BlackBerry virtual keyboard - best in the business

By Joseph Holder on 14 Aug 2011 02:22 pm EDT

The virtual keyboard on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is the best virtual keyboard in the smartphone market. There I said it; though I also said in on our last CrackBerry Podcast, too. I'm a firm believer in the fact that I can use the virtual keyboard better and faster than the physical one on my Torch. Yet whenever I mention that fact to others, I get such a look of incredulity that I feel I need to back away very, very slowly. Even polls here on show that I'm in the minority.

Now when I first got my BlackBerry Torch, I admit that it was not an easy thing to learn to type on the screen. My fingers were constantly typing the letter slightly to the left (or the right) of the one I wanted. I was constantly pressing the backspace key in an effort to correct my typing on that horrible keyboard.

Then I started doing an odd thing; I began to trust the keyboard. Instead of backspacing and fixing every mistake as it happened, I just kept typing. Over time, either the keyboard began to understand me or I became to understand it. Nowadays, I sometimes think the keyboard knows what I'm trying to type better than I do.

Perhaps some of this animosity and ill-will towards the virtual keyboard comes from using those on other platforms, like iOS and Android. In this author's humble opinion, the BlackBerry keyboard is nothing like them. Added to whatever magic makes the keyboard understand what my fat fingers type is the standard CrackBerry keyboard goodness. Autocorrect and word substitution are not limited to just the physical keyboard, after all.

There are no websites devoted to mocking the poor word substitutions of the BlackBerry keyboard. And that's for a reason. BlackBerry smartphones are designed to be first and foremost tools of communication. At the heart of that communication is the BlackBerry keyboard. Your name doesn't become synonymous with communication and your devices won't be used by millions in government, business, and law enforcement if you have a crappy keyboard. And be it physical or virtual, that keyboard is still the best in the business.

Reader comments

BlackBerry virtual keyboard - best in the business


1st, I have never used the virtual keyboard of a Blackberry nor any other platform. But, the video proves that it is possible to master whichever format you enjoy using. I have grown to like the physical keyboard.

Hey! i bought my Torch on September 2010. Me being afraid and not trusting this new BlackBerry hardware (sliding feature, which now i know it is very resistant) decided to never use the physical keyboard of my Torch and ever since that day i've keep it that way. Now i noticed i've never use the other keyboard AT ALL lol, i hardly open my Torch but it is good to know i have a physical keyboard there in case i need it. Thats why im upgrading to the 9810 instead of the 9860.

Now, on the keyboard issue i think it is a matter of skills and use, i know people that types mad fast with the physical keyboard and i can type faster than you did on that video with the virtual one, it is a matter of use.

Nice article as always Joseph! im becoming a fan of your writing.

What ever you are smoking, I want some! Geez..gtfoh..I have a Torch 9800, love the phone, but the virtual keyboard sucks!

The Torch 9800 virtual keyboard is junk!! Love the phone, but the virtual keyboard does NOT compare to that of the iPhone what so ever.

i used to have a Storm 2 and i could type way faster (in both portrait and landscape mode) than on my Bold 9000, not to mention the Bold 9700... but the best virtual keyboard in the game is the iPhone's, it's the most accurate and the autocorrection works better

i would tend to disagree with that i did a test where i typed trst into the iphone and my old storm and the storm automatically changed to test on the iphone i did the same test and i had to change the spelling through the spell checker so if you trust the virtual keyboard on the blackberry you get better results on os 5 let alone os7

Ok that was incredible painful to watch. You're actually very slow with the physical keyboard. For you, maybe the virtual keyboard is better and i agree the auto correction is a great feature, but for myself, i'm MUCH faster on the physical keyboard.

Yeah, I suck at the physical keyboard; but that's because I hardly use it.  I certainly wouldn't call myself the fastest typist on the any keyboard, let alone the BlackBerry one (about 61 wpm on a full size keyboard).  So I was really just trying to demonstrate that one could use easily use the virtual keyboard on the Torch.


i actually shocked myself and realized i'm pretty good with the virtual keyboard but i still prefer the physical. Just feels right.

