stuff like that it sure would stick out

    • John Fernow

      Yeah I like how Samsung makes a Galaxy S4, an S4 Active, an S4 Mini, and S4 GPE, and an S4 Zoom. None except the original got good sales, and Samsung knew that would happen, so it’s beyond me why they didn’t make an S4 with a physical keyboard, which I would think would actually sell decently if it had at least the same specs as the S4 Mini.

      • Khairul Islam

        That is a REALLY good point. Never thought of it like that.

  • Sam

    Sadly very little of these available outside US

    • hyz

      but u can still get them easly, just price go up slightly, and no warranty unless u want to send it back to us :)

  • apianist16

    If QWERTY keyboards are so (supposedly) popular, then why don’t we see any with flagship specs? I mean, really?

    • Jayfeather787

      They’re not popular, that’s the thing. There are some die-hard people of QWERTY physical keyboards, but most people do not like them, so that is why they do no have flagship specs, as a manufacturer would not want to have a flagship phone with a physical keyboard.

      • Mikaeru

        I’m a die-heard person of T9 physical keyboards, but nowadays I would kill you get at least a QWERTY-Slider…

    • Gary Ohanian

      Because they are a lot more expensive to make. You’re already paying for a flagship, add another 100 for a keyboard. People will just say that onscreen will do. This is my first phone without physical keyboard. I would get the physical keyboard model if there was one, but it’s extra cost to develop, so manufacturers don’t. The market isn’t big enough for the extra % that would buy it. The same phone with the same price would sell more, but the reality is it will cost more.

    • nooch

      Perhaps they are not as popular because they stopped releasing them with flagship specs or promoting the phones. If they released a really good QWERTY flagship and marketed it, it would do well.

    • Primalxconvoy

      Because the public, without knowledge of the existence of good phones with hardware keyboards, got “used” to touch screens and didn’t complain. Companies have no desire to create markets but merely to cater to what is already established.

  • aylak

    I would pay for a phone that is in BB Bold chassis and runs on Android or iOS or Windows Phone. I am willing to sacrifice screen size for productivity. Oh an it will have better battery life because of the small screen.

    • Daniel

      Why not buy a Blackberry and sideload android apps you need then?

      • aylak

        It’s not only apps, I always hated Blackberry OS

        • lots2choosefrom

          I see where you’re coming from, but I think you shouldn’t close the door based on a model from years ago. If you like the Bold but don’t like the OS, you’d probably like the Q10 or Q5. The company completely redesigned BB10 from the ground up based on QNX.

          I had a slider and would have absolutely loved this Blackberry Blade concept phone (http://crackberry.com/sites/crackberry.com/files/adam/blackberry-blade.jpg). Too bad they didn’t make it…

          I value privacy, quality, reliability, a phone less likely to be hacked or vulnerable to malware, and sells for a reasonable price, so after checking options, I decided to try a Z10. It got great reviews, I loaded OS10.2.1, and it definitely rocks! The virtual keyboard on this phone is fantastic, can’t say the same for ios, android, or windows.

      • Khairul Islam

        Because not all apps work, especially those which require Google Play Services. With my Samsung Captivate Glide going out of date, I decided to give BlackBerry a try because of its supposed Android compatibility. Suffice to say that it is now in a mailing bag back to the carrier I bought it from.

  • districtjack

    The best keyboard ever made, in my opinion, was the UT Starcom PPC6700. That’s from way back in 2004 lol. I find I don’t use a keyboard very often now that voice typing has been around. It’s so easy to dictate a comment now, or write an email with my voice. Any mistakes can just be edited later.

  • chuck

    i would kill for a high spec qwerty cellphone. Right now i have a galaxy relay with cm11 and i do love it, but i would love to have a quadcore, 8+ megapixel camera. My fioncee has a droid 4, and loves keyboard phones as well. And i guarantee people oversees would buy highspec qwerty phones as well. Check this out. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2596592

    • hyz

      i got one in uk. relay to be exact. before tp2. now would like something heftier, but nothing in market which wouldnt put me behind again. will have to look to chinese market, they can make some copies with boosted hardware. maybe will find upgrade im looking for.

