Users who would love nothing more than an iPhone with a physical keyboard should take a look at the BoxWave Keyboard Buddy case.
The BoxWave Keyboard Buddy case adds a physical keyboard to the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, allowing users to transition from a Blackberry or a Motorola Droid. This is also a good option to look at for users with long fingernails who have trouble typing on the flat surface of the iPhone.
This iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S keyboard offers a four row backlit keyboard complete with arrow keys. The BoxWave Keyboard Buddy connects to the iPhone via Bluetooth, so it is not a major drain to the iPhone battery.
The BoxWave Keyboard Buddy adds thickness to the iPhone, but thanks to the curved corners and soft back it still slides in a pocket and feels decent while taking calls or using the iPhone with the keyboard closed.
Overall, the case feels about as thick as a Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone battery case. The spring-loaded keyboard snaps out with a flick, and disappears just as fast. The case holds the iPhone 4S snug, and offers access to the dock, camera, headphone jack and all buttons.
The keyboard on the BoxWave Keyboard Buddy case is decent. The keyboard isn’t as nice as the laser cut keyboard on the Motorola Droid 4, which is the best I’ve used, but it delivers a good typing experience. Compared to an Android phone with a keyboard it feels similar to the Motorola Droid 2.
The keys are well spaced and BoxWave uses a soft rubber-like coating on the keys. It should come as no surprise that the keys don’t offer much travel, given the slim profile of the case, but there is a satisfying click when pressed. The backlighting is even and not overpowering.
The spacebar is tougher to press than the rest of the keys, resulting in several missed spaces while typing, but it’s my experience that this issue is one that most users adapt to over several weeks of use as I did with past Android phones with physical keyboards.
Using the keyboard with the iPhone 4S in the case is easy, though the combo can become top-heavy if holding the lower lip of the keyboard.
In addition to the standard keys, the physical iPhone keyboard offers a home button and a keyboard button. The keyboard button is one I came to appreciate rather quickly. Not all iPhone apps switch to landscape, and sometimes the on-screen keyboard is enough. Instead of turning the case off or disabling Bluetooth, tapping this button switches to the on-screen keyboard.
BoxWave claims the battery lasts two weeks on a single charge, rechargeable with a Micro USB port on the bottom of the case. Based on my usage this claim seems accurate.
Overall the BoxWave Keyboard Buddy iPhone 4S case offers a good typing experience for users that need a physical keyboard, but want to use an iPhone. I type faster on the iPhone screen thanks to auto correct and a year of on-screen typing, but for those who prefer a physical keyboard, the BoxWave Keyboard Buddy is a good option.
The BoxWave Keyboard Buddy is available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and there is a model coming with support for the iPhone 5. BoxWave offers the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S Keyboard Buddy for $79.95 and the iPhone 5 model is available for pre-order for $89.95.