Walt Mossberg reviews a physical keyboard for the iPhone.
- The keyboard itself is a four-row version, with sculpted keys that look and work much like a BlackBerry keyboard.
- The Typo also has a key to turn on backlighting, and another that mimics the behavior of the iPhone’s famous round home button, because — and here’s the first trade-off — unlike any other case I’ve seen, it covers the home button.
- Oh, and on the iPhone 5s, you lose the use of the fingerprint-recognition feature, which is built into the home button, so you’re back to typing in passwords to log in to the phone.
- The good part about this design is that, unlike the virtual keyboard, it doesn’t take up any space on the screen. The bad part is that it adds about half an inch to the length of the phone, and makes it a bit harder to plug in headphones and power cords, whose sockets are now recessed beneath the protruding keyboard.
- Because the keyboard’s top edge comes so close to the bottom edge of the screen, I found it made it hard to accurately tap on buttons and links that appeared on the display’s bottom edge.
- In addition, there’s no key to initiate dictation. You have to bring up the virtual keyboard and tap the microphone key to dictate.
Seems like a long list of tradeoffs.