Nokia poll finds consumers prefer keyboards on smartphones

Nokia poll finds consumers prefer keyboards on smartphones

Summary: The smartphone market place is awash with touchscreen-only devices, but a new Nokia poll suggests that might be misleading.

TOPICS: Smartphones, Nokia

Nokia still isn't giving up on QWERTY keyboards for smartphones -- at least not based on a new poll conducted by the Finnish phone maker.

In a recent online poll, Nokia asked participants to vote on their preferred input method: QWERTY keyboard, touchscreen, number keypad, and voice command.

Although Nokia did not include an estimate as to how many people actually participated in the poll, approximately 48.64 percent of respondents went with QWERTY keyboard, while touchscreens lagged by nearly 15 percent.


Boc Ly explained on the Nokia Conversations blog where the results were published that "the Qwerty keyboard is the input method that we are most familiar with" and that "there is the satisfying haptic feedback you get from using a keyboard with proper buttons."

On the contrary, about touchscreens, Ly argued, "The touchscreen is fantastic for looking at photos, browsing the web and watching video, but is it really that good for typing?"

These assertions are quite surprising for a number of reasons. First of all, most of the marketplace has shifted towards touchscreens. At a certain point, that has to be reflective of what consumers want because that is what they are buying the most.

The only mobile OEMs that still dedicate so much effort towards handhelds with keyboards are likely Nokia and RIM -- and we have seen all too well how much those companies have suffered in the last couple of years. (Although, it should be acknolwedged that touchscreens vs. keyboards are not only at fault here. Certainly RIM's efforts with touchscreen-only devices like the BlackBerry Storm haven't panned out either.)

Furthermore, Nokia's been trying to revamp itself by relying on the promotion of two new touchscreen devices: the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900.

However, these are interesting findings, suggesting there is still room left for QWERTY keyboards rather than digital keyboards if smartphone manufacturers can find a way to make them work.

Screenshot via The Nokia Conversations blog

Topics: Smartphones, Nokia

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  • I agree

    Most do prefer real keyboards but, it isn't a deal breaker if it doesn't have one.
    • Wrong. Very wrong. No keyboard is a deal breaker for some.

      You can see the remarks on many cell phone discussion boards phone. Some people will not buy a phone if the phone is touch screen. They had a bad experience and do not want to go back.
      • Umm sorry but...

        No keyboard is a deal breaker for the minority. I know many people who like having a keyboard but they are willing to exclude it for the right phone.
        • Your Quantifications Need Data Support.

          It is reasonable to refer to your own experience but it is not reasonable to take that personal experience and try to expand it to a full population of phone users. Where is your data that "no keyboard is a deal breaker for a minority?" Nokia polled the public for their results. I guess its better than what you said earlier: "Most do prefer real keyboards but, it isn't a deal breaker if it doesn't have one."
          When I use the word "some" I am not referring to large number of users or a small number of users. I am referring to the existence of users who will not buy I cell phone unless it has a keyboard; and I am contradicting your absolute opinion a non-keyboard phone isn't a deal breaker. That you can see on many mobile phone boards.
          • Touchscreen keyboard = Dealbreaker

            I'm using an out-dated, but much loved, Motorola Charm, with a slow processor (by today's standards) and an old Android (2.1) because I will not NOT buy a phone without my beloved tangible portrait qwerty. I use my phone for texting and social sites, so nothing work-related keeping me here. I'm unfortunately stuck with T-Mobile for a few years and they have nothing for me, as all their phones are touch screen. It's a shame.
            Klud Klud
    • No Keyboard - No Sale

      I won't buy a phone without some form of physical keyboard. I went with Sprint service 18 months ago due to the Samsung Epic at the time. It was what I felt was the best slider keyboard phone out there, with the best rate for a family of 5 phones. I was ecstatic when I heard Sprint was getting the Motorola Phonton Q soon.

      I don't mind the thicker form factor one bit, I text/email and work on documents on my phone regularly, so I hate having 1/3-1/2 of the phone's screen taken up by an on screen keyboard. It seems retarded to have a nice big screen and waste a good portion of it for data entry.
      • You're kidding right

        As opposed to having your screen size affected permanently by a QWERTY keyboard? That makes sense...
        • nevermind

          I just realized my mistake on this. I was thinking of Blackberry not of a phone with a slider keyboard.
    • KB are nice but have a problem ...

      Portrait. :(
      I heavily use my phone (Nexus) in both landscape and portrait.
      Having a kb for one direction and not the other is a bigger issue.
      Give me one way to do both.
    • A bit limited...

      but what about those that want a physical keyboard, but not QWERTY?

