10 Weeks of BlackBerry 10: The Keyboard

In our '10 Weeks of BlackBerry 10' series we'll explore one feature of BlackBerry 10 each week leading up to the launch event on January 30th. This week: The Keyboard
BlackBerry 10 Keyboard
By Adam Zeis on 26 Nov 2012 01:20 pm EST

BlackBerry smartphones have always been known for their keyboards - no question about it. While RIM has dabbled with some full-touchscreen devices over the years, they have always stuck by their physical keyboard devices as well. With BlackBerry 10 that will still be the case. At launch, we'll see both full-touch and QWERTY model devices, so while many will be quick to stick with the physical keyboard they know and love, others will go all-in with a touchscreen device. I've never been a huge fan of touchscreen keyboards for numerous reasons, but with the amazing BlackBerry 10 keyboard we'll still get the BlackBerry experience we know and love, which is why the BlackBerry 10 keyboard is one of the features we're most looking forward to in BlackBerry 10.

The BlackBerry 10 Keyboard 

Touchscreen Keyboard

The BlackBerry 10 touchscreen keyboard simply put is amazing. It looks to be the best touchscreen keyboard there is and we certainly can't argue with that. In addition to giving an awesome touchscreen typing experience, the keyboard also features predictive text, multiple languages, a custom word dictionary and much more.

Using the predictive text (word suggestion) on the BlackBerry 10 keyboard brings a whole new experience to typing. It's geared around the one-handed ease of use and allows you to simply swipe up the suggested words when typing. We've seen it in demos plenty of times now, and even using it on the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha we can't get enough. When it comes to one-handed typing it's by far the easiest way to get things done.

As you type the suggested words will appear over the next letter in the word (you can change this to have the words appear over the keyboard in columns). The idea is to keep your eyes locked on the keyboard as it's natural that you would look at the next letter as you type. From here you can either keep typing or simply swipe up if the suggested word is available. As you get to master this you can type out full conversations simply by swiping up the suggested words.

For example, when typing "Blac" the suggest word that appears over the K button is "BlackBerry" (obviously). Swipe up and your "Blac" is completed as "BlackBerry". Not what you wanted? Swipe right to left on the keyboard to delete a word. Keep swiping and you can delete everything you typed. All with one hand. Awesome.

Physical Keyboard

We haven't seen nearly as much of the full-keyboard N-Series device as that of the touchscreen L-Series, but we do know a few things so far. The QWERTY model will bring that great physical keyboard experience to BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry always strives to have the best keyboard out there, and that should hold true in BlackBerry 10. The N-Series keyboard is an slightly updated version of the amazingly awesome Bold 9900 keyboard. The keys have been straightened out a bit (no more smiley) and some have been resized. While we don't know for sure that the new keyboard will be the "typing on air" that is the Bold 9900 keyboard, it should be pretty damn close. (Man, we still love the 9900 keyboard).

This model will also feature all that the touchscreen version has, but we're not 100% sure how the suggested word swiping will work just yet. More on that soon. 


Both keyboards also have a bunch of features to customize to your liking. BB10 learns words based on your usage. So if you have a lot of words that wouldn't commonly be found in the dictionary (nicknames, curses, etc) then BB10 will learn them over time and offer them as suggested words. If it gets to be too much at times you do have the option to turn this feature off (but why would you want to?).

You can choose to enable or disable the predictive text, use word substitution and have options for auto-correct, auto-capitalize, period shortcut and more. The keyboard also lets you change languages without switching keyboards - just type in whatever supported language and the keyboard will recognize it. I'm also a big fan of the password entry keyboard (as we've seen on the PlayBook) that displays the number keys over the letters so you don't have to swap back and forth.

Overall the BlackBerry 10 keyboard will be an amazing feature that we can't wait to have in our hands.  

