The 411: Touch screen or keyboard?

Every two weeks, senior associate editor Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones, smartphones, and all things mobile.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
3 min read

Welcome to the 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at nicole.lee@cnet.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

The Motorola Droid Pro has a touch screen and a keyboard in case you need both.
The Motorola Droid Pro has a touch screen and a keyboard in case you need both. Josh P. Miller/CNET

Question: I'm a Verizon customer, and very soon my upgrade is up. I've had a Motorola Q, and now a BlackBerry Tour, and quite frankly, I love having a QWERTY keyboard without all the slide-out stuff. However, I'm also totally a techie, and while the Motorola Droid Pro seemed like my dream phone at the time, that came out quite a while ago in "cell phone years," and from what I read it was just "OK." I'm thinking I might have to switch to a more touch-screen-based phone, since they get all the best capabilities, but I really don't want to if there is something else on the horizon.

Is there something that I should just wait on that would be more for me, or am I just likely stuck with either the Droid Pro, or a more touch-screen phone like the iPhone (which I will definitely wait for its future versions since Verizon is switching over to 4G, and the current Verizon iPhone is already in a way dated) or one of the many droids?--Jonathan, via e-mail

I wouldn't want to force you to switch to a touch-screen phone if you're not quite ready, but you're right that the touch screen is where it's at if you want a high-end smartphone. Even the Droid Pro that you mentioned has a touch screen in addition to the physical QWERTY keyboard underneath. Personally, I think the touch-screen technology in smartphones is so advanced now that I don't miss having physical buttons. However, this is a personal preference -- I also know people who just need a physical keyboard for one reason or another. This is a decision that you have to come to on your own.

My first instinct is to advise you to get a smartphone that has both a touch-screen display and a QWERTY keyboard, to get a feel of both worlds. As you seem to not like the slider form factor, then yes, the Droid Pro is your only choice since you're a Verizon customer. If you're open to the slider however, you can opt for the Droid 2 Global.

But I would hold off on buying any more phones until the CTIA trade show in late March, which is when many companies announce new phones. Also note that if you're open to phones that don't have keyboards, you could get the upcoming Droid Bionic, the HTC Thunderbolt, LG Revolution, and the oddly named Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone, all of which are the first Verizon phones to ship with 4G LTE. So my advice would be to at least wait until the 4G LTE phones come out, and see what kind of reviews they get before making the final decision.