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The "character" on the top right of each key is not really a character. It is a phonetic symbol that some Chinese people use(d) when they were learning Chinese. Each one represents a sound, and when you put 2-3 together, you have the sound of one word, or actually one character. If a person is already fluent in using these symbols, s/he would "spell" this way. If I'm correct, this method is not commonly used anymore in mainland China. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just trying to give him any clues I can.) I have one children's book from Hong Kong that has those symbols next to each character.|
The bottom two characters seem to be radicals. Many radicals are words on their own, and they all combine with other character parts to form the thousands of characters in Chinese. I don't know about this keyboard, but I might assume it might be similar to looking up words in a dictionary by radical. Don't quote me on that, it would just be my educated guess.
How good is your Chinese? (mine is still... well, put it this way, I MIGHT be able to talk to a 3 year old for about a minute) But besides speaking, can you look up characters in a Chinese dictionary (not pinyin)? If you look at a bunch of characters you don't know, can you pick them apart a little bit and find some familiar radicals? For example, in 想，can you see that it has 3 parts? If so, do you know what those 3 parts are called or what they would mean if they were on their own? If so, you might be able to learn that keyboard if you really want to, although everyone is saying no one uses it anymore. Could be an interesting hobby, though not a practical way to type for real if you're learning pinyin anyway.
I like to practice writing, and it helps me remember the characters.