  • at

    I get so enraged when I see the all-to-scarce release if a new QWERTY slider with all-too-common sub-standard specs! Give me a Galaxy Note 3 with an all aluminum chasis and the best QWERTY slide-out keyboard ever built, and I will gladly pay $2K for it! Give me a premium Galaxy S5 with an amazing slide-out keyboard or an LG G2 with a slide-out keyboard and I will pay $1,500 with a smile. Give me an LG Optimus Q with watered down specs or a Galaxy S Relay with 2011 specs and I will give you the finger. WTF. SERIOUSLY. WTF??? WAKE UP, OEM’S!!! We want the best of the best with full, physical QWERTY slider and NO COMPROMISES. PERIOD. 5.5″ IPS 1080 or 2k display, all metal body, quad core Snapdragon 805 processor, 4000 ma battery, 16 mp camera with optical stabalization, 3GB RAM, 64 GB removable storage, and A PULL-OUT QWERTY, PLEASE! MAKE 3 SIZES TO SATISFY EVERYONE.

  • Dave Weinstein

    Most of the comments share a common theme, people want physical keyboards on the flagship high-end devices.

    Personally, I’d love to see some options for new form factors. I miss my BB keyboard, but don’t want to give up getting a 5.5″ 2k screen! ;-)

    It would be great to see some non-sliders as outings. Perhaps a slightlt elongated candy bar with a BB-like keyboard at the bottom, or even a phone with a Nokia E90 style flip-open configuration.

    Its clear that what’s NOT needed is more 4″ 800×600 mediocrity.

    • Primalxconvoy

      I want a slider with built on gamepad and keyboard.

  • Joshua

    4 thumbs up for QWERTY high specs android phone!
    really useful for precise typing and work..
    maybe keyboard shortcuts helps at multitasking too..
    maybe… =D

  • Cal Rankin

    Eh, the Droid 4 is officially running Android 4.1.2. That is Jelly Bean.

  • Cal Rankin

    There were leaks of a Droid 5? Moto, where is it? I want it!

  • Lee Sze Yong

    Sad state of affairs we are in. Many just view it as a touchscreen vs keyboard argument. But a hardware keyboard, with predictive software (e.g. SwiftKey), and direction keys, work together with a touchscreen, to enable precise text entry & editing, especially on a moving bus or train. Am soldiering on with an old htc chacha, due to the lack of hardware QWERTY android phones in Singapore.

    • Bernie

      The state of affairs is sad indeed. I’m holding on to my desperately old G1 because it does the job and I love the qwerty and the keyboard shortcuts but obviously the OS is too slow now. Why is it so difficult for major companies to make quality new phones with physical keyboards?

  • Masaya Shida

    Wow, the Poton Q is water and dust resistant

  • Masaya Shida

    Nokia once rules the Touchscreen + Qwerty devices back in the good old days ;)

  • C

    I would gladly fork out a nice hunk of change for a high spec android cell with a brilliantly made QWERTY keyboard. As someone who travels frequently and has family and friends scattered all over the world, texting is by far, much cheaper than calling. Hence, I won’t buy an android cell if it doesn’t have a physical keyboard. Not only is is more accurate but I can type touch with a physical keyboard. This is very handy on the go.

    • hyz

      indeed. and u can always use it as touch screen only. i recently started using it for coding purpouses, which qwerty is great. just gimme better specs as i constantly run out of ram.

  • Juan De La Rosa

    MAKE A HIGH QUALITY QWERTY KEYBOARD PHONE I’M TIRED OF FULL TOUCH SCREEN PHONES- LG G2 owner.

    • Khairul Islam

      I started using Android in 2011 and every phone I’ve had had a QWERTY keyboard. A week ago, however, I had no choice but to throw in the towel and I bought the LG G2.

