back to article Fanboys excited by ancient Google Qwerty Nexus plan

Claims that Google is to revive smartphones with physical Qwerty keyboards - a rumour based on a patent that shows designs for just an Android handset with a slide-out keyboard - appear unfounded, after closer inspection of the documents show it was actually filed half a decade ago. Google keyboard patent The Qwerty keyboard …

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Although I was concerned it would break in the beginning, the sliding mechanism on my G1 turned out to be quite robust. I kept that phone for 3 years, and it was actually the battery that gave in and prompted me to replace the phone in the end.

That and the face that Android 1.6 and the hardware were looking a bit rough around the edges by then... great phone though.

Not sure if I would go for a phone with a keyboard now though, purely because I'm used to not having one.

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Bought a second hand one on eBay recently for a test device. Looks like it has had a good life yet is still a great little performer (have stuck CM5 on it) and the keyboard mechanism is impressively solid.

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Second-hand Andoid phones.

Although this is wildly off topic I just wanted to relate my recent experience buying a second-hand android handset.

First a bit of history; my first experience with a smart-phone was with an old WinMo device. I liked the idea of having a computer I could fit my pocket but as a phone it was completely impractical. Fast forward a few years and my friends all had androids and iphones. I liked what I saw and I wanted to get in on the action.

Unfortunately though, I know what I'm like. Wandering around with the better part of half a grand in cash inside my wallet is a very unnerving experience for me. I really couldn't see how going around with an equally valuable smart-phone in my pocket would be any more pleasant.

With this in mind I started my search knowing that I wanted a smart-phone for a feature-phone price (about £75 or less). I'd read about the San Francisco but although it has a good screen it seemed to make too many compromises for £100 plus a £10 topup. This set me searching for a second hand device on ebay.

I eventually won a HTC Hero for £51 after rather annoyingly missing out on a HTC Legend for £60 because of a few last minute bids. I also bought a replacement battery for just under a tenner (this is a nearly 3 year old phone after all). The phone has scratches on the corners of case but the screen appears to have had a screen protector on it and is scratch free. The phone itself works perfectly.

As soon as I got my hands on it I wiped it and flashed the latest (gingerbread based) Cyanogen rom. Cue disappointment. The rom worked but the Hero was just too underpowered for it. The stuttering of the UI could be mostly ignored when browsing the web or writing text messages but waiting 4 or 5 seconds for the 'answer' button to load when receiving a call was just infuriating.

After reading through the GSM Hero section of the XDA Developers' forum I discovered a rom called Heroine++ (based on HTC's stock 2.1 Hero rom) which not only promised greater speed than gingerbread based roms but also the Sense UI (with extras such as FriendStream ripped from the Legend rom). After flashing my phone's UI ran perfectly smoothly but the fire was in me and I was determined to squeeze even more performance from my newest purchase.

Much to my amazement, overclocking an android handset is not only possible, it's easy. I downloaded a free app from the market, granted it SU rights, adjusted the clockspeed slider and my little old Hero had gone from a stock 528mhz to 691mhz. What's even better is that because the app lets you use a custom power management profile, which is more efficient than the one that comes with stock android, there's no appreciable difference on battery life in day to day use.

The only downsides to the phone so far are:

- It has no flash on the camera (unlike the Legend and later phones).

- It only supports flash-lite which means you can stream stuff on youtube but not the iplayer (because of DRM I think).

- Whilst it'll play any resolution video off of the SD card it really needs to be transcoded down to the native resolution to play smoothly.

- It will play simple games (I'm currently addicted to Bubble Shoot and FF6 via a snes emulator) but games containing physics engines like Angry Birds are too choppy to enjoy because (again unlike the Legend, cursed ebayers) it has no dedicated graphics core.

All in all the second hand market is certainly worth checking out. As always though, caveat emptor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Second-hand Andoid phones.

Wow, my HTC Hero.

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My Psion5 still works

and if I tape my phone to it I can beleive it would be a really useful peice of kit with modern tech in it.

And an extra pullout screen I could have a really really useful thing I can carry in a pocket.

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If you want one.

A shiny, new Motorola Milestone 2 (which looks astonishingly similar to the object depicted) can be had, sim free, for pretty much peanuts right now.

You'll be wanting to root it and put on a vanilla image though. The reason it's cheap is that the eejits at Motorola stuck "motoblur" onto it, which most reviewers reckon makes it run like a dog.

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Re: If you want one.

See below - Xperia Pro is a slicker package all round than Milestone 2.

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Happy

I'll stick to my Xperia Pro thanks

Xperia Pro is such a fantastic little device, that every day I laugh at all those people suffering and struggling with inferior virtual keyboards on excessively large devices. I guess part of the blame lies with the idiocy of UK Network Operators for ignoring this great device and following form-over-function fashion trends.

You can now even get one for £200 SIM-free!

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Happy

Re: I'll stick to my Xperia Pro thanks

Smooth Gingerbread on it too, with ICS on the way!

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Pint

Re: I'll stick to my Xperia Pro thanks

Tempted to pick up an XPeria Pro on the sole reason that it has a QWERTY keyboard.

Then I found out that it's 3G chipset is dual-band 900/2100 only and wiil only work in 2G mode in the US.

Which is a shame really. I am basically looking for a good replacement for my N97 which unfortunately died on me last week. Too bad the XPeria Pro dropped out of the list due to lack of US-band support.

