In November 2009 Motorola and Verizon released the Droid to much fanfare and adoration. The reviews were generally great except for one glaring problem repeated time and time again. And although I love the phone, I fully agree. The hardware keyboard sucks!
Touch typing is nearly impossible as the keys are perfectly flat. It’s like someone drew keyboard keys on a piece of paper, slapped it on the phone, tested it on 12 year olds with skinny fingers and called it good. This one fault make its difficult to convince hard core business users on the Verizon network to try Android. They refuse to give up their Windows Mobile or Blackberry devices with trusty usable keyboards. Handicapping their ability to touch type is a deal breaker.
Recently, a colleague decided to take the plunge and give Android a shot. The HTC Droid Incredible is all the rage but no keyboard equals no go. Our contract doesn’t have any upgrades in the near future and strangely Verizon doesn’t give the advertised 2 for 1 deal when paying the full $600 for the first device. To eBay! In a couple days a slightly used Droid is in hand for under $300. It’s ESN is clean and the phone is activated through My Verizon within minutes. However, there’s one strange thing. Could it be? The keyboard on this Droid… is… nice?
The keys are rounded raised. They push without frustration. And the screen easily slides into typing position. I showed other touch typists around the office and they agreed it would be something they would try. Not one of them said they would give the Droid a shot when they first laid hands on the flat keyboard version.
Original Droid on left, new eBay’d on right.
Original Close Up
New Close Up
Left: “Old” phone purchased in 2009.
Right: New phone in 2010. Highlighted areas may indicate the manufactured date.
There’s talk of the Droid 2 coming soon with an improved keyboard being a primary selling point. It seems revisions of Droid 1 may have improved it already. Is this old news or a fluke? Am I missing something? If not, these “rev 2” versions of Droid 1 may be cost effective upgrades for people in-contract wishing to try Android but in need of a hardware keyboard. Thoughts?