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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They? 544

Posted by timothy
from the could-be-anywhere-really dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: I can't stand switching from a slideout-keyboard phone to a touchscreen phone, and my own informal online survey found a slight majority of people who prefer slideout keyboards even more than I do. Why will no carrier make them available, at any price, except occasionally as the crummiest low-end phones in the store? Bennett's been asking around, of store managers and users, and arrives at even more perplexing questions. Read on, below.

In my rant about the sucky LG Optimus phone that I got from T-Mobile, I admitted that I stuck with it anyway and let them keep my money, because I couldn't stand switching away from the slideout keyboard on the phone. Same reason that I kept the Stratosphere from Verizon for so long, despite the other features of that phone sucking too. But after failing to find even one true smartphone with a slideout keyboard after visiting the local AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile stores, I started to wonder if I was just an old fud who couldn't get with the times.

(The slideout keyboards are usually called "QWERTY keyboards" in the marketing, but I'm using "slideout keyboard" in order to distinguish them from phones like Blackberries that have a physical QWERTY keyboard and screen all on the outer surface of the phone, since that forces the keyboard and the screen to be much smaller.)

Slideout keyboards have always felt more natural to me in a couple of ways. You can let your finger or thumb center on the correct key, and then press the key in a separate action, resulting in far fewer typos then if you're required to land your fingertip on the correct spot on the screen. (Fewer typos also means you can turn off autocorrect and worry about fewer idiotic auto-corrections.) A slide-out keyboard also makes it easier to hold the phone in a relaxed grip -- with the keyboard out, you can rest the phone on your other fingers while using your thumb to keep it in place, rather than having to grip the phone around the edges with your fingers to keep the screen uncovered. The relaxed thumb-centered grip makes it much easier to tilt the phone at different angles and even hold above your head without dropping it (handy for the first texts you answer before getting out of bed), all while hardly having to tense your fingers at all.

I mentioned this to the Sprint sales guy and he shook his head and said, "Oh, no, everybody wants touchscreen phones now." When I mentioned later to the AT&T store manager that I felt I must be in a shrinking minority, he said that he preferred slide-out keyboards, most other people preferred slide-out keyboards, and the industry was just moving away from them regardless. Who was right? Skeptical as ever about people's claims that they've "heard lots of people saying so-and-so," I posted a survey on Amazon's Mechanical Turk ( which I have used in the past for all kinds of weird stuff), seeking out respondents who had used both a phone with a slideout keyboard and a phone with a virtual keyboard, and asking which one they preferred, and why.

Out of 49 respondents, 27 said they preferred slideout keyboards and 22 said they preferred virtual keyboards. And I know the Internet survey-takers weren't just clicking answers at random, because most of them gave details as to the reason for their preference (even though this was not enforced by the survey form). Obviously that's too small of a sample to be very precise about the percentage of users that prefer slide-out keyboards (apart from the fact that Mechanical Turk users are unrepresentative of the general population in several ways), but it does mean that the near-extinction of slideout-keyboard phones in retail stores is probably not in proportion to what people actually want.

You can download the raw survey data here; some of the highlights from people who said they preferred slideouts:

"I preferred using an actual keyboard because I can actually feel the keys. After my hands get used to the keyboard, I could type very fast. Using a virtual one is much harder because you don't actually feel the keys you are typing."

"I can put my fingers on the actual keys just like a typewriter and know they won't slip off and hit the wrong key. I was heartbroken when then got rid of almost all qwerty keyboards in the new phones. They are now almost impossible to find."

"The slide-out keyboard offers more accuracy and feedback than a virtual keyboard. I can easily tell if I'm pressing the wrong letter key on a physical keyboard than a virtual one. I also prefer my keyboard to be off of the screen so I can easily see what I'm typing."

"I think its easier to type on a slide out keyboard. With the virtual ones I'm always spending half the time correcting the mistakes."

"I preferred slide-out keyboards because you could actually feel the crevices that separate each letter on the keyboard, and this allowed you to type much more efficiently. There's just something more beautiful and human about physically touching something rather than using the heat in your fingers to make unreal letters type on a screen."

On the other side of the aisle, the most common reasons that people gave for preferring virtual keyboards were that slideouts were too flimsy or bulky:

"Virtual keyboards are sturdier than slide out keyboards."

"The decreased overall weight of the device due to the lack of physical keyboard is the biggest benefit to me. Plus the added benefit is that virtual keyboard technology has come a long way in the last few years and offers unique features such as swiping words whereas a physical keyboard still limits you to typing and switching between buttons and the screen in order to select or correct words."

"A virtual keyboard is faster and less cumbersome than a slide out keyboard."

"I liked the tactile feeling of the slide out keyboard. I found the keyboard slide to be more bulky however. I like the virtual keyboard because it allows me to use a larger amount of screen space on my phone when I am not typing. You can also do cool keyboard gestures with the virtual keyboard, such as sliding the finger to type. The virtual keyboard also has an auto correct feature built in which is handy. My old slide out keyboard phone was cool at the time but lacks the features modern virtual keyboard have. Also, real keyboards make clicky noises, which can prevent you from sending texts out under your desk during meetings, haha."

