Let’s be honest, we’re all suckers for nostalgic tech, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this website. As such, you most likely at least saw devices with a physical keyboard if not outright owned at least one. F(x)tec co-founder Liangchen Chen seems to also be a fan of devices of yesteryear, his first QWERTY device being a Nokia N900. After a failed QWERTY keyboard mod for Moto Z smartphones, he teamed up with fellow co-founders Adrian Ching and Leon Feng to bring us a modern smartphone with a nostalgic twist. Enter the $649 F(x)tec Pro 1.
This modern take on a classic design is highly reminiscent of the Nokia N97, or rather the E7 with an angled display sliding against a physical QWERTY keyboard. This design was made obsolete with the advent of the touchscreen smartphone as we know it today effectively killing off variety in a growing sea of all-display slabs. What sets this contender apart from the old devices it emulates is the much more powerful hardware inside it, a Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. A 12-megapixel main camera sits on the back and a 3,200mAh battery keeps it up and running. It even has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Despite the dated CPU (it’s already 2 years old), it’s powerful enough to keep Android 9 Pie up and running at a decent pace and interesting enough to pique the interest of the tech nerd in all of us who enjoyed typing on a physical keyboard.
While we haven’t had time to play around with it, Engadget has and they report that the keyboard is indeed great. The unit they got to try out is sadly but a prototype and not yet ready for the market. The display is a 5.99″ AMOLED with a FullHD+ resolution with nice colour reproduction. The reason why it’s still in the prototype stage is Android’s less than convenient mode of operation in landscape mode which is obviously a must for a device meant to be held sideways when using its standout feature. The guys at F(x)tex are working hard, though, to ensure compatibility with portrait-only apps as well as to tweak the vanilla Android experience.
Having a startup focus on a decisively niche device is cause for concern, though we have seen miracles happen with the BlackBerry Key One and Key 2 which have both sparked widespread interest and sales for parent-company TCL. Who knows? Maybe the Pro 1 will find its place in the world now that design innovation is very much at an impasse with only foldable phones to really break the line of drab touchscreen slabs. There’s still a lot to do, but also a lot to look forward to for this small company and its blast-from-the-past device.
You can find out more by visiting the F(x)tec website or by clicking the source link below for more thoughts from Engadget after handling this promising new piece of tech.