Should I use the phonetic or standard Cyrillic keyboard layout?
In Mac OS X, I have the option of using a phonetic version of the Russian keyboard, which roughly "translates" Latin letters into Cyrillic. I tried using it in the first lessons, and it worked quite well. After changing to the regular Russian keyboard layout, it suddenly became a lot harder. And, annoyingly, when I use the "regular" layout, I have to hold down shift to be able to produce dots and commas (shift + 7, shift + 6). This seems extremely unnatural to me, but on the other hand, it might help me internalize the Cyrillic letters faster.
In your view, what are the disadvantages and advantages of the different layouts?
I know what you mean about the full stop and comma being in the shift and 6 and ❤❤❤❤ and 7 places, at first I also found it extremely annoying and was typing the Ю key out to try to use the english full stop. But you get used to it.
I wouldn't waste your time learning phonetic, to me it just seems like a waste of time and something that is unnecessarily complicated. Once you get used to the Russian letters then you will find you can type pretty fast. I already have a good sense of where most of the Russian keys are, and it didn't take me that long. Just need a lot of practice.
I have found that to really learn words well, you really need to practice hand writing them. Printed written Russian is slightly different as you can write the Л as a triangle without the bottom, and the Д looks like a triangle with 2 legs. But it's easier to learn complicated words this way. There is also cursive but I haven't got around to properly learning that yet.
I've been typing using the phonetic keyboard for a few years and have had no issue with it. That being said, I use the standard keyboard on my phone and tablet, so it was really just a case of being lazy at the time.
(+) Can write super fast, easy to learn, don't need any stickers (-) When you need to use a real Russian keyboard, game over :p
With regard to the US/British keyboards, as Cyrillic clearly has more letters than English, the punctuation symbols get re–arranged to other keys/shortcuts. However, as we've less letters than say German, this re-arrangement generally just replaces the less important symbols. On OSX, full stop, comma etc. are in the normal place on a US and a British keyboard (when mapped to Phonetic Russian).
If you have a mobile device, neither Android nor iOS come with a phonetic option. Its probably now possible to install such phonetic keyboards since iOS 8, but I've never tried. On Android there use to be a paid Swift Keyboard.
So in short, Phonetic is easier to begin with, but with a set of stickers and some practice, I don't imagine that the standard keyboard on a computer would take too long (as I did, after all, learn it for mobile in a short period of time).