Best physical QWERTY Android Smartphones

January 21, 2014
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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?

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