Will we ever get more form factors, more QWERTY?

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Browsing through some articles from the last month, I was struck by one from Leigh Geary here, in which he echoes a theme close to my heart: he wants a choice of form factor, including, specifically, smartphones with decent QWERTY keyboards. The lack of which is what causes Leigh to still be shackled to a traditional laptop for doing anything serious. Hear, hear. Some quotes below.

From Leigh's article:

I have a Samsung Galaxy SII and a laptop, that’s about it. Call it a netbook, call it an ultrabook, whatever, you can get affordable notebooks online pretty easily now and hook up to the internet. But … why? Why am I using a laptop when there are tablets and smartphones out there with a myriad of on-screen keyboards? Why am I still shackled to an old-school computer for most of the time?

On-screen keyboards are great. I love Swype especially, but after a while I can find myself looking elsewhere. This, in some cases, is why I tend to use my trusty (but fairly old) T-Mobile MyTouch handset below. It’s got a sliding QWERTY and I can enter text using a standard physical keyboard. Here it is in all its battered glory…

MyTouch slider

I’ve used an iPad, I’ve used Android tablets. I’ve even used the Samsung Galaxy Note to cover the Olympics and, when I needed to be ultra-mobile, it worked very well. On-screen keyboards are brilliant, but I’m now turning into someone who absolutely has to have a physical keyboard for writing stories like this continually.

I’m probably speaking to a fairly small selection of people here, but I’d love to know how many of you feel the same. It’s something we’ve raised at Mobile World Congress too – just where are the phones with physical keyboards? Why does every phone follow a similar design? Most handsets have a big screen and a couple of buttons, but you’re restricted to an on-screen keyboard. What happened to all the clamshells and the sliders?

...I’m getting the feeling now that all manufacturers are hitting the same problem. Phones all have similar specs now, so each company is finding new ways of making their handsets different. It’s usually software enhancements or new services, but I’d love to see some new and innovative designs instead

What Leigh said. 8-)

The Nokia E7 and HTC 7 Pro were the most recent efforts of any merit along these lines, but both were distinctly flawed (E7 by small sealed battery, HTC 7 Pro by poor component choice, and both by unexpandable storage) and both are now quite dated in terms of specifications in late 2012. What we need is a manufacturer - ANY manufacturer to produce a 2013 equivalent to one of these, or to the MyTouch pictured above, or to the old Nokia E90. 

I, for one, would be first in the queue.

Source / Credit: Coolsmartphone.com