What are Keypad Phones?

S. Gonzales

Keypad phones are cell phones that have physical keypads on the device. Most phones are keypad phones, but keypads can differ in layout. The decision to purchase a standard or QWERTY keypad phone likely will depend on the user's calling, texting, emailing and Internet-browsing habits. It might also be determined by his or her physical capabilities.

Keypad phones have a physical keypad instead of a touchscreen keypad.
Keypad phones have a physical keypad instead of a touchscreen keypad.

Standard and QWERTY keypads are the most common keypad types on cell phones. QWERTY keyboards are laid out like a computer keyboard, and standard keypads can look like what most individuals associate with a phone keypad: four rows of three buttons each, for a total of 12 buttons. The first three rows each have a single number assigned to each button, and the middle button on the last row is designated as the "zero" button. Starting on the button assigned to the number 2, three letters of the alphabet accompany each number. The first button on the top row is usually reserved as a voice mail shortcut button; the button on the left of the bottom row is the asterisk key or star key; and the button on the right of the bottom row is the number sign, pound key or hash key, respectively.

Some people prefer keypads for texting instead of touchscreen phones.
Some people prefer keypads for texting instead of touchscreen phones.

Certain types of keypad phones are more appropriate for specific cell phone habits. For example, cell phone owners who wish to use it only for calls can find that a standard keypad is much easier to use than a QWERTY keypad. Those who anticipate doing a lot of texting, email writing and Internet browsing can find that a QWERTY keyboard is more useful. Both types of keypads can facilitate calls and other advanced functions such as web browsing, but most users have a preference for keypad type. In addition, keypad sizes can vary, and consumers can choose how large they want their keypad phones to be.

A large keypad phone can be useful for cell phone owners who have difficulty seeing or maneuvering their fingers or hands. It might also accommodate individuals with large hands or fingers. Bigger keypads are often chosen by those who are new to cell phones, because they allow the cell phone novice more control of the device.

Some keypad phones can require the use of a stylus; others might offer the stylus as an option. A stylus can relieve a user from the digit and hand stress that can accompany repetitive typing on small keypad phones. It also can help users who have large hands to hit keys with more precision.

Keypad phones also can be illuminated. This helps owners operate them in low-light or no-light scenarios. The light emitting from the keypad phone might even double as an emergency flashlight for some users.

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Discussion Comments


There is a lot to be said for good old physical keyboards on smartphones. A lot of people find it much easier to type on them than on the on-screen keyboards that are rapidly replacing them.

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