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« Nokia Sells Set of Patents to Troll and Qt Developer Tools - More Elop Madness | Main | Smartphone Market Shares Q2 Full Numbers - Samsung and Android solidifying their leads »

August 14, 2012



Looks like someone at Nokia has a bit of sense after all - they're selling the Asha line as smartphones now and making a killing. Goes to show how bad windows phone is - S40 devices are undoubtedly better and the market is saying so too...

Image how well Meltimi would be doing. Whoever made the S40 smartphone decision should be put as CEO... $100 says it definitely wasn't Elop making that decision.

Henry Sinn

Looking forward to reading comments on this blog Tomi..

Should be enlightening.

I've had / have all manner of phones with all manner of input methods and my favourite is probably still Adaptxt on T9.

My daily now-days is Swype on a touch screen on S^3 Nokia and Android phones. With 'built in' spell checking, I have to say I'm not sure that I could go back to a QWERTY - too slow.

A distant last is my iPhone[s]. I have to say I can't stand the native / slow / annoying touch screen keyboard. It seems so antiquated now. Most of what we all do is txt and talk. No competition. imho iPhone looses big-time.

Did anyone here get to try / use blindtype? From the video - Wow! What has Google done with it?

Ovidio Morales

Touchscreens with haptic feedback will hopefully make dedicated keyboards become a moot point within the next few years. Even when users need the feeling of a keyboard, they are probably not very happy with the opportunity cost in terms of phone real-estate which could have been better used for battery or simply leaned away.


Maybe I'm just a "niche" user, but what's quite handy with touch-screen input, is that you can easily change keyboard layout;

When I write in French or in English, I choose AZERTY layout, when in Russian, I have Russian layout, and that's fine, especially with SWYPE.

There are many people who use different languages, and that has to be taken into account.

A Russian design Company, Art Lebedev released few years ago a keyboard which can change its layout (thanks to tiny OLED screens under the keys)

But now, they're thinking of a full touch-sensing technology:


It's worse. On my motorcycle, I currently have a Samsung Galaxy Player 5.0 atop my handlebars for traffic and weather (with a portable hot spot). 2-3 years ago? A Nokia n810 which I had for over 2 years. With a SLIDE-OUT QWERTY. The n810 was the predecessor. It still does some things the GP5 won't. I even have one of the wiMax version so in places if I pay, I have one-device access.

The Samsung is barely bright enough on sunny days. The Nokia is transflective so visible in sunlight.

It took 4 years for Samsung to make a device that could displace my Nokia, and it isn't really that much better - the Samsung doesn't have a Qwerty, it doesn't have a OTG port, or removable battery.

Unless you have tablet space or ultra-thin fingers, you can't type fast or accurately on a touch screen. With qwerty you know your finger is centered on the key, and know when it clicks. And no multi clicks like numeric keypad texting. It isn't pleasant but you can type efficiently. How do you emulate the key ridges even with haptic feedback?

Tablets and smartphones are media consumption devices, but text and feedback is mostly in text. You might need to type a URL or message like this or even a password. If you post or reply, you need to enter text. And the qwerty thumb-pad is the least bad way to do so on a phone.

The descendant of the n810, the n950 is probably the best phone anywhere at any price. That is why it can't be allowed to go anywhere near the US or Europe, or even the major Asian markets.

There is a saying not to attribute to malice what can wholly be explained by incompetence, but Flop can't be that stupid.


The entire operation of the iPhone, its user interface, the underlying OS libraries, and of course all applications, have been designed and optimized from the start for multitouch capacitive displays. Supporting a different input mechanism will require a considerable re-engineering of the above.

Check: people have been criticizing Nokia for being late with a good multitouch UI. No wonder, since Symbian was designed and optimized for keypad, keyboard and single-touch resistive displays. Just think a bit about the impact of a multitouch vs single-touch display on the UI -- the difference is profound, from low-level technical details like what UI events are handled through well-known UI elements such as how to deal with menus and options to high-level items such as the entire finger gesture syntax.