(That last guy's right -- I've been out of the workforce long enough that I forgot you can't get away with texting in a meeting on a slideout, unless other people in the room are covering your noise by "taking notes" typing on their laptops.)

So - not everyone wants slideout keyboards, but a lot of people really, really want them, and the stores refuse to stock them. What gives?

The AT&T store manager simply said that they were more expensive to make, and people return them more often because they break more easily. Well of course it makes sense that the extra component costs more, but it seemed counterintuitive that the slideout keyboards are usually only found on the cheapest phones in the store (which don't qualify as true smartphones). It's odd for an expensive extra component to be found only in the cheapest models of a product line, as if Ford had announced that their self-parking technology would only come bundled with the Fiesta.

More importantly, it seems strange that a more expensive or even a more fragile component, cannot be made available at any price when so many people want it. If it costs more, surely they could just charge more. I'd pay at least an extra $100-$200 for a phone with a slideout keyboard (which is more than the entire retail cost of a dumbphone with a slideout keyboard, so the price increase on a real phone should be less than that). If it makes the phone more fragile and more likely to be returned, surely that could just be reflected in a higher monthly "insurance" fee to cover the cost of exchanging damaged phones (which is only about $5 per month anyway). Is this another example of market failure, even in a competitive industry? It's easy for Facebook to force changes down our throats, since we have nowhere else to go, but how did Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all end up abandoning such a sizable portion of their customers, even while locked in a cutthroat battle with each other?

Maybe this can be the next big thing that T-Mobile does to differentiate themselves from everybody else (like when they broke ranks and decided to sell all phones at retail price with no long-term contracts) -- everybody knows their network is spottier, but it's usable, and if they're doing one thing right that you really care about, and everyone else is doing it wrong, that's reason enough to switch. Their pink-shirted CEO certainly likes making waves with his colorful metaphors about the other carriers screwing you over. If T-Mobile sold me a real phone with a slideout keyboard, I'm sure I'd stay with them for years, even though yesterday the rain (a fairly common phenomenon here in Bellevue, where T-Mobile U.S. is headquartered) caused the reception on the phone to go from 4G to 2G and then down to "G," which I didn't even know was a thing.

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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

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  • by danudwary (201586) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:29PM (#47551595)

    Lots of cases. And after using SwiftKey for a while, I'll never go back to typing on a phone if I can help it.

    • Re:Just get a case (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pecosdave (536896) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:44PM (#47551799) Homepage Journal

      I like Swift Key, but it's not the answer to everything. For instance I couldn't even type in a user name in Plants Vs. Zombies while it was active, the built in email program on my phone is nearly impossible to use with Swift key - it moves the cursor in an unpredictable manner, and it still isn't a "real" keyboard. While I hope those software issues are alleviated for Swiftkey, there isn't a modern phone around that even compares to my more than 10 years ago Motorola T900 [arch.com] pager.

      A case isn't always a good answer either, most of those use Bluetooth to communicate with a phone and I know people who've demonstrated hooking Wireshark up to Bluetooth and capturing every letter typed on a keyboard they weren't even paired with.

    • by Xenx (2211586)
      Keyboard cases are rare for new android phones. It's one of the downsides to having multiple manufacturers and designs. I haven't dug too deep yet, but of the current gen devices, I can only find a keyboard for the S5.
    • by barlevg (2111272)
      Have not managed to find a keyboard case for a single phone that I would actually consider buying. iPhone? nope. Samsung Galaxy III? Nuh uh. There exists not a single keyboard case for the Nexus 4/5. If someone makes one, I will buy it in a heartbeat.
      • by unrtst (777550)

        Have not managed to find a keyboard case for a single phone that I would actually consider buying. iPhone? nope. Samsung Galaxy III? Nuh uh. There exists not a single keyboard case for the Nexus 4/5. If someone makes one, I will buy it in a heartbeat.

        WHAT!??!!
        I haven't found a keyboard case for the Samsung Galaxy S4 that I would use (though I really want a keyboard), but keyboard cases exist for the first two you mentioned (haven't looked for the nexus). Or am I misreading your post... are you saying you would NOT buy an iPhone nor Galaxy SIII?

        Ex: iPhone (I really like this case): http://istoreworld.com/us/typo... [istoreworld.com]

        Here's a sliding one for the iPhone: http://www.amazon.com/Bluetoot... [amazon.com]

    • by dotancohen (1015143) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:13PM (#47552157) Homepage

      Please don't give Bennett any ideas. I would be very happy indeed if someone were to remove from his possession _all_ his keyboards.

      In fact, arguably tablets and phones are media _consumption_ devices, not media creation. Leave the media creation to the big names in IP, lest you infringe their property. Go back to consuming (spending), preferably multiple times for each device that you own. Can't have you watching on your phone media that is licensed only for your PC, that would be stealing from somebody's intellectual property.

