The advance press on the iPhone generally held that the quality of the onscreen keyboard was going to be one of the most important factors in the success of the device, if not the single most important.
The keyboard was crucial, of course, because unlike other smartphones or integrated devices, there is no physical keyboard on the iPhone, no tiny button to give real feedback when you click it. Early reviews said that the iPhone’s keyboard is very good, but not perfect, and after three days of using the phone, I generally agree.
Typing on the iPhone is an interesting experience. In lieu of the physical feedback of keys, you get visual feedback — the key you select enlarges. Typing in most situations is a mixed bag. Typing with a single finger, while holding the iPhone in your other hand, is fast and very accurate after only a tiny bit of practice. On the other hand, so to speak, when I hold the iPhone in both hands and try to type with my thumbs (which I would assume should be faster than with just my index finger), my accuracy is lower.
The iPhone’s keyboard takes some getting used to. Knowing where to put your finger in order to select just the right key isn’t an exact science, but it’s not bad.
Generally the keyboard is limited to the portrait orientation of the phone. However, when using the Safari web browser, you can turn the iPhone into landscape orientation and get the keyboard in that format, too. Here, the keyboard gets a bit bigger, and thus much better. Typing with both thumbs is fast, accurate, and easy.
Overall, the typing experience is pretty good and shouldn’t cause many people to dump the phone in frustration.
As a writer, though, I’ll never be able to type on the iPhone as fast as I can on a regular keyboard. I’m still holding out strong hopes that an accessory maker will release an iPhone keyboard that interfaces through the dock connector or Bluetooth that will let me turn the iPhone into a true laptop replacement.