This is the first segment of the mega shopping list saga. The QWERTY has always been considered as a serious executive/business phone, up until the birth of social networking. Research In Motion, better known for their Blackberry mobile phones, set a trend to encompass half a decade of dominance. The Blackberry was the master of every QWERTY out there and we’re considering Palm Treo as a major threat as well. But times have changed and phones like the Blackberry 7250 will not cut it in the summer of the year 2011. Even the QWERTY needs to check itself on how well it fares in multimedia deliverance.
There is no better joy than a physical keyboard for a frequent texter or email junky. I would go as far as to say that a web browser feels incomplete without the “F” and “J” right under your thumb tips (something you can’t do with the iPhone). The following is a list of mobiles with short reviews to help you in choosing your QWERTY.
We’ve got two wonderful physical keyboard sticking phones for you if you are on a budget. These toys might not give you BES standard encryption, but they surely will satisfy your facebook and twitter trolling natures.
The X2-01 is £65 sim-free(meaning that it is not locked on a carrier and comes without a sim). It definitely looks its part with a curved back and hard plastic all around it.
A keyboard you can bash on, this QWERTY mobile looks a lot more expensive than it actually is. A VGA camera that produces shoddier pictures than your grandmothers sepia film camera might be a deal breaker, seeing how a 2MP sensor is borderline acceptable. But we doubt you’d really care about the camera if you are paying such a low price for all the features you get. It’s got a great looking QVGA TFT screen, that makes viewing your social feeds and text messages easier; a 3.5mm jack with a capable mp3 player; and S40 UI, a snappy user interface for entry level mobile phones from Nokia with no multitasking and limited 3rd party support. It runs Opera Mini 4.2 as its default web browser but with no 3G or WLAN this phone won’t cut it for anything other than mobile versions of websites.
Not much else can be said about a phone that plans to keep all its promises. Your IMing cravings will be answered by Nimbuzz or eBuddy, both capable multi IM applications. If you can live on EDGE (2.5G) and do not need WLAN then this this un’ will do it.
This sturdy looking slab of a mobile should be your pick if you want social networking on the go, and a capable yet boring looking UI. Symbian S60v3 used to be a giant in the 2007s. It isn’t now. It has limited number of apps but at £130 sim-free this phone has a lot to offer.
The Nokia E5 has great multimedia capabilities, a fixed focus 5MP camera that gives acceptable results and VGA recording. A great music player with splendid audio quality and a vast amount of format compatibility should keep most audiophiles happy, but the headphones out of the box are a disappointment. Connectivity is completely dealt with, from WLAN, HSDPA and GPS to a competent web browser. Mind you, Opera Mini 6 should still be your choice of web browser (as I am currently using on it). Ovi Maps is still the best map solution out of the box after Google Maps, and with free lifetime walk and drive navigation license. The only place where it really disappoints is its display. A QVGA TFT screen at around twice the price of the Nokia X2-01 is a disappointment. For some peculiar reason its sunlight eligibility is not as good as the X2-01’s. But people wanting a do it all at a budget price shouldn’t mind this slick and neat package.
Xperia Mini Pro (2011)
This Android 2.3 equipped handset is the best of both world at an almost affordable price. At around £220 sim-free, this latest offering from Sony Ericsson and the successor to last years X10 mini pro is a touch screen smartphone with a lovely QWERTY keyboard. Our time with the handset made us love this phone. The build quality is good with a chrome plastic feeling border around the slider. The slider itself is robust and not loose at all (unlike the HTC Desire Z, that slider is downright awful, and too loose).
A quick zippy 1Ghz Snapdragon is the heart of this little guy. But do not judge a phone by its size. It is capable of performing everything expected from the latest phones on the market. A huge library of apps and games await your installing and uninstalling regimes from the Android Market. The camera is definitely not the best 5MP out there, but it certainly gets the job done (For a comparison: Sony Ericsson Elm > Xperia Mini Pro > Nokia N95 > Nokia E5). It has social networking integrated in the firmware, something that makes it different from other Android offerings and it certainly gives the same experience as the flagships from SE, the Arc and Neo V. The browser is capable of flash and pinch to zooming with text reflow and tabbed browsing, we at thetechnofreaks lovvee the simplistic default android browser. Almost as much as Safari .
But where this handset falls short is its battery life. Touted to have 340 hours of standby time and 5 hours 30 minutes of talk time, this mobile will need to be charged every night after a hard days work. And with a bit of gaming you can make sure you carry your charger with you everywhere.
This handset should be your first choice if you want a responsive touchscreen and the latest apps with a good crisp HVGA (480 x 320) 3.0 inch LED back lit screen and a good hard bash-worthy physical keyboard for your texting fantasies. Just make sure you have a backup battery or a charger with an outlet nearby. And did I mention XDA-developers jumping on any and all phones. Your favourite ROMs won’t go unnoticed.
Blackberry Bold Touch 9900
Now if you haven’t heard of this handset, you probably don’t want to either. This is the QWERTY keyboard defining handset, and it will certainly make your stomach churn, just by looking at the price. At £550 sim-free, the Blackberry Bold 9900 will certainly break your bank. The QWERTY offers BES and the blackberry data plan should have your BBM (blackberry messenger) and Blackberry Map applications covered. The phone is thin, thin enough to go unnoticed in your pocket. And the keyboard! We just can’t stop tapping on the curved contours of this magnificent and spacious keyboard. If you want your keys to love you and not start a revolution because of your forced typing habits on the touchscreen keyboard these days, then this is the phone for you ( if you can afford it).
From the software point of view it has Blackberry’s OS 7 with liquid graphics (another way to say that the touchscreen is iphonishly smooth). There aren’t too many apps for it and the OS has its restrictions but its useable and old Blackberry users should be at home with the UI. The small 2.8 inch VGA (640 x 480) screen is sharp enough to make even the smallest text readable, but shouldn’t be enough to watch movies on it. And a 1.2 GHz QC processor should be enough to keep the redefined web-kit browser up and running even on the heaviest of website. And the Blackberry trademark trackpad is good enough for you to think twice about smudging your touchscreen. But with a fixed focus eDoF 5.0MP camera, and unsatisfactory 720p video the camera side of things disappoint slightly. When you are paying such a hefty sum of money you should get the best of everything. The music player is above average and music sounds good even with the headset out of the box. Connectivity has you covered with everything you’ll ever need.
The phone sips through the battery and should last you 2 days even on real-time exchange mail and constant bickering with your wife in your office ( we’re assuming you have to be earning a lot to afford this one here). But we doubt you’ll care about the NFC(Near Fields Communication) support added to this handset and should make pairing with other NFC devices as easy aswaving your phone around. But for its meticulous keyboard, we have to say that there is no better one out there. If it’s a keyboard you want, then this is the phone for you.
You just have to live with this fact though. Nothing is perfect. It is for you to decide whether all these features are worth that sort of money, we would’nt have minded if it was a 100 quid cheaper though. It is still the best QWERTY on the market right now.