You would be forgiven for thinking phone companies have just forgotten about people who enjoy typing on real buttons, not just on the ‘virtual keypads’ on phone displays.
Over the last one year, smartphone buyers have spoilt for choice, with company after company launching bigger, faster and smarter phones almost on a weekly basis.
Since then, high-end processor speeds have doubled to 1.4 GHz, display-size more than doubled from 3 inches to 4.3 inches and system memory zoomed to 1GB from 256 MB.
All this excitement — but not for those who like typing on real keys instead of ‘pictures’ of keys.
For those who want the real thing — real qwerty keypads instead of just pictures of qwerty keypads — the last one year has been one of the most terrible.
Over the last one year, it has been virtually impossible to find a high-end, big-display, Android-powered, real-qwerty enabled phone.
The closest one came to a high-end smartphone over the period was the 4-inch Nokia E7 that was launched a year ago, in March 2011.
Despite the fact that it came with the zombie Symbian operating system and just 256 MB of system memory, the phone still looks attractive to someone on the prowl for a big-screen qwerty-enabled phone.
Another contender is the 1GHz Motorola Milestone 2, launched in April last year, but the phone is hardly available on the market in India.
Things are about to change though.
After nearly a year of drought in the big-display Android qwerty market, the first drop of rain is finally here — the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro (MK16i or MK16a).
The phone is an opportunity for the qwerty-Android-big-display loving gang to join the smartphone action.
The Xperia Pro has a 3.7 inch display with 854 x 480 pixels, as high as most high-end phones in the market.
Though the display is smaller than the 4.8 inch one on the Samsung Galaxy S III and the 4.7 inch screen on the HTC One X, it’s still decent enough for a qwerty phone.
The biggest difference between the E7 and the Motorola Milestone 2 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro is age — the other two are more than a year old, while the Xperia Pro was launched abroad late last year.
Also, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro has 512 MB of memory compared to the 256 MB RAM of Nokia E7. It is also lighter than the other two and is expected to support the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich or ICS (or Android 4) through an over-the-air update in the next few days.
The phone is available for a price of about Rs 19,000 in India, about half the price of an HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III (estimated).
Till the launch of more models with keypads, especially by the likes of Nokia, Motorola and Samsung, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro will continue to be the top choice for those looking for all the high-end features, with a physical keypad.