Update: It looks like iOS 7 users in Hong Kong and China can actually change to full qwerty keyboard to input Chinese characters. The problem is, most of the users just couldn’t find the option to change it. Thanks, @larrysalibra.
Apple’s recent iOS 7 update has enjoyed mix reviews. In Hong Kong and China specifically, many are frustrated with the existing iOS 7 10-key pinyin keyboard and couldn’t seem to find a way to switch it back to the full Qwerty keyboard.
In prior versions of iOS, Chinese speakers could input Pinyin using a traditional Qwerty keyboard. But in iOS 7, Apple has replaced this with a keyboard that’s been specially modified for the Pinyin romanization system. Users are able to change it back to the full Qwerty keyboard under their keyboard settings though.
Discussions on Apple’s forum show that users prefer the Qwerty keyboard when typing in Chinese language. One user wrote:
I want to use a full keyboard instead of the truncated keyboard for Chinese pinyin inputs. It is immensely inconvenient. It almost makes me want to downgrade to iOS 6.
Apple’s response? The iPhone maker explained that it is a matter of good design that only the 10 key Pinyin keyboard was allowed in iPhone sold in Hong Kong and China. TechWeb has the full explanation which we’ve pasted below:
That is by design, we only enable 10 key Pinyin keyboard for the iPhone sold in HK and China.
We consider this issue closed. If you have any questions or concern regarding this issue, please update your report directly (http://bugreport.apple.com). Thank you for taking the time to notify us of this issue.
Apple Developer Support
Worldwide Developer Relations
Though I’m not an affected user, I can’t imagine myself typing in Chinese using the 10-key pinyin keyboard, though I suppose one can get used to it after some practice.
The decision follows Apple habit of not compromising its design principles, but given that this feature is related to language input, the case stands as an extreme example of Apple’s refusal to budge on certain user requests.