The F(x)tec Pro1 is an oddity in the modern smartphone world — it has a physical keyboard that slides out from behind the screen. That’s a design that was fairly common a decade ago, but which has gone nearly extinct in recent years.

So that might explain why it’s taken so long for the folks at F(x)tec to actually ship the phone. It was originally supposed to hit the streets in July, but that date was pushed back while the company finalized production plans.

Now the wait is almost over — the company says the first batch of phones are now shipping to warehouses around the world, and that customers should begin receiving their phones within a week or so.

The F(x)tec Pro1 began its life a few years ago as a crowdfunded project to build a keyboard accessory for Motorola’s Moto Z smartphones. But the developers eventually pivoted and decided to just make their own phone.

That said, designing a phone from scratch isn’t easy — over the past few years there have been plenty of small companies who have unveiled smartphones that are supposed to stand out in one way or another, but they often feel a bit behind the times in some respects.

So it’s kind of unsurprising that despite offering some appealing features (like the slide-out keyboard, the 6 inch, 2160 x 1080 AMOLED display, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage), the F(x)tec Pro1 also has some shortcomings (it’s a $699 smartphone powered by a 2017-era Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor).

Other features include a 3,200 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 supports, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5., NFC, a USB-C port, a microSD card reader, stereo speakers, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

There’s an 8MP front-facing camera, and 12MP + 5MP rear cameras. And the smartphone has a fingerprint reader on the side.

While the F(x)tec Pro1 ships with Android 9, it has an unlockable bootloader and supports alternate operating systems including LineageOS and Sailfish OS.

Overall, it’s an intriguing device for fans of old school phones. It has a keyboard, removable, storage, and a headphone jack! But it’s kind of pricey for a phone with an old processor. And it comes from a startup that ran into delays bringing the phone to market… which makes me worry a little about what kind of ongoing support the Pro1 will receive.

That said the unlockable bootloader means that if enough folks buy this device to generate some indie developer interest, it’s possible we could see custom ROMs and other tweaks whether F(x)tec is in it for the long haul or not.

The F(x)tec Pro1 is available for purchase from F(x)tec for $699 and comes with a choice of QWERTY or QWERTZ keyboard layouts.

via /r/Android

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  1. I’m sure they had their reasons, but I’m still bummed that they cancelled the Moto mod. It was the one thing that had me considering a Moto Z, plus it would’ve been able to transfer over when upgrading an older Moto Z to a newer one. With the Moto Z4 supporting an active stylus, adding a slider keyboard would’ve made it my perfect phone, more or less.

    1. I tried a prototype of their Moto mod and I can see why they decided against it. Seems they did their best in making it comfortable but when the phone has all the internals (as opposed to internals being split between the keyboard portion and the phone portion) there was a limit to how comfortable it could be.

      I didn’t realise the Z4 had active stylus support though. That is a shame.

      1. It’s not ideal or as comfortable, but I think a Slim Phone (7mm) with separate modular attachments (5mm) is the more appealing concept.

        It gives you the options of different Qwerty/Azerty boards, big battery modules, extra speakers, lighting, secondary display, or gamepad. Or simply use the phone itself (3,000mAh).

  2. I wonder why they chose to use a curved display with rounded corners. I find these even on phones from major OEMs to be a negative than a positive.

    At this size and as a UMPC fan, it would have been nice if this ran a desktop Linux distro or Windows 10. I’d get that for sure. Probably need a mouse pointer though.

    Anyway, I wish them luck. If I were upgrading my phone, I may have gotten this despite the curved display but that’ll probably be 3+ years from now or when I break my existing phone.

    1. I’m in the same boat. This ticks almost all the boxes for me buying a phone, and if it had come out last year, I’d be all over it. But it didn’t. Hopefully there are enough sales that there are updated models in the future, I’d definitely be interested in one next time I have to buy a phone.

      1. Same, the curved display is a big no-no.
        I don’t think this device has IP68 Waterproofing, which I’m fine with. But it looks like it lacks a Removable Battery, and that’s a big turn off. At least it comes with SailOS which is in the Top 5 best OS out there. And you can also flash Android. I think the SoC and Cameras are a bit of a let-down, but I guess they’re acceptable drawbacks compared to the rest of the package.

        I wonder if someone will mod this, maybe they’ll replace in a PSP controller with the keyboard.

        1. The battery is not official removable, but it is only screwed in. No glue there. It should not be a problem the exchange the battery.

          And for the SoC. This is the reality for small startups the 855 was not out when they started and they could not get a 845 because all the big players get served first. So they had to decide between a middle-end SoC or the 835 which is a fantastic SoC. In my opinion this is the right choice and plenty of juice is there anyway.

          I would have preferred a flat screen too tough. I am not sure why they did take the rounded one. But i think they wanted it to look modern so that it isn’t always titled as a thing from the past.

          1. I agree, and I suspected the same thing.
            Though I sort of disagree with the screw-off backplate. They should’ve made it so that you can swap the batteries when you’re out and about. Think of like LG V20 or Motorola Droid 4. It’s a major feature, something to compensate for not having Ingress Protection. And frankly, I prefer that trade-off.

          2. Is there a video or sequence of still images that shows how to replace the battery in the Pro1? The battery being difficult to access and remove is a deal breaker for me but maybe I will compromise if I only need a screw driver to replace the battery because that would probably still be easy compared to replacing the battery in, for example, the BlackBerry Priv and its successors. I wonder what happens if the battery expands/bulges in the Pro1, though. That already happened to me with at least a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a Geeksphone Revolution but the battery in both of those computers can be removed after only prying off the back cover, which does not require a tool such as a screw driver.

      1. Personally, I want a thumb keyboard (ie. handheld use) with a desktop OS. Unfortunately, Planet Computers products are more table/lap use which isn’t really much of a use case for me when mobile.

        1. You can run postmarketOS on both of the devices with desktop shell such as MATE or Plasma. Though mouse cursor is a problem.

    2. I’m not a fan either (I like TGSP and phone cases with a lip up front to protect the display), but I assume it has everything to do with what displays are available. This isn’t a big company that can get a custom order, they have to find a way to build around the parts that most available to build with. These are Samsung displays I suspect, and what tends to happen is that the niche and very cheap phones will all use a particular display that’s a couple of years behind whatever Samsung’s own phones are on, there’s usually one or two display models that are being made at scale for everyone to order.

      I’m not a fan of the curves, but I am a fan of the phone. Most interesting thing out there AFAIC.