BlackBerry's next phone may feature a gesture-based physical keyboard

By Adam Zeis on 19 Feb 2014 08:43 pm EST

As it turns out, the device we saw earlier today may very well be the BlackBerry Windermere. According to BGR, the rumored device isn't yet in production as BlackBerry is currently working with a "large partner". The device would only make it out of the prototype phase if that partner decides to move forward.

The phone itself is much wider than what we've previously seen and features a QWERTY keyboard with just three rows of keys. To access the symbols and numbers, the Windermere uses gestures on the physical keys that would bring up numbers, accents, symbols and other characters — much like the current virtual keyboard of BlackBerry 10.

This one may stick in the rumor mill for a while, but it definitely sounds alluring. The concept of a physical keyboard that also uses gestures is like the best of both worlds for BlackBerry users. No mention of specs or much else, but if things move along we'll hear plenty more on this one.

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

Reader comments

BlackBerry's next phone may feature a gesture-based physical keyboard


Agree. Plus, it's an ugly looking prototype, and I don't know why they'd change the keyboard layout to 3 rows when keyboards have been their strength. BlackBerry as a whole needs fixing, but some strengths...if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Posted with my Q10 running

Always a compromise between allocating more real estate for a larger screen vs more space for a keyboard..

Posted via CB10

What we have to see here is that we are dealing with a posible new patent, is not a bad idea, a Physical keyboard that is also touch sensitive saves a lot of space, it could even work like the track pad.

Posted via CB10

Because their history of working with partners to create specific devices isn't exactly the best. 

BlackBerry Storm, BlackBerry PlayBook, BlackBerry Torch (though the Torch was one of my favorite devices, it wasn't a massive seller) and the BlackBerry Style.


Do you think this "partner" is a big government agency or corporation looking to place a huge order for essentially a Q10 on steroids to equip their staff with the biggest and baddest mobile computing device on the planet?

Posted via CB10

I agree on the Storm but not on PlayBook and Torch. I have been using Torch, Torch 2 and also the Playbook. Torch and Torch 2 were successful models, the Playbook failure is BlackBerry's fault.

Posted via CB10

I'm willing to give the new leaders at BlackBerry a chance. History is not always the best way to predict the future. Wait and see I guess.

Posted via CB10

Wow... I never made that connection but it's so true.

I know the BB Storm was made in partnership with Verizon and I think the BB Style was made in partnership with Sprint. Was the BB Torch made in partnership with Rogers?? Who was the partner for the PlayBook??

In my area (Waterloo) the Torch was a great seller. To this day I rarely go a day without seeing one in use.

Might be asking a stupid question, who was the PlayBook for (as in partner)? I was under the impression it was just meant for the masses.

Posted via CB10

I really liked my Style when I had it but it was the buggiest BlackBerry I've ever had. And they really should've put the same processor in it that the original Torch had, not a weaker one.

But if the Torch had hit more carriers and there had been a CDMA version, I would've had it.

Needless to say, when the Bold 9930 came out, I paid full price to get it and if course was a lot happier in the long run.

BlackBerry hasta work with a partner on this!

1. Patents may exist by Sony as their chat board for PS3 has this functionality (in use as a mouse); which would be perfect for RDP business sessions to servers in a corporate setting, remote PC Admin access. Now tie this in with BBM Video Screen Share and a BBM Desktop application!!

WOW I'm good, another opportunity to patent a cohesive and perfectly monetary based solution for business and also for consumers! Now also add Cisco/Tandberg Video Conference solution to Xc90's or corporate Board Room VC's on a global corporations implementation - including Cisco Enterprise app already offered by BlackBerry and NOW you have a REAL POWERFUL Corporate and enterprise solution! Something secure reliable and that WORKS!

This is something NO competitor offers not even in the consumer space. Bomgar tries to do this but not even close! And very costly and cannot match!

So who again here thinks I'm not a BlackBerry fan nor know what I'm talking about? What!

BlackBerry Q10  & Full Metal CB10!

Nah, you get around the patent by applying for your own patent and use "on a mobile device" like Apple always does. Come on people, get your head in the game!

