TYPO: The keyboard you want, but plenty of downside

TYPO: The keyboard you want, but plenty of downside

Summary: [CORRECTION - Page 7] The keyboard case for the iPhone 5/5S looks and feels a lot like a BlackBerry keyboard. You get a great keyboard, but you pay a big price or two.

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  • The best of both worlds?

    Blackberry users the world over, but especially in the US, have been flocking to the iPhone. Talk to them and you'll hear many say that they loved the keyboard and miss it, but they couldn't do without the great iPhone software anymore.

    Now a startup, co-founded and partly funded by Hollywood and radio big shot Ryan Seacrest has come out with The Typo Keyboard, a case for the iPhone 5/5S that integrates a Bluetooth keyboard obviously reminiscent of the BlackBerry's.

    It's reminiscent enough that BlackBerry has filed suit against Typo Products LLC, alleging "...patent infringement and that Typo has blatantly copied BlackBerry’s keyboard..."

    We claim no particular legal expertise in these matters, but we see their point. It's hard not to think of the BlackBerry when you look at and use the TYPO.

    Does it succeed? As a keyboard, yes. Just like the BlackBerry, it's a pleasure to use for typing compared to the iPhones or most other soft keyboards.

    We do have some problems with the design which we'll go into in some more detail on the pages that follow. When you consider them all, the many downsides of the TYPO become clear.

    One big problem is that, because the TYPO covers the iPhone keyboard, it also covers the Touch ID, the fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5S. No doubt many users buy the 5S with Touch ID in mind, so that's certainly something to consider. Consider also that the iPhone 5 is no longer for sale and the TYPO doesn't fit the 5C.

    The company was accepting pre-orders, but these ran out. New orders will be shipped mid-March, although the company warns that only limited quantities will be available. The TYPO keyboard costs $99. That's a lot of money for a device like this, but it could be worth it to you if you type a lot and you miss that BlackBerry keyboard feel.

  • A copy? What do you think?

    The keyboard on the left is the BlackBerry Q10. On the right is an iPhone 5 clothed within a TYPO.

    When asked about the lawsuit, TYPO issued this statement:

      "We are aware of the lawsuit that Blackberry filed today against Typo Products. Although we respect Blackberry and its intellectual property, we believe that Blackberry’s claims against Typo lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously. We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research. The Typo keyboard has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. We are also looking forward to our product launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week and remain on track to begin shipping pre-orders at the end of January."

Topics: iPhone, Mobility, BlackBerry

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17 comments
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  • UGLY

    Sorry besides being stupid it looks ugly
    Randalllind
  • Just goes to show what the market is for QWERTY for some people ...

    missed opportunity for a lot of device makers (including Windows Phone, especially Nokia) that don't feel the need for a good physical QWERTY device.
    jkohut
    • It has been tried

      Lots of companies have tried phones with hard keyboards. Motorola still makes one (http://www.motorola.com/us/Motorola-Photon-Q/m-PHOTON-Q-4G-LTE.html). Perhaps none of them have done it as well as the BlackBerry.
      larry@...
      • In looking at that, it appears it is somewhat Spring limited.

        Not that many people are on Sprint. Need somewhat widespread availability to make QWERTY enough of a success to really judge. Not everyone is going want one, but previous Blackberry users and younger heavy Texters may be likely candidates.
        jkohut
      • Not the same

        That is a slider, not a qwerty candy bar design. There have been ZERO devices with this form factor since Android 2.3.

        What is not said is how top heavy this makes the iPhone. But really if you want a keyboard - get the Q10 it's the best device for typing on the market. With OS 10.2 you can run pretty much any Android App out there.

        Blackberry needs to make the Q10 a little larger and run native Android on it - there is nothing like that on the market and it would sell.

        iOS is all Apps - nothing else on that OS is even worthwhile. It's boring and painful to use. It's a glorified App launcher.
        MobileAdmin
        • They obviously don't sell

          >>There have been ZERO devices with this form factor since Android 2.3.

          I have seen BB-like designs, although it's been a while. I can believe there have been none since Android 2.3. But if people really wanted them I think companies would make them. I suspect the screen-size trade-off is a tough nut to crack.

          I've seen other people claim that TYPO makes the phone top-heavy, but personally I didn't get this impression. And if anything it would make it bottom-heavy, since that's where the keyboard is.
          larry@...
          • Trade offs

            Well part of the issue is no companies make a decent qwerty design with current specs. As mentioned most of the Android devices ran an older version with mid range at best specs. The Q10 is 3.1" screen .. the iPhone 3GS was 3.5 so not a huge different. Even now typing on iPhone you lose half the screen when you type. I think the overall market is more consumption based so they favor a larger screen to consume media and websites.

            Your holding it wrong - the traditional thumb typer is holding the bottom of the device to type with both hands thus the top is not "heavy" and impacts the typing experience. To this day I see most people tap one letter at a time on touchscreens or just deal with typos and hope auto-correct picks it up.

            Not sure how large a screen you can do with a qwerty and still have the device functional and balanced etc.

            Let's hope 2014 brings some new designs to smartphones as how big a screen can be had and still functional as a phone? The Note III is pretty big device and typing is not really improved.

            In my case why compromise? The Q10 is the best device for messaging and I pair it with a 7" tablet for media consumption.
            MobileAdmin
  • If you want it, buy it now because

    BB is going to win their lawsuit on this one.
    baggins_z
    • Blackberry would be smart ...

      to go the Microsoft route with Android and just take a cut of the sales. People only want the keyboard, not the rest of what Blackberry is now offering. A small sliver of SOMETHING, is better than a big sliver of NOTHING.
      jkohut
      • Blackberry for iOS?

        Isn't Blackberry pushing their enterprise mail server solution for iOS and Android now? Perhaps they'd be best selling their own keyboard solution for iOS and tying it to their other products.
        dsf3g
      • Except that the current Microsoft trend

        is to go the Apple route and make the hardware, too.
        baggins_z
  • Which is why this will be a signifcantly better option....

    http://tactustechnology.com/
    cmckinney2012
  • A rose by any other name...

    Bevelled keys...
    Frets....

    Ryan Seacrest even stated in his video that it was like BlackBerry. BBRY is going to win this one.

    Plus, one of the CrackBerry guys put a TYPO on his iPhone, and it lasted 72 hours before failure.
    bb_apptix
  • BlackBerry, which developed a really great one for BBOS 10.

    The BB10 soft keyboard is easily the best one on the market.
    bb_apptix
  • Backlit keyboard

    Another BlackBerry feature.
    bb_apptix
  • Blackberry is desperately grasping...

    So every phone keyboard with a QWERTY layout is copying them? My Samsung Freeform's keyboard is very close...other than a slight curved layout. Having black keys with white letters in a tradional QWERT standard format is no more copying than is one car having the same shape tires as the next. There are just some things that are NON-patentable/copyrightable. And there are just some companies who will claim that every idea was theirs first.
    Iman Oldgeek
    • Depends on patent

      Until we have an idea of what patents Blackberry has around mobile keyboards it's a moot point if there should be a patent or not.

      If Apple can patent the shape of a icon and the "rubber band" effect then Blackberry can likely patent the shape, layout of a mobile keyboard. Considering the typo is a direct rip off of the Q10 keyboard they likely have valid cause and will either settle of a sum of money or make Typo redesign their keyboard. Depends on the court to decide.
      MobileAdmin