Need A Keyboard With An Android Phone Attached? Here's One

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One of the new Android smartphones to make its public debut during MWC 2019 was the Pro1 Android smartphone by F(x)tec.

As has been the case with this year's MWC event in general, F(x)tec has designed the Pro1 with a new and novel form factor in mind. Arguably, an old form factor that'a now been updated to marry well with the needs of the modern Android phone user.

This is due to the Pro1 coming equipped with a physical QWERTY keyboard. While that in itself is not new new due to the likes of the BlackBerry KEY line, the orientation of the keyboard is the big selling point.

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BlackBerry Mobile's physical keyboard solution banks on the use of a keyboard in portrait mode and by association results in a keyboard which is not that much bigger than the virtual keyboard on other devices. More importantly, the physical keyboard most often comes at the expense of valuable display space.

F(x)tec has looked to overcome both of these issues by opting to include a landscape-orientated physical QWERTY keyboard which instantly turns the Pro1 into a device that's more akin to a mini computer.

The keyboard is buried beneath the phone when not in use and when called upon emerges through the employment of a slide-out mechanism. The mechanism is also angle-supported and therefore once fully in keyboard mode the phone is tilted to a 155-degree angle, as if it was being propped up by a kickstand.

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With a device like this, that focuses so heavily on design, one might expect the rest of the specs to suffer a little but F(x)tec is positioning this as an overall "premium" Android phone and the specs in general seem to support this.

Besides the slider keyboard, the Pro1 features a 5.99-inch AMOLED display (with minimum bezels and no notch) along with a 2160 x 1080 (FHD+) resolution and protection by Gorilla Glass 3. Inside, the Pro1 draws on a core combination of 6GB RAM, 128GB storage (expandable via microSD), and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC.

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In the camera department, the Pro1 makes use of a dual rear camera setup spearheaded by a 12-megapixel primary camera, backed up by a 5-megapixel secondary camera. This is accompanied by an 8-megapixel front-facing solution.

Also on offer is a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, a 3,200 mAh capacity battery, a USB Type-C port, NFC, a headphone jack, and Android 9 Pie.

Speaking of Android, the company promotes a "pure Android" experience suggesting it is a fairly close to a stock experience. In addition, it does come with a custom landscape launcher to ensure a more natural user experience when used in landscape/keyboard mode.

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Arguably, the inclusion of the Snapdragon 835 is the weakest point in the "premium" spec lineup although this was still a premium SoC for its time and is likely to be a better option than the company opting for a lower-tiered SoC just to include a newer one.

While 5G was the main theme at MWC 2019 the event was also full of announcements that collectively highlighted that form factor is now front and center in the minds of device-makers. This was best seen with the various foldable phone announcements and commitments that were confirmed this week. It would seem F(x)tec decided to approach the need for new form from a different angle and this may prove to be a successful move and especially in the short-term with the issue with newer foldable phones clearly being the price at the moment.

On that note, the Pro1 is already available to pre-order through the company's website with units expected to begin shipping in July. The cost will likely vary depending on location although the guide price has been set at $649 in the US and £649 in the UK.

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According to the company, those who pre-order during the launch period will also receive F(x)tec earphones and an F(x)tec Pro1 case for free.