Keyboard Buddy iPhone caseSee all photos
Design wise, the Keyboard Buddy is fairly sleek, especially considering that it adds a full hardware keyboard to the back of the device. The sliding mechanism is very solid, and there's a satisfying click as you open and close it. It's reminiscent of the slider on a device like the Sidekick Slide -- and that's a good thing. There's also ample room to hit the top row of number keys, something other sliding cases often have trouble with. It charges via miniUSB, and BoxWave claims you should be able to go a whopping 45 days without having to re-juice. The whole kit has a matte black, soft touch finish that adds a nice grip to the all-glass iPhone 4. Pairing the Keyboard buddy was an uneventful affair; we were up and running in about 30 seconds after typing in a passcode. That's when we were able to put this thing to the test.
In real-world usage, we're not so sure it improves typing speed over the virtual option. There's simply not enough definition on each key, and it minimizes the advantages you get over a physical keyboard like on a BlackBerry. We constantly found our fingers slipping across multiple keys, leading to more typos and more frustration than we would've liked. Add this to the lack of autocorrect, and we were already switching back to portrait mode to use the virtual keyboard built-in. Still, there is something very nice about using the hard keyboard when you're sitting or not moving around, so you can focus on what keys you're hitting.
BoxWave definitely got some things right in the design department, but the actual keyboard itself needs some tweaks to be really effective. If each key had a bit more give, or if they were more defined, we'd probably have a very different opinion. Still, for a penny under $70 there are a lot worse options you could spend your money on. If you've got a dire need for a keyboard case right this second, we don't think you'll be able to find anything better.