Posted via CB10

Trying to grasp how the gestures would work on a physical keyboard. Could be very clumsy if not done perfectly

Posted via CB10

Not only that, but imagine the learning curve for the average user. Don't get me wrong, it would intrigue me, but what intrigues me often irks others.


Even if it works well, I wish it is something in addition to having the standard shift and alt keys, because it's faster to see the actual symbol on the keyboard than to gesture just to see the options...

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

I agree completely, a keyboard that doesn't have the symbols show is less than useless, efficiency is gone.

One though that would be very interesting would be blank keys that change depending if you are in text, symbols, numbers or another language.

Yes I know it would be cost a small fortune to build but it would be a wow factor and a true world phone without retooling costs.

Posted via CB10

I'm hoping it's not that phone from the article earlier today because that thing looked ghastly. I'll be sticking to my Q10 if that's the case...functionality is paramount but I think your device should be a least a little sexy as well.

Posted via CB10

How many times will people fall into the same trap, every single phone is called ugly when based only on crappy pics of pre-release hardware when the real things with proper photos look vastly better even with little else changing.

Very ugly. I, along with probably most other Q10 users (as well as maybe a good amount of Z10+Z30 owners) would only want to upgrade to a Q30 type of phone, same physical keyboard with a bigger (taller) screen

Posted with my Q10 running

Are you kidding me? I am only considering the Q10 because of the keyboard and its SMALL screen.

I need a phone that I can use with one hand comfortably, and fit in my pocket easily. There are plenty of other big screen phones out there. I do not need a big screen on a Blackberry.

I kid you not. I love my Q10, and love the ability to use it with one hand and type out lengthy emails (or CB posts). I've had it since it's first day of availability in the US - even paid an ETF with Sprint so I could get it.

The top 2 complaints of Q10 users out there are the app gap and desire for a full screen. The only time screen size bugs me is the apps that won't allow me to expand videos to full screen.

Posted with my Q10 running

He's not wrong. I'd get rid of my Z30 in a second for a large screen Q30 or whatever a future keyboard device ends up being. I enjoy the keyboard so much that I am tempted to use a Q10 still every day. I am constantly having to weigh the keyboard vs. screen size. Screen always wins, but it is tough.

Posted via CB10

It's only a prototype for crying out loud! That won't be the keyboard...its just for developers to try out their apps on the new screen resolution

Posted via CB10

Ugly. Small keyboard. Boxy. Looks uncomfortable to hold. Looks cheap. Looks bad overall. It will fail. And then hopefully blackberry will pull it from the market and release the Q30 with gesture stuff. I want the same look of a Q10 but maybe tiny taller screen. Like get rid of all that plastic on the top and make the screen taller

Posted via CB10

That has been my dream! I've always wanted to swipe back to delete on my Q10 the way I do on my Z10. Or swipe down on the keyboard to bring up symbols.

This could be really cool and innovative if done correctly. The design of the phone itself isn't very appealing though. I don't care for the sharp edges or the camera in the top middle area of the phone... looks way too Samsungy for me.

Posted via CB10

I agree 100% about the swiping back to delete. That for me though is the only gesture I miss from the Z10. This must be exciting news for track pad lovers though. Perhaps they'll figure out a way to integrate a trackpad with the keyboard. That would indeed be very interesting.

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible BBQ10! 

Maybe the space bar now doubles as a trackpad, even if it only allows horizontal cursor movements ;-)

Concept of the gestures sounds okay with positive possibilities, but the concept of the 'developer, prototype', whatever you want to call it phone is ugly!

Why won't BlackBerry hire one of these professional / amateur industrial designers with some style! A 1:1 is a mistake.

Posted via Me on my Z from CrackBerry

A compelling argument for the future of keyboards. BlackBerry cannot fall behind again in the innovation field. It will have to produce cutting edge units to compete against the volume of it's competition or risk being overwhelmed. With the volume so great there will be no guarantee of success. The public will have to WANT the products BlackBerry sells in the future. The current situation isn't sustainable.....the future BlackBerry units will be even smarter and the people that use them should be marketed as those that have the intelligence to know that. Perception will drive the reality and the market for the units, and Blackberrys future success.

