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9 Portable Bluetooth Keyboards for the iPhone

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The iPhone's revolutionary multitouch screen has proved so popular that it's hard to imagine a smartphone without one. But not everyone loves typing on a screen (that's one reason that the BlackBerry is still popular). While some people have no issue with the onscreen keyboard, others long for a physical option with keys they can feel. It's pretty unlikely that there will ever be an iPhone with a keyboard, but that doesn't mean that people who prefer them are out of luck. These cases provide keyboards for the iPhone that make texting, writing email, and composing text a snap.

1. BoxWave Keyboard Buddy

BoxWave Keyboard Buddy for iPhone
image copyright BoxWave Corp.

BoxWave's Keyboard Buddy case demonstrates one of the most common form factors for these cases: a slab that the iPhone clips into which includes a slide-out keyboard on the bottom. The keyboard, which connects wirelessly via Bluetooth, works with any app where the onscreen keyboard would appear and can be hidden when not in use. It adds 0.75 inches to the thickness of the iPhone, which isn't terrible.

BoxWave offers versions of the case for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, and with and without backlighting on the keys (which is helpful for typing in low-light situations).

List Price: US$89.95

iPhone 5S version
iPhone 5 version
iPhone 4 version

Weight: Unknown
Backlight: Yes (though there's also a non-backlight version)
iPhone 5/5S support: Yes
iPhone 5C support: Unclear
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

2. BoxWave Keyboard Buddy - Vertical Edition

boxwave keyboard for iphone
image copyright BoxWave Corp.

This version of BoxWave's Keyboard Buddy case takes the same basic idea--a slide-out keyboard that is attached to the back of the iPhone--and re-orients it. Instead of sliding out from the side of the iPhone so that it can be used in landscape mode, this keyboard slides out from the bottom, letting you type with the iPhone in portrait mode. Which version you'll prefer depends on how you like to type on your iPhone, but BoxWave is the only company I'm aware of that offers these options.

Because BoxWave makes these keyboards specifically for the iPhone, they include buttons that control iPhone features like screen brightness, media playback, hiding the keyboard, and more.

List Price: $79.95

Weight: Unknown
Backlight: No
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

3. Concord Keystone Swivel Keyboard

Concord Keystone Swivel Keyboard for iPhone
image copyright Concord Keystone Trading LLC

Concord Keystone's Swivel Keyboard takes a different approach to accessing the keyboard. Instead of sliding out from behind the way other portable Bluetooth keyboards for iPhone do, it swivels out, rotating into position.

The Swivel Keyboard is designed for use with a number of devices, so you won't find any iPhone-specific keys on it.

List Price: $39.99

Weight: 2.35 oz
Backlight: No
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

4. Dobi Design Bluetooth Keyboard Case

Dobi Design Bluetooth Keyboard for iPhone
image copyright Dobi Design

Dobi Design's Bluetooth Keyboard Case is an interesting situation. It appears to use the same keyboard as the Concord Keystone Swivel, but is attached to a different case. ThiS situation--The same part being used by multiple companies--will pop up again later in the list.

The difference here is that rather than swivel out from behind the iPhone, Dobi Design's option is a wallet-style case, where the keyboard faces the iPhone when the case is closed and unfolds for use. Getting the fuller case--and, when closed, screen protection--may be appealing, but I wonder how hard it is to type on this case, since it doesn't appear to have any way to keep the iPhone propped in place in your hand.

List Price: $49.99

Weight: Unknown
Backlight: No
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: No
iPhone 4 support: Yes

5. IMOD Backlit Keyboard Case

IMOD Backlit Keyboard Case
image copyright IMOD Co. Ltd.

Only a few of the keyboards on this list are compatible with Apple's iPhone 5 and 5S models, but this is one of them. This keyboard is designed to fit those models smoothly and make holding and using the phone and keyboard enjoyable. The keyboard sports a microUSB port for charging and an on/off switch to conserve power. The manufacturer claims a 2-week battery life on a full charge.

List Price: $29.90

Weight: 7.7 oz
Backlight: Yes
iPhone 5/5S support: Yes
iPhone 5C/4S/4 support: No

6. inature Kiano

inature Kiano iPhone keyboard
image copyright inature Hong Kong Ltd.

inature's Kiano keyboard takes a similar approach to BoxWave's: it's attached to the back of the iPhone and then slides out in landscape mode for use. It hides on the back of the iPhone when not in use. The big--or, rather, small--difference here is that the Kiano isn't the full width of the iPhone. Instead, it looks to be about 85% of that width, meaning that the keys are smaller than on alternatives from competitors like BoxWave and NUU. If you're looking for a keyboard because the onscreen keys are too small for your fingers, the Kiano may not help.

List Price: $99.00

Weight: 2.75 oz
Backlight: Yes
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

7. Minisuit Ultra-Thin Bluetooth Qwerty Keyboard Case

Minisuit Ultra-Thin Bluetooth Qwerty Keyboard Case
image copyright Minisuit

Minisuit's keyboard case offers a pair of things many other keyboards don't: support for the iPhone 5/5S and an integrated stand. Similar to the IMOD case, this model includes an on/off switch to conserve battery life. But where it differentiates itself is its built-in stand that allows the user to prop the iPhone at an angle for easy viewing.

List Price: $59.95

Weight: 6.5 oz
Backlight: Yes
iPhone 5/5S support: Yes
iPhone 5C/4S/4 support: No

8. NUU MiniKey

NUU MiniKey iPhone keyboard
image copyright NUU Ltd.

NUU's MiniKey is a lot like the BoxWave and Kiano models: it clips onto the back of the iPhone and offers a keyboard that slides out when in use and can be hidden when not. Like those models, it also requires that you use the iPhone in landscape mode. It offers backlighting, but doesn't have any iPhone-specific keys.

One nice feature of the MiniKey is that it's one model that works for both the iPhone 4S and 4, rather than having a different model keyboard for each phone.

List Price: $59.00

Weight: 3.2 ounces
Backlight: Yes
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

Compare Prices

9. OEM Slider Keyboard

OEM Slider Keyboard for iPhone

This one is a little tricky, since you'll see a keyboard that looks a lot like this for sale under many brand names. As far as I can tell, that's because this is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Bluetooth keyboard that companies buy and import, then put their own names on and sell. If I'm wrong about this, I'd appreciate it if any of the companies listed here contacted me.

This keyboard is another model that clips onto the iPhone and slides in and out for use. It doesn't have a backlight, but does offer a single accessory that works with both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. It has shortcut keys for home and Spotlight.

Sold under the following brands: Concord Keystone, EStand, iMounTek, Ion, Hipstreet, Naztech

List Price: $49.99-$79.99

Weight: 2.8 oz
Backlight: No
iPhone 5/5C/5S support: No
iPhone 4S support: Yes
iPhone 4 support: Yes

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