iPhone keyboard case bulky, not practical

Gary Hsu

When the iPhone was first introduced in 2007, the biggest feature it lacked was a physical keyboard. While a virtual keyboard has become the default input method for today’s smartphones, there are still many people who prefer typing on a physical keyboard. For iPhone 4 users who wish their phone had a physical keyboard, the people at Boxwave have designed a special case with a built-in, slide-out bluetooth keyboard. While this case does offer a much desired feature, does the keyboard offer a faster typing experience?

The first thing you will notice when you pull out the case for the first time is how bulky it is. For comparison purposes, the case is actually thicker than a deck of cards. You will notice the difference when you have this case in your pocket and it almost doubles in thickness of the phone. The case itself takes design cues from the iPhone and looks very nice. The physical keyboard keys are made out of rubber and feel comfortable in your hand.

Typing on the keyboard is another story though, for the keys feel very gummy when pressed. They have so little depression space that sometimes it is hard to tell by touch if you have clicked the key. Also, the keys are so bunched together that it is impossible to type correctly without looking at the keyboard. There also seems to be a design issue with the space bar — sometimes when you press the middle of the space bar once, the keyboard will register the input as two clicks instead of one.

It is important to note that whenever you use a physical keyboard, you lose all auto-correct features. Automatic capitalization and double spacing for a period are turned off. The keyboard does feature shortcuts, such as quick access to brightness settings and media controls. And newer generations of keyboard buddy cases do not have a dedicated number pad, unlike previous models.

The keyboard talks to the iPhone via Bluetooth and there is no delay from when you press a key and the letter showing up on the screen. The keyboard itself has its own separate battery that lasts about 45 days per charge. The physical keyboard doesn’t seem to make the typing experience any faster or more accurate compared to using the virtual keyboard. Because of the gumminess of the keyboard, it is really difficult to type at a fast rate. If you are a die-hard physical keyboard user and want to use an iPhone, this case, as opposed to other keyboard cases, is your best bet. The overall size, performance and the cost will limit the usage of this device to those who really desire that keyboard feature. 

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Buddy Case provides external keyboard for iPhone owners