Posted via CB10

I'll reserve judgment till I see a production model (if it gets produced). However I'm not sold on the idea of a gesture based physical keyboard. That may be too complicated for the average user to use.

Posted via CB10

For most people, anything but an app click and a home button is too complicated. As "smart" phones become more prevalent, I'm beginning to think the population is getting more stupid.

Posted via CB10

Exactly. That is why one brand is so hugely successful, LOL

And now that they've been "trained" on that, they start to expect the same "simplicity" (would've used other language, haha) from their Windows computers. Microsoft's attempt at that wasn't all too well received, as we know.

iPhone for me? Scr... ahem Q that! (posted from the latter)

Lol...thank you! Any such innovation must take functionality/practicality as priority, something I'm sure they know! Let's not tear apart something without it even being a reality

Hibby_CB10; Z10STL100-3/

Geller and is cronies over at BGR are the "Biggest Joke in Tech". Please don't ever post anything those morons publish......EVERRRR!

Posted via CB10

That thing was ugly. Guys come on don't ruin BlackBerry with some ugly ass weird phone that will take forever to access ?!$#)) features. Next

The fact there is no room under the keyboard is such a bad design flaw, much like why I do jot like the typo for iPhone etc. There needs to be some grip for one handed typing. They just need to make a slider.

Posted via CB10

I agree there needs to be some space below the bottom row of keys for gripping/control....I have a q10 and I'd feel like I would drop the device any time I needed to access anything on the bottom row, or at least it would be very uncomfortable and awkward

Posted via CB10

I'm not getting any hopes up especially since the US carriers and media dislike BlackBerry with a vengeance so I'll just be waiting for 10.2.1 and then 10.3, anything more and I will go into worry overkill.

Keep The Faith  BlackBerry Q10 

Not really sure how this is going to work. Why would I want to switch back and fourth between physical keys and virtual buttons on the screen. I find it easier to press alt and then the next key. and a virtual keyboard is only going to limit the screen to other useful information. But than again, what do I know. Keep it up BlackBerry.

Agreed. They should be careful before they mess with the keyboard. It is already irritating to hit sym for other choices on the keyboard. I don't want more of that or extra steps. Keep typing simple.

Posted via CB10

Hmmmm, would it be possible to use the swipe sensitive keyboard act as a tracpad? If so, color me intrigued

Posted via CB10

If they get rid of the fourth row I won't buy it. Sounds like an inconvenience to me. I'd buy a all-touch device if I wanted that stuff.

And just when people got used to selecting text with the shift key. I don't want to play with strange gestures when I have purchased a keyboard device for the express reason of ease of typing on a traditional qwerty keyboard. No thanks.

Posted via CB10

I hope in the name of cost cutting and gaining market share, BlackBerry doesn't forget what made their keyboard devices so alluring to those who wanted them and still have them a la Q10. (Hint: It wasn't the gestures...).

Just give me the Q10 with a 4" screen and while they're at it they should buy Typo out and start selling BB style keyboards for Apple and Samsung and bring in some money.

For me the idea has merit. Make the keyboard smaller by removing a row of key thereby allowing for a larger screen. The concept is sound it just really depends on the execution. The biggest problem for me would be if they stick with the 1:1 aspect ratio, it just limits the apps you can run and on BlackBerry limiting the apps even futher is the worst thing you could do. If when I upgrade my phone next BlackBerry doesn't have a qwerty with a 16:9 aspect ration I won't be sticking with sticking with with a qwery phone and if I'm not sticking with a qwerty phone the questions then becomes will I stick with BlackBerry?

Sent from my Q10

We need innovative stuff to go forward... if we are just white sheep we would still have that stupid go back button... but we are black sheep so we do innovative keyboard!

Posted via CB10

Of the letters on the physical keyboard are mini leds or something and just swiping down across the keyboard bring up the secondary keys (with the actual keyboard changing it's display) than this is very cool.
Ugly, but neat.

Posted via CB10

That's what I was thinking - if the labels on the keys dynamically changed when doing a swipe down on the keys. That would be kind of cool. Not sure if that would be more than a gimmick though.