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Re: I'll stick to my Xperia Pro thanks

Droid 4, or for T-Mobile, MyTouch 4G Slide (I've got one, it's great) or the new MyTouch range which is coming out shortly.

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Hardware qwerty keyboards FTW

When my G1 contract was up, I had to hang around a while in network limbo to get a HTC Desire Z when they were released, and so not regret it a moment. As my contract is currently counting down, I am starting to get anxious about what will replace the Desire Z - fashions have moved well away from hardware qwerty's (although if the iPhone5 has one, every f'cker will suddenly want one, and Apple fanbois will tell you they invented them) towards slower, clumsier on-screen keyboards.

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Re: Hardware qwerty keyboards FTW

HTC have said that they will no longer make QWERTYs. I have heard Desire Z owners replacing their devices with Xperia Pros due to the buggyness of the desire Z and being satisfied. I reckon Sony are going to release an Xperia Pro successor so might be one to keep an eye on if you are looking for a future spec-bump.

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HTC Desire Z

My current phone is an HTC Desire Z which I chose specifically because of its slide-out keyboard.

Yes, it does add enormously to the weight and bulk of the device but I like it.

(Incidentally I've not had any problems or bugginess with mine)

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Re: HTC Desire Z

At the risk of being thought imitative...me too. It does everything just fine. I cannot bear on-screen keyboards.

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Anonymous Coward

Another plug for Xperia (mini) Pro

I have the Mini Pro. Great little phone, bloody good keyboard. And ICS allegedly this month (not that I care, 2.3 is fine). Shame Sony have removed keyboards from their lineup really.

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Unhappy

First N900 bod to post

Surprised that I'm the first N900 user to stick their heads above the parapet...

Gonna be sticking with mine as I have so far been unable to find an alternative. The UK market is boiling down to slabs and blackberry type devices which is a disgrace. There does seem to be a small but reasonably sized (or just very very vocal) band of people pining for landscape qwerty devices.

I even considered a Nokia E7 like the wife's, which except for the lack of microsd slot, is a great phone, but is stilll really expensive both sim-free and on contract.

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Re: First N900 bod to post

I'm struggling to replace mine too. The battery is getting worse and the charging port is wonky but it is still a brilliant pocket computer with a phone attached. Still, when it's no longer fully portable it'll have a life as a usb powered, tiny form factor Linux web server - who needs a Raspberry Pi??

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Re: First N900 bod to post

Really dreading the day I'll have to replace my N900. I use it primarily for instant messaging and SSH, two things that really benefit from a real keyboard. I wouldn't mind if the available web browser and email client actually worked a bit... but I'll live. New battery made my charging issues much less pressing, and TMobile didn't get bought by ATT, so I still have a network to use it on.

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Unhappy

Re: First N900 bod to post

I had the dreaded limp wristed charger port issue, droped right out one day :( I was hoping for the N9 touting mego, but alas it was canned when MS started proding the pie. Now I'm lumbered with a Desire Z, it's pales in comparison to the N900. Keep meaning to snap up another one before they become rocking horse nuggets.

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Re: First N900 bod to post

@TOM 11

A sliver of black plastic from a ball point pen jammed under the port invisibly cured mine. Didn't know they could drop out though

@Nexox Enigma

I don't find the browser to be any more compromised overall than the alternatives. But I agree that the email client situation is poor. The default one looks great but often works like a sack of shit (taking several minutes to sync, telling me my unchanged password is wrong!), the alternatives (from the usual App Manager catalogues) work as they should but have unuseable UIs. Oh yeah, App Manager - thank goodness for the command line and apt-get!

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T-Mobile

T-Mobile has a line of QWERTY phones, still. I use a MyTouch 4G Slide (which is made by HTC); it's essentially a Sensation with a keyboard (and a really good camera). Works great, and has a pretty good ICS ROM now, even (Virtuous). Also available pretty cheap off eBay, which is a nice bonus.

They have a new MyTouch model coming soon, which will be the Huawei Ascend G312, but it represents a downgrade in range positioning so even though it's a new model it's actually similar to the MT4GS or worse as far as specs go. See http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/28/t-mobiles-next-mytouch-huawei-ascend-g312-qwerty-hands-on/ .

The other one which doesn't seem to have got much mention is the Droid 4 - the Milestone / Droid series goes further than the 2 mentioned above...http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/DROID4-BY-MOTOROLA-US-EN . It came out only in February.

So yeah, 'resurrect the past' seems to be going a bit far, Reg. QWERTY Android phones may be a bit of a minority interest these days, but they're hardly extinct.

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What I want is...

... a modern phone in a Psion Series 5 (or even Series 3) form-factor. Android or symbian, I don't care - I just want a Psion like phone with a similar keyboard and size.

The Psion Series 5 was an amazing machine, and the keyboard was genius. No-one has produced anything so usable and versatile in such a compact form-factor since.

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Re: What I want is...

I vaguely recall reading here on El Reg that Psion still hold the patent on the keyboard. It seems that no other manufacturer believes there is enough market demand for it to be worthwhile licensing. Pity, the Psion5 was indeed a fabulous device.

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roll up with a ... physical Qwerty keyboard

Now, if we're talking about a roll-up keyboard, that might be a good thing :-)

(Yes, I do know they exist, but they're still a bit bulky and unreliable to be rolled up inside a smartphone.)

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Alert

Android 5?

Jelly Bean?

Can we have 4.0 ICS working properly first please??!!

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