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November 23, 2017

A Phone with a Mechanical Keyboard

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

It was called the Droid. Yes, from the word “android,” just like in Star Wars. But way back when, the Droid was considered the Android phone. It was incredibly popular, then suddenly gone.

I’ve written before about the Droid phones. I had four of them: The original Droid, Droid 2, Droid 3, and Droid 4. I wrote books on each, though only the last three were published. (Timing.) The phones had real keyboards. That was the shining point. They slid open, as shown in Figure 1, and you would use your thumbs to type.

Figure 1. The Droid 4 I’ve hung onto for the past several years, along with its sliding keyboard.

My son Jonah was the keeper of the Droid phones. Back then, I’d buy a phone for each book I wrote. I must have gone through dozens, so I’d divvy up the phones between the kids to use and test.

Jonah loved the Droid’s physical keyboard. When he finally was blessed with a Droid Turbo, he bemoaned that it lacked a physical keyboard. He bemoaned a lot. Eventually he got used to the onscreen keyboard, but I assume that Jonah wasn’t alone.

A lot of people really miss a physical keyboard, close-up in Figure 2. In fact, to see Jonah type on the thing was amazing. He was very fast and far more accurate than anyone I’ve seen with the onscreen keyboard. Even with gesture typing (or whatever they’re calling it these days), typing on a physical keyboard was fast.

Figure 2. The assortment of “keys” on the Droid 3 physical keyboard.

My guess is that the cost of all the tiny switches and buttons was too much for Motorola to justify making these phones; the Droid 4 was the last of the line. I even received mail from readers asking when the Droid 5 For Dummies book was coming out.

The Droid 4 marked an end of an era; it was the last Android I know of that had a physical keyboard. Curiously, the Android operating system still mentions physical keyboards. That’s probably just a relic from the past.

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