They would have to get past the issues that stuff like the Optimus keyboard had, but technology has come a long way since then.

Posted via CB10 on Z10

If that prototype and gesture thingy makes its way to the market, I will hook up my landline phones again and be done with BlackBerry as that was the last type of phone I had before switching over, just sayin! Wow was that ugly! What are they thinking?

Q10 with Telus on

Not sure about the benefits. Sounds battery intensive, and not what the -core- users are used to. Meaning it will probably not be very intuitive for most (remember all the gesture complaints in early BB10, why we got the Hub icons etc?).

Long-pressing has become such a BlackBerry-instinct for me.

Unless of course this brings additional benefits I am skeptical.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

I won't write this off yet. The BlackBerry Z10 surprised a lot of people. Who ever thought a BlackBerry would have the best touch screen keyboard?

Plus the early developer models were ugly on purpose.

Doing a back swipe across the keyboard to delete would be interesting. Getting the alternative characters to display via gestures would be real interesting if they could appear right on the physical keyboard.

I still want to see a bigger display in 16x9 if they can figure it out.

Posted via CB10

Don't like the idea of working f with a partner unless it remains one the software end vis a vis a blackberry device with Android compatibility.

I've never been a huge fan of constantly trying g to reinvent the wheel.

We have two great physical keyboard devices with the q5 and 10.

We have 2 great all touch devices with the z10 and z30. I say enough.

Let's focus on giving those devices the best user experience with operating system updates and apps.

Other companies can do it and blackberry should focus on giving the user the best experience first (and I believe they are there) I've seen people leave ios and the HTC one for the z30 and are amazed. All because they saw and played with mine. (and to think I had the HTC ONE in my other hand until the well informed Telus rep indicated that by the subsequent week the BlackBerry would be android compatible)

I know I rambled but the bottom line is not to saturate the market with new devices but get the word out that the current devices are the best out there.

Posted from my Z30 on CB10

Interesting idea (not talking about the physical look of the prototype, which is ugly). If they can work in the ability to swipe up words on a physical keyboard, it would be a very interesting device.

Posted via CB10 on Z10

Why does Crackberry keep supporting BGR. Stop encouraging the use of their site. The boy goof report is ridiculous.

Posted via CB10

Man they shouldn't have cancelled the BlackBerry Octa that is the Z50 it would have Rocked.. But let's see how this goes

Posted via CB10

There will always be an early parts-from-the-assorted-components-bin-hotglued-together stage, for any device concept.

This is kind of like I've said in a post before, but instead of symbols and numbers, they should have a touchpad, so the fghcvb keys on the keyboad also act like the track pad on the 9900. Maybe it could also work as a finger print scanner.

Posted via CB10

I remember the day when crackberry used to be first on these stories and have their own sources. Now it's just them bumming off of BGR and other various mobile blogs.

Posted via CB10

I personally want a flawless software. Then you have my permission to upgrade your hardware lineup.

Posted via CB10

Key word is "MAY" it "MAY" not as well. But I hope it doesn't look like the one in prototype.

Posted via CB10

I was just thinking about that the other day… how much I miss the keyboard on my Bold 9930 but how I don't think I could live without flick typing and the keyboard gestures anymore! Problem solved!

I would love to see what that would look like. Seems extremely interesting.

"Men's Fashion & Lifestyle" BBM Channel: C001214D9

I would love my BlackBerry device

-if its look like Z10,
-in aluminum plate quality design like Iphone5,
-non removable batt "coz it doesn't necessary with BlackBerry 10"
-super specs! A quad or maybe an octa core "I think blackberry should get ahead when it comes to processor speed. Handsdowns with OS10 when it comes to efficiency and innovation but the problem is the "stability", im sure os 10 will become more stable in higher specs.
-super amoled display
-battery capacity like Z30
-12mp main cam and 3mp front cam


Posted via CB10

I want a larger screen, but I want to achieve that through a larger device rather than a shrinking keyboard. But, I'm intrigued nevertheless. The sharp corners and cheap design look like the slate Foxconn device. Maybe we'll see Foxconn deliver two devices...

