Hardware

QWERTY comparison: BlackBerry Torch vs. Droid 2 vs. Epic 4G

Although most of the momentum in the smartphone world is in touchscreen devices, there are still plenty of people who prefer hardware keyboards. Here's a comparison of the hardware QWERTYs on three popular new devices.

Although most of the momentum in the smartphone world is happening around touchscreen devices, there are still plenty of people -- especially many business professionals -- who want a hardware keyboard.

There are three new high-end smartphones with hardware QWERTYs that have recently hit the market and I have been doing an old fashioned showdown with all three of them. I've put together a set of photos comparing the three devices and I've done a quick evaluation of each of the three keyboards.

Photo gallery

See a photo comparison of the three: Keyboard showdown: Droid 2 vs. Epic 4G vs. BlackBerry Torch.

Samsung Epic 4G

The Epic 4G has the most versatile keyboard of the three. It has a dedicated row for numbers and several special keys (search, back, home, smiley, etc.). The keys themselves are chicklet-style, reminiscent of Apple Macbooks and Sony Vaio laptops.

BlackBerry Torch 9800

The BlackBerry Torch has the traditional BlackBerry qwerty that has been around on high-end devices since the BlackBerry 8800 World Edition. It is a top quality keyboard with a nice weight to it and typically has a low error rate. Those who are already familiar with BlackBerry will love the standard feel.

Motorola Droid 2

The Droid 2 keyboard is the worst of the three. The keys are too flat and non-distinct and there are no special keys other than the arrow keys. The Droid 2 keyboard is better than the original Droid keyboard, but that's not saying much. Most of the people I know who have a Droid bought it at least partly because of the physical keyboard. But those same people report that 90% of the time they never use it, since it's so bad.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

19 comments
santeewelding
santeewelding

TR let you live from over your last times. I wonder why.

dokuboyejo
dokuboyejo

why not consider HTC smart phones

sandip.dalvi
sandip.dalvi

do you really know how to write comparision. This information could have been found at google. Why are you wasting my time. I don't care ab your time.

drew.mcbee
drew.mcbee

I just switched from a BB to a Droid. I did like the Droid IN PART because of the hardware keyboard. I did not think I could stand a touchscreen keyboard, BUT the touchscreen keyboard is EXTREMELY usable, smart and intuitive. I don't use the keyboard on the Droid not because it sucks(it doesn't suck, but I heard the Droid 2/X is better ), but because the touchpad/virtial keyboard is very good. I need to be able to type one handed - I think anyone with man-sized thumbs feels the same way? I even text often now.

kavallejo.kav
kavallejo.kav

Original Droid user here....it's bad enough the keyboard for this device is terrible, and you'd think it couldn't get any worse. But then again, it depends what you mean by worse. If it means a manufacturer who attempted to improve a terribly constructed physical interface with almost no usability capacity, and then wind up with practically the same result in it's successor, then this is what you would consider completely worse.

slatimer76
slatimer76

I bought the Droid over the iPhone specifically because of the physical keyboard. There are a couple small issues with the keyboard, mostly pressing the shift key when pressing "a", so the next letter is capitalized. Big deal, no. I don't get someone who, like the people you know, that can purchase something for a specific reason then not return it immediately when that reason is not up to your par. If they dont like it, get an iPhone. This is just my opinion, I could be wrong. (to quote Dennis Miller) Thanks for the comparison, it gives me more ammo when recommending a phone for business owners use.

lyrosely
lyrosely

To me, I never feel liking the Touch Screen Keyboard at all! It makes me working more difficult than the physical one! Just my idea! No harm...

Elvis.GodZilla.777
Elvis.GodZilla.777

Would someone come and do a comparison of the Samsung Moment and Intercept for those of us on the economy side of smart phones?

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

I actually like using a stylus. The PDA I had (can't remember the name off hand) took a little bit of practice to recognize the letters but then it worked very quickly with out getting fingerprints all over the screen. Also it is alot more accurate pointing device than your finger.

Delosky
Delosky

you have a Swype keyboard. Since I bought my Omnia 2, I will never, ever look for a hardware or software keyboard that doesn't integrate Swype technology. And why more manufacturers don't put this keyboard in their product is beyond me.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

The LG Ally has what I think is the best hardware keyboard of them all. It's miles ahead of the Droid, it's wider than the BlackBerry, and while I haven't handled the Epic, it looks like that layout isn't quite as nice as the Ally's. The Ally is a solidly mid-range device in most respects, but the keyboard and the screen quality help it punch well above its weight class.

NexS
NexS

I like the look of the Epic. The image on the article is the first time I've seen the phone, but i rather like the idea of a dedicated row of numbers. I do understand the need, or rather 'want', for a compact keyboard, however, it drives me crazy mistyping letters for numbers. Which brings me to an idea for which I must belt myself to death. If I want a full keyboard, buy a laptop! In which case, a 3G connection (wireless broadband) would suit.

carljaltman
carljaltman

I'm waiting for the Epic. I just got a Touch Pro 2 as a replacement for a PITA (aren't they all) Touch Pro, which I suffered with for over 1.5 years. Kudos to Sprint for replacing it at no charge. I like the KB on the Pro 2 a lot, but I'm giving it to my wife since her phone is ancient. We decided to stay with Sprint rather than defect to ATT and get iPhones, but she can't currently use Android with her corporate e-mail so the Win Mobile phone will be fine for her and I get to get a new toy =)

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

The keyboard is it's best feature, and it's a similar keyboard to the Epic 4G. The other nice thing about the Ally is its size. It's pretty small, although a little thick and bulky. It's also a bit underpowered.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

LG Ally has the best Qwerty on any smartphone I've tested yet and some free perks such as Navigation (Google GPS) and w the Skyfire browser, not having Froyo yet is pretty much a non-issue (get the biggest sd card you can get tho). It is truly an underrated winner of a phone - LG needs to make an Ally2 - keep the Qwerty as it is, use up more of the screen real estate (keep the chin and those buttons tho) and most definitely keep the loud speakerphone feature! (yes it has wireless too) Just improve the bugs in the software (random reboots on occasion is annoying but not such a big deal)- a better cam and a faster cpu and LG would leave all the others in the dust. Incidentally, it also has a very good Vkb but since I am a fast 2hand txter, the physical kb is important to me. Oh, and if you require Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional, check out the LG Fathom. It has a similar Qwerty to the Ally, snapdragon cpu and wireless too.

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

Yes which is why I stated the follow-up should have a faster cpu - but this article was about the keyboard ;)

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