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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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:
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:
Do you still pine for the old days of physical keyboards, or should this older technology be put to rest?
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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.
T9 + text prediction >> Qwerty.
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.
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
yeah, I want a “2460mAh batter” too :P
The typo was made with a QWERTY physical keyboard.
Just kidding :)
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
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.
Sadly very little of these available outside US
If QWERTY keyboards are so (supposedly) popular, then why don’t we see any with flagship specs? I mean, really?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why not buy a Blackberry and sideload android apps you need then?
It’s not only apps, I always hated Blackberry OS
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I want a slider with built on gamepad and keyboard.
4 thumbs up for QWERTY high specs android phone!
really useful for precise typing and work..
maybe keyboard shortcuts helps at multitasking too..
Eh, the Droid 4 is officially running Android 4.1.2. That is Jelly Bean.
There were leaks of a Droid 5? Moto, where is it? I want it!
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.
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?
Wow, the Poton Q is water and dust resistant
Nokia once rules the Touchscreen + Qwerty devices back in the good old days ;)
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.
MAKE A HIGH QUALITY QWERTY KEYBOARD PHONE I’M TIRED OF FULL TOUCH SCREEN PHONES- LG G2 owner.
i hate touchscreen…. i would love to buy a phone with qwerty keypad without touchscreen having all the facilities….
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.
You can upgrade to ICS for Xperia Pro.
Yes, I’ve read about it on Swedroid. Apparently it slows down the phone massively.
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.
Does it play nicely with the physical keyboard?
Was ANYTHING with a keyboard (other than BBQ20) announced at MWC?