    • Re:Just get a case (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday July 28, 2014 @04:17PM (#47552725)

      Indeed. When the market doesn't suit your niche, get a peripheral that does the trick. And I say "niche", because Bennett failed to take note of some rather obvious selection bias that, when taken into account, seems to cause his results to actually suggest the opposite of what he's claiming.

      Namely, slide-out keyboards have never been ubiquitous across a class of phone in the way that touchscreen keyboards are nearly ubiquitous across smartphones today. So while nearly everyone using a smartphone today has been forced to use a touchscreen at some point, users who have used slide-out keyboards did so because they specifically chose that style of keyboard, given that there were plenty of comparable alternatives available back when slide-out keyboards were more common.

      Which is to say, rather than being a random sampling, the respondents to this survey were likely all people who had a strong preference for slide-out style keyboards at some point in time. That only a hair more than half of the people who preferentially chose them in the past still prefer them just a few years later is actually rather damning evidence against slide-out keyboards.

      More or less, Bennett has failed to take into account people who considered slide-out keyboards and chose not to buy them for any one of a number of valid reasons that do not require having used them (e.g. makes the phone thicker, can't switch between alphabets/character sets, don't want to add more mechanical points of failure, etc.). I don't think he did it intentionally, but the outcome is that he's loaded the deck in his favor, yet still only barely managed to get the results he wanted.

  • MyTouch 4G Slidw (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dukenukemx (1342047) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:30PM (#47551599)

    I've been holding onto this phone for years and there's no replacement for it in sight. Photon Q is the best qwerty phone but it's only for Verizon. You could solder your own sim card slot but it won't get 3g/4g on T-Mobile.

    • by JDAustin (468180)

      Photon Q is on Sprint also. It's actually a decent phone.

    • I have one of those too, but, blech, the keyboard went on the fritz pretty quickly and T-Mo refused warranty service >:O. The keyboard was also not nearly as nice as the G1's, and the hinge is kind of loose... whereas my G1's weird hinge was crisp until the bitter end. At least it has a great camera (kind of amazed at the video quality) and isn't too slow I guess.

      As a result, I'm kind of back to not really using my phone. I guess I'm weird, using ssh and doing a bit of remote system administration on a p

  • COST (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:30PM (#47551605)

    It's about cost really. It's cheaper to manufacture phones without a physical keyboard. Less parts = higher margin for the phone vendor. It's the same reason they are wanting gesture control in cars. Less buttons = cheaper product. Welcome to the future where usability is secondary to how much money can be made and the vendors can convince users that's really what they want in the first place.

    • Re:COST (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:26PM (#47552289)

      It's about cost really. It's cheaper to manufacture phones without a physical keyboard. Less parts = higher margin for the phone vendor. It's the same reason they are wanting gesture control in cars. Less buttons = cheaper product. Welcome to the future where usability is secondary to how much money can be made and the vendors can convince users that's really what they want in the first place.

      The cost calculation extends beyond manufacturing. I imagine the switch to virtual input devices also allow more reliability as there are fewer moving/separate parts. In addition, the touch/gesture interface can be re-programmed, updated and "enhanced" (said in quotes as I personally find that most enhancements are not) more readily than fixed physical interfaces.

    • Re:COST (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MouseR (3264) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:48PM (#47552501) Homepage

      Internationalisation is also a huge issue for hardware keyboard.

      Aka, get out of ASCII territory and all hardware keyboard suck raw pigeon farts.

      Localized keyboards create inventory and distribution hell.

  • NO, all candy bar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brxndxn (461473) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:31PM (#47551615)

    The big manufacturers are all too busy competing with Apple to actually notice there might be a market for something else.. For example, I want a Motorola Razr running Android. I don't care if it's slower, worse resolution, smaller screen than todays' big fat candy bar phones. I'm a guy and I don't carry a bag. The phone has got to fit in my pocket.

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      What kind of pockets do you have? I fit my wallet, keys, and Note all in 1 pocket.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:55PM (#47551917) Homepage

      Keyboard phones didn't sell well. People realised that swipe keyboards are actually faster than trying to type on tiny keys. Most people don't do massive amounts of typing on their phones anyway. Of they need to they get a tablet, Bluetooth keyboard or ultra portable laptop.

      Keyboard phones sound good on paper but when people actually tried them the reality hit home.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        i went from a droid to droid 2, droid 3, droid 4 before jumping ship to the Galaxy line. It took me about 3 weeks to get used to it. i do miss my keyboard but i can do without it now adays
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Well, I do miss my old G2 keyboard when I do things like ssh, but I have to admit that this is a REALLY niche application. You are correct that swype-style keyboards are just as fast these days for general use. Plus, android voice recognition has gotten to the point where I'm starting to talk to my phone more and more even in public.

