The latest smartphones are sleek, beautiful masterpieces with nary a bezel between your hand and the phone. They’re slim, minimalist, and stylish, but there’s no denying the fact that a lot of us miss when typing on a phone didn’t mean mushing your fingers against glass. Yes, we’re talking about phones with a QWERTY keyboard.
But in the age of the iPhone 11 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it’s a lot harder to find a QWERTY phone, as the market for them has slowly but steadily dried up. Thankfully, there are still a few to be found if you know where to look. Here are the best QWERTY phones for 2020.
Despite being an unexpected success story, the BlackBerry Key2 looks to be the last great high point of QWERTY phones on Android. That’s a real shame, because BlackBerry Key2 is an excellent piece of kit. Sporting the best keyboard experience you’ll find on a smartphone today, this is also an attractive, powerful phone with plenty of stamina and a host of security and privacy features. BlackBerry has worked to refine the keyboard experience offered on the KeyOne by adding slightly larger keys and dropping the frets between them down to provide more room. The backlit keyboard is also capacitive, which means it’s touch sensitive, so you can just flick up to select suggested words that pop up on the predictive bar, and you can use the whole keyboard as a trackpad for scrolling. You can still program button functions, but there’s also a Speed key now, which acts as a shortcut into apps.
Do you have to compromise to get a keyboard like this one? Unfortunately, yes. Performance doesn’t quite hit the highs of flagship phones, though it wasn’t far away from the flagships on the time when it released. The camera suffers from some shutter lag and mixed low-light performance, but the Portrait Mode is good. The screen is only 4.5 inches to accommodate the keyboard, and it seems as if it’ll be stuck on the outdated Android 8.1 Oreo forever. But the Key2 is also reasonably priced, so it’s not entirely fair to compare it with the iPhone 11 Pro. Ultimately, this is the best QWERTY phone out there, bar none. Read our full BlackBerry Key2 review to learn more.
If you’re like us, you have a soft spot in your heart for BlackBerry phones. With great battery life, unmatched keyboard shortcuts and customization, and excellent build quality, BlackBerry’s phones are the cream of the QWERTY keyboard crop. The BlackBerry KeyOne topped our list until its successor came out. This TCL-built smartphone has the superb build quality that you expect from a traditional BlackBerry phone. The full QWERTY keyboard has capacitive buttons, so you can use it to swipe and scroll — or swipe up to pick suggested words — as well as type. The space bar doubles as the fingerprint sensor. It also has a vibrant 4.5-inch, 1080p display, and comes bundled with Android 7.1.1, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, and 32GB of built-in storage with a MicroSD card slot in case you need more. BlackBerry is all about security, so it comes with added security features as well.
It’s a chunky phone, and performance isn’t top tier. It also has a decent camera, though there are many better options in that department. It’s a tough one to get a hold of now though, and you’re limited to finding the international version on Amazon — which means no connectivity to Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. However, if you’re looking to save a little money compared to the Key2, the cheaper KeyOne could be the way to go. You can read our in-depth review of the BlackBerry KeyOne to find out why we love it so much.
Before the KeyOne, the Priv was the most sought-after phone with a QWERTY keyboard, and for good reason. It was BlackBerry’s flagship and looked much like a standard touchscreen phone, but with a slide-out keyboard that lives under the display when not in use.
In making the Priv, BlackBerry did away with BlackBerry OS in favor of Android, opening up the device to the millions of apps on the Google Play Store, as well as an operating system that many people are probably more familiar with. It also offers a display with a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a MicroSD card to expand on that storage. The rear camera is rated at 18 megapixels, and there’s a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It’s retained some of its value fairly well, which unfortunately means you’re still paying midrange prices for a phone from 2015, and it won’t work with U.S. Cellular, Sprint, or Verizon. Still, if you love the slide-out keyboard, it’s a fun choice. Read our full BlackBerry Priv review for more.
The Passport looks like a blend of classic BlackBerry devices and modern design, and while it’s a nice-looking phone, it will only work through GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. The price is $340, and for that, you’re getting decent specs, including a quad-core Snapdragon processor, a 4.5-inch HD screen, and a 13-megapixel rear camera. But at that price point, does it beat out the Android-powered BlackBerry phones above? We wouldn’t say so — and in fact, it’s only really worth buying for BlackBerry OS, in case you’re wedded to it for some reason. Still, the compact keyboard has been designed for typing accuracy, plus it has a cool set of touch-based gesture controls. Read our full BlackBerry Passport review here.
LG Extravert 2 or Xpression
While there are other options beyond BlackBerry, to find an alternative keyboard phone that’s still being sold, we had to dive into the feature phone market. The optimistically named Extravert 2 sports a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard, which is covered by a 3.2-inch touchscreen. It’s a chunky little thing at 15mm thick (twice that of a new iPhone), and only has a 2-megapixel camera on the back, but the battery should last 17 days on standby, which the new iPhone definitely can’t match. At under $100 without a contract, it’s just the right price for a feature phone. The Xpression is the same phone, but for AT&T instead of Verizon.
LG Extravert 2: