Dear Lifehacker, I currently have a very basic phone (a Huawei G6600), and am ready for something with a bit more power. What I really wanted was something with an actual keyboard, like the Motorola Droid. However, no manufactures seem to make them any more. Help! Thanks, Lover of QWERTY
I feel your pain. I've always been a fan of having a keyboard as part of the phone, but it has become an increasingly rare option. Modern touch screen keyboard software is impressive and responsive, but there's still something to be said for keys you can actually click.
In the early days of Android, several manufacturers produced keyboard models, and there were a handful of Windows Phone devices with keyboards too. But these days it's a different story; touchscreen has become the dominant choice. None of the major announcements at this year's Mobile World Congress involved a phone with a keyboard, and none of the current Windows Phone 8 devices offer one either. Apple has never offered a phone with a keyboard. The majority of keyboard-equipped phones these days are cheap prepaid devices with very limited functionality.
So if you do still prefer an actual keyboard but want a smartphone platform that offers apps, what are your choices? The obvious one is BlackBerry. The Q10 — a BlackBerry 10 device with a keyboard — hasn't been given an official Australian release date yet, but we'd expect it to appear sometime around mid-year. You can still pick up older BlackBerry 7 Bold and Curve models very cheaply (sub-$100 without too much shopping around), and the keyboard remains the best we've seen on a phone. If a full QWERTY device is important to you, BlackBerry is the obvious choice.
You can still find older Android devices with keyboards, but these will invariably be models running the older (2.4 and earlier) builds, rather than the slicker and more modern Ice Cream Sandwich experience. That said, if you're upgrading from the G6600, that would still represent a big improvement. No major Australian carriers are selling models that fit this description right now, but older models sometimes show up on sale through supermarkets, you can sometimes find older stock in chain electronics stores, and there's always eBay.
If readers have additional recommendations for keyboard-equipped smartphones, tell us in the comments.
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