Technology

Giving Your iPhone a Physical Keyboard

A new keypad case may be the reason you need to ditch your BlackBerry.
Guest Writer
Futurist and Trends Expert
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
ThinkGeek Inc.'s new TK-421 case
ThinkGeek Inc.'s new TK-421 case

Smartphones continue to load on new features, but the choice for buyers often comes down to a simple question: Does it have a physical keypad?

This single issue is part of the reason for the BlackBerry line’s continued appeal to business users, and major knock against touchscreen-only input devices. The keyboard has affected more purchasing decisions than buyers would ever admit.

A new iPhone case with a flip-out keyboard may tip the balance in Apple’s favor by offering the best of both worlds. ThinkGeek Inc.’s new TK-421 case is designed for the iPhone 3G S or iPhone 4 and sells for $49.99.

Compared with typing on iPhone’s virtual keyboard, the physical one offers faster, more accurate typing and increased productivity. For business users, it means they’ll be able to fire off dozens of emails in less time and with fewer spelling errors and smudges on their phone display.

The TK-421 comes in two models -- one for iPhone 3G S and another for iPhone 4. Both are powered by a USB rechargeable battery and connect to the iPhone with Bluetooth wireless, rather than with a dock connector.

To access the keyboard, the user simply flips the attachment in or out. The keyboard provides tactile feedback with every button press and a familiar layout, allowing users to type merrily away without having to look at the pad or while carrying on a conversation. Note that some punctuation marks and symbols are oddly placed, however.

Users with larger hands are likely to be uncomfortable with the keyboard’s cramped quarters as compared with standard desktop-sized keyboards. Somewhat bulky, it also nearly doubles the pocket space your phone consumes. Another downside is that the TK-421 is not an officially Apple licensed product, so despite the near $50 pricetag, it isn’t necessarily future-proofed against later hardware or software updates.

Still, by addressing the most common complaint levied against the iPhone by business users, the TK-421 is an option that many iPhone business users are likely to embrace. What’s surprising is that more such products haven’t yet come along.

More from Entrepreneur

Grow Your Business at Entrepreneur LIVE! Join us on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn, NY, to learn from legends like Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova, pitch our editors, meet with investors, and potentially walk away with funding!
Register here

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Whether you are launching or growing a business, we have all the business tools you need to take your business to the next level, in one place.
Enroll Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.