Hardware QWERTY phone debate lost, Nokia please make one with Windows Phone 8

Hardware QWERTY phone debate lost, Nokia please make one with Windows Phone 8

Summary: 80 percent of the voters in the latest ZDNet Great Debate chose physical QWERTY smartphone keyboards over touch screen so where are all the QWERTY devices now?


I was smoked (80 to 20) in this week's ZDNet Great Debate on whether or not hardware QWERTY keyboards were desirable or not. I used to be a QWERTY fan, but am perfectly happy with the touch screen methods today. With such an overwhelming victory for hardware QWERTY on a phone, you would think there would be more available.

The BlackBerry Q10 is the latest hardware QWERTY device and I think it is one of the best BlackBerry devices ever. I do appreciate the tactile feel of a QWERTY and honestly I still keep a few around to bang on from time-to-time.

Other than the Q10, we see some older smartphones like the Droid 4 and several feature phones. There is no longer any Galaxy QWERTY devices or any Windows Phone 8 QWERTYs and Apple has never went with a physical QWERTY. If people seem to want them, why are they not being made?

I loved the hardware QWERTY on the Nokia E7, E71x, and HTC Touch Pro2. Given Nokia's dominance with Windows Phone, their design history of QWERTY, and the enterprise focus of QWERTY I want to see them release a new Windows Phone with either the portrait QWERTY like an E71 or the landscape QWERTY like an E7. Can you please make this happen Nokia?

Topics: Mobility, Android, Nokia, Smartphones, Windows Phone

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  • I've seen that format somewhere ....

    Hmmm, a small screen with a physical keyboard.
    And then there's a desire for ever larger screens.

    You could make the whole thing a bit bigger and put a hinge in the middle.

    Now, what should we call it?
    • What to call it?

      If a phone/tablet is a phablet, a phone/book should obviously be a phook.
      • Nice

        Think that will catch on.......
      • And then..

        ..when you want someone to call you, you can tell them to phook you sometime
    • What to call it

      Why not call it Motorola Flipout?
  • I Agree

    Hinged or slideout tactile keyboards leave your screen space alone. Best of both worlds. The trade off is obviously a thicker form factor. In practical terms that is not enough of an issue for the vast majority of cyber consumers.
    Except for the fashionistas. But that's such a shallow sphere, remotely removed from the seriously alive.
    • Nokia used to have great keyboard phones.

      I wonder why they stopped making them...
      • Why?

    • Windows 8 Tabets

      Just get some inspiration from the new tablet form factors. I like how the keyboard on the Surface serves as screen cover and turns off if folded back. Might be tricky with the camera, tough.

      Integrating the keyboard in an optional case and then marketing the heck out of it might work.
    • How about a "Ruggedized" Windows Phoine 8????

      I agree with your comment about having a slider/hinged configuration for a physical QWERTY Windows 8 Phone.
      How about adding the capabilities of a "Ruggedized" (Water, Dust and Drop "proof') Phone also!!! While I am wishing, consider having:
      1. Up to 64 a GB Quad Core
      2. A replaceable/removable battery
      3. A micro SD card slot for expansion
      4. All of the rest of the latest smart phone "goodies" that are currently available.
      Why does Microsoft/Windows Phone 8.1 always have to play Second Fiddle???
      • They'd be stoked to play Second Fiddle

        Right now they are the backup Second Fiddle players sitting at home hoping for a phone call. This is their own fault. If they wanted to be tops in mobile they could be; they just aren't investing enough in it. I hear WP is gaining traction in other countries, though.

        Anyway, yeah I would get a WP8 with a landscape slider without even thinking twice. Until such as device is released I will keep gleefully banging away on my Quantum.
  • I think most phone OEMs are fearful of being labeled "non-innovative"

    if they started making QWERTY hardware phones again. In years gone by, I bought a couple of different "feature" phones for my kids (older teens at the time, now grown) that had hardware keyboards, Pantech Reveal and LG Slider, let them decide which they wanted. One still uses his, the LG, the daughter says her Reveal doesn't work, has since been gifted a Samsung Focus WP7 for Christmas 2011. The overall size of those 2 phones is really not that much more than many "smartphones" with the obligatory protective cover. The designs are already in place, just update the internals and OSes, and there you go...a smartphone with hardware keyboard.
    ps---I've charged up the old Pantech Reveal just to see what daughter was complaining about, charges fine, everything works, but battery showing signs of age. Might keep it around for a backup.
    • Oops, correction...

      daughter's old phone is LG Neon she tells me! Anyway, it does charge and function, so it could be a backup. Sorry for any confusion other than my own, hehe!
  • Terrible data

    Polling hardcore tech users, a homogenous fraction of the population, on such a topic and then posing this question is borderline irresponsible. Do you poll a homogenous group and then apply that data to the world population? Not a chance. Clearly OEMs know something...like this is unusable data for making mass market decisions.

    ZDnet must be losing readership if articles like this are newsworthy... I expect better from you, Mr. Miller.
    • You Assume

      "hardcore tech users, a homogenous fraction"
      If you follow the Talkbacks, as I do for years on ZDNet, you'd know that there are wildly disparate viewpoints on numerous issues. More polar opposite sometimes you can't get. So much for homogeneous. As if we're a monolithic whole. Ha!
      And Hardcore Tech? Hardly is ZDNet's constituency that overall. Lots of know not too much types and lightweights posturing in the mix.
      But, on the other hand, wouldn't you want to poll dedicated types who actually think out their preferences?
      • Still the point is that hw oems who all actually do

        real statistically valid market studies of their own find the number of users who demand a physical keyboard a completely ignorable minority. Small enough that even the thought of capturing all of them isn't compelling to them. Me I love my WP8 predictive keyboard. I probably average less than 2 characters per word. I could never match that on a HW keyboard
        Johnny Vegas
        • Bah

          Devices with keyboards also have predictive text. I agree with your other point, though. If they thought people would buy them they would make them. We call this playing it safe.

          Prior to the iPhone, who in their right mind would have bought a smart phone without a keyboard? Apple made people believe that this was best. They single-handedly ushered in the era of awfully written emails with typos, incorrect words, and no punctuation, and everyone thinks it's great because Apple tells them that it's great. Nokia/Microsoft need to start leading and bring the masses back to their senses.
  • OEMs Afraid to Inovate

    All OEMs target the main stream. That is the Apple iPhone. Every one tries to copy it. And copy it. And copy it. One with a QWERTY keyboard is not a copy. They will not even go after a niche market even if it is a large niche is a few million phones.
    • Oh the irony...

      yes, everyone is copying apple...
  • Design suggestion

    The problem with keyboards is that they either take up space on the front of the phone which could otherwise be used by the screen or they make it difficult or impossible to add a case. I would suggest making them part of the case. The keyboard would cover the screen when closed, flip down to be used in landscape mode, or flip around the back for the phone to be used in touch mode. Communication with the phone would be via pogo plugs on the side.