      • People realised that swipe keyboards are actually faster

        Only when you're looking at the screen. I tried the free version of Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure on a Nexus 7 tablet, and I kept missing jumps because my thumbs drifted from the on-screen buttons until I turned on my Bluetooth keyboard.

        they need to they get a tablet, Bluetooth keyboard or ultra portable laptop

        What ultra portable laptop? Weren't they discontinued at the end of 2012 [slashdot.org]?

    • by Alomex (148003)

      The other thing they are missing is a long battery life cellphone which is also a smart phone. Here's what I mean: a smart phone such that when the battery goes low it switches off all smart functions and is left with just enough battery to operate as basic cell phone+bare bones contact list for two days.

      • Re:NO, all candy bar (Score:5, Informative)

        by ageoffri (723674) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:14PM (#47552181)
        Samsung Galaxy S5 has this and more. I've set mine up so at 20% it goes into first level of reduced power consumption, turns screen into grey scale, restricts background data usage and a couple other things I don't remember right now. Then at 10% it turns into pretty much a late 90's phone with bare bones functions, supposedly it will go 4 or 5 days in that mode.
    • I want a variation on the Nokia E70, best design I've ever had the pleasure of using.

      http://cdn2.gsmarena.com/vv/pi... [gsmarena.com]

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:08PM (#47552071) Journal

      I suspect they're not producing these kinds of phones simply because, despite the author's assertion, very few people actually do want such phones.

      A writer and a submitter does not constitute some vast ignored market.

      • by erice (13380) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:48PM (#47552497) Homepage

        I suspect they're not producing these kinds of phones simply because, despite the author's assertion, very few people actually do want such phones.

        A writer and a submitter does not constitute some vast ignored market.

        On the contrary, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who want keyboards. However, they will buy a new phone anyway, even if there is nothing available with a keyboard so the manufacturers have little incentive to cater to them. The same is true for small smart phones. Almost certainly more people want a small phone than want a slide out keyboard and they still get ignored. Manufacturers get more marketing buzz by pumping out giant keyboardless phones frequently than they would if they slowed down the upgrade cycle to spread their development efforts across niches.

        When people stop buying new phones because manufacturers are not giving them what they want then maybe we will see some changes. My phone is 3.5 years old because I can't find a suitable (i.e., modern and not huge) replacement but I don't think there are enough people like me yet to catch the attention of the manufacturers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:31PM (#47551619)

    I recent dug out an old Palm Pre from a drawer. I charged it up and played with it a bit... one thing that immediately struck me is how amazingly fast I could type, with near perfect accuracy... this is after years of being on a touch screen phone, whether android or iPhone.

    I was easily twice as fast and 5-10x as accurate. Touch typing was easy.

    • by pipedwho (1174327)

      Only twice as fast with "touch typing" vs a touch screen phone?

      I'm easily at least 10 to 20x faster with touch typing on a bluetooth external keyboard than on the touch screen of my phone.

      Anything smaller than about 2/3 size keys are too small for proper touch typing.

      That being said, I only ever use the touch keyboard on the phone for short responses and scenarios where being able to type a few words at all is better than nothing. A friend has one of those fold-out bluetooth keyboard cases for his Samsung m

  • Not Odd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:33PM (#47551645)
    They are strapping a cheap part that breaks easy on an expensive phone. They keyboard breaks and they have to replace the whole thing. What you want is a case that has a bluetooth keyboard slider. Like the following. http://www.amazon.com/Naztech-... [amazon.com]
    • by barlevg (2111272)
      The problem is that the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone are basically the only two phones for which someone has bothered to make one of these. If someone were to make one for the Nexus 4/5, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
    • Re:Not Odd (Score:5, Informative)

      by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:08PM (#47552073) Homepage

      It's a nice solution idea, but leaving Bluetooth on all the time must eat quite a lot into your battery runtime. I have a hard time using a phone when the battery is drained. I can run for maybe an 3-4 hours on a charge if I'm actively using my phone, and that's with all manner of power saving options turned on, doing their best to maximize my *useful* runtime. The industry insists on super thin, but large surface area smartphones, but I'd give just about anything for something pocket size, 90% battery by mass, and with a slide-out physical keyboard. If it were an inch and a half thick, but could provide a solid 14 hour active use time on a single charge, I'd be in love with it.

    • by Duhavid (677874)

      Thank you!

      I have a Samsung Stratosphere because I like the keyboard. I cant run certain apps fully ( Lync and Evernote ) as it is a limited phone and the darn thing is slow ( and gets slower ).
      And lately, it just turns itself off. No warning, just off. And I am the second level support person where I work.

      I had no idea about these.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:34PM (#47551665)

    What the hell am I supposed to jizz on if my keyboard doesn't slide out?

  • Wrong device (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:35PM (#47551677) Homepage
    Moving parts cost more to manufacture and test, and they fail faster, but y'all are missing the point. Your mistake was letting your phone become a text input device. Even with a mechanical keyboard, it's still an incredibly inferior experience to thumb out your words like a hunt-and-peck typist as your phone flails about trying to auto-correct your spelling. Type on your computer. Talk on your phone.
    • by Minwee (522556)

      Type on your computer. Talk on your phone.

