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iPhone Chart   (Source: Image Via User Centric)

iPhone Time Chart  (Source: Image Via User Centric)
Study shows iPhone on-screen keypad is twice as slow for texting as QWERTY keypad phones

One of the largest complaints posed by new iPhone users is the efficiency of the onscreen keyboard. According to a new study potential iPhone users can now at least quantify that complaint.

User Centric, a usability study group, unveiled the results of its iPhone study today conducted with 20 participants aimed at determining if the iPhone’s touch sensitive onscreen keyboard was as effective as traditional QWERTY keyboard or multitap messaging phones.

The study participants had never used an iPhone and were considered to be heavy text message senders defined as sending at least 15 text messages per week. Out of the twenty participants, ten owned phones with QWERTY keypads and ten owned phones with numeric keypads that used multitap to get the correct characters.

User Centric brought participants in for one-on-one time with a moderator for each of the tests. The test consisted of sending 12 standard text messages created for use in the study with each of the messages being between 104 and 106 characters long. Six of the messages contained instances of proper capitalization, while six had no capitalization and used some abbreviations.

Since none of the participants were iPhone owners, they were each given one minute to get familiar with the touch keypad. This study intended to show the decrease in productivity a new iPhone owner would see if they went from their current phone to the iPhone.

The study concluded that participants that normally used a phone with a QWERTY keypad took almost twice as long to enter the same text messages with the iPhone as they did with their normal phone. Participants who normally used a numeric multitap phone took nearly the same length of time to enter text messages on the iPhone.

“For QWERTY users, texting was fast and accurate. But when they switched to the iPhone, they were frustrated with the touch sensitive keyboard," said Jen Allen, Usability Specialist, User Centric.

Also noted in the study is the fact that many participants hit the wrong keys on the iPhone’s onscreen keyboard and the errors were typically corrected by using the backspace key to delete characters one at a time because of difficulty getting the cursor inserted correctly in the middle of text. Only seven study participants figured out how to use the iPhone’s corrective text feature on their own. Improvement with accuracy while using the iPhone after 30 minutes was noted, but the difference in speed between QWERTY phones and the iPhone persisted.

I have used the iPhone for about as long as the study participants while fiddling with a friends iPhone and using it at the Apple store. I fully agree with the inaccuracy of the keyboard. My fingers were too large and the keys were to close together for me to hit them accurately at any speed. I wished more than once for a stylus to hit the keys with.

"It's important to consider the changes a person has to make when they switch to the iPhone," said Gavin Lew, Managing Director at User Centric. "It should be easy for people to do common tasks, such as text messaging, using the iPhone's less traditional touch interface."

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Ridiculous study
By zzebi on 8/16/2007 10:17:42 PM , Rating: 5
So let's recap:
They asked some experienced QWERTY keyboard users (who have never used iPhone before) to type messages first with with QWERTY keyboard and then with the iPhone. Honestly ... does the result surprise anyone?
It is simply ridiculous to bash the iPhone keyboard based on this study.
Actually they have only proved something everyone already knew: people use devices more efficiently if they are familiar with them.

RE: Ridiculous study
By kkwst2 on 8/16/2007 11:06:39 PM , Rating: 3
OK, let's recap.

Apple users for years have touted the ease at which you can just pick up and use their products. When I show my Mac friends that I can do most tasks twice as fast as they can with keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures, they balk. "I don't want to have to learn that crap".

Now, a study comes along that suggests that the new Apple device is a pain in the ass to learn, and it's immediately dismissed? Is the study perfect? No. Does it make a point? Sure. If I were using my device to email or text for 30 minutes and still fumbling around with it, I'd be fuming and cursing for sure.

This will all be moot of course once my thought translator interface is perfected!

