There are many factors that you consider when choosing a cell phone. For some, the operating system is critical, whereas others pay a little more attention to the megapixel count on the camera. There is a definite trend toward more messaging-friendly handsets, but you don’t always want to have the QWERTY in front of you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but dialing a regular voice call on a numeric keypad is so much easier than a QWERTY keyboard.
Samsung wants to help you with your decision. Or rather, they want to eliminate the decision altogether, because the Korean company has filed a cell phone patent that calls for interchangeable keypads. There’s no need to switch handsets if you want to leap from numeric to QWERTY, because you can just hot swap the keypad. As you can imagine, there are countless other possible applications, including a hot-swapped gaming pad, music controls, and so forth.
Yes, touchscreen displays can be more versatile in this way, but they have yet to reach the same level of usability and tactile feedback as physical keypads. The Samsung patent is almost addressing the best of both worlds, except that you’d need to carry around a bunch of calculator-looking keypads in addition to the phone itself. You’ve got an interesting idea, Samsung, but it might not be practical.