      Extolling. Am glee with kids. Dear Aunt, let’s set so double the killer delete select all.

    • Re:Wrong device (Score:4, Insightful)

      by war4peace (1628283) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:36PM (#47552389)

      Maybe it's the other way around. Maybe the phone is not a text input device because it sucks at doing the job right.
      Screen size is big enough. Capacity is more than big enough. There's plenty a reason to type on your phone. I, for example would love to do that while I take a longer ride in an intercity bus or car (as a passenger, don't get any ideas), or even while traveling by train (I'm a failed writer of sorts). I tried writing by hand in a paper notebook, but my scribbles look awful because I'm in a moving vehicle which constantly exerts forces (small but not negligible) so writing by hand becomes difficult.
      For the classic writing style I need a hard place to put my notebook on, stability and a comfortable position, none of which are available while traveling. But a phone would do the job a lot better. "Get a laptop" you'd say, but with bigger size, smaller battery life span and no good place to put it on (except own lap) it's still worse than a phone.
      Bluetooth keyboards are worse than a slide-out keyboard because they're not attached to the phone and eat up battery.

      Another reason is IM conversations while traveling. They don't bother other passengers like talking on the phone does, you can do it with multiple people at once, doesn't really eat up bandwidth.

      Yes, a cheap phone would do just fine but then I'd have to carry two devices which makes no sense.
      I understand this particular case doesn't represent "a market" but there might be a market if such a device existed.

      About cost: I guess the extra cost would be negated if companies would simply stop spending time and money creating all that stupid bloatware they push on the damn phones.

  • Why not pay someone to make a case mod for an existing phone, a la the bluetooth keyboards for tablets? There's no reason to require the phone manufacturers to do it, they just to get out of the way when we want to extend the phone. NB: I stuck with the Motorola Backflip as long as I could for the external keyboard as well. I liked being able to use it as a kickstand as well as a keyboard, and the hinges were pretty sturdy. It got too hard to play Ingress on, though, because it couldn't keep up with the lat

  • It's been a while since I had to give up my Sidekick LX. Microsoft shut down the servers that made the web browsing possible. I strongly considered keeping the account just so I could use my Sidekick for messaging with its fantastic keyboard, but ended up switching to an iPhone. The iPhone is great in many ways but I really don't like the virtual keyboard.
  • Isn't that what Seacrest's Typo (currently in litigation with BlackBerry) keyboard/case is for?

  • Sorry to tell you... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sudden.zero (981475) <.sudden.zero. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:41PM (#47551755)
    ...but physical keyboards are just not being made much anymore. I am a software engineering contractor, and I work in the cellular industry. Most of the manufacturers are dropping all physical "qwerty" keyboard designs because they don't see a market for them anymore. Motorola is one of the only exceptions that I am aware of that has a "Smart" phone with a physical keyboard that isn't too horrible. http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/2... [ebay.com] Other than that you are pretty much out of luck.
    • Oh, I forgot to mention that if you don't mind the keyboard not actually being part of the phone there is a case for the Galaxy S4/S5 that has a slide out bluetooth keyboard. http://www.focuscamera.com/sam... [focuscamera.com]
    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:01PM (#47552011) Homepage

      Yeah, because who in the fuck doesn't want to compose a business e-mail on a qwerty keyboard with tactile (click) feedback?! Bunch of crazy motherfuckers out there I tell you. Surely this must be why Black Berry failed.

      -end sarcasm

    • by cshay (79326) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:14PM (#47552171)

      It's not that there is "no market", it is that the "power user" slice of the pie (people who compose a lot of emails) has a tiny percentage now that smartphones are in every single household.

      One of the sad consequences of technology going mainstream. The power users can be ignored.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Honestly if you're using the phone for significant amounts of typing anyway you're doing it wrong.

  • There's a reason why Neo900 [neo900.org] is Neo900 and not Neo9.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:41PM (#47551761) Journal

    Who the hell is this guy sleeping with, that Slashdot has become his personal blog-pimp site? (Rhetorical question, it's clearly timothy, soulskill, and samzenpus....do you guys know about each other?)

    Seriously? If his points were insightful, it might just BARELY be acceptable (but still, not really - did we want this to become the 21st century's Chaos Manor column?)...but I have to say, they aren't. I was going just refute as an example a few of his issues, but they're so fucking obvious, what's the point?

    Bennett, I'm not going to educate you basic premises of business, marketing, anecdotal evidence, etc. Seriously, talking about the goddamn WEATHER?

    What.
    The.
    Fuck,
    Slashdot?

    • What we really need is to stop posting Bennett blogs every time he writes one (usually once a week) and instead do a "Monthly Bennett Roundup" in which all of his posts from the past month are put together. It'd be kind of like a Tamagotchi, only more annoying.

