Best Devices Featuring a Physical Keyboard (2018)
Devices with ever larger screens are becoming the norm nowadays, combined with the manufacturer’s war on device thickness, features such as physical keyboards have fallen by the wayside. More screen real-estate means more screen for a software keyboard, and while these keyboards have come on leaps-and-bounds over the past few years, some just feel you just can’t beat the tactile sensation of a dedicated physical keyboard.
So what are the remaining options available for the physical keyboard advocate? Well they are limited, but Blackberry are currently holding the torch with several devices available. Below is a round-up of the currently available (and considered relevant) devices, we’d love to hear your thoughts on physical keyboards in the discussion below this article.
Announced during MWC 2017, the Blackberry KEYone is one of Blackberry’s latest devices to hit the market, best of all, it includes Android 7.1 out-of-the-box. It retains the traditional Blackberry design, incorporating a physical keyboard at the bottom of the device.
It offers a 4.5” 1080P IPS LCD display, which gives a pixel density of ~433 PPI. At the heart of the KEYone sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, which is made-up of a 2 GHz octa-core CPU, and an Adreno 506 GPU. Two variants are available, one with 32 GB of internal storage and 3 GB of system RAM, the other with 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM. The primary camera has a 12 MP specification, the secondary 8 MP. It weighs in at 180g, and is equipped with a non-removable 3505mAh battery.
At the time of writing, the Blackberry KEYone is available for approximately £400 ($550).
The Blackberry Priv has been with us since November 2015, and still has specifications capable of running today’s applications and games smoothly. The Priv has a 5.4” 1440 x 2560 AMOLED display, which offers a pixel density of ~540 PPI. Under the hood sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, which utilises a hexa-core (4 x 1.4 GHz & 2 x 1.8 GHz) CPU, an Adreno 418 GPU and 3 GB of system RAM. It ships with 32 GB of internal storage, which is expandable thanks to the dedicated microSD card slot. Cameras include an 18 MP rear-facing, and 2 MP front facing. The whole 192g package is kept powered-up by a non-removable 3410mAh battery. This is one of the few viable devices to feature a slide-out keyboard.
Blackberry included Android as the OS on the Priv after dwindling sales of its devices, making it a viable choice for the physical keyboard and Android advocate. The Blackberry Priv is available for £220 ($300) at the time this article was written.
Want to stand out? The blackberry passport offers a unique design, its square dimensions make its compact keyboard located at the bottom of the device wider, and easier to use. The big downside of the Blackberry Passport is the included Blackberry OS, which for business use is great, but limits the applications and features available to it for personal use.
The Blackberry Passport features a 4.5 “ 1440 x 1440 IPS LCD display, which gives a pixel density of ~453 PPI. Processing power is supplied by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, which packs a 2.26 GHz quad-core CPU, pixels are being pushed by Adreno 330 GPU and this is all backed-up with 3 GB of system RAM. A microSD card slot in included, allowing expansion of the 32 GB of internal storage. The primary camera is capable of capturing images at 13 MP, the secondary at 2 MP. The 196g chassis is powered by a non-removable 3450mAh battery.
You can pick-up (At the time of this articles publication) a Blackberry Passport for around £150 ($200)
Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus Keyboard Cover
While not actually attached to the device, the Galaxy S8 Keyboard cover is more of a case/accessory. The S8 keyboard cover adds physical keyboard functionality, at the expense of some screen real-estate. This may be the best balance for some, as it includes all of the functionality expected from a flagship device, and adds the extended functionality as required. It does need to have the included rear case attached to use the keyboard, but no charging is required as the keyboard cover draws power from the device.
Hardware specifications of the Samsung Galaxy S8 include a 5.8” Super AMOLED 1440 x 2960 display, which equates to a pixel density of ~570 PPI. Crunching the numbers is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and pushing the pixels is an Adreno 540 GPU. It packs a healthy 4 GB of system RAM, and has a microSD card slot, allowing expansion of the included 64 GB of internal storage. The primary camera is capable of capturing images at 12 MP, the secondary at 8 MP. Total weight comes in at 155g, and the whole device is powered by a non-removable 3000mAh battery.
The Galaxy S8 offers the best hardware specifications of any device in this list, and as it’s such a popular device, there are plenty of Developers here on XDA pumping-out great modifications for it.
What is the best choice for you, the attached physical keyboard? Or the ability to add that functionality when required, with options such as the Galaxy S8 Keyboard cover? With the ever decreasing thickness of devices, have the manufactures made the right choice in removing some functionality for the cost of beauty and portability? Feel free to post your comments below.
The Samsung Galaxy Keyboard Cover will set you back £40 ($55), and the device itself approximately £500 ($700)