      We have QWERTZ here and the French have AZERTY, how are they supposed to vote? ;-)
  • Not suprising if it was a poll of their own outdated feature phone using

    customer base. Lets just hope they only build onekeyboard device and stick to touch for the rest. With the smart predictive auto word auo complete 50% of the time it's using only the first letter of the word you have to type anyway before touching the complete word. Probably 80-90% within the first two letters. So you end up going off the keyboard for a huge % of your touches anyway.
    Johnny Vegas
    • OR... not

      A full portrait qwerty can be a beautiful thing to some AND, as exemplified by Motorola Droid Pro, you don't need to loose a lot of space for it at all. A smart company would take into evidence the poll and a simple Google return sheet for searches for "physical qwerty" and would make their choice based on that. A lot of folks, be it older (my parents) or younger (30) have their own, valid reasons for wanting the product they prefer. You know - it's a preference.
      Klud Klud
  • which came first

    Touch screens or demand for touch screens?

    I suspect the original iPhone was such a hit ever other phone maker decided that it was due mostly to the touch screen rather than everything else about the iPhone. The other phone makers just copied what was hot, buying into the Apple spin that consumers need to be told what they want. When the phone market shifted to mostly touch screen phones, many phone buyers may just have resigned themselves to it.

    If there are next to no choices in phones with keyboards AND lots of storage AND better than average cameras, is it really correct to conclude consumers prefer touch screens?
    • Iphone made Touch Screen the lastest fashion in phone interface.

      I tend to agree with you, Apple with its product iPhone made the touch screen the "It" gadget to have on your phone. At some point the "it" thing looses their cache. Especially when its re-interpreted in a low quality way. Not everyone likes to use a stylus and not everyone has fine finger tips, or manual dexterity, for navigation.
    • No

      There were two capacitive touch screen phones on the market before Apple.
      • You are Confusing 1st Introduction with Cache. They are 2 Different Things

        Cache is what makes people camp out overnight to be the first to get your product when a new version is introduced. It makes other companies take notice and try to introduce similar products containing some of the desired and popular features.
        You can be the first to introduce a feature, but the feature may not generate sufficient interest until someone else creates a more desirable product with that feature. WHO made these other two "touch captive screens"???? What were their phones??? Almost everyone knows Iphone. Its iconic.
  • Balances

    Well, sure, QWERTY keyboards are a good idea. As are big displays. As are small, thin phones. As is long battery life between charges.

    Then one goes into implementing specialized functional buttons, or overloading with shifts and other keys so that the number of buttons are decreased, allowing them to be larger and easier to use for us older folks.

    One size does not fit all.

    One also gets into the question of whether smartphone design is about the current users, or about the growth opportunities among folks who haven't used a smartphone. I'd be surveying the folks who don't have smartphones rather than people like me who may have already bonded with a brand/design. If the non-smartphone group is holding back because there's no keyboard, get thee to a keyboardery. (I expect the first problem regarding adoption is that data networks are poorly built-out and data costs. This is quite problematic as it's data and services that sells smartphones, but voice services are the first mandatory charge, because it is very profitable to the carriers. Unsubsidized smartphone costs are also a problem where the users prefer pay as you go rather than subscriptions.)

    Long time ago I was in banking and we learned that five different checking accounts covered all the consumer preferences. So, we offered all five. (Believe it or not, this was way-forward thinking back in the late-80s.) So, Nokia should offer phones with keyboards and models with big screens/virtual keyboards. This may conflict with new Big Best Friend and OS Provider Microsoft's hardware vision, then again, Nokia knew the job was dangerous when it took it. If you can't please everyone and deliver a superior product, make your choices, commit to what you can do, and don't look back.
  • Hope it's true

    When I bought a new smartphone last year, I was kind of forced to get a touchscreen only input phone as there was almost no choice of smartphones with keyboard (there was only one Windows Phone 7 keyboard phone and others were dumb phones).

    But the order the choices were put could lead people answering to confusion as a "QWERTY keyboard" can also be recognized as a touchscreen keyboard if the key layout matches.

    If they really go that way, my next phone might well be a Nokia phone as after a year I still didn't get the touch typing right and still make tons of typing mistakes everyday!
  • People who don't like touch screens

    have used Android, not iOS. There is a BIG difference...
    Tony Burzio
    • Even then

      Android with keyboards is still hard to find, depending on carriers, mine (Bell Canada) didn't have any last year, only Windows Phone and dumb phones.