Hands-on: Is this bonkers accessory for real?
Hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ Keyboard Cover
One of the more left-fields products, or accessories, released by Samsung over the past few years has been the keyboard case for the brand’s latest phablet flagships: the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+.
Looking rather like the keyboard of an old BlackBerry handset, but attached to the body of one of Samsung’s 5.7in devices, it caused quite a stir when it was first shown off last month. I’ve finally managed to get some hands-on time with it – and I really don’t get it.
Firstly, it isn’t the best-looking product that Samsung has crafted. Although the Korean company’s latest slew of phones have been built from glass and metal, the keyboard cover harks back to the days of the plasticky Galaxy S4 and S5.
Related: Samsung Galaxy Note 6
It slips onto the phone, covering its rear – which on the plus side actually provides added protection against scratches or cracks to the glass. The keyboard sits about half way over the display, and the software will recognise that it’s attached and shrink down the UI accordingly. I find it makes text way too small – it’s still readable, but only just.
While most keyboards that attach to mobile devices work via Bluetooth, this isn’t the case with Samsung’s keyboard cover. In fact, it merely presses down over the virtual keyboard that pops up normally.
This has benefits, notably that it doesn’t need charging or require Bluetooth to be always enabled on your phone. However, it also means that the keyboard cover needs to be big enough to cover all of the keys. As a result, it hangs slightly over the edges of the phone.
Poor looks can be forgiven if it seriously improves the typing experience. I remember, fondly, the days when I could knock out a text message on my old BlackBerry Curve in a matter of seconds. I knew all the shortcuts, tips and tricks and I still think I prefer the feel of tactile keys over virtual ones.
Although Samsung has managed to create a keyboard that looks similar, it doesn’t offer the satisfaction that used to come with typing on a BlackBerry.
The plastic keys are soft and mushy, with little give. Typing out a message results in plenty of typos and I had to hit the tiny “X” button far more than I like.
Even more annoying is that it isn’t possible to initiate a Google search by just typing from the homescreen. This should have been an obvious inclusion, especially with the Search widget ever present on the Android homescreen. I’m not sure why Samsung decided against building it in.
I guess that typing on it day in, day out will result in you becoming accustomed to it. And once you’ve mastered it then maybe you’ll save a few seconds. But is it worth ruining the gorgeous looks of the Note 5? I don’t think so.