Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

Summary: It's that time of year when kids go back to school and people start to think of ways to stay connected and in touch. If your kids are like mine, text messaging is used 90% of the time compared to voice calls on mobile phones and they are all about the QWERTY keyboard for easier, faster texting than a phone keypad. Every carrier realizes this too and has a lineup of QWERTY phones to meet these texting needs. Let's take a look at two of the best QWERTY phones available from each of the four major wireless carriers.

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It's that time of year when kids go back to school and people start to think of ways to stay connected and in touch. If your kids are like mine, text messaging is used 90% of the time compared to voice calls on mobile phones and they are all about the QWERTY keyboard for easier, faster texting than a phone keypad. Every carrier realizes this too and has a lineup of QWERTY phones to meet these texting needs. Let's take a look at two of the best QWERTY phones available from each of the four major wireless carriers.

I personally have tried several times to move away from a QWERTY keyboard device, but realized it is time to give up on that idea as the QWERTY keeps drawing me back and I am just more comfortable using them for messaging purposes.

While there are several BlackBerry and other smartphone QWERTY devices available (check out my recent King of the QWERTYs articles), we are going to take a quick look at the feature phone set since they are less expensive, more likely to be purchased for school aged children, and are heavily focused on text messaging. As I have talked about before, the lines are actually getting quite blurry between smartphone and feature phones as feature phones offer people more and more.

T-Mobile

Samsung Gravity 2 T-Mobile is the smallest of the four major U.S. carriers in terms of subscribers, but they also have the best rates for the included number of minutes. T-Mobile regularly takes the prize for best customer service and as a subscriber myself for over 7 years I can attest to their excellent service.

The Samsung Gravity 2 brings an upgrade to the popular Gravity device with redesigned keyboard that gives the owner four rows instead of three, upgrades from a 1.3 megapixel camera to a 2 megapixel camera, adds a GPS receiver, and 3G wireless data radio. I am working on a review of the Metallic Pumpkin Gravity 2 and there is also a Berry Mauve model to choose from.

The QWERTY keyboard is very functional and is accessed by sliding the upper part of the phone to the right (up in landscape orientation). The Gravity 2 keyboard has the two phone soft keys at the extreme ends of the keyboard centered vertically for very easy usage. The number row is along the top and accessed with a function key since there is a full phone keypad on the front part of the phone. There are directional arrows to help with navigation in keyboard mode and the buttons are well defined with good feedback.

Price: $29.99 after instant discount, rebate and contract [Read the review (Berry-Mauve) and (Metallic Pumpkin)]

Samsung Comeback The newest QWERTY messaging phone from T-Mobile is the Samsung Comeback in both Frost Silver Cherry and Pearl White Plum. The Comeback has more of a Sidekick-like design with a flip up middle section that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard. The keys are quite small and close together with a straight layout and small space bar. There is a directional pad on the right and phone hardware buttons to control the phone.

There is both a front outer display and inner display as the from transforms from phone mode to keyboard mode. The Comeback has a 2 megapixel camera, integrated GPS receiver, and 3G wireless data radio. A microSD card is supported, along with stereo Bluetooth capability.

Price: $74.99 after instant discount, rebate and contract [Read the review (Pearl White Plum) and (Frost Silver Cherry)]

Let's check out AT&T's offerings ª

AT&T

Motorola Karma The Motorola Karma has a bit different form factor than most QWERTY phones you probably have seen with a rather minimalist design and a keyboard that is revealed when the front panel is slid up. There are only a few buttons found on the front main part of the phone and a phone keypad is not included so you will be sliding the display up to reveal the keyboard to enter phone numbers for those not in your contact list.

The phone supports the 3G wireless data network and includes a GPS receiver, 2 megapixel camera, and Bluetooth radio for wireless connections. The phone is advertised with a focus on social networking and includes software to help you connect with Facebook, MySpace, and more.

Price: $79.99 after mail-in rebate and contract [Read the review]

LG Xenon One unique aspect of the LG Xenon is that it has a full touchscreen display in addition to a QWERTY hardware keyboard so you get the best of both worlds in one device. The QWERTY keyboard appears when you slide the display to the right (up in landscape mode). The keyboard extends most of the full width of the device with the number appearing in phone keypad layout accessed by pressing the function key. There are directional arrows on the lower right and a few shortcut buttons on the left side.