    • by meustrus (1588597)

      I saw this article and thought, "I've really wanted to find out why I can't get a slide-out keyboard." Nevermind the poster. Too bad the thoughts consist of a bunch of rambling. The only actually new information consists of two things:

      • 1. A seriously flawed poll suggesting more than 50% of people want slide-out keyboards, but since there were fewer than 100 responses and the crowd is biased towards techies, who's to say he didn't actually find the only 27 people in the world who want what he wants?
      • 2. When a
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:43PM (#47551773) Homepage Journal

    I had been using an HTC myTouch Slide 4G (doubleshot) , and the MTS3G (espresso) before that.

    It was great, I would always win at the little online "pictionary" games since I could type out the answer faster than practically anyone else. Also, it was good for reading in a supine or other odd positions, because I could set it to only switch to landscape mode if the keyboard was slid out... it's a constant annoyance to me when other phones switch orientations because the accelerometer is giving readings it doesn't cope with well.

    The MTS4G was not supposed to run Android 4, but thanks to CyanogenMOD... http://trumblings.blogspot.com... [blogspot.com]

    Gradually, all of the apps on it got slower and less responsive, and I would gradually get rid of widgets and apps that would run into the background until I just had the bare essentials... Chrome, Maps, and Hangouts. But what finally did it in was that the SD card would get corrupted every time I let the batteries run all the way down.

    Finally broke down and picked up a Nexus 5. The screen is big enough, esp. in landscape mode, to hunt and peck out the keys with reasonable accuracy. Unfortunately, Google hasn't made every app work in landscape mode, and some critical things (like the launcher and the frickin' Google search widget) force you to enter stuff on the tiny portrait mode keyboard. I think CyanogenMOD's Trebuchet launcher app was better with this, and I'm eagerly awaiting it to go stable on the Nexus 5 so I can switch over.

    I've also been looking for a good Bluetooth keyboard case, but haven't found one yet. There are several good-looking ones for the Nexus 7, though. That would certainly scratch the itch for me. Of course, not many Android apps have good keyboard support, but they're out there... Jota+ , VXConnectBot, etc.

    As an aside, after the last update to 4.4.4, my wife's Nexus 4 started getting noticeably less responsive too. Hoping it's just a matter of going through and clearing some of the Dalvik cache, and not because Google is (intentionally?) making older devices obsolete faster by adding in too many bloated features in their core apps :P

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich&aol,com> on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:43PM (#47551781) Journal

    I rally prevent my slid out keyfob.

  • by Ereth (194013) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:44PM (#47551795) Homepage

    I thought that the reason physical keyboards were going away was obvious... with a software keyboard you can make one part and sell it in every country in the world. The software keyboard is infinitely flexible and can be changed to represent any language. A physical keyboard can't, and so a phone manufacturer has to make a different physical keyboard for each market, complicating inventory management and increasing price overall since they can't amortize chinese keyboards with US phones.

    The cost of giving it to you isn't the cost of making it for you, it's the cost of not being able to sell your phone in all the other countries, and THAT is the truly "high" cost that you can't afford to pay to get them to make one for you.

  • I went through a string of slider-keyboard phones, as I prefer the tactile feedback of a real keyboard. The troubles with them were numerous though. The slide-mech always ended up "gumming up" after a few months of use. The keyboard layout was always less than optimal, because while the alphabet on the keyboard was laid out as qwerty, everything else was suspect. No Tab key, no control keys, etc... These phones also went through a series of failures of ribbon cables etc. Over a dozen phones in two years.
  • I get the reason why manufacturers aren't producing slide out keyboards. Internationalization, easier to break, etc. That doesn't mean I like what's happening.

    I'd like to see a flip phone that doubles as a wi-fi hotspot and then I'll just use a tablet for the things I wanted the "smart" part of the smartphone to do. (And it will look a lot less stupid than talking on a phablet that barely fits in anyone's hands who isn't 7 feet tall.)

  • Opportunity Cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmyf2371 (586051) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:51PM (#47551873)

    You don't tell us the question you asked your survey respondents so I'm making the assumption that you asked a simple question to see if people prefer a slideout or virtual keyboard. It would have been more interesting to ask users if they would still prefer a slideout keyboard at the expense of extra thickness and cost when compared to the non-slideout model.

    Back in the day, I loved my Nokia N97's slideout keyboard; it was one of the best mobile keyboards I've had the pleasure to use. But I wouldn't want to swap the thickness of my current phone for a qwerty - it's just too much of a tradeoff.

  • You have a tiny self selecting sample. In other words you have no idea if "a lot" of people want slide out keyboards or not.
    The manufactures on the other hand do well planned studies and have come to a different conclusion.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:53PM (#47551893) Homepage
    Pasting farm a HTC 1 I can confirm touchscreens car joust as reliable as hair slice out counterparts. i also donut thing anyone still makes anymor slideboar keybots these days
  • by kiwix (1810960) on Monday July 28, 2014 @02:57PM (#47551949)
    I got a Samsung Galay S Relay 4G [wikipedia.org] from T-mobile, and I'm rather happy about it (well, not really from T-mobile, I'm in Europe, so I had to unlock it). It's not the very latest hardware, but it's still decent, and it runs the latest Cyanogenmod [cyanogenmod.org].
  • I was one of those that preferred slideout-keyboard phones for the longest time. However, earlier this year, when I was considering moving to a phone without one, I tried an experiment. For 2 months, I went without using the hardware keyboard, using the touchscreen exclusively. Surprisingly enough, it turned out that the software keyboard was faster and more efficient, most notably due to the swipe capabiities. For the most part, I found I could live with it, minus some inconveniences. First, it does u

  • "Why are we switching to flatscreen LCD monitors that don't even have 1/3 of the resolution of my admittedly bulky CRT monitor? I can't even find one that does the same res, even at 3x the price!"

