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How can I connect an external keyboard to my smartphone?

I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone running Android Gingerbread and I
bought an OTG cable, which enables me to plug in a USB memory stick. No
problem. I would like to occasionally plug in a standard computer USB keyboard
but although there’s lots on the internet that suggest it might be possible, I
cannot find anything specific. Mostly it ends up with where to buy a Bluetooth
keyboard – not what I wanted. Any ideas?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #69
, I look at the possibilities of connecting an external
keyboard to a smartphone via a USB port or Bluetooth.

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Ideas for plug in keyboards

Well, unfortunately, yeah, I do have a couple.

It’s important to realize that just because a device may allow you to plug
in a USB “something,” such as a USB flash drive (which is actually kind of
neat; I don’t think my phone can do that), it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be
possible to install or plug in any USB device – any arbitrary USB
device.

Now when it comes to keyboards, I would be shocked if a USB keyboard could
be plugged into just about any phone – because in reality, that implies that
there’s driver software on that phone that knows how to handle USB
keyboards.

Given how few people actually do that, I’m not sure that manufacturers are
considering that a reliable, or important, use-case at all.

In other words, I don’t think the drivers are there to do what you want it
to do. The drivers are clearly there to handle the external flash memory
which is actually kind of cool. It makes sense though that those
drivers might be there because those drivers are very similar to the drivers
that are required to access any internal flash memory to that smartphone.

So, enabling access to something over the USB cable? It doesn’t seem like
that much of a stretch – but your smartphone doesn’t have drivers for an
external keyboard; certainly not external USB keyboards. I’m not aware of a way
to add those to it.

Bluetooth keyboards

Now, the reason so many places are going to be pushing you at Bluetooth
connections is that, I believe, some phones support the ability to connect a
keyboard (or some kind of an input device) via Bluetooth – but only via
Bluetooth. That is, of course, for those phones that support Bluetooth, which
is most of them – but to be clear, not all of them will support Bluetooth
keyboards. Some of them might and you’re going to have to get very specific and
look for information (that unfortunately I don’t have) very specifically for
your model of Samsung and the specific version of Android that you’re running
(which you provided, Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread) to see if that combination even
stands a chance of supporting a Bluetooth keyboard.

It might. That’s the best I can say. It might – but I can almost certainly
say that it’s not going to handle something over USB. Just because you’ve got a
USB socket doesn’t mean it will support every USB device. Same is actually true
for Bluetooth. Because some phone manufacturers look ahead to this kind of a
scenario, it is often… or I should say it is sometimes possible to
connect up a limited number of Bluetooth devices over Bluetooth for input.

I know for a fact that my old Android-based phone, an HTC Incredible, could
not. It’s one of the things that I looked up early on to see if in fact I could
connect a Bluetooth keyboard to my phone. I cannot. I know that I can connect
up a Bluetooth keyboard to my Motorola Tablet, my Zoom tablet, but I cannot to
that phone. I actually haven’t tried with my current phone, a Motorola
Razr.

So, those are the things that I think are working against you here. It’s not
a very common use scenario. I would look specifically for accessories for your
Samsung Galaxy X2 to see if there’s anything that Samsung provides that could
specifically address this issue. If they do not, then I’m going to place money
on the thinking that there’s probably is not a solution for this.

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