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What are the Different Types of Keyboards for Smartphones?

Girl texting using her smartphone.

Texting on a smartphone is one of the most popular activities to do today, whether you’re interacting with people on social media, sending a message, or typing into Google. It’s all thanks to the smartphone keyboard and its versatility of use when inputting text. 

Like computer keyboards, smartphone keyboards have slight differences in the layout of keys, placement of symbols, responsiveness, and user-friendliness. In this article, we explore the different types of smartphone keyboards, so you can better understand the available options.

Physical Keyboards

Blackberry phone with qwerty keyboard.

When a smartphone has a physical keyboard, it’s usually a miniature version of the QWERTY keyboard you find on desktops and laptops. Having a physical keyboard means you feel something when you press the keys. 

This is one of the biggest advantages of physical keyboards since it makes it easier to type more accurately. Plus, most people enjoy the sensation of pressing keys and equate it to more responsiveness. 

On the other hand, unless you’re buying a phone with a slide-out keyboard, physical keyboards take up a lot of space, so you end up with a smaller screen. Also, smartphones with a physical keyboard don’t have a streamlined look and tend to be heavier and look bulkier. 

While you may enjoy the QWERTY keyboard, the buttons are much smaller than the ones you find on a larger computer. In addition, they’re not adjustable and are made from mechanical components that wear out over time. 

This explains why physical keyboards are almost extinct and considered obsolete. Blackberry is one of the last manufacturers to offer smartphone keyboards, but their market share isn’t what it used to be. One of the most popular smartphones on the market, the iPhone, has never been manufactured with a physical keyboard.

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Sure, some people will always prefer QWERTY keyboards, like the author,  Joe Trohman, who once said, “I’ll never like virtual keypads. Nothing can compete with an actual QWERTY-style keypad.” 

However, there’s no denying that physical keyboards on a smartphone are a thing of the past, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a competitive smartphone with a physical keyboard now. 

Touchscreen Keyboards

Touchscreen keyboard template for smartphones.

A touchscreen smartphone is referred to as a slate, and it uses an on-screen virtual keyboard for input. Because of advanced technology, this has become the number one type of smartphone keyboard. 

It’s not hard to see why on-screen keyboards have taken over from physical keyboards. For starters, you still get all the letters and characters you find on a QWERTY keyboard.

But instead of pressing buttons, you’ll be tap-tapping on a screen, which you get used to with practice. Typically, on-screen keyboards come with the following convenient features:

  • Autocorrect. Love it or hate it, autocorrect is handy for the most part. Most people tend to make many mistakes when typing on a touchscreen keyboard, so autocorrect can be useful. However, autocorrect sometimes makes some hilarious and embarrassing changes, so it’s no silver bullet.
  • Predictions. Most on-screen keyboards have excellent initiative prediction features. That means you don’t have to type the rest of the word, and you can just keep tapping on the different predictions to speed up the process. This also goes a long way towards eliminating typos.
  • Swipe-typing. This is an exciting technology that comes with some touchscreen keyboards. The keyboard recognizes swipe gestures, so you don’t have to lift your finger from the keyboard when pressing different keys. That’s why swipe-typing is also referred to as glide typing. It’s designed to make typing on a smartphone faster than it already is.
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The only downside you might attribute to touchscreen smartphones is that the keys are somewhat too close together. So it’s easy to tap the wrong key, especially if you are typing too fast and have AutoCorrect turned off. 

Google Smartphone Keyboards

Gboard app on android phone screen.

The Google Smartphone keyboard is also called the Gboard, and it’s the most popular smartphone touchscreen keyboard. Many people switch to the Gboard in favor of their phone’s default keyboard. It’s probably because Gboard allows you to easily access Google Search, another commonly used tool.

Default Keyboards

Most vendors add their own keyboard to Android phones, and this is sometimes the default keyboard. So, for instance, if you buy a Samsung smartphone, the phone will have the Samsung keyboard usually set as the default. However, you can always change this in the settings and use the Gboard instead.

Apple IOS Keyboard

iPhone with touchscreen qwerty keyboard.

The Apple IOS Keyboard comes with full-system support, and some of the technology behind the keyboard is patented. The Apple iPhone keyboard is good at predicting what you’ll type in before you tap the keys. The algorithm also changes the size of each key if it predicts that you’re going to use those keys next. In addition, iPhone uses more responsive and accurate touchscreen software, which explains why most people think the Apple IOS keyboard is superior to others.

The excellent news is that iPhones can also support third-party apps. That means you can download the Gboard and set it as default if that’s your preference.

Keyboard Apps You can Download

Smartphone qwerty keyboard

Besides the keyboards that come with your phone when you buy it, you can also install other keyboard apps on your phone. 

  • Keyboards for People With Disabilities. People with disabilities can sometimes have difficulty typing on smartphone keyboards. Fortunately, some companies have designed various keyboards that are more tailored. For instance, you can enlarge some keyboards to increase visibility. Other keyboards make it easier to type using only one finger.
  • Keyboards for fat fingers. If you find you make more mistakes when typing on the pre-installed or Gboard app, you can always download a keyboard that has larger-than-average key surfaces. That way, you don’t have to press two keys when you only meant to press one.
  • Keyboards for different languages. Want to type in a different language? Chances are, you can find a downloadable keyboard that matches what you’re looking for.
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