I agree with most of your article regarding the virtual keyboard. I rarely use the physical keyboard on torch anymore. I love the virtual one. But the blackberry autocorrect sucks. But then thats a problem with the hardware keyboard as well. As far as typing faster goes, I anyway have to look to type on that small screen/physical keyboard because of my fat

i have an original bold 9000, ever since that i am just addicted to that keyboard. And i feel terrible on the virtual keyboard of my ipod touch. Since i thought the IOS gives best touch experience, i just realize that i can't get used to that virtual one. And i never upgrade my BB after 9000 just because of the keyboard, now finally it comes the 9900 and i know something should be done NOW!

Idk about that have you used some of the other virtual keyboards? android and IOS are both very nice and work much better for me than when I used my friends torch.

Like Joseph pointed out in the post, how many websites are dedicated to stupid auto-correct mistakes that are made by the BlackBerry?


Many many sites exist for ridiculous iOS auto-corrects.

The iOS may have a nice keyboard to type on but if you end up sending stupid gibberish does it really matter how nice the keyboard is?

The point Joseph is making is the whole package needs to be taken into consideration. Easy of use and how the auto-correct works.

Although not a fan of touchscreens I see the future of it in tandem with speech to text services, the touch function would still be there but for typing all your notes, emails, books etc would be written this way saving on not only time but adding the extra focus otherwise lost correcting typing errors!

The 9800 has a pretty bad physical keyboard, so I don't blame you for using the virtual one more, but it's time to add the 9780, the 9810 and the 9900 to the test.

I'm a Storm 2 user and can type blazingly fast in portrait with suretype.

Having said that, I think this comparison was a little unfair.

1. The physical keyboard on the 9800/9810 isn't the best when compared to say the Bold 9900.
2. Joseph you did a great review, but I think you are used to the virtual keyboard and looked very slow on the qwerty whereas I see others flying on them.

I do however agree that virtual keyboards can be as fast if one gets the hang of it though. :)

...I've grown to enjoy my typing experience with my Storm 2(despite the device's many downfalls). I fell in love with the physical on my first BB(8703e)and still think its the best keyboard fromm BB yet IMO. Granted, on my S2 I had no choice but to accept it, but the Curve and the Bold didn't give me that satisfaction that the 8703e gave me with the well spaced layout....I miss that tank. Hence, I decided to go out and try this virtual thing out and have enjoyed my tome with the SureType thus far.

Hahahaha the ignorance its really insolent. One thing is you like the virtual keyboard in your BB most than the physical one, other is to say that its the best on the smartphone market. You never tried an iPhone or Android phone keyboard seriously before. You should be ashamed to post something like this

the problem with the VK is email addresses and passwords. I can fly with it except when I have to type things that aren't actual "words", in those cases it's so slow. I don't even try to use the VK for my unlock password anymore, immediately slide out the physical keyboard, or with any forms that require email addresses, passwords, etc.

For typing blocks of text, however, the VK, especially in reduced, predictive mode works great - so much so that I'm tempted to look at the 9850.

If you didn't know you can make the physical keyboard have predictive text just the same as the virtual keyboard. I do think the physical is more accurate and you could have typed faster on the physical in my opinion.

A few mistakes:
1. the virtual keyboard typed "yo" instead of "to" at the end of the last line of text
2. with the virtual keyboard you typed "...slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", but on the physical one you wrote "...slings and arrows of misfortune"

For me physical is better than virtual, but I can't get a physical SureType phone with a touchscreen, so I frequently use the virtual keyboard as my SureType keyboard (which only works because I trust it) and my physical one as, well, my physical one.