RE: Ridiculous study
By w3stfa11 on 8/16/07, Rating: -1
RE: Ridiculous study
By doorind on 8/17/07, Rating: -1
RE: Ridiculous study
By spluurfg on 8/17/2007 5:54:16 AM , Rating: 3
I think the most useful result of the study is that multitap users will be able to make the transition to the iphone more easily, where as qwerty users may be slower.

"This study intended to show the decrease in productivity a new iPhone owner would see if they went from their current phone to the iPhone."

I think it's just supposed to show ease of transition for different groups of users. However, the study was laughably small (20 person sample) and they were given only one minute to familiarize themselves with the iphone. This experiment is nothing approaching statistically ideal.

RE: Ridiculous study
By MobileZone on 8/17/2007 6:07:23 AM , Rating: 4
Does anyone remember the HAMBURGER-SHAPED MOUSE?

Oh gosh... after 1 year trying to get used to it, I had to give up. It was very a cute device, though.

RE: Ridiculous study
By kmmatney on 8/17/2007 3:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it was hockey-puck shaped, not hamburger shaped...

RE: Ridiculous study
By AntDX316 on 8/18/2007 8:27:13 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Ridiculous study
By xphile on 8/21/2007 8:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think the word you're both struggling to come up with is "circular" :-).

RE: Ridiculous study
By Googer on 8/18/2007 2:17:09 PM , Rating: 2
This must be the one you are talking about:,1205,l=203...

RE: Ridiculous study
By daBKLYNdoorman on 8/17/2007 10:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
The study should be about which keyboard is easier to get used to. It should test Apple products if they really are easy to get used to and compare them to a QWERTY keyboard.

Personally, I tested out the iPhone myself at a local AT&T store and I have to admit that it was a pain to use. However, I'm guessing that in a few years, Apple will perfect their keyboard so it is easier to use... how the company will perfect it, I don't know. But what I do know is that when a new and radical product comes onto the market, people have trouble getting used to it, just like with the iPhone.

RE: Ridiculous study
By BMFPitt on 8/16/2007 11:27:30 PM , Rating: 4
They asked some experienced QWERTY keyboard users (who have never used iPhone before)
If Steve Jobs build al all-star text messaging team to face off against 10 random QWERTY users, I think the iPhone would still lose.

It's there to be flashy and trendy, not to be efficient or productive.

RE: Ridiculous study
By Lord 666 on 8/16/2007 11:41:15 PM , Rating: 3
I've had a Treo 600, 650, and 700P over the course of three years. Played with the iPhone for the first time tonight, giving special attention to the keyboard use.

The iPhone keyboard is simply too small. One of the hardest keys to push was the 9; the 0 kept on being pressed. I send at least 50 text messages a day with the Treo 700P, not including emails. There is no way I could keep my sanity using the iPhone with that amount of usage.

Glad AT&T has working demo units to try.

RE: Ridiculous study
By ninjit on 8/17/2007 12:49:21 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, it is too small, even for averaged size fingers.

But I think that problem can be solved along with the one other main complaint I have (and others I've talked to) of the iPhone:

Landscape mode should be applicable to ALL the iPhone applications, not just web-browsing and media player modes.

If you use the keyboard in the landscape web-browser (i.e. to type in a url) it is much much easier to use.

Yet for some reason, Apple decided not to extend landscape mode to the other iPhone functions.

Another stupid example is PDF viewing: if you view a PDF on the web you can read it in landscape mode because it's working through the browser - however if you open a PDF you have saved on the phone itself, you're stuck with portrait mode.

At least in the PDF example its obvious it can work in both orientations, so it's been artificially crippled.

RE: Ridiculous study
By kkevin6154 on 8/17/2007 10:44:54 AM , Rating: 3
I completely agree. That's the first thing I said as well. "Why doesn't the keyboard switch to landscape. It would be A LOT easier to type on then." Let's hope they put that feature into the next generation.....and of course release it to other carriers. The next gen better have more than that as well. Like 3G & EVDO. Screw EDGE.

