Monday, January 3, 2011

QWERTY slider touch screen smartphone round-up

If you are one of those who cannot abandon a physical QWERTY keyboard, it must feel like your world is getting smaller. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the popularity of the touchscreen smartphones there is still a large market for QWERTY phones. To get the best of both worlds, a whole slew of touchscreen phones with QWERTY keyboards. 

BlackBerry after its pure touchscreen adventure in 2008 and 2009 with the BlackBerry Storm and Storm 2, released in 2010 the BlackBerry Torch, a touchscreen phone with a slider QWERTY keyboard. After a year of creating nothing but touchscreen phones, HTC released in the 4th quarter of 2010 two  touchscreen phones with QWERTY slider keyboards: the Android powered Desire Z and the HTC 7 Pro running Windows Phone 7. Nokia which has perhaps been the strongest proponent of maintaining physical keyboards even on phones with touch screens has followed up it flagship N8 with another in its long line of communicator smartphones, with the E7. Motorola has consistently offered Droids with touchscreen keyboards and Dell has its Venue Pro. Samsung and Sony Ericsson also manufacture touchscreen phones with physical keyboards.

In the Philippines, there are fewer options for those looking for a touchscreen phone with a physical keyboard. 

Motorola Milestone. Motorola has its Milestone. While the Milestone is upgradeable to Android 2.2, having been released in 2009 it is getting a bit long in the tooth with only 256MB of RAM and a Arm Cortex A8 550MHz processor. Priced at Php25,500 it is a bit too expensive for what it offers. 

Nokia N900. The Nokia E7 is not yet here, and for now Nokia's best option is its N900. But like the Milestone it is another 2009 release, running an orphaned operating system, the Mameo. At a lower price of Php20,400 with 32GB on internal memory and an excellent web browser it might be worth considering, if you can live without MMS and video calls via 3G.

The web browser and its 3.5 inch 800 x 480 pixel resolution screen is still up to the task. The Mozilla-based web browser gives a desktop-like browsing experience. It has the same rendering algorithm as the Mozilla desktop browser. The browser can auto complete forms and has Adobe Flash support and not the Flash Lite most smartphones rely on. Double-tapping on a column or image on a website zooms it in to fill the 800 pixel width of the screen.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini. The most interesting option from Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini which is a Android powered smartphone with a small 90 x 52 x 17 mm form factor. This also leaves it with a small 2.55 inch screen with a 320 x 240 resolution. With a 600MHz Qualcomm processor and upgradeable to Android 2.1 it is a perfectly competent little phone. It has high speed HSDPA/HSUPA connectivity, Bluetooth, WiFi and a 5MP auto focus camera with a LED flash. Priced at Php14,200 it is also very reasonable priced. It does target a limited market, since it small screen practically renders it a poor choice for web browsing, and is best considered a pure messaging phone.

BlackBerry Torch. If you rely on BlackBerry services, the RIM had its BlackBerry Torch, which is a much better touch screen phone than the Storm series. In addition it has a QWERTY slider keyboard. Priced at Php28,000 is it the most expensive of the phones we are looking at and is only a good choice if you are planning to avail of BlackBerry services. If you do not avail of BlackBerry services, any BlackBerry is a crippled smartphone. It's 3.2 inch 480 x 320 resolution screen is something you expect to find these days in phones at half it price. 

HTC Desire Z. At this point you might start thinking that all the options are compromise solutions, but that it not the case. There is one really great option at the high end available now. By far the best choice is HTC's Desire Z. Previously priced at Php28,000, its priced dropped to Php26,800 just before the new year. It is a current Android Phone running Android 2.2 and equipped with a 3.7 inch 800 x 480 resolution screen, a 800MHz Qualcomm processor and 512GB or RAM. GSMArena has a comprehensive HTC Desire Z review at this link and has another review at this link

Samsung Galaxy 551. Another more current option is the Samsung Galaxy 551, priced at Php15,990 the Galaxy 551 is a budget priced phone as Android smartphones go. It is current though, running Android 2.2 and equipped with a 3.2 inch 400 x 240 resolution screen and powered by a 667MHz processor and 256MB of RAM.

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