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

10 Weeks of BlackBerry 10: The Keyboard


They wont... People don't seem to understand the whole point of the "swipe up" gestures & SwiftKey.. It's mainly focused for one hand typing. (It's even mentioned that the iPhone was created with one handed typing in mind OVER two handed typing, and many other full touchscreens out there). I have talked to a few people who have used the new keyboard on the dev alpha B, and they have all agreed that while the predictive text is really cool, you very rarely if ever use it when typing with two hands... It's going to be smoother to type out the word "about" over clicking "ab" then swiping up on "o" when using two hands. People who are getting the N-Series are getting it to mainly type with both hands as the reason they are going physical keyboard means that typing is extremely important to them.. They probably wont be typing with just one hand enough to make that feature very useful to the N-Series.

Just try using a 9900/9930... When on a roll typing 40-50-60WPM, having to go up and tap a word above the keyboard would actually be much slower than just continuing to type with both hands.

As usual with Adam's reviews, they read more like advertising copy than an actual user review and fails to mention the points above. I am skeptical that he even tries out half of the things he reviews. Just a good little Crackberry soldier!

I want the N-Series with physical keyboard, as another poster puts it, it may be 88% screen size of an iPh*ne4 and with the famed BlackBerry keyboard!

***BUT I really hope the B10 N-Series (with physical keyboard) will also have handwriting input.

Many of BlackBerry's growth markets are overseas with non-English input, making handwriting input ideal.

Actually one of my friends refused to buy a Bold 9900 because it did not have Asian handwriting input.

He upgraded from the old Bold 9000 to an iPh*ne instead.
BlackBerry definitely lost some customers there.

Why don't they just take the keys on the current physical keyboard and make the on screen one like that, but still have the frets and stuff. That way I already know what the keyboard will feel like before I use it

Does anyone know the screen size of the N-series? I spent about 30 minutes trying to find out last night to no avail.

N-series screen size can be found at the 35 minute mark of a good search - should've kept going! ;)

720x720, but how does that translate to size?

Well that's basically what it seems it will be - like the 99xx series plus a little gain in screen size that comes from straightening the keyboard and doing away with the row of hard keys and trackpad.

That would be great because I'm still trying to figure how well all this peek and flow stuff is going to work on the smaller screen

That would be great because I'm still trying to figure how well all this peek and flow stuff is going to work on the smaller screen

Edit: yeah I was confused 2.8 is what it is now, sorry I should know better than to try and be helpful. I think I heard the overall dimensions will be identical or close to the 99xx, so since we know the screen is square measure the width and find the diagonal assuming the height is the same . . Works out to be 3.2

According to some rumors N series PPI is supposed to be 330, with 720 X 720 screen resolution diagonal size would work out to be 3.09in.
This would make sense assuming that RIM would want to keep N series to be the same width as 9900 minus the bezel around the screen.

Unreal! Does the current version of BB10 for Dev Alpha B have it right now? I'm surprised no one has been talking about this, as it is the sole reason I was able to switch to a touchscreen keyboard from a physical qwerty. If they want people to adopt the L series from being keyboard purists for years...I would be pushing/demoing it to death.

So the phone vibrates when you type a letter? How in the heck does that help you find the key in the first place? Sounds like more of a battery drain than anything to me.

It doesn't help you find the key, that's not the point; it's the feedback when you touch it. Hard to explain, it's something you need to try. But usually when you make a mistake, you can feel it due to it vibrating twice when you should have only hit one key.

Trust me it is awesome. If you're a qwerty guy and you change to the touchscreen I can nearly guarantee you'll be using it.

We had the BYOD trend , I am noticing owning two phones is another trend. One for hyper-connection and the other for fancy. I will buy both the L and N series and know many who will buy both !
BYOD welcome BYTD ( Bring Your Two Devices )


While I love my 9900 keyboard, I still wanna get the L for its bigger screen. And I also think the new virtual keyboard will be awesome to type on/with. Glad to hear word subs will be available on BB10. I use it for a lot of things, including icons. Now if only I can figure out how to transfer my word sub database onto BB10!

Sounds like you'd prefer a torch - real physical keyboard AND a bigger screen of the correct BB10 aspect ratio.

I won't buy either the L or N series - I need a Torch form factor, and I likely won't buy one of those unless it has a trackpad.

