It’s easy to dismiss a phone with a physical keyboard as “old,” but don’t. The BlackBerry Key2 is as modern as smartphones get, and the keyboard does a whole lot more than simply put words on the screen. However, swapping from a virtual keyboard on a full touchscreen phone — which the majority of us use today — is not only daunting, but actually quite a challenge.
Don’t panic, and don’t let it put you off. Practice on your Key2 makes perfect. Here is our quick guide to learning how to type like a pro on the BlackBerry Key2, with some helpful hints to make swapping from a virtual keyboard to a physical one more pleasant than you may fear.
Learn to hold your phone
Sounds silly, doesn’t it; but you may need to retrain your muscles the first few times you hold the BlackBerry Key2. While the phone is better weighted than the KeyOne, it’s still different than holding an iPhone or another Android phone. You’re going to have to experiment. Move it around in your hand, shift the position of your fingers, and your hand will gradually get used to its new position.
Pro tip: If it’s really proving difficult, stick a Popsocket on the back. We gave it a try because the adjustment was initially quite hard, and the stick-on grip helps you balance the phone without too much strain on your fingers. It definitely made a difference and stopped any fears of losing a grip on our shiny new Key2 as well. Think of it like BlackBerry training wheels.
You have been typing on a virtual keyboard for years and relying on autocorrect probably more than you think. Going from this to actually pressing physical keys is jarring, and here is something you won’t want to hear: You’re going to make mistakes and it’s going to be frustrating.
The key (sorry) to improving is to slow down. You’re typing on a new keyboard, likely one you haven’t used before, and relearning how to type quickly is part of the process. Stop your fingers dancing over the keys, like you did on the virtual keyboard and make slower, more precise movements. Speed will come over time, and it will arrive with improved accuracy as a special bonus.
Predictive text on the BlackBerry Key2 (and the KeyOne) is fast, intelligent, and very powerful, all because of a single swipe. The Key2’s keyboard is capacitive so it operates like a touchscreen, and you can swipe corrected words from the list provided right into your conversation.
It’s accurate, and you can “type” responses almost solely by swiping the words the Key2 predicts, rather than actually typing. To do it, you run your thumb up the keyboard under the predicted word you want to insert. Learn to use this early on, and it’ll minimize any frustration you’re feeling about the time it takes to type out a message.
Pro tip: Swiping is quick, but if your finger is close enough, you can tap those predicted words too. If you do, look out for words with three dots underneath. Tap and hold those words to see other words that would potentially fit. For example, if “The” is predicted, it’ll also show words like, “Is,” “For,” “And,” and “Your.”
You’ll find words that are related to the sentence you’re typing too. If you type “Test,” then “Results,” may appear in the same menu. Again, it’s all about regaining speed after swapping from a virtual keyboard.
Hold keys, and use the Sym shortcut
Most of the time, the only special characters we use in messages are capital letters, punctuation, and things like a hashtag or currency symbol. You can use the Alt key to access special characters already assigned to each key and shown in grey, or the Shift key to get capital letters.
Don’t do this. Learning shortcuts and fast actions is an important part of BlackBerry ownership, and one of the first things to get to grips with is the alternative way to get all these keys without pressing many other keys first.
Hold down each key to get the capital letter, which is much faster than finding the shift key or accidentally pressing the Alt key in your haste. To get the symbols, press the Sym key and a virtual keyboard appears on the screen, showing all the available symbols. If you can’t see the one you want, press Sym again and more will show up. Tap the one you want. Press the Sym button a third time and the virtual keyboard disappears.
Pro tip: Looking for special characters used in languages other than English? You’ll find them with a long press on the appropriate key. Hold down the “E” key to find “é,” for example.
Emoji, clipboard, and voice
There are times when only an emoji will do; but where are they hidden? There is a comprehensive menu with all this and more, which is accessed by tapping the three horizontal lines on the left of the predictive words that appear on the screen.
Tap it, and the first option from the left, which looks like a microphone, activates voice input. Move along towards the right and the second is for emoji, while the central button is to return to the keyboard. The first icon to the right from here brings up a cursor control for the screen, and the final button is for the clipboard.
Pro tip: Sometimes the Key2’s virtual keyboard will show up over the screen content, even when you want to type on the physical key. To ensure this doesn’t happen, go to Settings > Languages & Input, and then Current Keyboard. Tap the slider next to Show Virtual Keyboard to turn it off.
Some of you will need access to a second keyboard when typing, and these can be added and accessed easily on your Key2. You can also use either BlackBerry’s alternate keyboards, or Google’s keyboards.
Here’s how to get BlackBerry’s alternate language keyboards. Go to Settings > Language & Input and tap Languages. Tap Add a Language, and scroll through the list until you find the one you want.
To select it during typing, hold down the spacebar and pick the language you want. We selected Japanese, and provided you download the dictionary when prompted, the predictive text works in the same way as it does in any other language.
If you install a second Google keyboard, it can also be used. Again, go to Settings > Language & Input, and activate the keyboard under Keyboard Settings. To select it when typing, hold down the Alt key and at the same time press the Enter key. Each subsequent press of the Enter key will cycle through the available keyboards.
Practice makes perfect
That is our introductory tips on how to get started with your BlackBerry Key2 keyboard, which has been built with the classic BlackBerry Bold 9900 in mind. These tips should speed up the process of swapping to a physical keyboard after years of experience on a virtual keyboard. Now, it’s time to practice, as that is the only way you will improve here. Push past the frustration too, it doesn’t last long, and you’ll be well on your way to physical keyboard nirvana.
We’ll be back with advanced keyboard tips soon, so get practicing.