Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


[Updated] Hands-on Review: Typo Keyboard for iPhone 5

I pre-ordered the "Typo" keyboard for my iPhone 5s and have now been using it for about a week.  I was intrigued by this keyboad when I heard about it - it promised to give me an experience that was a lot like my old Blackberry keyboard, but with the modern capabilities of my iPhone.  So far, it is delivering.

Here are some thoughts and observations.

Nice form factor, "feel," and build quality

The Typo keyboard is well-built and very sleek.  It doesn't significantly add to the thickness of my iPhone, so it still fits in my pocket just fine.  The keyboard adds a bit to the length of the iPhone (probably about a half-inch) but doesn't feel cumbersome.

The keyboard pairs with your phone via Bluetooth and has a backlight you can toggle on and off.  The feel of the keyboard is reminiscent of the Blackberry keyboard, so I find it easy and accurate in normal use.  There are some layout quirks, but I got used to those in a day or so.  One cool thing I like: you can long-press a letter to have it toggle from lower-case to caps - I always loved that on my Blackberry.

[Update: The balance of the keyboard is great - I was concerned it would want to tip forward or something while typing it, but I am able to hold it very much like I used to hold my Blackberry and it feels very stable in my hands.]

The keyboard charges separately with an included micro-USB cable.  I haven't had it long enough to comment on battery life, but there is a way to check the battery by pressing the keyboard icon and looking for a series of flashes that tells you how much charge is left (a week into this, mine still says "full").

Effects on your access to iPhone functionality

With the case on, you still have full use of your screen, but not your actual Home button. To access the Home button, the Typo provides a button that mimics the Home function - you can see it in the lower right corner in the picture above.  Of course, that means you lose access to your fingerprint reader if you're using an iPhone 5s, but everything else works fine.   

As for the rest of your controls, you have full access to all your normal control buttons since they are not covered by the case's structure.  

[Update:  If you want to use voice functionality, there are two things to know:

  1. To speak to Siri, just hold down the keyboard's Home button (square icon) and Siri will respond just as if you'd pressed the home button itself.
  2. If you want to fill in a field with voice dictation, you'll note that there is no-onscreen keyboard so you can't press the microphone button.  There's an easy solution:  Press the keyboard key on the Typo and the on-screen keyboard appears - you can press the microphone button from there.

On a related topic, the keyboard button also allows you to access international keyboards, emoji keyboards, etc. that you have enabled on your phone.]

You can also use your headphones and Lightning connector, with some restrictions - the original lightning connector and headphones fit just fine, but third-party accessories with thicker connectors may not fit in the pass-through holes on the Typo.  For example: most of my headphones fit well, but  the ones with angled connectors were prone to pulling out, and I had a 3rd-party power / sync cable that had a thicker connector that didn't fit. 

The bottom line

The bottom line?  I like this keyboard so far and I expect I'll keep using it.  The first batch of pre-orders sold out quickly, but they are working on the next batch which they expect to begin shipping next month.  If you want to get yours, head on over to the Typo site.