RE: Ridiculous study
By onereddog on 8/24/2007 12:00:21 AM , Rating: 2
I think the problem with the landscape thing is that if you see someone turning their Iphone in all sorts of directions in typical task situations it would seem cumbersome.
I phone is always displayed upwards in neat elegant designs, so people who don't follow forums wot know of any problems with it will think that that is what it is meant to be.

RE: Ridiculous study
By hightechadrian on 8/18/07, Rating: 0
RE: Ridiculous study
By afkrotch on 8/22/2007 11:57:55 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, sounds like a fanboy to me. Me, I like having buttons that I can tell are buttons. Why? Cause after I get use to the phone, I'm still not fumbling about, trying to figure out which button I'm pushing or if I even pushed the button or not.

That's the great thing about old non-touchscreen cellphones. As you can feel the buttons, you don't need to look at them to confirm. iPhone. Can you run your finger from the top of the cellphone to the bottom without accidentally pressing a button? I can with my $50 TKS Samsung or my old $80 NTT Docomo P901is.

Oh, my old Docomo phone came with camera, video camera, music playing, video playing, gps, ability to use as credit card, ability to use as train pass, ability to unlock doors, ability to control my tv (via IR), internet, email, memory card slot, user replaceable batteries, and some PDA features also built-in.

Mine was an older model, so it didn't come with the 3 meg internet connection, like the newer model phones. I could have gone with one of the TV capable phones, but I didn't like the design of the phone, so didn't bother. I prefered the customizable face covers.

Me, I don't care who made the phone. I look at the phone's looks, features, and price.

What my old one looked like.

Ya, now I have this TKS Samsung phone (German company). Ahhhhh...I miss my old Japanese cellphone. I still have it, but I can't unlock it to use overhear, even though it's a 3G phone and rocks a Sim card.

By Gul Westfale on 8/16/2007 10:18:36 PM , Rating: 5
everybody who is surprised that a flat greasy screen is slower than an actual keypad please raise your hand. nobody? that's what i thought.

RE: everybody...
By daftrok on 8/16/2007 11:33:32 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed. I personally would not have minded a slider keyboard on the side and adding a 1/4" thickness to the phone, but that's just me. Frankly I'm not satisfied with any multimedia cellphone out there (iPhone included, but they got close). I want a 4.3" 16:9 aspect ratio 480p LED screen. I want a decent internal HDD (seriously, just put four 8GB micro SD cards in there and be done with it). And I don't want to be bounded with iTunes and video codec incompatibility. Is this seriously that much to ask for? The iPhone was getting warmer but decided half way to just stop. Now if the iPhone had boot camp that loaded Windows Mobile 5 (and Mobile 6) and included it when it came out and the things I talked about before, AND made just one 32GB model for $399.99 and not bounding it to AT&T, smart phones out there would have been really fucked.

RE: everybody...
By seeker353 on 8/16/2007 11:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
A 4.3" 16:9 480p screen?? That's only a .112 millimeter pixel. I don't think we can make screens that small yet. It's like asking for a 9.7" 1080p HDTV. Not saying that it'd wouldn't be nice though...

RE: everybody...
By daftrok on 8/17/2007 12:53:58 AM , Rating: 2
If they can make a 3.5" 480p screen (its on the iPhone, look at their specs) they can make a 4.3" 480p screen

RE: everybody...
By daftrok on 8/17/2007 12:56:09 AM , Rating: 2
Gah nvmd I forgot its portrait. Lemme be more specific: I meant 480x272, like on the PSP, but LED instead of LCD. DAILYTECH PLEASE LET US EDIT OUR POSTS

RE: everybody...
By spluurfg on 8/17/2007 8:16:30 AM , Rating: 2
How about this?

