QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

Summary: I have been using converged (mobile phone and PDA functionality in one) devices for a few years now and most of the Windows Mobile devices that I have preferred have been ones with QWERTY keyboards (either slide-out or always available). I only had one type of S60 device (E61 and E61i) that had a QWERTY keyboard with all of the others having a standard phone keypad. I think my thumbs have grown accustomed to QWERTY keyboards and I have always kind of looked for them over other devices. I recently read an article written by Rita El Khoury (aka Dotsisx) on Symbian-Guru.com titled, "I Like T9, How About You? that really prompted me to take an honest look at how much text I really enter right on my mobile phones and whether or not a QWERTY device is really required to enter this text.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
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QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?I have been using converged (mobile phone and PDA functionality in one) devices for a few years now and most of the Windows Mobile devices that I have preferred have been ones with QWERTY keyboards (either slide-out or always available). I only had one type of S60 device (E61 and E61i) that had a QWERTY keyboard with all of the others having a standard phone keypad. I think my thumbs have grown accustomed to QWERTY keyboards and I have always kind of looked for them over other devices. I recently read an article written by Rita El Khoury (aka Dotsisx) on Symbian-Guru.com titled, "I Like T9, How About You? that really prompted me to take an honest look at how much text I really enter right on my mobile phones and whether or not a QWERTY device is really required to enter this text.

I enter text on my mobile phone for text messaging, emails, URLs and web searches, labeling photos that I upload, updating my status in Jaiku and Facebook, and when taking sermon notes in church. I rarely write reviews or other types of documents on my mobile phone because even with a larger QWERTY it just isn't very productive. If I want to write larger documents (and I do when I am on an airplane) then I can just pull out my full Think Outside keyboard and enter text very quickly. Thus, my needs do not really dictate that I need a full QWERTY keyboard device and I think now that maybe just using them for so long had me thinking I really needed them.

One issue that I do experience with QWERTY keyboards on mobile devices is that they are all different, even keyboards from the same manufacturer with the same operating system. So there is a learning curve with these QWERTY keyboards, whereas with a phone keypad the keys are always the same and never change.

After reading the Symbian-Guru article early yesterday morning, I turned on the T9 functionality on my N95-3 (I had it in multi-press mode before) and I am actually finding that it does a decent job of getting the text right and it is actually quite nice to enter text on the fine N95 keypad. I plan to continue using T9 more to see if maybe I can expand the number of devices I will consider in the future since I switch devices quite often and with my current trend towards QWERTY devices I may be limiting myself to what is available. The N95-3 is one of my favorite devices with the incredible multimedia functionality (5 megapixel camera and outstanding MP3 player), HSDPA speed, awesome 3rd party application support (streaming video, VoIP, and much more), easy ability to tether with all my devices, and customization support (I can control my application screen and set it up the way I want).

I always have a mobile phone with me and lately it has been the T-Mobile Shadow, Nokia N95-3 or BlackBerry Pearl. The Shadow and Pearl both have SureType keyboards and I have to say I am really warming up to this type of keyboard, which is actually kind of compromise between T9 and a full QWERTY keyboard so maybe this is the best possible solution. You can get a smaller device and the predictive functionality is very accurate. A Nokia N95 with SureType would definitly appeal to me, but I haven't seen any rumors of such a device so maybe I just need to get some practice with T9.

A trend I am seeing with Windows Mobile though is the elimination of phone keypads on devices and the integration of QWERTY keyboards on just about everything. In the old days almost every Windows Mobile Smartphone had a traditional phone keypad, but it is very difficult to find such a device anymore as everyone moves to QWERTY. If T9 ends up working well for me then the new U.S. version of the HTC Touch Dual with 3G support and a slide phone keypad may be the Windows Mobile device for me.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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17 comments
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  • Matt: Give Adaptxt a trial!

    Adaptxt found [url=http://www.adaptxt.com/]here![/url]

    (But I do find T9 on my N95 is pretty amazing for what it does except that if you add words that you find you wish you hadn't, you are stuck with them unless you delete the file with Y-Browser--not a big deal.)
    D T Schmitz
  • I read the article by the Symbian guru. I think he is right that we should

    just use T9 rather than bastardized qwerty keyboards on small devices. The qwerty keyboards really add very little, and are only slightly easier to use at the cost of extra space, inconsistency between brands, and not really being much faster once you good at T9.

    The other problem is that international keyboards are a real mess. If we would could just use US international, we would all be a lot better off. That way, one keyboard works just fine for English, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.
    DonnieBoy
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    T9 is horrible. Suretype is a little better. QWERTY is still the best.
    DarthRidiculous
    • Yesh. I found myself using QWERTY more than others.

      Space is not a space for me, as I don't want a small screen due to my visual impairement.
      Grayson Peddie
  • I'll take QWERTY any day.

    As a touch typist, the numeric keypad is a bit of a joke - every phone seems to do it differently, and frankly having to tap multiple times for the same letter is nowhere near as intuitive or fast as a keyboard. Selecting the next letter/word based on some prediction is a bit better, but frankly still a crutch to get over the fact that there are only nine keys on the keypad. At least with a small QWERTY keyboard, it's similar enough that I can still type fairly quickly on it.

