Hallelujah, The Keyboard

In my Nexus One review I complained about the keyboard limiting my ability to type as quickly as I could on the iPhone. Many of you responding by telling me to use a different keyboard. This is Android after all, you can replace your keyboard app if you wish. The Incredible ships with HTC’s attempt at a virtual keyboard and I’m happy to say that it’s like a more cluttered, but more flexible version of the iPhone keyboard.

The autocorrection engine is easily iPhone quality. You get very accurate recommendations while you type. Type in a word that the engine doesn’t know and it gets added to the dictionary. You can also manually add words to the dictionary. The live dictionary listing is present unlike the iPhone which only provides a single suggestion for every word you type. Personally I prefer the Apple method because it keeps the screen from getting too cluttered, while HTC’s approach shows you more of what’s going on in the background.

I like that the keyboard tells me when something is added to the dictionary and that it allows me to manually add words to the dictionary. The end result is the same as what you get on the iPhone (Apple does a good job of figuring out what you want added and actually adding it), but HTC is much more transparent about the whole thing.

There's still no multitouch support for the keyboard. While this doesn't impact me on a day to day basis, if you're transitioning from a physical keyboard you will find that the lack of multitouch slows your progress. With a physical keyboard you're often still holding one key down when you go to hit the next one. On the Incredible, that's simply not possible.

If you don’t pay attention to the added visual clutter, you can hardly tell the difference between the iPhone and the HTC keyboards. The keys feel a bit more cramped together but the autocorrection works well enough that this isn’t a huge issue. HTC does do a great job of hiding the option to disable vibrate on keypress. Contrary to popular belief, disabling haptic feedback will not stop the phone from vibrating anytime you press one of the virtual keys. To do this you need to have the keyboard open, hold down the microphone key until the popup switches to a gear and release the key. Then you can disable the vibrate option, which is too distracting for me.

Build Quality & Touchscreen Display: Worse and Better than the Nexus Snappier & More Polished than the Nexus One
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  • Loser - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    There is something wrong with the weight you have noted there
    130 g (3.6 oz) 130 g (4.6 oz)

    Both 130g? :)
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    Woops, fixed. Thank you :)
  • puffpio - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    I was reading your article, and one part that is slightly incorrect:

    When you use Goggles and look at buildings, but do not actually take the picture...the tags you see at the bottom of the screen are based off your GPS position and compass..it's not doing any image recognition of the scene until you take the pic...

    But it's still cool nonetheless
  • The0ne - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    "I honestly doubt if there are many folks who are on the fence between the two."

    Consumers respond very well to marketing and if the comparison of Incredible to iPhone came down to what you've stated,

    1. UI
    2. Flexibility
    3. Apps

    Then it's great. However, your review of the iPhone, in comparison to this review, has all the "ooohh.....aahhhh" associated with it. Little as it may seem, not to Apples awesome marketing team mind you, your review will persuade some consumers to go for the iPhone instead of others regardless of the factors listed.

    Please do a respectable tech review and leave your personal opinions and comments for a section dedicated to that purpose. Judging by this review I say the phone stinks mainly because there's not cheering from you. We do respect you, I've followed you since you started the site. I don't like the bias "ohh...ahhs" that comes with the reviews.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    A lot of my excitement over the original iPhone has to do with the fact that it was first to deliver the things that made me go ooh and ahh. I'd argue the same is true about Android with features like Goggles. Only Palm has really impressed me in the same manner since then.

    What I was trying to say with that statement is that if a user plays with both devices they'll quickly figure out which type of person they. The two platforms are very polarizing it seems. As I mentioned in the Nexus One Review, there are folks who are totally unimpressed by the iPhone and others who are very disappointed by Android. It largely has to do with the differing approaches to UI design and role the smartphone plays in their respective corporate strategies.

    I stand by my original statement. I believe those who like the iPhone won't find any Android device a suitable replacement. While those who are frustrated by the iPhone's limitations wouldn't dream of anything other than an Android.

    Take care,
  • teohhanhui - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    "While those who are frustrated by the iPhone's limitations wouldn't dream of anything other than an Android."

    There are those who are looking forward to MeeGo...
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    I'm holding back excitement on that one until we see the right combination of hardware/software. But yes, MeeGo could be very good (not to mention forthcoming Palm/HP stuff).

    Take care,
  • T2k - Thursday, May 13, 2010 - link

    MeeGooo? Pleahhhhse.

    Nokia so far managed to blew everything it's got including the super-widespread, #1 OS of the world Symbian - years after years of clueless mismanagement and still nothing from Nokia.

    Nokia is a mess, they just started the third reorganization in 12 months or so... completely clueless MESS and their main dev head just left them recently.

    It's Android, people, nothing else - Symbian is waaay behind especially if you consider the breakneck speed Google is developing Android, iPhone and Apple in general is rapidly becoming completely irrelevant especially when Flash won't even work in it.
    The only question is WebOS - now that HP is behind Palm we might get some surprise competition for Android: real innovation instead of fake re-badging efforts at ripoff prices a' la Apple.
  • The0ne - Monday, May 10, 2010 - link

    Well said.
  • sebmel - Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand, thanks for a great review and contrary to the opinion of 'TheOne' please feel free to express your feelings regarding products. I have read your site for many years, just like 'TheOne' but unlike him I have come to recognise you as someone with intelligence and a good eye for design flair who understands that sometimes the best expression of recognition of design excellence is exactly an ooh or ah.

    I'm a fan of TopGear, the UK car program. I can just imagine the Soviet dullness that would ensue were 'TheOne' to exercise an editorial veto. The show would flounder in a morass of directives on equal time, exactly duplicated lighting and monotone intonation of spec sheets. I also found his request that you do a 'respectable' review an uncalled for snipe.

    It was obvious to any reader that you were enthused about the iPhone because it pushed forward mobile phone OS design significantly. It is also obvious that AnandTech has a number of readers that have difficulty coming to terms with a revitalised Apple corporation and respond to any positive comment with partisan angst. The DailyTech news site you link to unfortunately still thinks its 1990 and regularly trolls for clicks with headlines designed to bait flaming. The result is all to obvious in the ensuing comments.

    So, please don't make your reviews lifelessly unemotional. Express pleasure... express surprise. It means something to your readers that someone who spends so much time using the latest products is occasionally moved to pleasure by the competence of designers or developers. Product designers are not driven to greatness by spec. sheet competition. They only achieve it when they attempt to delight. Jonathan Ive, Apple's designer, regularly repeats that he is as proud of what he leaves out of products as what he has included. It is something that you, Anand, obviously understand. I suspect Ive repeats it as often as he does because there are still so many, raised in the Windows 'just add a buggy new feature, break the old format, and call it a new version' years who do not.

    We are in a new era in which design excellence and not the politics and skulduggery of format wars is becoming essential. Reviews expressing sincere pleasure or disappointment are entirely appropriate to such a market and provide the kind of feedback that manufacturers and developers need in recognition of their efforts. How on earth can one quantify elegance in terms of grams or bytes? I felt the need to confirm to you that you do have readers who understand your emoting such things.

    Keep up the good work.

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