There aren't a ton of options for smartphone users who love physical keyboards, but F(x)tec is bringing a new model to market.
The F(x)tec Pro 1 is a new Android smartphone with a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard. The device is being shown at MWC 2019 this week, and if you like what you see, you can pre-order one of your very own. F(x)tec is taking pre-orders for the Pro 1 at a price of $649 / £649 / €649, and each order comes with a free pair of limited edition F(x)tec earphones and a Pro 1 case.
F(x)tec says the Pro 1 is expected to begin shipping by July 2019. The company will begin asking for payment details from pre-order customers two to three weeks before shipping.
So what do you get with the F(x)tec Pro 1? Well, the highlight feature is that landscape QWERTY keyboard, which is a form factor that you don't see much in the smartphone market anymore. The 64-key layout includes a dedicated number row and extra wide space bar, and the slider tilts the screen to a 155-degree angle to help you clearly see the display while you're typing.
The Pro 1 is also equipped with a 5.99-inch 2160x1080 AMOLED screen with curved edges. F(x)tec says that it's included a custom landscape launcher with full landscape gesture controls, too, so you can transition from using just the screen to the physical keyboard without having to rotate the device from portrait to landscape.
Packed inside the F(x)tec Pro 1 is a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 2TB in size. There's a side-mounted fingerprint reader included, too, along with a two-stage camera shutter key, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dual stereo speakers. Around back is a dual camera setup with a 12MP Sony IMX363 snapper and a 5MP sensor, and the front is home to an 8MP selfie camera. The battery is a 3200mAh pack.
When it comes to connectivity, the F(x)tec Pro 1 includes GSM and CDMA support, including LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 20, 25, 26, 28, 38, 39, 40, 41, and 66. There are dual SIM slots in the Pro 1 as well, though the second SIM slot doubles as the microSD slot.
Finally, F(x)tec has preloaded the Pro 1 with Android 9.0 Pie, and the company says that it's sticking with a version of Pie "that's as vanilla as possible". It's also committing to offering Google's monthly security updates "in a timely manner".
The F(x)tec Pro 1 is an interesting device. The design itself looks good, and the fact that there's no notch will likely please a lot of folks, as will the commitment to offering vanilla Android Pie with timely security updates. And while a lot of folks are happy to continue tapping away on their glass screens, it's nice to see another keyboard-equipped smartphone on the market, especially with a landscape orientation. Now we just have to wait for the F(x)tec Pro 1 to ship so we can see how it performs.
What do you think of the F(x)tec Pro 1? Does its promise of vanilla Android Pie and a landscape keyboard have you interested?