Head to Head: Keyboard Phones

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 9, 2015, Buying Guides

Keyboard phones do have their advantages for a certain kind of phone user. If you’re the kind of person that types more than they talk, and by type we’re talking lengthy emails here, then a keyboard phone is going to be more efficient for you. And then there are those that just prefer a physical QWERTY pad for reasons of their own. More and more manufacturers these days concentrate solely on touchscreen devices, but there are a handful of keyboard models still around. So in the latest in our series of head to head articles, we’re looking at which of these models could be the right buy for you. Pitting three hand sets against each other, we’re giving you the info you need to make the right decision!

The Contenders

The Contenders

The Contenders – Passport, Classic, Q10.

Alrighty, it should come as no surprise here that all three of our hand sets come from the same manufacturer: BlackBerry. BlackBerry were at one point the business phone of choice, simply because of those physical keyboards and due to their awesome business apps and compatibility. These days BlackBerry aren’t quite the big hitter that they used to be, but if you’re looking for a physical keyboard then, really, the manufacturer is the only decent choice.

We’ve got three models, varying in price quite a bit. First up is the BlackBerry Passport, at around £400 or so, the most expensive of our choices. Next is the newest model, the BlackBerry Classic, coming in at around £300. Finally, an older model, but a good budget choice, the BlackBerry Q10, which you can pick up for about £200, though it’s tough to find through an operator.

Under the Hood

So, when it comes to power and performance, BlackBerry aren’t exactly known for big numbers, but the Passport is surprisingly speedy. It’s running a 2.26 GHz quad core processor with a whopping 3 GB of RAM, which is very impressive indeed. Perhaps a little surprising here is that despite the price difference the Classic and the Q10 are both running dual core 1.5 GHz processors with just 2 GB of RAM.

These specs aren’t actually all that different though. All three phones give decent performance, and all are speedy and responsive. Without the lightening quick animations and immediately responsive full touch screens, the BlackBerrys don’t really need as much oomph as other smart phones, so in essence any of these models will probably give you the performance that you’re looking for. However, the Passport does come out on top when it comes to the numbers.

And Screens…

Okay, yes, these are keyboard phones, but screen specs are still important. And like all newer BlackBerrys these three combine QWERTY keyboards with touchscreens. The Passport comes out tops in the size stakes, with a 4.5 inch LCD touch screen. Up next is the Classic, featuring a 3.5 inch screen, whilst the Q10 comes last with a mere 3.1 inch screen. We’re going to get back to that size issue in a moment…

Resolution wise the Passport is getting 1440 by 1440 pixels, giving it a PPI of around 453. The Classic and the Q10 both get 720 by 720 pixels, but due to the difference in screen size the Q10 gets a nice 328 PPI, whilst the Classic gets only 294 PPI, meaning that picture on the smaller Q10 is a little sharper.

We have to declare the Passport the winner here, simply due to the screen size. Sure, a keyboard has to take up space, but the Passport proves that you don’t need to compromise too much when it comes to display size.

And Keyboards…

Part of the reason that the Passport can squeeze in so much display real estate is because, unlike the Q10 and the Classic, it doesn’t have the traditional BlackBerry keyboard. Yes, it does still have a full QWERTY keypad, but with a slightly different lay out, meaning that there are only three rows of keys on the Passport, rather than the four rows on the Q10 and the Classic. We’re not going to lie, it does take a little while to get used to the unorthodox keyboard lay out, but that learning curve is probably worth it for the extra display space that you’re getting…

And Cameras…

Blackberry aren’t known for their cameras, and there’s really few surprises here. All three models have the same 2 MP front facing camera for video calling. In terms of the rear cam, the Passport comes out on top with a 13 MP camera, whilst the Classic and Q10 both have 8 MP devices, but all three essentially offer the same features (LED flash, autofocus, pretty much what you’d expect). If you’re looking for the best pics, that means that the Passport is probably going to be your best bet then.

And Memory…

One thing that Blackberry generally don’t skimp on is storage space, and these three models are no exception. Built in memory is more or less what we’d expect to see, with the Passport coming first with its 32 GB of storage, and both the Q10 and the Classic getting 16 GB.

All three do have a micro SD card slot so you can add in a bit more space should you need it. The Passport and Classic both have the larger external capacity and can take up to 128 GB of extra memory, whilst the Q10 can go up to just 64 GB.

Bottom Line

There’s not a whole lot of choice on the keyboard phone market and these three really are your best bets (and in most cases your only options). And truth be told there’s not an awful lot of difference between them, though the Passport is marginally better than the other two choices. What all this probably comes down to is budget. With such different price tags, chances are that it’s going to be money making this decision for you. However, if cash is no object, then the BlackBerry Passport is definitely the best keyboard phone on shelves right now.