Powers users lament, in the device makers’ pursuit of lighter, thinner, and slicker devices, there is no more regrettable loss than the physical QWERTY keyboard. No on-screen keyboard can duplicate its utility, and no swipe scheme or word recognition software can replicate its function.
It’s been years since a mainstream and non-BlackBerry device sported a real keyboard, never mind a flagship, which makes Samsung’s new keyboard cover such a treat. It will bring a full, four-row, 35-key, keyboard to the current line of Samsung flagships, including the Galaxy Note5, S6 edge+, S6 edge, and S6.
Unlike Ryan Seacrest’s ill-fated Typo keyboard, which relied on a Bluetooth connection, the Samsung keyboard cover is a few simple pieces of plastic that precisely overlay the actual virtual on-screen keyboard. A removable back panel anchors the keyboard and functions as a more traditional protective case.
Samsung reps claimed the smartphone recognizes the case thanks to “capacitive keys,” and the display responds accordingly, resizing around the approximate 65% that remains uncovered. In other words, the keyboard case never gets in the way of the display.
The three familiar Android keys (back, home, all apps) rest underneath the QWERTY, providing full navigation. When not in use, the QWERTY snaps to the back panel.
In our brief time testing the keyboard case, it proved much better than any on-screen alternative. Though, it doesn’t replicate the BlackBerry experience. Popular shortcuts like the spacebar-double-tap for a period aren’t supported, and the keys are a bit too crowded for our liking, not to mention mushy.
Then there’s the cost. Samsung reps at the Note5 launch event claimed the keyboard case would cost $80 at launch. That’s a bit steep for what amounts to a few pieces of plastic.
Still, it’s exciting that at least someone at Samsung thinks there’s a market for a smartphone with a physical keyboard. If the keyboard proves popular, perhaps we’ll see a Samsung Galaxy Note Keyboard Edition in the near future. This is the company that brought back the stylus, after all.
Power users can only dream.