Unlike all the iDroid fanboys, I actually DO have a use for the keyboard, buttons and trackpad. Try typing on-screen with golves. Positioning a cursor? It's a snap with the trackpad. I don't want to be tapping the screen, zooming to get my cursor positioning more accurate, etc, etc..

I don't care how good the on-screen keyboard is or how good the text prediction is. I want to move the cursor around, highlight text, move blocks of text as I organize my thoughts, etc...

The keyboard is only one part of what makes BlackBerry phones great for writing, but it seems like RIM is leaving all the other juicy stuff out.

Yep - these are a good start but they are going to have to really sell me on the virtual keyboard. I want the full screen - I hope there is a BB10 Torch in the future.

That virtual keyboard system had better be as good as they are making it out to be.

I had an original Bold - Loved the keyboard but I want the full screen.

That's what I'm saying!

While I believe they should stream line a little bit, I can't be satisfied with out a Torch taking advantage of a full screen as well a physical keyboard.

They're said to be coming out with six BB10 devices, I think three is all they need, a full touch screen, the physical keyboard bold type, and the torch type with both.

Winters in Canada, snow or not, leaves the touch screen capabilities useless either to your freezing and or numb fingers or with gloves. That track pad in that case comes in handy aswell.

I was for a while debating hard with my self on whether I want the L- series or the N-series...I will be getting the L-series and then the torch type when that comes out. Here's to hoping its sooner than later!

It is going to be interesting how some of the things we know and love from current BlackBerry phones will transfer to BB10.

For my sake, I hope they have used the time they have to figure how to make things work right and keep the things that we love about them.

For BlackBerry's sake though I hope they have their app situation taken care of above almost all else. It is a reality that this is what will speak to the largest volume of customers. They don't care about the competitions phone, the people that I talk to simply care about the apps and if it is available on their device.

I'm aware that their AIM is to have the Top 400 apps available at launch and they're aiming for at least 100,000 apps at launch, but I hope they did their homework well. I do love they're working with developers so much and offering so many incentives, so even if they don't meet the expectations of their hardest critics, it will certainly not be because they didn't try.

I'm a physical keyboard (9900/9930) person. I hope they put as much effort in improving this line as they are on the touchscreen line.

Has it not occured to anyone that the straight keyboard is just the keyboard from the Porches Design? If you have a P9881 you can probably comment on it.

My cycle so far: I want the L-series, no I want the N-series, I don't know which I want, I'm going to stick with qwerty and get the N-series, actually no wait I'm ready for touch L-series it is, I don't know which I want, you know what I'm sticking to my original plan and getting L-series, well I love the physical keyboard I should really get N-series, No L-series it is. That's final.

This is the thought process since both leaked. Right now I'm back on the L-series bandwagon. I am very torn though it is going to be tough

isn't there also a function on the touchscreen keyboard that learns finger positions, i mean..it detects if you press a letter off centre, it'll make the off centre the sweet spot?

i'm a physical keys kind of guy, but i'm seriously thinking about the full touch... decisions decisions....

Remember that the PlayBook will get BB10; therefore, if you are torn between the physical keyboard and the large screen/touch only interface, why not get a PlayBook (while they're still so cheap!) AND an N-series come 2013? Sounds like the best of both worlds to me. It's an idea...

Typing on the playbook ROCKS!!! You haven't had enough time and experience, you haven't tried typing both ways. Have more time spent on it and then you'll experience how great it is.

I will very likely stick with the N series when it comes out. This 9900 will be kept as a spare and I might get a tmobile OS 5 blackberry for legacy reasons, just for the hell of it, but it needs to have wifi. :D

Then, swapping will be so damn easy.

Touchscreen is nice and all, but cursor positioning is a huge pain without trackpad. I hope someone with dev alpha device can enlighten me about cursor positioning experience?

I use wp7 right now and the reason I haven't upgraded to wp8 is because I'm waiting for bb10. I truly believe it will satisfy most of my mobile needs including the lack if push email for other devices. I hope bb10 is a legitimate media solution though or i will stick with wp8...sadness.

This is a neat idea for a tool on a keyboard. I would need to see the actual bad boy at work. This is one of my pet peeves about WP 7- I am not as big of a fan of the keyboard as most other WP users.