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Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ Keyboard Cover


Hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus Keyboard Cover

  • Samsung Keyboard Cover release date: Q4 2015
  • Samsung Keyboard Cover price: £TBC
  • Samsung Keyboard Cover key features: Adds physical keyboard to Note 5, S6 Edge+, No need for Bluetooth, Won’t run out of battery

One
of the more left-field products released by Samsung
over the past years is the keyboard case that’s available for the
brand’s latest phablet flasghips, the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+.

Imagine
the keyboard of an old BlackBerry, but attached to the body of one of
Samsung’s 5.7-inch devices. It caused quite the stir when it was first
shown off last month, but I’ve finally managed to get some hands-on time
with it. And I really don’t get it.

First off, it’s not the best-looking product Samsung has crafted. Even though the Korean company’s
latest slew of phones has been built from glass and metal, the keyboard
cover harks back to the plastic days of the Galaxy S4 and S5.

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It
slips onto the phone, covering the back – actually giving a nice added
bit of protection to guard against scratches or cracks to the glass –
and the keyboard sits about halfway over the display. The software
knows when it’s attached and shrinks down the UI, though I find that makes text
way too small. It’s still legible, but only just.

While most
keyboards that attach to mobile devices connect via Bluetooth, Samsung’s effort doesn’t. In fact all it does is press down over the virtual keyboard that
pops up normally. Remember the old Sony Ericsson P800 and its short-lived descendants.

This has benefits, notably that it doesn’t
need charging and you don’t need to have Bluetooth always enabled on
your phone, but it means it has to be much bigger so it covers all of the
keys. As a result, it hangs slightly over the edges of the phone and makes the design seem even less impressive.

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But
looks I can forgive, if this 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 prefer the feel of tactile keys over
virtual ones. Samsung has managed to create something that looks
similar, but it doesn’t offer that satisfying feeling that used to come with
typing on a BlackBerry.

The plastic keys are soft and mushy, with
little give when tapped. There isn’t a tactile feeling, just a
shallow squelch. Typing out a message results in plenty of typographical errors and I
have to hit the tiny ‘X’ button far more than I like.

Even more
annoying is that you can’t just start typing from the homescreen to initiate
a Google search. This seems like an obvious inclusion, especially with
the Search widget ever present on the Android homescreen, so I’m not sure
why Samsung decided against building it in.

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I
guess, if you spend your days using it then you’ll get used to the
keys. And once you’ve mastered it then maybe you’ll save a few seconds.
But is it worth ruining the look of the gorgeous Note 5? Not in my eyes.

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Early Verdict

I could forgive the design missteps with the Samsung Keyboard Case if the functionality impressed, but it just doesn’t. Mushy, tightly packed keys, a plastic construction and some odd software choices combine to create an accessory that lacks the polish I’ve come to expect from the new, design-focused Samsung.

One for die-hard QWERTY keyboard lovers, I think. Hopefully the final production samples will be an improvement.

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