Show several different smartphone models to the gadget-naive, and you’re likely to find that they identify some WP7 devices as Androids, Androids as WP7 models, or more likely, think every smartphone’s an iPhone. Even for someone with just a cursory understanding of the world of smartphones, there’s a good chance they’d recognize a BlackBerry for what it is; despite some slight variations with models like the Torch or Storm, RIM has succeeded in maintaining an easily-recognizable hardware profile. That’s why it seems so surprising to hear the latest RIM rumor, that the company is toying with the notion of landscape-layout hardware keyboards.
While landscape QWERTY sliders are the norm for most smartphones with full keyboards, RIM has yet to embrace the design. According to tipsters to N4BB, however, the company is supposedly testing out how users react to such an input method on a BlackBerry. A landscape keyboard clearly gives you more space with which to work, and logically, larger keys. Then again, a portrait keyboard has the advantage that, slider or not, you can quickly engage it without swiveling your phone ’round to use it.
There’s no indication RIM has any solid plans to adopt a landscape keyboard in a future device, but do you think it’s something the company should take a shot at? Or, is the tiny portrait keyboard part of the BlackBerry charm, and changing it would cause some major brand identity problems?