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.