It's a fact: some folks just never got the hang of the touch-screen keyboard. (They're the ones you hear pledging to not give up their BlackBerry phones until you pry them out of their cold, dead hands.) But a compromise may be on the way: the Typo Keyboard Case, a $99 snap-on Bluetooth accessory designed for iPhone 5 and 5S models. The product -- backed by TV personality (and former CNET TV host) Ryan Seacrest -- will be officially debuting at CES 2014 in January, but CNET got a chance to try out a preproduction model (shown here).
The keyboard has the look and feel of a classic BlackBerry, right down to the beveled keys.
The keyboard case snaps on to iPhone 5 and 5S models. The fit was nice and tight, and the entire backside and sides are protected (save the requisite camera/flash opening).
While the keyboard covers the all-important iPhone home button, it's "replaced" by a substitute home button on the bottom-right side of the keyboard. It takes a while to get used to, but it works. Of course, if you're a fan of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S, you're out of luck.
The Typo is charged with a standard micro-USB port on the side. The company says a charge should last 7 to 14 days.
Unlike, say, a Mophie battery pack, the Typo has no physical connection to the iPhone's Lightning port. Instead, it communicates via wireless Bluetooth.
The underside is open to accommodate headphones and a Lightning cable, but it can be a tight fit.
BlackBerry fans will feel right at home with the QWERTY keyboard. But it takes a bit of getting used to because the iPhone's center of gravity is off; it feels top-heavy compared to typing on the screen.