Hardware

Geek Gifts 2012: Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case for iPhone

Turn your iPhone into a texting machine with this slide-out keyboard. Read Wally Bahny's review of this case.

Photo by Wally Bahny

The Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case for iPhone from ThinkGeek snaps onto your iPhone 4 or 4S like many other cases, but it doesn't stop there. The slide-out keyboard provides a button for every letter, the spacebar, a number row, period, comma, four arrow keys, backspace, enter, shift, and caps lock, as well as a home and search button. There is also an [Fn] key that allows you to access many more symbols. With this device, you can turn your iPhone into a texting machine by providing a physical, tactile keyboard that Apple apparently refuses to consider.

The bottom edge of the case contains a micro-USB port for recharging the internal battery, as well as a slide-button for power and a re-pair button. The case is designed to expose all external buttons and features of the iPhone, including the camera, except for the SIM card slot. The camera is usable regardless of whether the case is open or closed (however not while opening).

I have used this case for about six weeks as of this writing, and I have not worn out the sliding mechanism. Time will tell how long it lasts, but it seems very durable.

Product specifications and features

  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth connection, which leaves your iDevice port open and no cables to get in the way.
  • QWERTY keyboard: Full QWERTY keyboard plus number row and several dedicated buttons for symbols and features. It also includes a [Fn] key for additional symbols.
  • Slide: Sliding ability gives the iPhone the feel of a comparable smartphone with a built-in keyboard.
  • Independent battery: The keyboard has its own built-in battery.
  • Price: ThinkGeek - $49.99 ($34.99 on sale)
  • Photos: Unboxing the Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case for iPhone

What I like

  • Ease of use: The keyboard is very easy to figure out how to use, even after having used an iPhone with the on-screen keyboard for years.
  • Bluetooth: I was a little surprised, but leaving the Bluetooth antenna turned on does not drain the iPhone battery.

What I don't like

  • Independent battery: Because the keyboard has its own battery, it must be charged separately from the phone. The battery is not strong enough to leave the keyboard on for more than 6-8 hours, so you have to leave it off except when using.
  • Weight: The keyboard itself is light; however, when it is open, the iPhone makes it top-heavy. I got used to it, but it's something to consider.

Geek bottom line

If you haven't gotten an iPhone because it doesn't have a slide-out keyboard, now you have no excuse. The Bluetooth Sliding Keyboard Case would also be a great gift, especially for a new iPhone user.

This keyboard adds that missing tactile feedback that many smartphone users prefer for texting. If you're an avid texter or emailer, this is a perfect device for you. Your typing speed will be slower at first, but it will quickly surpass how fast you can type using the on-screen keyboard.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ****
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: ****
  • Overall: ****
5 comments
kennkerp
kennkerp

I have seen similar cases with the membrane keys, but those are real plastic keys on the CellMACs one and are separate pieces from eachother, it isn't one big rubber membrane. I've got a white one in front of me right now.

krsmav
krsmav

Is the keyboard big enough to do touch typing, or is it thumbs-only?

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

Can the iPhone connect to more than one bluetooth at a time? If I turn this on then does it kill my bluetooth handsfree device?

krsmav
krsmav

I can't tell from the photos whether the CellMACS keyboard has "real" keys or membrane buttons. Membrane buttons are really no improvement, a least for me. Do you know of a connectible standard keyboard? Thanks.