At a time when it seems we are witnessing the death of Blackberry keyboard phones, is it me or is suddenly every other vendor adding a keyboard to their smart device ? In any event that is certainly what the team behind the FXTec Pro1 have done, introducing a modern interpretation of the keyboard slider circa the Motorola Droid 4 and the Samsung Stratosphere.
First the Tech Specs:
OS: Android Pie (9.0)
CPU: Snapdragon 835
Display: 2160×1080 FHD+ AMOLED with curved edges (Corning Gorilla Glass)
Camera: 12MP (Sony IMX363), f/1.8, 1.4um pixels 5MP, fixed focus, f/2.0
Battery: Non-removable 3200 mah
Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 / 5 GHz), NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 with LE
2G Bands: 2G/GSM Bands 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
3G Bands: 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
4G Bands: LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5/26, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 25, 28, 38, 39, 40, 41
Power: USB-C, supports Quick Charge 3
Video: USB Type-C – HDMI support; Miracast
FingerPrint sensor: Yes, side mounted
Headphone Jack: Yes
MicroSD slot: Yes
Size: 154 x 73.6 x 13.98 mm (5.99″)
Weight: 8.63oz / 245g
Other: Slide out Keyboard
OK, so let’s get to it. The reason you will want to buy this phone is for the keyboard, no doubt about it, that is its major selling point but I just have to say upfront opening the phone to get to the keyboard is just way too difficult and I found it almost impossible with one hand. The power button is on the right of the phone but the keyboard actually opens from the left which causes the phone to invariably to switch on and off as you try and open it (if you even get that far). If the design team had to get one thing right IMO, it was this and, well, they just didn’t. Think back to the Motorola Droid and how easy it was to snap that sucker open with one hand – that should have been the benchmark.
The fingerprint sensor is also on the right but I found its recognition was poor even when adding multiple fingerprints of the same finger (my usual trick when faced with a flaky sensor).
The keyboard is a full QWERTY which is pretty cool on such a small device. It has five rows inclusive of dedicated rows for numbers. It has a backlit keyboard but it’s really dim and I felt like I kept wanting to turn up the brightness when in a darkened room. I’ve recently been using the Cosmo Communicator and maybe its unfair to compare but the keyboard on the Pro1 really did suffer by comparison to the Cosmo.
The keyboard is pre-loaded with shortcuts and it’s easy to add others and this was a nice touch. It reminded me of the Blackberry Key2 convenience key functionality.
The device itself feels classy and high end, and the screen is a joy, really nice and sharp but I felt the screen itself was a tad small. Perhaps I have just become to used to using larger screen phones, but when you are using a keyboard device in landscape, which is the main attraction of this phone, I feel like you need more screen estate.
It is also nice to see that the manufacturers, unlike other custom crowdfunded phones, chose not to use a Mediatek chip but rather a more standard SnapDragon. It should make Android OS upgrades a lot more frequent.
The less said about the camera the better. I found the software buggy and the picture quality OK, but no more. Hopefully this can be fixed in a future software update.
I wanted to like FxTec Pro1 more than I did, I really did, but if you are into true keyboard sliders, there really is nothing out there like this right now so it may be worth checking out.