5" screen, 640x480, touchscreen and qwerty... with 3mp autofocus camera... at $850 cash, it isn't a whole lot more expensive, considering you don't need a contract =P

RE: everybody...
By theapparition on 8/17/2007 8:37:36 AM , Rating: 2
I've have a 640x480p screen on my Axim x51v. It's 3:4, but that still comes out very close to .112 mil pixels at .127 mil. And that device is getting 2-3years old. I'm sure they have higher density pixels now. So yes, I think its very possible.

RE: everybody...
By Suomynona on 8/17/2007 10:46:18 AM , Rating: 2
Very possible and very preferable, too. I have an Axim x50v, and browsing the internet is pretty painful even with the high-res (for a PDA or phone) screen. I'm sure the iPhone does a better job as far as their browser goes compared to IE for PPC, but it still sucks to have an internet-centric device that forces you to scroll excessively to view most websites. As far as I'm concerned, 1024 horizontal pixels is the bare minimum for a comfortable internet experience.

RE: everybody...
By seeker353 on 8/17/2007 6:56:54 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the calculator I used says .117 for the Axim (3.7" 4:3 640x480). Either way I stand corrected. I guess it's time to roll out some 10" 1080p portable Blu-ray/HD-DVD players, lol.

RE: everybody...
By retrospooty on 8/17/2007 8:59:26 AM , Rating: 2
"everybody who is surprised that a flat greasy screen is slower than an actual keypad please raise your hand. nobody? that's what i thought."

Exactly... If you are an email or text addict, or just need to use those functions heavily for your job, you didn't buy an iPhone, it wasn't made for you, and it doesn't interface with MS Exchange, or Blackberry servers (which rules out 99% of companies out there). If you did buy it expecting a touch screen (even a really great touch screen) to be the same speed as a real tactile keyboard you are not too bright.

RE: everybody...
By mcnabney on 8/17/2007 1:46:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the iPhone target market is the heavy email and text user.

RE: everybody...
By retrospooty on 8/17/2007 5:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't mean to imply Apple wasn't going for that market, surely they are. I just meant that anyone that heavily relies on typing long or many messages (email or text) on their phone would be using a Qwerty keyboard model like Treo, Blackberry, Q or one of many others. A touch screen cannot compete.

RE: everybody...
By afkrotch on 8/23/2007 12:31:10 AM , Rating: 2
iPhone was marketed towards the trendy dumbass phone user. You know, the kind that likes to pay a lot of money for a mediocre phone.

Don't tell me it's not mediocre. All the iPhone is, is an iPod with crappy phone capabilities, while at the same time, not implementing many features of other cellphones on the market. Hello!?! Camera anyone? Ya, we all know cellphone cameras, for the most part suck, but that doesn't mean we don't use them at all.

RE: everybody...
By AlexWade on 8/17/2007 9:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
In a related study, scientists found that the sun is very hot.

Please, why do we actually do common sense studies?

15 a week!?
By BillyBatson on 8/17/2007 7:17:00 AM , Rating: 2
The study participants had never used an iPhone and were considered to be heavy text message senders defined as sending at least 15 text messages per week

How is 15 text a week considered heavy text message sending? I send/receive 3000-5000 txt a month and on average send out as many as 150 txt a day.

RE: 15 a week!?
By pjpizza on 8/17/2007 7:37:55 AM , Rating: 5
Good for you ;)

RE: 15 a week!?
By Gul Westfale on 8/17/2007 9:26:36 AM , Rating: 5
why do you send out thousands of text messages when you are already holding a telephone in your hand?

RE: 15 a week!?
By BillyBatson on 8/17/2007 9:52:38 PM , Rating: 2
I prefer txt messaging to calling people when it comes to conversations, it is SO much easier and faster especially when you don't want to be locked into a oconversation or are doing other thigns such as listening to music, hanging out with friends, etc. I only make phone calls when I need to clarify somethign that was said in txt or for short convos like "hey I am outside," or for directons where txting offers to much of a lag.

RE: 15 a week!?
By afkrotch on 8/23/2007 12:34:49 AM , Rating: 2
You do know that a long conversation turns pretty short, when you are actually using the cellphone to talk.