    Response then is probably just as valid for phones today: "Cost to manufacture."(*)

    (*) - also shelf space and shipping costs, but that's not applicable for slideout phones. In the end those are just varieties of 'money' as well.

  • You can find a lot of people that SAY they want these things, but no one buys them. Pretty much all of the slide-out keyboard phones have been commercial failures.

  • Lots of people want physical home/back buttons.

    Lots of people also want non-glossy screen.

    Lots of people *need* resistive touch-screen, because capacitive ones can't be used in gloves.

    But all that doesn't mean that it is going to happen. Production/etc moved to Asia - distance between customer and manufacturer is as great as it ever was.

    I personally do not expect thing to get better.

  • Seriously. Nobody is willing to pay the necessary premium to bring this to market. Indegogo, Kickstarter, etc. provide a way to get funding, but even then you don't see keyboard phones popping up, though everybody and their brother seems excited to build another 3D printer.

    What would you pay for a slider, and could you find 1000 people willing to put their money where their mouth is? Android is open(ish) so you don't even have to make your own OS. With a couple thousand people you might be able to get the c

  • resulting in far fewer typos then if you're required to

    Muphry's Law at work.

  • We slide out keyboard users are a desperate bunch. Do some googling.. there's even a petition begging verizon to sell one after the demise of the Droid series.

    But the reality is likely that only a small subset of professionals need to write long emails with their phones. The vast majority of cell phone users send simple text messages and not much else.

    It's the sad consequence of technology going extremely mainstream - we power users are but a drop in the bucket $$ wise.

  • ... much shorter summaries.

  • I too like slide out keyboard and I like seeing more of the screen while typing.

    But are we so dependent on the manufacturer for this? Someone can design a compact bluetooth keyboard. With some kind of harness/clip to slide in any smartphone. Or make it part of a slide out or fold out phone case. Almost all the people I know buy a case for their phones. I think Steve Jobs was probably the only one who used a naked iPhone. I see people putting really horrendous looking cases. Would these guys buy an after m

  • I personally still miss my old Motorola Milestone I used to have. The keyboard was so easy and fun to use, and the phone itself was so well built. No phone I've used ever since can compare to it (iPhones, nexus, samsungs, Motorolas and a few other).

    Personally I'll never be as accurate typing on a touchscreen with SwiftKey or whatever than I was with the Milestone's physical keyboard. I've spent quite a lot of time testing the few sliders out there every time I'm looking for a new phone, but as the poster sa

  • Kind of like the afterlife of the slide-out keyboard. Sure it will make your phone a little bulkier, but as a slide-out keyboard user you should be used to that.

  • ...but I've gotten better results from Swype and the continuous-swipe Google keyboard, than I ever could from the physical keyboard.

    I had a 1st-gen Moto Droid with the slideout keyboard, and found that I rarely slid out the keyboard, because (a) it was nearly as inaccurate to use as the on-screen keyboard, (b) it only worked in landscape mode, and (c) I was faster with Swype. The downside of Swype, of course, is that if the word recognition fails to find your word, you're going to have to peck it in all ov

  • Well, DUH. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:14PM (#47552173) Homepage Journal

    OF CORUSE they don't want to make them. More moving parts (read: points of failure), harder to design and manufacturer, higher component costs, and, despite the findings of your rigorous "informal online survey", there actually ISN'T that much demand for such a device.

    Adding a slide-out keyboard adds many moving parts, and either a) adds bulk or b) displaces space that could be otherwise used by the battery. (Or both.) So you'll get a more-expensive phone with ONE feature (physical keys) and it'll be larger, heavier, less reliable, and/or have worse battery life. Can you see why this market isn't worth sinking money into? Face it: whenever you deviate from the norm -- the biggest seller, and by extension, the cheapest to manufacture due to economies of scale -- you either need to a) charge a premium, or b) eat the costs because you're chasing market share. Choice "a" will shrink the possible market even more so, further reducing return-on-investment, and "b" is not ideal either.

    There are literally a hundred things that could be (or not be) on a phone, and people feel very strongly about these things, but it's impossible to manufacture every single combination. Somewhere there is a guy who wants a phone with a triple-size battery and big antenna and no camera because he works for a defense contractor in a building where he gets shitty reception, but he's SOL and so are you. Unless this [wired.com] takes off, you'll have to live without your dream feature set.