There is no physical phone keypad on the front, but the Xenon does have a touchscreen so you can tap on the display to enter a phone number.

The Xenon is available in blue, red, or black. A 2 megapixel camera is included, along with 3G data, and Bluetooth. Several AT&T services are available on the Xenon, including Cellular Video and Video Share.

Price: $99.99 after mail-in rebate and contract [Read the review (Blue) and (Black)]

What does Verizon have to offer?

Verizon Wireless

Motorola Rival The Motorola Rival comes in both Tin Silver and Purple color schemes. It has a form factor similar to many of these QWERTY devices with the keyboard hidden under the front panel. Sliding to the right (up in landscape) reveals the QWERTY keyboard. There is no phone keypad on the front panel and the numbers appear on the top row of the keyboard. There is no directional pad on the keyboard, but there are a couple of application shortcuts.

The Rival supports GPS, 3G EV-DO, and Bluetooth. Several Verizon Wireless services are available, including V CAST Music, V CAST Videos, Visual Voice Mail, and more. A 2 megapixel camera is present along with a Bluetooth radio and microSD card slot.

Price: $29.99 after discount and contract [Read the review (Silver) and (Purple)]

LG enV3 The LG enV series has been very popular with the messaging crowd and the enV3 continues to improve the series. You can find the enV3 in Maroon and Slate Blue colors. There is a traditional phone keypad on the front with a very functional QWERTY keyboard available when you flip the front from left to right (up in the landscape mode). The keys are well spaced and well defined with a full directional pad over on the right centered between hardware buttons.

The enV3 has an external and internal display with a 3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth stereo support, GPS receiver, EV-DO radio support, and support for Verizon Wireless services.

Price: $79.99 after online discount and contract [Read the review (Maroon) and (Slate Blue)]

Sprint has some compelling choices too

Sprint

Samsung Exclaim Looking through all of latest and greatest messaging devices, it looks like Samsung is very good at these designs. The Samsung Exclaim is available in both Blueberry and Raspberry color schemes. Similar to others we have seen you slide the top part to the right (up in landscape) to reveal the 4-row QWERTY keyboard. The Exclaim is very similar to the Samsung Gravity 2 from T-Mobile.

The Exclaim is outfitted with a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G radio. Sprint services such as Sprint TV and streaming music are supported and with Sprint's outstanding Simply Everything plans you get unlimited minutes, data, and messaging to make this quite a bargain.

Price: $79.99 after instant discount, rebate and contract [Read the review (Raspberry) and (Blueberry)]

Samsung Reclaim The Samsung Reclaim has a form factor where the QWERTY keyboard is accessed by sliding the top upwards. The Reclaim's claim to fame is the fact that it is built from 80% recycled material with 40% of the casing made from corn-based bio-plastic.

The QWERTY keyboard is quite compact and will take a bit of practice to get used to, but this also makes the device quite compact. A 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth radio, 3G wireless data, and GPS receiver are all packed into the device along with support for Sprint wireless services.

Price: $49.99 after mail-in rebate, discounts and contract [Read the review (Ocean Blue) and (Earth Green)]

Go back to the beginning ª

Topics: Wi-Fi, Hardware, Mobility, Samsung, Telcos

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24 comments
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  • Do we have to have a contract?

    I have a T Mobile account, but mine is the pre-paid variety. because I
    don't use the cell phone " all that much," this is enormously cheaper. Is
    it possible to find one of these qwerty machines that does not require the
    two-year contract?
    thanks so much,
    t
    Tony T3
    • Check out Boostmobile

      Pre-paid plans and qwerty phones. My kid has the unlimited voice/text/data for $50/mo, and likes it a lot. They have cheaper plans, too, based on usage.

      http://www.boostmobile.com/
      TranMan
    • BOOSTMOBILE

      Boostmobile has NO contract with unlimited phone, long distance, text and internet ALL for $50.00 a month! And yes they have awesome qwerty phones as well... Their service is pretty good and excellent coverage across the United States.
      lord carl
      • Boost phone options

        You can also get Nextel blackberries flashed to boost since they are on the same IDEN technology.
        sir4taye
    • Carrier Subsidy

      AT&T allows you to buy the phone without the 2-year contract, but you must pay more. If you take the contract, they subsidize the phone cost. My new LG Xenon would have been $230.00 w/o contract, but they sold it to me for $150.00 with contract, AND I get another $50 back if I take a $20 monthly data or text plan.