Posted via CB10

We need another pearl. It's pointless to try to fit an entire keyboard on such a small device. The pearl was perfect with two letters per key. I could type without looking.


Posted via CB10

Just surprise me with something I do not know, but for now, I am not convinced. That prototype we saw was, to me, simply put: UGLY AS HELL! And agree with others: if it's not broken, don't fix it!

I've read this one would still have a 1:1 screen ratio... The pic, if true, suggests it too! if this assumption becomes true, then with all due respect, this device is CRAP!!!

Build a slider with 16:9 ratio and a 4row keyboard and you have the best of both worlds, period!

Ferrari ZetaDieci

They should just start the gesture driven keyboard for the Q30, dare I say with a 4 inch screen embedded with panoramic picture option for the camera. Just a suggestion.

TMO USA CALi LA Bred|Black Q10|Red Carbon Fiber Shell|10.2.176

I saw this coming when I first saw the gesture keyboard and the design of the Q10.

Assuming the leaked images are representative of the final product, the keyboard will still have the metal frets. All they would have to do is add touch sensitivity to the frets and they can get the gestures for the various menus. They could even use it for cursor placement by dragging your finger along the middle fret. Word deletion by flicking to the left on the top or bottom fret. Drag up to bring up the symbols menu or the number menu.

It will not get the flick up work prediction, but if you want that then buy a full touch. The only way this prediction would be possible is if they converted the keyboard keys to be like that Optimus keyboard from a while ago where each key was a small LED screen.

Not saying I like the design of the leaked phone, but I think it is possible to accomplish exactly what BGR is saying. Really, it not that far fetched anyway. They could be totally guessing at what is being worked on and getting news for it.

How can this be?

Ask many people and they'll tell you that BlackBerry stopped innovating years ago. This sounds like innovation to me.

Cheers. :)

It's possible. you just need one button to activate the gesture feature of the keyboard. like for example the ALT button can be hold down then the whole keyboard turns into a tracking pad.. then if u want to turn the pad off, just un-hold the ALT. it doesn't necessarily have to be the ALT though.. :) problem solved!

Posted via CB10

So far so good with the new CEO and his team. I am sure they have a great deal of knowledge in pursuing this type of idea.

Posted via CB10

The first thing I thought of was that the frets would be touch sensitive to access the alternate keys.

The frets could also be used for the predictive typing like on the z10 when you flick a word. You would depress a letter key, and flick up on the fret to have the word automatically appear ala z10.

I still cannot see how a 16:9 ratio works on a bar-type phone like a Q10.

The Q10 (Q5?) screen is 55 mm square. The 16:9 ratio means that a horizontal screen would be about 98 mm (3.85 inches) wide. The Q10 is about 120 mm high. That means the Windermere prototype shown is pretty much the exact correct shape for a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Removing a row of keys, thus, reducing the height, makes the device square, as shown. Stretching the key's width to fill the 98+ mm space available is a solution for space under the screen. The result is a 100 X 100 mm (4 inch) square device.

Still, the comments about the image seem overwhelming negative. Maybe rounding the corners will change the sow's ear into a silk purse.

Swinging the screen the other way, to use common 16:9 apps, means that the screen and keyboard orientations are at right angles. OK for video streaming, not much use for anything else.

What do we really gain with a 16:9 aspect ratio on a QWERTY device?

Posted via CB10

dammit, every time I decide to upgrade to a Z30 I hear a new rumour about an upcoming awesome sounding new device! How is a guy supposed to plan? Love my Z10 but feel residual longing for the keys on my 9900.

Posted via CB10

I can live without a row of numbers, but it would be really nice to have a less cumbersome way to get to symbols like "&" "$" etc... The current z10 makes you go through too many maneuvers for these, which is quite distracting when you're composing a message.

Too many manuveros? All you gave to do is swipe down on the keyboard and you get all your special characters and numbers

IROC-Z30 But Mostly She Rocks Me!

How bout a bigger window for texting on the z10 z30s. Come BlackBerry lets start with an ad campaign that has CEO John Chen in it holding up a Z30 or something. Saying we are here to stay, we are not going out of business. And our phones are just as good as iphones if not better and faster.

Posted via CB10