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Hands on: F(x)tec Pro1 review

The return of the keyboard on your phone?

What is a hands on review?
F(x)tec Pro1
(Image: © TechRadar)

Early Verdict

If you're desperate for a keyboard on a smartphone, your choices in 2019 are limited and the F(x)tec Pro1 already looks like it will be one of the better options for you.

For

  • Unique design
  • Relatively high spec

Against

  • Quite expensive
  • Thick design

Looking for a phone with a physical keyboard? It's unlikely you've been able to find much recently, but the new F(x)tec Pro1 may be that handset.

F(x)tec may have an odd name, but the year-old start-up company has a clear mission: to bring physical keyboards back to phones.

The Pro1 is the company's first attempt. It comes with a slide-out keyboard, and that's paired with a variety of specs that you'd expect from a phone in 2019. And while it looks remarkably different to handsets like the BlackBerry Key2, it's trying to do a similar kind of thing.

F(x)tec Pro1 release date and price

Those keen to pick up the Pro1 quickly will be able to pre-order the handset now from fxtec.com. That should ensure you get the phone in mid-September, while others will have to wait for the full release at some stage in October.

The phone itself is priced at $699 / £649 (around AU$1,030).

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Design and display

The F(x)tec Pro1 comes with a slide-out keyboard below the main body of the phone. This snaps into place when you push the screen upward when holding the Pro1 in landscape.

It's a full QWERTY keyboard that will make you think of old BlackBerry handsets, and it allows you to type out manually without having to use an on-screen keyboard.

You can even set shortcuts on each of the keys, so if you're not satisfied with a touchscreen keyboard this may be a suitable way for you to type.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We found it a little difficult to get used to in our testing time, but after a few minutes of typing on the keyboard it became easier and it's likely to be something you can learn with ease just by using the phone.

The phone itself features a 5.99-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2160 x 1080. It looks bright and vibrant enough from our limited testing time, and it looks much like what you'd expect on a modern smartphone.

Some may be disappointed that this doesn't offer a QHD resolution, but it's unlikely you'll need this on your phone. The phone itself is quite thick given that the slide-out keyboard is sat below, but that's a trade you make to get access to that fairly unique feature.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

When in keyboard mode, the Pro1 sits at a 155-degree angle. That means the keyboard can act as a stand if you want to be able to watch movies on your phone. It's a great way to prop up your handset without balancing it on items in front of you during your commute.

OS and specs

The F(x)tec Pro1 comes with Android 9 software on board, and we'd expect it to be upgraded to Android 10 in the future, although the company wouldn't confirm if that would be the case. The software was easy to use in our testing, and we liked the way it looked on the display.

Under the hood there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, which may be considered outdated by some phone fans.

Despite being over two years old, it's still a strong chipset though and should offer some impressive day to day performance. It just won't be able to compete with flagship phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus in terms of raw power.

The F(x)tec Pro1 comes with 6GB of RAM as well as 128GB of space for your files. If you need more, there's also microSD support.

Camera and battery

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We were unable to fully test the camera on the Pro1, but it's a dual-lens rear shooter that combines a 12MP lens with a 5MP one. We'll be sure to dig in further to the camera quality at the time of our full review.

On the front there's an 8MP selfie camera, which sits in a bezel along the top of the display. There's no notch or punch-hole here, just a regular bezel along the top of the screen.

The battery meanwhile is a 3,200mAh cell. F(x)tec claims the battery has been lasting for around a day and a half in tests, which likely means with average usage you'll be able to make it through a whole day on a single charge.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Early verdict

There's a particular market for a phone with a physical keyboard, and with its slide-out design the Pro1 is trying to offer it in a fairly unique way that we've not seen recently.

The raw spec of the phone isn't going to blow you away, and for that reason alone some may consider it highly priced, but we're excited to see how well the physical keyboard works and whether that makes it worth buying.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.