      I can drop the data or text plan anytime (unlike the iPhone which requires a $30 data plan). I suspect my $50 rebate will not come back until I have "spent" it all on the $20 plan.

      Racingmustang
      racingmustang
  • RE: Check out Boostmobile

    We have boost mobile for 2 low volume phones, and it sucks. Bad reception and terrible customer service make it useless, and we're in a major metropolitian area.
    EricW2000
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    The Xenon is by far the best phone listed. I'm surprised that Palm Pre wasn't listed.
    Fight carrier control by emailing the FCC and your congress-people about their (carrier and manufacturer) collusion to thwart best interests of consumers.
    sir4taye
  • Kids arguably need phones to call the parents in our culture that hypes up

    rebelliousness over all else.

    Texting and sexting? Don't encourage the brats.
    HypnoToad72
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    YEs, I agree, I think we should go for iphone, I'd love to go for the cheap one i found here :P...
    http://www.justcompareit.com/s~q-iphone.aspx?ag=10

    Its a touch phone era, Any other suggestion, you are most welcome :)
    humayunsaahi
  • Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    Since Sprint is buying T-mobile, I wonder if those T-Mobile models will be available thru Sprint. Any word on that at all?
    Nt0009
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    What about the LG enVTouch?? While it is technically part of
    the enV series (which was discussed) it's really the Voyager 2.
    They just had to name it something else because of legal
    issues...
    RAW<3
  • LG XENON keyboard shown is NOT production version!

    Interesting. I just got an LG Xenon 2 weeks ago and the version 1.0 hardware does NOT have numeric keys across the top of the QWERTY keyboard. Also, the Xenon does not have space between the keys; the keys bump up next to each other. Perhaps this is a prototype shown?

    Racingmustang
    racingmustang
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    in my opinion you forgot verizon's best choice, the LG 11000 enV Touch , an even better phone than the enV3 , full qwerty and large external & internal screens of 480*800 / 800*480
    theewizard1
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    I think Matthew Miller forgot the Nokia's new entrant Nokia Surge under AT&T hood. IT has probably as good and may be better features compared to few in this list. Also its qwerty keyboard had very good reviews in various online blogs and sites like engadget, etc
    hary536
    • This post was focused on feature phones

      Lots of people are bringing up the iPhone, Windows Mobile phones, and Nokia S60 phones. While these are all great devices, they are smartphones running traditional smartphone operating systems and as I stated at the start of this post it was all about QWERTY feature phones and only 2 from each carrier. I missed the enV Touch and maybe that should have replaced the enV3, but I think all the others are the best in their class for QWERTY feature phones.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    The first poster asked if we had to have a contract, then all these morons tell him about carriers. What about the phones? It would be nice to get a list of qwerty phones without a plan, then we would have the option of what we want to do.
    I Hate Malware
  • QWERTY vs 7KEYPAD www.7keypad.com

    with 7keypad user can type:
    1) @,~,!,#,$,%,^,&,*,(,),_,-,+,=,{,},<,>,?,/,\,|
    2) English
    3) Numbers
    4) Arrow symbols
    5) other languages
    video : www.7keypad.com
    7keypad
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    Have you heard the name Nokia which also has some models - bein qwerty active since last century

    Ollila
    esa.tuuri
  • RE: Back to school special: QWERTY messaging phones

    Nokia E series is having QWERTY messaging keyboard...they are best in their business for a long time now...

    Kevinjohnson
  • What about Verizon's BlackBerry models?!?

    Can't believe you didn't mention Verizon's
    BlackBerry
    models with full QWERTY keyboards: Curve and
    Tour (and
    Storm if you consider touchscreen QWERTY). Both
    are
    consumer oriented, so should have been
    reviewed.

    I own both a Curve and Tour and they are a
    sheer delight
    to type on. I prefer their typing to the Storm.

    Kelly Carter
    http://newBBie.com
    kellycarter