I was wondering if anyone watched these videos as closely as I do. :)  My apologies; I didn't notice the mistake until AFTER the edited and completed video had rendered. Not wanting to spend another two hours (I'm not exaggerating) fixing the errors and since it didn't really change anything, I just let it go. But you're right, it's all about trusting the keyboard you like.

ahahahha This is the perfect reason why there will NEVER be that perfect phone. An unattainable goal for any cell phone manufacture; only a perceived ideal from individual users. Had a berry for over 3 yrs with my trusty curve. Love the physical keyboard. My wife has a iphone since 2g; upgraded to iphone 4. To this day, still unable to use that virtual keyboard. I wanna to be able to type without looking down all the time; but thats just me. Cant wait to get my hands on the curve 2 or torch2

peace all

You're retarded fool!..
the "curve 2" would be considered the 8520/30 which is currently outdated for the 9300/30 is already out!.. Lmfao retarded fool!..

YO!!, wats with the F@$!!#K hostility. Its a F@%#%@!k personal thing u numbnuts. I've only been with bberry for 3 yrs. Was using Nokia before.

Just ignore him/she.

I am with it since 2004 and I would have assume you mean the 8900 or so when you were writing about curve2.

85x is a class below the curve in my opinion.

honestly it doesn't matter. Everything is better than a Nokia ;)

Yes, thank you. I was a very loyal user of nokia. I spent alot of time in southeast asia and that was the ideal phone over there. But symbian was getting painful to use.

I guess I found it worked for me as Im mostly a one hand left handed typer most of the time. I demoed one for couple of weeks and took me about a week to get used to it; but after that it was gravy.

Hey Crackberry Team,

How about a contest to see who can type the fastest on any BB phone? Give contestants the same phrase and have them submit a video to prove their speed? It would be cool to see some people rockin the 9900 keyboard!

You seriously are so slow at the physical keyboard..
I've mastered mine on the 9630 so well that I do NOT have to look at my phone as I type, nor do I need to look to do any characters/ punctuation/ etc.

anyways,Verizon 9850 please be here soon!..
Anyone else waiting for it as well (& agree with the physical keyboard as being better???)


Man.. I cant fathom owning a blackberry and wanting to type on the screen... i will occasionally fire off a yes or no answer or something short like that but anything substantive im always gonna slide out my keyboard. This whole conversation is mindblowing.

this wasn't a really good proof. You just suck on a physical keyboard and are used to type on a virtual one ;)

Ok, I can not be neutral on this as my name already telling ;)

Still using my old 9000.

Here are a few points I will threw in the 'lion cage' ;)

I can write blind on it.

I am really fast.

I know when I make a typo and I know what's wrong

I do not have really bad typos or I have no wrong word cause the autocorrection is off. No autocorrection or wrong guessing from it.

I do not have really a reason for checking my email before send it. (with a virt. keyboard I would have to do that -> sadly a lot of my friend and colleagues don't do that and I read a lot stupid/wrong meanings in emails or specially in IMs/Chats ;)

I have about 15 lines - on a touchscreen you have because of the virt. keyboard probably about 2 or 3 ;)

Of course I know that if you put a lot of efford in it - you can really be fast. Incl. technique like swipe etc.

But for me it will be probably the best to keep a physical keyboard.

Oh, my personal record in writing speed on a desktop keyboard were about 400 "Anschläge" average per minute (10 minutes, so 4000 "Anschläge" in 10 minutes). It is not really easy to 'translate' this in words per minute ;) (Anschlag means one character, a capitalized characters counts as 2 "Anschläge")

I have used the physical keyboard on 9780 and 9800 and i used the virtual keyboard on storm 2 and the 9800 the physical keyboard of the torch sucks and so is the virtual
I dont know what what this man is saying
Best virtual keyboard in smartphones ? ???

I learnt to love it BUT the touch screen in genreral isn't as good as the iphone. But keyboard is pretty great on my 9800

Storm 2 reduced keyboard is very fast.I bought a bold to try. Used it for 2 weeks. Now back to storm 2. It always knows what word I am trying to type. Anyone who doesn't know the reduced keyboard is laid out like a pearl keyboard. Just my humble opinion. Scott R.

