The Typo keyboard seems like a great idea: everything you love about the iPhone, but with the addition of a physical, tactile keyboard. Unfortunately, the reality doesn’t live up to the dream.
Setting the device up is simple enough, just slide the two halves of the black plastic case over your iPhone 5 or 5s, then press and hold the Bluetooth button until a blinking blue light appears to pair with your iPhone. The first thing you’ll notice however is that the Typo makes your iPhone comically long – not to mention awkwardly top heavy – adding an extra 12mm of length. It also covers up the home button, which means no fingerprint Touch ID for 5s users.
As for the keyboard itself, while it looks just like a Blackberry keyboard, it feels nothing like one. The entire keyboard flexes at the slightest pressure, and feels like it might break at any moment. There’s a cheap, plasticky feel to the keys, plus they’re annoyingly loud with an irritating clicking that was never present with even the most entry-level Blackberry device. The Typo doesn’t work well with iOS either. Connecting the keyboard turns off autocorrect (we never could find a way to turn it back on) so you’ll have to fix mistakes manually. Unlike some Blackberry devices, the Typo also lacks a thumbstick or navigation keys, meaning you’ll have to use the touchscreen to get to the error you want, then go back to the Typo to fi x it. The constant shift between keyboard and screen – tap screen to start typing, type on keyboard, tap screen to move the cursor, correct grammar on keyboard, tap screen to send message – results in a very jarring and unnecessarily time consuming process.
The design of the Typo itself presents more issues. Since there’s no physical connectivity between the Typo and the iPhone, it needs to be charged separately, which isn’t very convenient. The raised keyboard also makes items at the bottom of the screen tricky to access (such as swiping up for the camera on the lock screen).
Additionally, any amount of pressure activates the Typo’s keys, which in turn activates the iPhone’s display. In our time testing the Typo, we realized our phone display was on pretty much 100 percent of the time in the pocket – resulting in a huge drain on battery life.
After trying very hard to find a redeeming feature, this is the only reason we could think of why anyone would buy this $169 gimmick: you’re an Apple fanboy who thinks your iPhone 5/5s is so advanced, you pity the fools who don’t have one. The Typo is the revolutionary device that amazingly disables the best feature on the 5s, murders battery life and cripples typing experience, all in one fell swoop.
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