QWERTY Phone the Hard Way (First Attempt)

I’m a die-hard tactile keyboard user, and touchscreen phone keyboards don’t work for me. But since QWERTY phones are getting harder and harder to find, I decided to compromise and add a bluetooth keyboard to my backup phone’s leather case.

This Nexus 4 is my backup phone (I mostly use it to play music); my primary phone is an HTC Status, and before that I used a Motorola FlipOut, and before that I used a Motorola Karma, and before that I used a Palm Pre, and before that I (briefly) tried the Nokia E70. Texting with QWERTY is quick, accurate, and free from autocorrected English (for when I want to include made-up words, nonsense syllables, or onomatopoeic things in my messsages).

The keyboard is a Grandmax KB-BT1L-BK, featuring bluetooth and a backlight. Android supports a surprising number of keyboard shortcuts, including the volume controls shown on the keys.

After cutting a hole in the front cover of the case to fit the keyboard, I used InstaMorph plastic (dyed black) to attach it. I used vaseline for a mold release, and the keyboard is removable. It looks very ugly, but this is a first draft proof of concept.

I had to extend the “catch” to account for the extra thickness of the keyboard. It makes a satisfying click when it closes, although it has much more play than the original case.

You probably noticed that the keyboard is upside down from what’s considered normal design. This is not an accident; it’s always annoyed me that phones look like miniature laptops, forcing me to awkwardly bend my thumbs down to reach the bottom row of keys, while simultaneously trying to keep a good grip on the phone.

In this configuration, I can still see the screen just fine while I type with my thumbs in a comfortable position. I’d say that I invented this, but TV remotes and handheld game systems have been doing this for decades — putting the buttons at the top of the palm rest.