Launched way back in 1991, the Psion Series 3 was a revelation. It was the world’s most powerful PDA (personal digital assistant), on which you could create databases, use a word processor, make spreadsheets with charts, and much more besides. It even had an optional modem, so it could connect to the Internet.
Fast forward almost three decades, and the British industrial designer behind the original Psion Series, Martin Riddiford, has partnered with Planet Computers (opens in new tab) to design the world’s first 5G phones with a physical keyboard.
The Astro Slide
The Astro Slide concept includes a revolutionary RockUp™ slider hinge, which transforms the powerful 6.53" touchscreen smartphone into a mini laptop, featuring Planet’s signature tactile backlit keyboard.
According to the Indiegogo page (opens in new tab) for the device, the Astro Slide is great for emails, messaging, editing documents, making calls and taking photos. And it will support dual 5G and Wi-Fi 6 standards, whilst running Android 10 OS with a multi-boot option for supporting Linux.
“To create the ultimate mobile phone, it’s really about no compromise. We listened to our backers, and they want a large, touchscreen display – always accessible – but at the same time they want the Planet signature keyboard, accessible whenever they need it,” explained Planet Computers’ CEO Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel. “We are fully embracing the power of 5G and Wifi 6. And we decided to go all-in, to find the fastest 5G processor currently available to provide the ultimate 5G experience on the Astro Slide.”
The phone will also feature support for BLE Audio and NFC communications, as well as wireless charging, and it also boasts a 48-megapixel rear facing camera, as well as a front camera for video calling.
This is unlikely to be a popular option for a mainstream audience, but for those people looking for a physical keyboard, and a focus on productivity, the Astro Slide could be the perfect device. And the fact that the phone smashed through its £160k funding target on the first day illustrates that there’s a core market, desperate for a device that features high-end phone features and a high-quality keyboard.
We can’t wait to get our hands on this, but according to the funding page, the product won’t be available for shipping to the first backers until March 2021.