    Also, you need to think more about the implications of your data. Of the people you surveyed who HAVE used a phone with a slide-out keyboard, only about half of them STILL want a phone with a slide-out keyboard. There's a clue in there somewhere...

  • I still have my nokia n900 with slideout-keyboard and I really love it.
    Someone mentioned the break more easily? Mine still working great after 5 years.
    Virtual keyboards have advantages? Well, not sliding out the keyboard should still give you a virtual keyboard.
    Autocorrect can also be done using hardware keyboard. Whats different in that respect with virtual keyborads? The system can still use some screen area to show alternatives/corrections you can touch upon.

    Another big advantage of slide-out keyboards i

  • I'm also desperately waiting for another model with a slide out keyboard. I moved from the Samsung Epic (truly great phone but the charge port is attached to the motherboard very weakly), to the Photon Q (unremovable battery is a big minus), and I'm not sure where to go from here. Maybe back to the Epic if I can find one.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:33PM (#47552349) Homepage

    Phone Scoop's Phone Finder [phonescoop.com] allows you to search for cell phones by feature (eg, hours of standby, hours of talk, OS, display resolution).

    Set 'U.S. Carrier Availability' to 'Available' and 'Form Factor' to 'Slide', and you get:

    • Alcatel Sparq II
    • HTC Merge
    • Kyocera Milano / Jitterbug Touch
    • Kyocera Rise
    • Kyocera Verve / Contact
    • LG Cosmos 2 / Cosmos 3
    • LG Enact
    • LG Enlighten / Optimus Slider / Optimus Zip
    • LG Extravert 2 / Freedom II
    • LG LX-290 / 290c
    • LG Mach
    • LG Optimus F3Q
    • LG Rumor Reflex S / Rumor Reflex / Freedom / Converse
    • LG Xpression / Xpression 2
    • Pantech Renue
    • Pantech Vybe
    • Samsung Array / Montage
    • Samsung SGH-T301g
    • Samsung Stratosphere / Galaxy Metrix 4G

    Took me less than a minute, and I didn't even had to visit any stores. And if you turn off the 'US Carrier Availability' but require 'World Roaming', you can find other phones that you might be able to get. (as HP never released the Palm Pre3 in the US, so I had to get mine from other sources)

  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday July 28, 2014 @03:37PM (#47552395) Journal

    Firms often fail to supply products or services that are plainly in demand. Sometimes it's a regulatory perversion that interferes with capitalism. Other times the companies are just dicks. For example, CocaCola with real sugar. For years it was very hard to get because of government interference with the sugar market. Now due to NAFTA we can get Mexican Coke with real sugar. If you want a real American drink, you have to get it from Mexico? How fucked up is that? This would be an example of regulatory perversion.

    Not to harp on the soda companies, but they also provide an example of companies being dicks. PepsiCo is a big offender. They buy up restaurants, and you can only get Pepsi there. Coke does this too; but not as aggressively. Both companies bully around small convenience stores. I once met an operator in Virginia who found a way to stock Coke and Pepsi. She actually told me that she was getting away with hiding the competing soda from a distributor when they came around. Possibly she trading wholesale lots with a friendly operator across town. This was a long time ago; but I bet it hasn't changed. These companies are dicks.

    They also super-sized their beverages to the exclusion of those of us who wanted smaller portions. I really noticed this in my 20s, when suddenly 20 oz. was the only bottle size you could get a lot of places.

    I was able to make the long-run decision to reduce soda consumption dramatically, all but eliminating it. I now enjoy the occasional Mexican coke and that's about it. Many others are not so disciplined, and we all know about proposed government fixes for this but really, you can't fix the fact that the companies are just dicks.

  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Monday July 28, 2014 @04:54PM (#47552943)

    Best hardware keyboard I've ever used, fully QWERTY with a number row and very good tactile feedback/feel and spacing. My older brother mentioned that he thought he could type faster on his new touchscreen phone after about 6 months of having it, and I told him prove it. He grabbed a book and said type the back of it verbatim, so we did. I finished it when he was about 2/3rd done, and he uses that phone all the time for business emails where I use mine more casually.

    I think the option most people are going now are case-keyboards, but they are only available for a limited subset of phones and aren't as seamlessly integrated as the slide-outs.

  • by jigamo (1554711) on Monday July 28, 2014 @05:23PM (#47553165)
    This article [theverge.com] from 2013 asks the same question as the submitter but with actual data from a person at Sprint who was also a champion of this form factor.

    TLDR version: "People started buying phones they could recognize ... flagship devices which boast fancy designs and giant advertising campaigns."

    I found it to be a rather interesting article even though I've never been into this kind of phone.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Monday July 28, 2014 @07:30PM (#47553933)

    Doesn't have an "app store", runs an OS most people (even many geeks) have probably never heard of but its got one of the best physical keyboards ever put onto a phone.

    I intend to keep using my N900 until it either breaks and cant be fixed or until I can somehow afford to upgrade it to a Neo900 :)

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