What happens when you take the best selling smartphone of 2011, replace the 800 x 480 screen it originally shipped with with a 720p display, and then slap a QWERTY keyboard on it for good measure? According to TmoNews, you get T-Mobile Samsung SGH-T699. Here is what they know about the device: It’ll ship with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, it has a 5 megapixel camera, and it’s going to be powered by a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, though no one is sure if it’s an S3 or an S4. Where exactly does this device fit in the operator’s portfolio considering that the Galaxy S III is going to launch in just three days? Again, that’s something we don’t really know.
The bigger question here is who still buys phones with physical keyboards? We’re not in 2007 anymore, when you could rightfully say that software keyboards simply weren’t up to snuff. These days most people can bang out an email on a piece of glass faster than they could ever do so on a shrunken down QWERTY keyboard. And now that today’s phones are increasingly shipping with massive screens, said software keyboard is much more expansive and easier to use. There’s the BlackBerry crowd, we can’t forget those folks, but they’re leaving RIM’s platform behind in droves.
Side sliding QWERTY devices make a lot of sense on paper since they let you have a large screen, but the added bulk, plus the questionable reliability of a moving part, make us wonder if there truly is a market for these kind of devices. What say you, do you like having choice, or would you rather companies just focus on making fewer devices that are tailored to a more mainstream crowd?
Update: Oh and one more thing, there’s a front facing camera and notification LED.