While there are many keyboards available for Android phones, the most popular are Gboard, SwiftKey, and Samsung Keyboard. What are the differences? Read this comparison to decide which is best for you.
Note: in the following screenshots, the gradient theme keyboard is Gboard, light is SwiftKey, and the dark theme is Samsung Keyboard. Also, some of the features mentioned may not be enabled by default. Kindly check the keyboard settings to enable them.
However, Samsung Keyboard is only available for Samsung Galaxy devices. It is not compatible with other Android phones.
Gboard and Samsung Keyboard both have an extra row at the top of the keyboard. This row displays a variety of icons, such as stickers, GIFs, themes, icons, and more. When you start typing, you will see the suggested words in the same row.
SwiftKey, on the other hand, has two extra rows. One is for the icons, and the other is for predictions. It can be minimized by clicking the icon on the left side of the second row.
Modes and Size
Gboard has three keyboard modes: full keyboard, one-handed keyboard, and floating keyboard. The same three options are available on the Samsung keyboard. However, if your device supports the S-Pen, it also displays the writing mode, which activates automatically when you remove your phone’s S-Pen. SwiftKey takes one step further by including a Thumb mode that divides the keyboard into two halves.
When it comes to size, all three keyboards can be resized to your liking. While the largest size is the same for all of them, SwiftKey has the potential to be the smallest.
Gboard and SwiftKey both have a large selection of themes. It’s highly likely you will find a theme that appeals to you. If you don’t, you can create a theme with a background image of your choice, such as your own picture.
Samsung Keyboard offers just four themes in the keyboard settings. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot change the look of your keyboard – you just have to change the phone’s theme using the Galaxy Themes app. The same theme will apply to the keyboard. Check out other ways to change the color of the Samsung keyboard. You can even use Keys Café from Goodlock to modify the Samsung keyboard.
All three keyboards support clipboard functionality as well as the ability to pin or lock clipboard items. While Gboard and Samsung Keyboard have an image clipboard feature that allows you to paste images directly from the clipboard, SwiftKey does not. However, you can use SwiftKey’s Sticker feature to access recent photos and paste them into apps.
Furthermore, all three display the copied items on the prediction bar for easier access. Their functionality, however, varies. SwiftKey, for example, allows you to create a task in Microsoft To-Do right from the clipboard for the copied text.
Similarly, Gboard divides important information into distinct items. For example, if you copy a text that contains a phone number, the prediction bar will display both the full text and also just the number. This saves time, as you don’t have to copy and paste the entire text, then remove the unnecessary information. Find out how to share screenshots using Gboard.
To top it all off, SwiftKey has an interesting feature to sync the clipboard to a Windows PC.
Swipe Typing and Text Editing
If you are a fan of swipe or glide typing, we are happy to say that all three of them let you type like that. Moreover, all three even offer the cursor control feature that lets you move the cursor amongst the text by sliding across the space bar.
Regarding text editing, Gboard and Samsung keyboard offer dedicated text editing screens with arrows and select options, while SwiftKey has an option to enable arrow keys at the bottom of the keyboard. These arrow keys have a select functionality built in. As you move around the text, it will automatically select it. You can also enable the number row on all three keyboards.
Emoji, GIF, and Stickers
While all three allow you to add emojis, GIFs, and stickers, they differ in the features they provide. Gboard and SwiftKey, for example, have a dedicated emoji button at the bottom. On Samsung Keyboard, you will find it in the top row. It’s not a big deal, but keeping it separate has two benefits: because it is not bundled with other icons, it is easy to identify, and it is easier to access while typing.
Gboard has a huge collection of stickers. It even supports Bitmoji and its own Emoji kitchen, where you can create your own custom emoji stickers. Gboard also offers a unified search, showing items from all three categories, and each item gets its own individual search.
Moving to SwiftKey, it offers an individual search function for emojis and GIFs. What separates it is that it offers a Sticker editor, allowing you to create stickers from images in your Gallery and add text to them. You will find it under the Star icon in the Sticker section.
Samsung Keyboard, like Gboard, has a unified search as well as an individual search. Surprisingly, the search results will also include contacts, YouTube videos, and images from Gallery. Along with Bitmojis, Samsung Keyboard supports a wide range of sticker packs. If your phone supports AR emoji, they will appear under Stickers as well.
Furthermore, all three are good at predicting emojis. Samsung keyboard even predicts stickers and shows them in a tiny pop-up window near typing area.
While all three offer word predictions, I feel SwiftKey outperforms the other two. The reason for this is that it not only remembers words but also predicts sentences and even hashtags you have previously typed. For instance, you can see the number previously typed for the same text in the screenshot below.
Gboard doesn’t show special symbols on the main keyboard. You will have to tap the number key to view the full collection or long-press the period (.) key to access special characters.
The Samsung keyboard also doesn’t show special symbols, but you can enable it in “Samsung keyboard Settings → Layout → Alternative characters.” You can even customize the symbols that show up on the period symbol by going to “Settings → Custom symbols.”
SwiftKey shows the special symbols by default, and there is no way to disable them. The keyboard may appear clunky if you don’t like the symbols.
Custom Text Shortcuts
This feature allows you to create abbreviations or short forms for frequently used words or sentences. The expanded version of the shortcut will appear in the prediction bar when you type it. To use it, simply tap on it.
Samsung keyboard has had the feature for a long time now, and it’s quite easy to create a shortcut. Go to “Settings → More typing options → Text shortcuts.”
While both SwiftKey and Gboard also offer the feature, it’s not easy to locate. On SwiftKey, go to “Keyboard Settings → Rich input → Clipboard → Add a new clip.” For Gboard, go to “Gboard Settings → Dictionary → Personal Dictionary → [Select language].” Tap on the add (+) icon at the top and enter the shortcut and the full form of the word. Find out other ways to set up custom shortcuts on Android.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I change keyboards on Android?
To quickly switch between keyboards, tap on the Keyboard icon in the navigation bar. The available keyboard list will pop up. Tap on the one you want to use, Alternatively, go to “Settings → System (General Management) → Languages → Keyboard → Default keyboard.”
2. Are Gboard, SwiftKey, and Samsung Keyboard free?
Yes. All three are available for free with no in-app purchases.
3. How do I type characters with accents?
Long-press the letter to show the available accents. Tap on the one you want to use.
Which Keyboard Is Best?
As you saw above, each keyboard has its pros and cons. I personally keep switching between Gboard and SwiftKey. Lately, I’m using a Samsung phone and like to try Samsung keyboard occasionally.
If you want a keyboard with unbeatable text prediction and a variety of themes, SwiftKey is the best choice without any doubt. However, you may lose out on image clipboard functionality.
For Samsung Galaxy users, the Samsung keyboard is a pretty decent app. You don’t miss out on much, except better text prediction. However, it’s well integrated with S-Pen and AR emojis, and the native search feature is a cherry on the top.
If you want a little bit of everything, use Gboard. It’s the safest choice. The emoji kitchen and unified search make it more appealing.
I would suggest you try all three keyboards for and see which one suits your needs. If you don’t like any of them, check out other alternatives to Gboard.