The F(x)tec Pro1 is an unusual smartphone by contemporary standards. It has a large screen that covers most of the front of the device. But there’s also a physical keyboard that slides out from behind the screen when you need it, allowing you to use the phone like a tiny laptop.
First launched in 2019, the F(x)tec Pro1 was originally available with a custom version of Android, the phone also has an unlocked bootloader and support for running the Linux-based Sailfish OS or Android-based LineageOS.
Now F(x)tec is launching a new version of the phone that comes with a choice of Ubuntu Touch or LineageOS pre-installed. The F(x)tec Pro1-X is available for pre-order through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and it’s expected to ship to backers in March, 2021.
Most folks will probably end up spending at least $649 to reserve one of the phones during crowdfunding, but there are a limited number of “Super Early Bird” rewards that will be available for lower prices:
- Pro1-X Super Early Bird with 8GB RAM, 256GB storage for $499 – available to 50 backers only
- Pro1-X Super Early Bird with 6GB RAM, 128GB storage for $649 – 2,000 backers
- Pro1-X Super Early Bird with 8GB RAM, 256GB storage for $719 – 2,000 backers
The 8GB/256GB option is new. The original Pro1 is only available with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Otherwise the hardware for the new model is largely the same – it has a blue case, but the biggest change is the software.
F(x)tec has partnered with smartphone software development community xda-developers to offer a choice of LineageOS or Ubuntu Touch.
With the Ubuntu version, you get a phone running software a mobile version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. Ubuntu Touch was originally developed by the folks at Canonical for the canceled Ubuntu Edge smartphone, but a team of independent developers picked up where Canonical left off and founded a team called UBPorts that has continued developing the software in recent years.
The operating system is one of the more polished smartphone Linux distros I’ve seen so far, although it does have some unusual quirks – for example, the root file system is read-only by default. But there’s a user interface called Lomiri that’s based on Ubuntu’s old Unity environment, support for touch-based gestures, a software center/app store with a decent range of installable applications, and support for convergence – you can plug a phone like the F(x)tec Pro1-X into an external display to run Ubuntu apps on the big screen while using the phone’s screen as a trackpad.