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.
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.