If you're messages aren't time sensitive, then you can just wait until you get home to email them. At least, then you'll have a full size keyboard to work with.

I only txt, when I couldn't reach them by phone. I don't like leaving voice mail, nor do I even know how to access voice mail on my own phone.

RE: 15 a week!?
By sacgary on 8/18/2007 2:04:44 AM , Rating: 1
"I send/receive 3000-5000 txt a month and on average send out as many as 150 txt a day."

Holy Shit Batman! Do you have a life outside of text messaging?

I bet your Daddy's phone bill for that many text messages aggravates his hemorrhoids!

baised study
By alwaysacritic on 8/16/2007 11:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
who paid for the study??

an academic test to determine the optimum input interface would have been useful. get 20 folks with no prior experience with any device.

RE: baised study
By carbocraver on 8/18/2007 11:00:07 AM , Rating: 3
Looks like it was an internal study.

The FAQ says they already tested with iPhone users after they used it for a week. Then they were better at texting on the iPhone than their old non-QWERTY phones.

Maybe it's easier to adjust to the iPhone if you come from a regular mobile because you haven't gotten used to a QWERTY keyboard on your phone?

Texting is fine on my iPhone but maybe I'd have more issues if I'd switched from a Treo to an iPhone.

Beep beep beep
By KingofFah on 8/17/2007 4:30:01 AM , Rating: 5
"The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now."

AutoComplete - Blows
By StraightPipe on 8/17/2007 4:37:49 AM , Rating: 2
I had some problems with it. First of all, it would not type the word 'metallica' it seemed to think I ment another word; and there was no way to type a space without accepting the autocomplete. It was quite frustrating.

(Not to mention, I have fat thumbs)

The funniest (and most frustrating) was when I used Google Maps to zoom into my home town. I used two fingers in a spreading gesture to zoom in repeatedly, but shortly after I hit the state level, I slingshot off the map, and ended up in Mississippi. It would usually send me off a state or two. I'd have to zoom out, recenter and try again, and again, and again.

It took 10 minutes to get to my house, without searching (thus avoiding the shvtty keyboard, that sucks at predicting addresses or email addresses).

After 2 weeks, I sold it.

RE: AutoComplete - Blows
By psychobriggsy on 8/17/2007 12:49:13 PM , Rating: 3
> there was no way to type a space without accepting the autocomplete.

You tap on the suggested word which has a red X by it to cancel the suggestion.

After that the word you typed is added to the dictionary.

I don't even have an iPhone and I know that. It's in Apple's videos on their website, and has been since before the launch, and the UI looks rather obvious too.

Now whether having to stretch to cancel the suggestion is the fastest thing to do is another issue entirely, and one that will hopefully be fixed as feedback returns to apple over time.

As other people above have said,

(1) the on-screen keyboard needs to work in landscape mode in all applications,

(2) someone needs to make a proper mobile keyboard that plugs into the iPhone's data port and

(3) the study is rather pointless, all it points out is that if you are a seasoned phone typist, moving to the iPhone will result in slower results initially.

A better report would have had the above, PLUS: tests for which is the fastest when everyone in the study has no experience - I would bet that keypad texting and T9 would come out slowest, iPhone second, and micro-keyboards fastest initially. PLUS: 1 month experience tests, to see if people get faster once they are accustomed to the iPhone keyboard.

Flawed Research
By MADAOO7 on 8/16/2007 10:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, what a poorly designed study. Obviously, those familiar with a Blackberry-esque QWERTY keyboard are going to type faster on something they are familiar with. Apple doesn't hide the fact that their keyboard takes getting used to. After you do, it's just as fast. THis study is almost as stupid as doing a study on drivers using manuel vs. automatic shifting. At first you'll be slow and stall out during the learning period, but after you fully understand the shifting, you'll be much faster than someone with automatic.

