New Astro Slide 5G phone invokes the spirit of the Psion Series

Astro Slide 5G phone
(Image credit: Planet Computers)

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 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.

(Image credit: Planet Computers)

According to the Indiegogo page 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.”

Other features

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.

(Image credit: Planet Computers)

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. 

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(Image credit: Future)
Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.