I carry 9780 and iphone4.
At first I barked at the idea of typing as fast on virtual keyboard compared to physical keyboard.
After a challenge from my daughter who also have an iphone said she can type just as fast on her virtual keyboard, I gave virtual keyboard a try for a week.
I have learned to type on iphone4 just as fast and accurate as 9780. Seriously.
At first it is frustrating and you want to throw it against the wall.
Just as Joseph said you must trust the keyboard and the spell correct and word subsitution does the rest. At first this is very hard when you are used to physical keyboard.

Good vid, Joseph ... always enjoy your style. I appreciated the topic, since I have been on the fence as to what BB7 device I want. Pros/cons to each.

A few points that seem to go over too many heads here. Joseph could obviously only go up against himself, and it could only be about what keyboard HE is fastest on. Secondly, nobody can make a true keyboard comparison unless they have used a device long enough to get used to it. Plus, there are a lot of diferences between people who are typing a LOT on their mobile device and those who let other activities interefere with their skill develpment (jobs, relationships, computer keyboards .. ).

Unfortunately, virtually every discussion is swamped with posters essentially saying: "this is my experience (which is the TRUE experience) therefore it should be your experience or you are stupid." Harsh, uninformed commentary (i.e. emotional vomit) clogs up the real discussion and suppresses the synergistic thinking central to what CB is all about. Netiquette 101 class anyone?

I do use both the physical and virtual keyboard on my 9800, but I prefer the physical keyboard.. It just feels sooooo satisfying typing on it.
But I have to agree that the virtual keyboard is really good too! :)
Great video!

I went from a 9700 to an HTC and i use Swiftkey as the keyboard, i used to love the BB keyboard but the word predictions on Swiftkey are pretty spot on

virtual keyboards can be mastered resulting in very fast typing... but that's if you're sitting down doing nothing but focusing on typing on your phone. we have blackberries cause we work with them. we have cell phones so we can multi task. how often do we find ourselves walking and texting, in a car (as a passenger) and texting, having a face to face convo and texting... the list goes on. when it comes to multi tasking and texting on the virtual keyboard its almost impossible to do it accurately, where as with a physical keyboard i dont have to even look at the phone to know what im typing. with a virtual you have to guess that u pressed on the right spot if you're not looking at the phone.

It looks like you're typing way slow on the physical keyboard. I hate storm2 keyboards so much, which is what i'm currently using, that I probably chat about 60% less than I used to on a physical keyboard device.

virtual keyboard works quite well if you write in english. In any other language it basically butchers every single word. without predictive input, my accuracy is down to 30-50%. Not to mention that the keyboard takes 70% of screen space, leaving just 2 lines of text visible.

Can't wait to ditch storm 2.

I can type extremely fast with th physical keypad. My first gen iPod touch has a better touch screen than the torch imo. It feels more responsive to me. Rim needs to work on their touchs screens. I hope these new phones that are rolling out have been much improved.

Agree; the only good thing about the slide-out keyboard is half the screen isn't covered. I'd like them to replace the click keys with touch keys and keep the slider, but now that I'm starting to get arthritis in my thumbs (maybe from typing so much, especially on phone keyboards), I'd rather have an effortless keyboard.

It's much better than the iPhone with its annoying pop-up letters.

I learned to use the virtual "reduced" keyboard from my Storm 1 and now having the 9800 I'm surgical on the thing! Rarely use the keyboard and never use the virtual qwerty either...reduced and auto correct FTW!! Fat digit friendly typing at its finest.

I thought I was the only one saying vitual keyboard was better on Torch 9800, but I am glad I am not! When I got my torch 9800 I thought I would have never used vitual one but I was'intrigued' to have both keyboards options on the device.. and after a few months of usage I found out I slided the phone maybe once!! LOL! Torch vitual keyboard is a monster! Iphone vitual keyboard sucks!!!!