Slider phone Reborn: The Keyboard Smartphone Just Will Not Die

Forget foldables, Fxtec’s Pro1 is a $649 phone with a landscape QWERTY keyboard
Slider phone reborn: Fxtec Pro1 delivers Android 9 plus slide-out QWERTY keyboard

Mobile keyboard fans now have a new option in Fxtec’s Pro1 for the same price as the BlackBerry KEY2.

What’s old is new. While companies like Samsung and Huawei race to bring modern folding phones to market, UK-based F(x)tec is focusing its efforts on another blast from the past – the slide-out keyboard. The startup’s Pro1 smartphone has been launched at Mobile World Congress 2019.

The Pro1 runs Android 9.0 Pie, with processing power provided by a Snapdragon 835(Credit: F(x)tec)

Android smartphones rocking an integrated sliding keyboards are nothing new of course – the T-Mobile G1 was announced way back in 2008. Other manufacturers followed suit, but the format gave way to virtual onscreen keyboards and fell out of fashion. F(x)tec is looking to change that with the Pro1.

The Pro1’s 3,200 mAh battery should be good for up to 10 hours of talk time between charges(Credit: F(x)tec)

“At F(x)tec, our vision of the ideal smartphone blends a modern handset with the very best features and technology we loved and miss, to create a perfectly balanced package that is delightful, functional, and unique,” said the firm’s founder Adrian Li Mow Ching. “Our goal is to be the best at bringing back our favorite technology, making it better in a more modern way – that’s technology refined.”

Bringing back a blast from the Android smartphone past: F(x)tec has launched the Pro1 with slide-out QWERTY keyboard(Credit: F(x)tec)

The headline feature here is the landscape-oriented, five row physical keyboard that slides out from under the smartphone’s touchscreen display using a mechanism inspired by classic Nokias. When the keyboard is fully extended, the thin-bezel, notch-free AMOLED screen comes to rest at a tilted 155 degree angle for comfortable viewing.

The Pro1 features a 5.99 inch, thin bezel, notch-free AMOLED touchscreen display topped by Corning Gorilla Glass 3(Credit: F(x)tec)

F(x)tec says that users can look forward to an optimized UI, email and calendar apps experience when in landscape mode. And the 5.99 inch display at 2,160 x 1,080 pixels makes use of Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The addition of the sliding keyboard does mean the Pro1 is a little chunky though, at 13.98 mm thick.

The slide out keyboard does mean that the Pro1 is 13.98 mm thick(Credit: F(x)tec)

Inside, the Pro1 features a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded via microSD.

There’s an 8 MP fixed focus F2.0 camera to the front and two cameras at the rear – a 12 MP F1.8 shooter and its 5 MP F2.0 buddy. F(x)tec reports that the Pro1 is capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, and can play back 4K video at up to 60 fps.

When the Pro1’s the five row QWERTY keyboard slides out, the touchscreen display comes to rest at a 155 degree angle for viewing comfort(Credit: F(x)tec)

Elsewhere, you’ll find Bluetooth 5.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, one USB Type C port, stereo speakers and a 3.5 mm headphone jack, dual SIM slots and a 3,200 mAh battery that should be good for up to 10 hours of talk time per charge. There’s a fingerprint reader to the side, and Android 9.0 Pie runs the show.

The F(x)tec Pro1 is expected to be made available from July for an estimated US$649. It’s up for pre-order now.

Product page: Pro1