I’ve been using computers for a long time, since the early 80’s and I was an early adopter of the cell phone, when both phones and computers were in their own separate realms. When I made the move to smartphones, I always had a keyboard handy, and I never got the hang on texting using only the number pad – actually I loathed the idea. When the iPhones made their appearance I was skeptical of the on-screen keyboard, having experienced the horrible excuses for on-screen keyboards of the Palm Pilots and Windows CE devices. Apples’s execution was far better, but typing on a virtual keyboard was a tough transition for me. These days, I’ve gained a level of proficiency in tap typing, but if it wasn’t for the autocorrect I’d sound like an absolute imbecile. Sometimes though, I long for a nice physical keyboard to use on my iPhone4, and something that wasn’t a separate accessory that I had to pack and unpack. Lucky for me, I discovered Boxwave’s Keyboard Buddy Case.
If you’ve ever envied your Motorola Droid friends with their slide out keyboard, envy no more, because the Boxwave Keyboard Buddy Case is for you. The Keyboard Buddy is a case and bluetooth keyboard integrated into a single unit. The case and keyboard are a well constructed plastic combination. The iPhone 4 or 4S sits in a wrap around case while the keyboard sits below it. The keyboard smoothly slides out to the side revealing a nice QUERTY thumb keyboard to use in landscape mode. The keyboard has a full array of keys which include function keys, and cursor keys. The case itself has a cut out for the camera so it won’t obstruct your ability to take pictures, either with the keyboard open or closed. The keyboard has on the bottom a micro-USB charging port, a sync button, and an on/off switch.
The keyboard below the case does add some thickness, which is to be expected. The keyboard adds about 3/4’s the height of another iPhone to the entire device, so it’s almost twice as thick, but honestly, it wasn’t that bothersome. It might be a problem if you wear tight jeans though. I tend to wear lose fitting Dockers, so there’s no unsightly bulge to be seen.
The keyboard pairs up easy enough, like any Bluetooth 2.0 device, you’re asked to key in a sequence to complete the sync, but once done, anytime you turn on the the keyboard, it syncs up pretty quick. Once the phone sees you have this keyboard enabled, it will hide the on-screen keyboard, so all your typing will be expected to come from the slide out keyboard. Now, you need to be aware that once you start using the keyboard the onscreen auto-correct feature is no longer available. This is not a fault of the Boxwave, but rather a behavior of the operating system. The Boxwave has cursor keys, which is a welcome addition for anyone who types or edits documents on their phone. The Boxwave also has additional keys for the Home button, a hides and unhides onscreen keyboard and a lock button. You can even adjust the screen brightness with the keyboard! Probably the best feature though, is the backlighting. There is an ambient light sensor on the keyboard which turns on the backlit when typing in dark places, which is very nice!
Some folks with big thumbs or very flat thumbs might have a hard time using the keyboard, since they keys are small and you need to depress them. The keyboard, although feature rich, can feel cramp, which takes a little adjusting to. The only drawback I found was trying get the phone out of the case. The case has no flex, since it’s pretty solid, and once your phone is in the case, it’s a little hard to pry out. Taking the phone in and out of the case may not be an issue for most, but for someone who has additional accessories, like the Olloclip or other clip on lens accessory, you might find it a little frustrating.
In conclusion, the Boxwave Keyboard Buddy Backlit Edition is a very nice case/keyboard combination. If you desire having a real physical keyboard that’s quickly available to use, and you’re ok without the auto-correct feature, this is something to consider. It’s great for anyone who text messages frequently, and works with documents on the phone. The speed gain from thumb typing versus tap typing will depend on your comfort and skill level. You might be faster at tap typing, but the onscreen keyboard has no easy way to accurately and quickly select text or move to the exact spot in a document; something the extra keys on the Keyboard Buddy can help with.
Thanks for reading, feel free to ask any questions or leave comments. If you’re interested in this case or anything else Boxwave might have, hit the links below.
- BoxWave: http://www.boxwave.com
- Boxwave Keyboard Buddy Case Backlit Edition: http://www.boxwave.com/cases-and-covers/keyboard-buddy-case/bwpds/pkz