Similarily, RIM was late and its first generations of touch devices still are quirky (RIM UI was optimized for qwerty keyboard and roller key).

Only Android -- and now Windows 8 -- have UI designed for both keyboards and multitouch screens. They work well, but everybody seems to agree not as smoothly as "pure" UI for each input technology.

Hence, I very much doubt that Apple will produce a device with a physical keyboard anytime soon.

@vladkr: very good point and nice reference -- did not know about that "configurable" keyboard.


This Nokia data includes, but does not show, a demographic age bias. Older people prefer Qwerty as that is what they are used to. Younger users prefer touch, as they find it best. Apple is catering for the future with a growing market segment of young people. Qwerty-types are catering for an aging, and dying, population group!


Although I love my iPad, I couldn't imagine going to iPhone due to the lack of keyboard. I have a company supplied Blackberry, which is a bit long in the tooth to say the least, but my next phone will likely be some kind of Android with slide-out keyboard.

Sander van der Wal


The idea that iOS is completely designed aroud multitouch is a bit over the top. iOS is a kind of Unix,which was designed in the punch card age Tomi talks about.

There is in fact very litle in the API that shows iOS being multitouch. Just one call, the touch event one, has a set of touch point instead of a single one. And a couple of convenience classes introduced in iOS 4.

Symbian could have been extended to multitouch by adding a very similar call.


" Supporting a different input mechanism will require a considerable re-engineering of the above."

It already has complete support for keyboards -- It has been able to be paired to a bluetooth keyboard since 2010. Why is it such a leap to think that it could work with an attached keyboard.


My preference is hybrid input - a smartphone with a touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard. In late 2010./early 2011., I was considering getting a Nokia smartphone, but the BP memo came as a (incredulous) surprise - and now I own a SE Xperia Mini Pro. Unfortunately, my next smartphone will have to be a touch screen only variant, because it seems there are no new models with hybrid input announced (if we don't count a couple of models for the USA market).

Also, check out Tactus -

"(...) application-controlled, completely transparent physical buttons that rise up from the touch-screen surface on demand."

Engadget has a hands-on article:

Tomas - University Place, WA

Hi Tomi!

I'm slightly disabled (from a massive stroke about a decade ago), and my abilities and a virtual keyboard are a bad mix: I really do need a physical keyboard to be at all happy with my Smartphone.

While my reasons for needing a physical keyboard are perhaps uncommon, I'm sure I'm not the only person who has actual problems with a touch-sensitive virtual keyboard.

Hopefully, decent smartphones with physical keyboards will continue to be made for many years...


I think that cell phone producers has tried to mimic Apple for too long now and there is basically only one smartphone form factor which is the touch screen slab. The keyboard has gone away completely which is strange because there is market for it definitely. If there was a good phone with a full keyboard and touch input I would have bought it, but there aren't many today. BB Torch is a model I like specially, full keyboard slider combined with touch display. The sliding mechanism can act as a lock function as well as automatically answer the phone.

Virtual keyboards intrude on the display too much I think and the tactile feedback is also nice. Producers should be more bold and not try to be Apple. The physical keyboard will come back.


I am sure there is demand for phones with real keyboards, but user surveys are not a reliable gauge of this demand. If asked "describe your dream phone", consumers may say they want a real keyboard, because in that fantasy they don't have to make any trade-offs to get it. When the same people get to a store, they see that a real keyboard comes with a smaller screen (BB) or a thicker phone (sliders) or a smaller battery or lousy reviews for mechanical parts too easy to break (Palm Pre). Initially, many Android phones came with keyboards (and some with tiny "mouse" pads) but large touch screen slabs with only virtual keyboards won out. You can assume that it is because all of those Android manufacturers are incompetent in gauging user interest or you can assume that most users prefer thin phones with large screens.

coques iphone 4

The iPhone 5 isn't flawless. The hardware is not really the problem, but a lack of OS improvements. The saying used to be Apple knew what we wanted before we did. The current truth is its customers are much more informed in regards to technology and the industry.

Super Car

Great post!

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