Nokia N97 + 5800XM + E75 Keyboard Shootout

The Nokia N97. The 5800 XpressMusic. The E75. Three phones, three distinct little keyboards. Does the N97 deserve the flak it’s taken for the mushy QWERTY? The 5800XM on-screen keyboard sucks, right? And how does the E75 stack up in all of this?
To find out, I conducted a little “keyboard shootout” experiment, pitting me, typist of 20 years (give or take 10 years) in one corner, against a stopwatch and the phrase “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” in the other. To measure real-world time, the entire phrase had to be completely correct before I would end each trial.
Let’s see how it all turned out.

The Set Up

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic: Offline profile, touch screen vibration Level 1, touch screen tones Off
Nokia N97: Offline profile, no other changes
Nokia E75: Offline profile, no other changes
Nokia E66: Offline profile, T9 prediction on, keypad tones Level 1
I used the XNote Timer XP utility as my stopwatch. Each time trial went like this:
- Pick up phone
- Clear text on screen
- Hold phone in ready position above keyboard
- Hit Spacebar with right pinky to activate stopwatch
- Type in phrase “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” as fast as possible, correcting any and all mistakes.
- Hit Spacebar with left hand to stop the time.
- Switch to next phone and repeat five times for each
I also ran ten trials using a Nokia E66 (with T9 on) and a Mitsumi brand PC keyboard for fun.

The Results

All times are in seconds.
Nokia E75 Keyboard
The E75 keyboard fared well.
Times: 11.95, 13.29, 12.25, 11.31, 10.93
Average: 11.946 sec – .5 sec* (see note at bottom)
WPM (Words Per Minute): 47.17
The best of the bunch, by far. The E75 has large, tactile keys that make it relatively easy to type stuff on a mobile phone. The kicker, however, is some quirky button placements – like the backspace key that’s next to the L key, or the Return key that’s directly under that. Still, 47.17 wpm on a mobile phone is quite respectable.
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Keyboard
The 5800 XpressMusic keyboard: Worst of the Bunch
Times: 20.23, 17.84, 13.25, 17.73, 20.26
Average: 17.862 sec – .5 sec*
WPM: 31.10
As expected, the 5800 XpressMusic dominated the absolute bottom tier of keyboards (read: loser). Those damn on-screen keys are so tiny that it’s very easy to hit something other than the key you wanted, and the lack of multi-touch means that sometimes you’ll type a word too quickly and miss a couple letters in the process. In terms of raw speed, the keyboard wasn’t that horrible – but the number of mistakes I made (and had to correct) was. The only time I typed the phrase perfectly was the third run.
Nokia N97 Keyboard
The N97 keyboard proved to be the middle ground.
Times: 13.71, 16.29, 14.48, 12.68, 15.35
Average: 14.502 sec – .5 sec*
WPM: 38.56
I really thought the N97 would show some pretty low scores. Nope! It turns out the N97, if you get past the mushiness and generally weird bottom row, is not as bad as some folks (like me) may have you believe. Or maybe I was just having a good day. The N97 was only 18% slower than the E75, but it’s also smaller, squishier (hard to tell whether you hit a key or not), and personally more annoying to use. You be the judge.
Nokia E66 Keyboard
The E66 keyboard was still a contender, even without a QWERTY.
Times: 19.14, 16.37, 15.12, 13.82, 12.01
Average: 15.292 sec – .5 sec*
WPM: 36.51
Shouldn’t QWERTY keyboards be faster than a keypad equipped with T9? At 15.292 seconds, the E66 control group beat out the 5800 and came close to tying the N97. I might have to rethink this keyboard thing…
Just kidding. This is mostly luck, because the only word I actually needed to scroll through T9 for was “lazy”. Apparently, “jazz” is a more popular word.
Mitsumi PC Keyboard
Times: 4.82, 6.09, 4.70, 4.40, 4.32
Average: 4.86 sec
WPM: 111.11
*Note that since I had to manually start and stop the clock myself, I subtracted .5 seconds from the average to calculate WPM. For the PC keyboard test, I ignored this because there was no real motion needed to stop the timer (I need to hit alt-tab, the right key, and space).


The obvious conclusion is that the E75 is the best keyboard of the bunch. That isn’t too difficult to see, since it has the largest keyboard, and the best feel, of the group. But the numbers are interesting: it was 18% faster than the N97, 34% faster than the 5800 XpressMusic, and 23% faster than the E66 with T9 prediction.
And just for fun, I did an E66 T9 vs. No T9 mini-shootout, with the results showing that T9 is about 36% faster than typing without it.