I've used touchscreen smartphones, but I've always hated them in the one area where I use my smartphone the most—communication using the typed word. That includes e-mail, mobile IM, social network updates and, for me as a writer, even typing pieces on the go. While others on flights contort themselves as they type on laptops, I type on my BlackBerry's QWERTY keyboard. No touchscreen came close—and I've used Swype. If you are a slow typist, then touchscreen keyboards are not bad, but at the speed at which I type with both thumbs, I'd end up with gibberish if I used a touchscreen and prose if I used a QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry. Since they pay me to write prose (though I'm sure some spec-and-benchmark-hugging fanboys will see this as gibberish), it's clear why I chose my BlackBerry over the touchscreens. Which also meant that I was really looking forward to the upcoming BlackBerry Q10, since it reportedly has a better keyboard than its predecessor, the Bold 9900.
Designed for speedy typing only
So, I'm sure Urpo Karjalainen, Regional Managing Director-Asia Pacific for BlackBerry, would now forgive me for sniggering when he told a bunch of journalists at BlackBerry Jam Asia late last year that asking him whether he personally preferred the BlackBerry 10 touchscreen keyboard or the QWERTY keyboard on the Bold 9900 was like asking him if he loved his wife or his daughter more. Till then, BlackBerry executives were pretty clear where their personal preferences lay—the QWERTY keyboard. I thought Mr Karjalainen was giving us this spiel because by then it seemed clear that the first BlackBerry 10 would be a touchscreen.
Here's a live video showcasing the BlackBerry 10 keyboard in action –
After a month of use, I have a clearer answer than Mr Karjalainen on my personal preference. I prefer the touchscreen keyboard on the BlackBerry Z10 and I don't think I'm ever using a physical QWERTY keyboard smartphone again. Because, I can type what seems like gibberish and as I keep typing, the gibberish turns into prose exactly as I intended. And frankly, since I use both thumbs to type, I don't even use the cool word suggestion feature, but just the auto-correct. And the cool delete feature that deletes words as I swipe back anywhere on the keyboard, and the simple swipe down for numbers and symbols when I just need one number or symbol character, is also very thoughtful and saves time.
Check out Thumb Master for the BB10 being demoed by CrackBerry –