  • moyo

    i hate touchscreen…. i would love to buy a phone with qwerty keypad without touchscreen having all the facilities….

  • Kungssten

    With 9 out of the top selling 10 Android apps being games, it seems that those of us who want to use our phones as tools for increasing our efficiency are a minority. Most people use their phones as time wasting devices optimized for playing “irate poultry” and upload pictures of high school drunks to Instagram.

    I suspect that’s the reason for the lack of qwerty-phones. At least you guys can buy a modern LG Enact. Here in Sweden, I’m stuck with my old, slow Gingerbread Ericsson Xperia Pro, since no new qwerty phones are sold here.

    • Nathan

      You can upgrade to ICS for Xperia Pro.

      • Kungssten

        Yes, I’ve read about it on Swedroid. Apparently it slows down the phone massively.

        • Guest

          I would look into third party firmware (like cyanogenmod) for the latest android builds on the Xperia Pro.

          I’ve got KitKat on mine. It runs great! See the LegacyXperia Project info page for the full details: http://legacyxperia.github.io.

          • Kungssten

            Does it play nicely with the physical keyboard?

  • joelfreak

    Was ANYTHING with a keyboard (other than BBQ20) announced at MWC?

  • ChristianHJW

    Please support our Online petition for a modern spec Android phone with QWERTY keyboard : http://www.change.org/de/Petitionen/smartphone-manufacturers-we-want-modern-android-smartphones-with-physical-keyboard-slider

  • http://www.weebmeister.de Klaus

    I’m interested to support the slidable keyboards within the Blueduino app for android which is a text expander for hardware keyboards. It also supports different keyboard layouts besides qwerty and has a clipboard function to have the text snippets available when using a soft keyboard. Since there is so many different devices I’d be glad if anyone interested tested the capabilities to further improve the app. It’s in the play store and more info is at http://www.blueduino.com I’d really appreciate your opinion on it, thanks

  • Cherlok_Jolms

    MD4 is mini tablet or smartphone?

  • Eoraptor

    I’d love to see something like the old Moto Devour, with that nigh indestructible machined aluminum body and assault-weapon smooth slider… Why do we put up with all these thin nondescript black plastic boxes when we could have so much more at more or less the same price point? Seriously, these things cost a hundred bucks to make, and sell for three times that price… suck up a bit of profit and develop some better devices. the hardware is plateauing anyway, gonna need a new selling point sooner rather than later.

  • Ha

    Give me back a physical keyboard any day. Touch screen is rubbish in comparison.

    The Nokia E71was bar the camera and operating system the best phone ever made. If Nokia or someone made another stainless steel phone with a keyboard like that with ios or android it’d be amazing.

  • Nicholas Sherman

    I “NEED” to have a phone with a physical keypad so I can feel the keys because I have a tremor disorder that acts up when I type. My droid4 has been having problems for a while now & their getting worse & I am eligible for a phone upgrade with Verizon but the only droid with a physical keypad they have is the LG Enact which has slightly worse specs that the droid4. I’d hate to be forced to buy it & then have a better phone come out afew months later that I cant afford to get for two years because I’d no longer have the upgrade discount. I’m not sure how much longer my droid4 will keep working so I may not have a choice soon & with my luck the LG Enact will no longer be available so I’d be screwed.

    • file35765

      You can buy a refurbished one on ebay cheap enough and not have to sign a contract. Get your qwerty and still have a nice upgrade when you are ready for it

      • Nicholas Sherman

        I thought getting one on my own like that would screw up my contract & upgrade eligibility. Thatx for replying; I’ll do that.

  • Redmond Jennings

    Finally bought my mom an F3q to replace her ancient MyTouch something. It cost as much as my Moto G and my dad’s Moto E together, but she really wants the keyboard and there aren’t many options.

  • Susan Lewis

    I need the keyboard.

    Something about my fingers, touch screen does not always register my touch, and I have no time or patience for jacking around.

    I cannot be the only one on earth with this issue.