    If you're a hunt and peck typist, I can see this being a big issue. For a touch typist, there's really no comparison. QWERTY is much faster for the touch typist.
    CobraA1
    • No Multiple Taps with T9

      "...and frankly having to tap multiple times for the same letter is nowhere near as intuitive or fast as a keyboard."

      That's what T9 actually PREVENTS you from having to do. With T9 you only hit each letter once and watch it magically guess what you're trying to say based on its own determination of words that fit that sequence of keys plus what it has learned from your past usage. With most words it actually takes fewer taps than QWERTY because you don't always have to spell out the whole word. If I tap "83" it gives me a list to choose from that includes "ve" "te" "td" "tempura" or a choice to add a word. If I add "7" to that it shows me "ter" "ver" "tes" "ves" "tep" and "very" as possible choices. It's really great, I love T9!

      I am a touch typist too but not with my thumbs :-) and I'm an aging geek with arthritis setting in and bifocals making it harder to find all those special characters... so even with a larger QWERTY keyboard the keys are too close together for me to be very efficient with them. I do have a QWERTY device for business but since I'm not allowed to use company assets for personal use I have my own cell phone for that and chose a basic phone with T9.

      T9 has improved over the years, too. I remember the first time I tried to use text messaging with T9 and it was frustrating to say the least. But today it's much more intuitive and increasing storage capabilities on even the cheapest cell phones it's quite easy to build up a significant custom dictionary (which you don't have to do yourself!) to add to its built-in dictionary. Granted, I do have to add a word every once in a while but with the most recent phone I purchased I didn't even have to teach it how to spell my name. Now that's class!

      --Patti
      pjlp53
      • If it guesses right . . .

        It still has to guess right, which means you may still need to correct things. But yeah, it's improving.

        I suppose it's decent for occasional text messaging. I really don't use it that much. For real large typing tasks, I usually use a different device that has a QWERTY. I suppose if you really want to get fancy, you can get a bluetooth keyboard.
        CobraA1
  • advantage of T9

    Another advantage of T9 is that it automatically does "spell checker" for you as you type. If you only write in your mother tongue, then this might not be important for you. But if you write in a language that you don't master, such as a language that you've simply picked up from friends (like Germans writing in Dutch, Spanish people writing in Italian or Portuguese, etc), then this is very helpful.

    I think if you write a lot (as soon as your start with emails), then qwerty is superior. But for SMS in multiple languages, T9 does the job and for a reduced keypad size.
    patibulo
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    I gave up a Mogul for a smartphone for one reason. I needed a phone that does messaging, not a message machine that kind-a-sort-a works like a phone. I'd rather use T9 than have a phone that is hard to use.
    -- Dan
    Olderdan
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    QWERTY is still the best for me. i have been using the SMS feature of GSM phones for the past 9 years and i've gotten used to the multi-tap form of text entry. i use T9 quite rarely, and it's because i send messages in another language. now that i'm using smartphones, my requirements now include QWERTY thumboards. with QWERTY, i can create messages faster not only for SMS but also for IM chats, e-mails, weblogs, and even for writing articles (i used to write 1,000 word magazine articles with the HTC Universal and even with the HTC Cavalier). i now own a Nokia N95 8GB and it was quite a tough decision because the phone is perfect for me except for the lack of a QWERTY thumboard. i have no choice but to use multi-tap again...
    david-ruffin
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    I have recently been donated a Nokia E51 by NSeries WOMWorld for a 2 week trial. T9 was never really given a fair shot since I had discovered qwerty, but now that I am forced to be without it on the E51 I find it to be very efficient.
    macpoet81
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    I'd take QWERTY but I still prefer the DVORAK layout.
    alterbridgeandrew@...
    • RE: QWERTY or T9:

      Personally, I perfer the DVORAK Keyboard sense I only type with 2 fingers & my thumbs. If I could find a USB DVORAK I would be using it now! So, I would like the QWERTY over T9.
      mfpezok@...
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    I want my DVORAK layout, if not QWERTY.
    mfpezok@...
  • RE: QWERTY or T9?

    T-9 is great, unless you're constantly typing new stuff and in that event, it can be irritating.
    Besides, most phones let you toggle from simple back to T-9, so it's not a back or white option.

    The Team
    http://wirelessspeech.blogspot.com
    a_chameleon
  • T9 all the freakin' way!!!

    I find T9 significantly easier than QWERTY on a phone. On a full size keyboard, I have room for all my fingers so the extra keys actually do something for me. On a phone, I don't have room for all my fingers so all the extra keys are kind of wasted. I can type T9 blind without looking at the screen really well (comes in handy for those who text while driving against their better judgement). I can't say the same about QWERTY. Heck, I can barely use QWERTY on a phone looking at both the screen AND keyboard!
    TrackStar1682
  • RE: QWERTY or T9 text input methods, which do 968 prefer?

    I've been a professional typist and a university student of many years. On a full sized keyboard I use 10 fingers and "touch-type" and type over 75 words per minute.

    But on the phone, I prefer T9 input. T9 input is correct 95% of the time, and is extremely fast. There are only 9 keys needed, simplicity is wonderful. Qwerty keyboards on phones are too small and QWERTY was designed to reduce typing speeds on mechanical typewriters, because AZERTY was too easy and quick for the mechanical typewriters, Death to QWERTY!
    tnt666