Why are Canadian carriers down on landscape QWERTY devices?

This week saw the release and announcement, respectively, of the Sprint Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE and Verizon Samsung Stratosphere II in the U.S. The news is unlikely to register with the majority of Canadians; both carriers are CDMA-based and carry little influence over device selection up here.

But what’s striking about these announcements is that both devices, from manufacturers certain to release new products in Canada in the coming months, are landscape QWERTY Android phones. They’re both modern devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chips, with LTE connectivity and Android 4.0 software. It occurred to me that Canada hasn’t seen a significant high-end QWERTY slider release in a while; the last one being the Samsung Galaxy S Glide and before that the Motorola XT860.

Why the change of pace in a market that is sure to embrace one or two such devices a year? Where is the LTE-capable QWERTY slider for back to school? If it is due to lack of demand — perhaps the Glide and XT860 sold poorly enough to warrant an cessation of future products — where did it go? Are virtual keyboards so good that stalwart QWERTY fans are ready to acquiesce to a life of on-screen letters?

The last QWERTY slider I owned was the HTC Desire Z, and it was one of the best phones I’ve ever used. But earlier this year HTC announced it would no longer be making devices with hardware keyboards, and the dream of a Desire Z successor died with it.

And while we continue to have candybar QWERTY devices such as the newly-released Defy Pro, they appeal to a particular niche market focused on BlackBerry replacements in the enterprise market. So the question is: do you miss the QWERTY slider? Is it time to bid adieu to the form, at least in Canada?

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