RE: Flawed Research
By Gul Westfale on 8/16/2007 10:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
but are macintosh owners smart enough to learn how to shift?

sarcasm aside, it takes more "keystrokes" on the iphone to type certain characters than on many "normal" keypads. add to this zero tactile feedback, and you are looking at a slow method of data entry. i always saw this as the main flaw of my old palm tungsten E: it's a nice machine for movies, music, and the occasional organiser stuff, but data entry flat out sucks, no matter how you try to do it. thus i haven't actually used the palm for anything other than entertainment; for actual notes, contacts and other such stuff i use what still works best: a pen and paper.

regular cell phone is faster
By jmunjr on 8/16/2007 11:48:53 PM , Rating: 2
I can text accurately WITHOUT LOOKING at the screen on my Motorola v195 phone. It cost me $40... The iPhone requires you to look at the screen all the time. Not my phone!

RE: regular cell phone is faster
By audiophi1e on 8/17/2007 6:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
there is nothing to replace tactile response.
i will never buy this phone simply because there isn't tactile response.

an iphone will never approach the speed of a qwerty. i can dial, text msg, or use the camera feature on my razr without looking. I now have a treo700 and i can call with that without looking either. (although razr was much easier)

perhaps the iphone isn't exactly designed to be as fast. now if they were marketing this phone to be *as fast* or *faster* than a qwerty phone, then i'd be upset. but as an average consumer, i am not aware of this kind of marketing from apple.

meanwhile, this study is very interesting because if you take all the data, you can track how fast a new user can learn the iphone keyboard. after 30 minutes, i seriously think that's enough time to learn a keyboard. if it takes you longer than that to figure out things like shift, or whatnot, you've got bigger problems, sorry man.

Just like Steve J said...
By uknowwhoibe on 8/17/2007 4:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
I got the iPhone on the day of release. At first, the same things you non-iPhone-owners are thinking, were, in fact, true. It was cumbersome at first, and I did feel like my fingers were too large for the buttons.

After a week or so, just like Steve Jobs said about it, I got the hang of it and learned the "iPhone way". Since then, I am pretty sure that I can type around 30-40 wpm...with very little errors thanks to the auto-correcting feature built in. It is pretty smart!

So, before you start saying that the iPhone keyboard is not as easy as a QWERTY, give it a weeks time. Just like any new electronic device, it takes some time to get used to the new features.

I actually love the kayboard more than another t9, QWERTY, or hunt-n-peck key entry buttons.

RE: Just like Steve J said...
By Nekrik on 8/17/2007 4:37:20 PM , Rating: 2
I'd agree about a week to unlearn the QWERTY method and pick up the Apple method. Problem there is you have converted to the "iPhone way", exactally as Apple is hoping, learn a method that will lock the user into their product lines. It is a very calculated marketing move that Apple has used succesfully many times. The next time you want to update your hardware you're limited to the Apple line, or dropping all your new iPhone habits and relearning older ones.

By joeld on 8/20/2007 4:52:10 PM , Rating: 1
The iPhone is probably still better than the blackjack for typing fast, though. I hate that you can't hit two buttons side by side on purpose because the OS thinks you messed up and only accepts one press! Anybody know of a way to fix that?

RE: blackjack
By bldckstark on 8/21/2007 8:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
Buy a Q.

By ciparis on 8/16/2007 10:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
They gave them a full 30 minutes to adjust? I'm glad that's finally settled.

By Nekrik on 8/17/2007 4:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
If they are experienced text message users then give them a week with nothing but the iPhone and speed test them again after a week of usage, then add a new item to the comparison. If it takes longer than a week to master the new input design then it's got a huge learning curve that is unacceptable for most users, seven days of reduced productivity is pretty bad.

By Durrr on 8/17/2007 10:31:08 AM , Rating: 1
but its not? I don't get Apple's point with their marketing strategy considering the fact that's what they bank on.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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